The Slow Readers Club & Nona Dazzle At Eurosonic Noorderslag 2019

Jorn Baars
– Nona
The Dutch singer and her band, despite their young age, sound more professional than some veteran soul, hip hop and blues outfits out there.

The 33rd edition of Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) went down in Groningen, Holland, Jan. 16-19. It was an edition with quite some innovations compared to previous years, almost all of which worked really well. 
It started traditionally, with the European Festival Awards (EFA) kicking things off in Groningen. The ceremony had some worthy winners and was made special by a great performance from Bishop Briggs, as well as by Peter Smidt, who picked up the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The hosts of the 10th edition, IQ Magazine’s Gordon Masson and Glastonbury lawyer Ben Challis, had to rush through the ceremony, as it had to finish in time for a new award show that premiered at ESNS 2019: the Music Moves Europe Talent Awards, which are funded by the EU Commission.
Jools Holland
Jorn Baars
– Jools Holland
Trying to get his Instagram story going

The MME Awards replace the EU Commission’s previous award show at ESNS, the European Border Breaker Awards (EBBA). An international jury had selected two winners each in six categories: Smerz, Stelartronic (category: electronic), Pale Waves, Pip Blom (rock), Aya Nakamura, Rosalía (R’N’B/Urban), Albin Lee Meldau, Avec (songwriter), Bishop Briggs, Lxandra (pop), as well as Blackwave. and Reykjavíkurdætur (hip hop/rap). And the public had voted on one artist in each category to win the Public Choice award in addition to the jury-selected award.

It was the public choice ceremony that was open to all ESNS delegates. The live tv, radio and online broadcast of previous EBBA years had been scrapped, instead host Jools Holland, who remained on board as moderator, attempted a live stream via Instagram. He animated the audience in front of the stage to chant a phrase that contained the words music, moves and Europe. It was the only cringeworthy moment during all of ESNS.
The rest of the festival ran a smoothly as ever. The additional networking space, combined with a reduced number of panels, was welcomed by all the delegates Pollstar spoke to on site. It made for a much less hectic conference experience and gave delegates more time to do business.
Since 2018, the entire hall that hosts the EFAs on opening night is converted into a networking village from the second day onwards. It offers ample meeting space and even table service, which enhances the networking experience.
Speakers at this year’s conference included Tom Windish (Paradigm), Sharid Alles (3FM), Richard Jones (Key Music Management), Kim Bloem (Mojo), Ben Chapman (BBC), Duncan Smith (Sony Playstation), Cindy Castillo (Mad Cool Festival), Fruzsina Szép (Lolapalooza Berlin) and Sammy Andrews (Deviate Digital).
The fiftieth anniversary of Mojo Concerts, which is Live Nation’s operation in Holland, was also celebrated at ESNS 2019. Former and current board members gave a unique insight into the history of the industry giant at the conference, while special memorabilia were auctioned at the Mojo Auction to support musicians and other creatives.
Martinikerk in the heart of Groningen
– Martinikerk in the heart of Groningen
The new media compound of ESNS

Also celebrating 50 years is Mojo festival Pinkpop. In a keynote interview by Eric Corton, Pinkpop director Jan Smeets talked about its history.

The new media compound was located in a church, the Martinikerk in the center of Groningen, which was a spectacular setting for meetings and interviews.
The conference’s tech program wasn’t called Music Meets Tech anymore, but simply ESNS Tech, and was curated for the first time by Stephen O’Reilly, director at IE Music and managing director of IE Ventures. EPIC, the production industry’s home at ESNS, returned as well, coordinated by Marcel Albers.
The highlight of every ESNS is, of course, the bands. This year, a total of 342 acts showcased their music in 42 venues across Groningen. Among them were 21 acts from this year’s focus countries Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Pollstar’s highlights were The Slow Readers Club from Manchester, UK, who played The Barn on the Friday, and Nona from Southern Netherlands, who performed at the Oosterpoort on Saturday. The Dutch singer and her band make well-crafted soul music and, despite their young age, sound more professional attuned to each other than some veteran soul, hip hop and blues outfits out there.
Another new addition in 2019 was the ESNS Academy, a program specially developed for students to offer young music lovers a glimpse into the (European) music industry. Participants were able to visit the festival and conference for a reduced rate.
The Slow Readers Club
– The Slow Readers Club
Performed in a packed Barn in Groningen

ESNS 2019 in figures
Total visitors: 42.789
Conference visitors: 4.135
Nationalities: 44
Acts: 342
Number of stages Eurosonic: 42
Number of stages Noorderslag: 10
Media: 447
EBU radio stations: 36
International festivals: 423
ETEP festivals: 130