Building Back Better Together: ESNS 2022 All Set For Digital Edition

ESNS took place as a virtual conference and showcase festivals for the first time in 2021.
Bart Heemskerk
– ESNS took place as a virtual conference and showcase festivals for the first time in 2021.
Ongoing coronavirus restrictions forced organizers to go online-only for a second year running.

ESNS, one of Europe’s most important events for new talent and business professionals, takes place as an online-only event this week, Jan. 19-22, and Pollstar reached out to conference director Ruud Berends to get the last-minute lowdown.

More than 200 artists are going to present themselves to an international delegation of pros in pre-recorded showcases (full lineup here), the conference panels, almost all of which will be live, focus on topics including sustainability and the recovery of the music industry. This year’s official theme is “Building Back Better Together”.
Last year’s first digital-only ESNS edition taught Berends and his team what formats work best in a virtual setting. Delegates particularly loved the so-called networking carousel. “Feedback was amazing,” said Berends, “we had around 10,000 individual meets per day. Very happy with that, but, obviously, nothing compares to [real-life meetings] at the Oosterpoort.
Froukje during her performance last year.
Jorrit van de Kolk
– Froukje during her performance last year.
The singer from Rotterdam is also on this year’s ESNS bill.

The networking carousel returns this year, as do mainstays like the Agents Panel, which will feature Hannah Shogbola (United Talent), Natasha Gregory (Mother Artists), Sally Dunstone (Primary Talent International), Whitney Boateng (WME), and moderators Maria May (CAA). 

As usual, one panel will look at the upcoming festival season in Europe. This year’s speakers include Christof Huber (Yourope), Stephan Thanscheidt (FPK Scorpio), Marta Pallarès (Primavera Sound), Codruta Vulcu (ARTmania), Paul Reed (AIF), as well as moderator Greg Parmley (ILMC).
Merck Mercuriades, the former manager of Beyoncé, Elton John and Mary J. Blige, will talk about his goal to get songwriters a better pay through his Hipgnosis Songs Fund in an interview with Helienne Lindvall.
Other panels on the program include “A Model for a United Industry”, “Diversity in the Backstage”, “Are You Export Ready for Mexico?”, “Rabbit or Man in the Moon? Doing Business in China”, and “Short Videos, Films, Series and NFT’s – Music and India’s Booming Audiovisual Industry”.
Ruud Berends.
– Ruud Berends.
The main man directing the conference of ESNS.

Berends didn’t want to pick a highlight. “I can’t,” he said, “it is just too much. The main issues are sustainability, a [European] Green Deal, [the sector’s] recovery, but also technology and innovation, web 3.0 and the metaverse, NFT’s, VR, AR, venue’s going hybrid, streaming, fair distribution of income for musicians and songwriters, social themes such as cancel culture, wokeness, parenthood, black lives matter, gender equality, sexual harassment and diversity.”

Europe’s Green Deal will be addressed in several sessions. Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, and mainly responsible for The Green Deal will be opening the conference with a keynote on Wednesday, Jan. 19. The Green Deal will also feature prominently in a keynote by Marjan Minnesma, director of Urgenda on the Friday, called “Scale up and Hurry up!”. 
Last but not least, there’ll be a panel dubbed “The EU’s Green Deal – Where does the music fit?” with Claire O’Neill (A Greener Festival), Niklas Nienass (European Parliament), Holger Jan Schmidt (Yourope), Laurence Graff (European Commission), moderated by Greener Event’s Linnéa Svensson.
Emmanuel Legrand will moderate “Recovery of the Music Sector – Where Are We Now?” with Burak Özgen (GESAC), Mikolaj Ziólkowski (Open’er Festival), Susanne Hollmann (European Commission) and Erminia Sciacchitano (Ministry of Culture of Italy) to hear how the festivals were impacted and where they stand today.
The Music Moves Europe Awards ceremony will return and be broadcast via, as well as the ESNS online platform,, Jan. 20 at 8 p.m. CET. This year’s nominees are Alina Pash (Ukraine), Anna (Italy), Balkan Taksim (Romania), Blanks (The Netherlands), Denise Chaila (Ireland), ?eva (Hungary), DORA (Spain), Francis of Delirium (Luxembourg), Friedberg (Austria), Jada (Denmark), Ladaniva (Armenia), Meskerem Mees (Belgium), Mezerg (France), Nenny (Portugal), and Zoe Wees (Germany).
Last year's Music Moves Europe Talent Awards were hosted by Mel C.
– Last year’s Music Moves Europe Talent Awards were hosted by Mel C.

Five Music Moves Europe Award winners will receive €10,000 each, the winner of the Grand Jury Award will receive an additional green touring voucher worth €5,000. All fifteen nominees are invited to a business education day, to learn about best practices in the music industry, organized by ESNS and its partners: the live sector (Liveurope, Yourope and Live DMA), the recording industry (IMPALA and Digital Music Europe), the International Music Managers Forum (IMMF), and The European Music Exporters Exchange (EMEE).

ESNS also announced the launch of its new Radar and Analytics platforms for music professionals and fans. It’s “a European charts & festivals insights tool developed with the support of Creative Europe,” according to the official announcement, which adds, “The charts track and show European artists, with the aim to display the impact of the artists’ music outside of their home country.”
ESNS Radar entails a European Chart, an Emerging European Chart for emerging talent, and the ESNS chart with acts from three years of the festival’s line-up. All three charts are based on airplay from over 60 European radio stations, plus streaming data compiled from Spotify and YouTube. 
Hard to believe that the Grote Markt, usually one of the most buzzing places during ESNS, will not host a massive stage in 2022.
Niels Knelis
– Hard to believe that the Grote Markt, usually one of the most buzzing places during ESNS, will not host a massive stage in 2022.

Besides that, bookers and other professionals are given the opportunity to see what else is happening in the music industry, through an extensive booking overview of the latest line-ups of over 130 festivals which are a part of ESNS Exchange program. ESNS Radar is an open platform for all music fans to explore the trending European repertoire.

To access ESNS Analytics, a ESNS conference ticket is needed. The Analytics platform offers “a drilldown of information per artist” on the platform, as well as a list of all ESNS alumni of the past three years – insights that should offer music professionals valuable insight into which acts are on the rise and in high demand. Some of the additional tools the platform offers to delegates include a yearly overview of artists’ airplay, detailed airplay history of the past 28 days, Spotify followers graph, Social Media Followers chart, Festival Bookings overview and more.
ESNS teamed up with SoundCharts as a data partner for this project.
ESNS takes place online, Jan. 19–22. Tickets for the digital conference are available for €99 at
While Berends hopes that this will be the last time ESNS will be forced to take place online-only, there was no way to tell. “If there is something we’ve learned in the last two years, it’s that we do not know what will happen tomorrow. I am slightly optimistic, but maybe that is wishful thinking.” 
And he concluded, “Hope to see you all online this week and IRL soon!”