Europe Meets Spain & LATAM: Q’s With The Team Behind Andalucía Music Forum
Andalucía Music Forum (AMF) premieres Sept. 5-7, and promises to be “the ultimate boutique summer meeting point of European, Spanish, Andalusian, Mediterranean and Latin American Music industry in Southern Europe,” according to its organizers.
The list of speakers is now online. It includes Spanish professionals such as Chen Castaño of Planet Events, Ana Rodriguez, president of the International Music Managers Forum, as well as international delegates such as Alexandra Ampofo of Live Nation UK/Metropolis Music or Rob Challice of Wasserman Music Group.
Pollstar reached out to the professionals involved in the first AMF: Live Nation’s César Andión, who heads the Spanish Wave talent export program, Ruud Berends, the man behind many of the most popular music business and networking events in Europe, and Cindy Castillo, manager and booker at Mad Cool Festival.
Pollstar: In your own words, how would you describe AMF ?
Ruud Berends: The ultimate boutique summer meeting point of European, Spanish, Andalucian, Mediterranean and Latin American Music industry in Southern Europe.
César Andión: The international music industry meeting in Southern Europe at end of summer. Friendly networking, exclusive showcases, global leaders keynotes, top industry topic panels by top panelists, Europe meets Spain and LATAM in the Mediterranean region, surrounded by palm trees, outstanding sunsets and mouth-watering tapas.
Spanish and Latin American artists are more popular than ever. How much has this development contributed to the launch of AMF?
Ruud Berends: It played an important part in César’s idea and vision for AMF, Spain is the gateway to and from Latin America in Europe.
How established are the networks of agents, managers, promoters, and venues in both Spain and Latin America?
César Andión: Both sides of the Atlantic networks have been always strong and culturally and economically important. Now, with the boom, and even revolution of Latin, Hispanic, Iberian acts flourishing across the globe, the increasing interest of the non-Latin American industry is making it even stronger and richer; but this is happening because it’s a true, real, organic industry, where young musicians and producers exchange and collab non-stop. There’s no doubt that the super-popular urban Latin acts on both sides of the Atlantic, from emerging levels to top-selling acts, are making this happen.
Can artists route proper tours in Spain?
César Adión: It’s been happening for years: bands, managers, bookers are in constant contact. There is a very healthy network of music conferences in LATAM and Spain, and incredible work done by many companies on both sides, like Esmerarte, Altafonte, BIME, Live Nation Spain, Ocesa/Seitrack, etc. It’s growing and growing in a steady and strong way that is obviously attracting the main players of the music industry in the US, UK and Europe.
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How about Latin America? I’m assuming there’ll be regional differences, so can you elaborate on that, please?
César Andión: We all learn from Latin America, its promoters, bookers, festivals, media, public institutions. Of course, there are regional differences but everyone adapts and, as I said, learns from each other.
Spanish festivals like Primavera Sound are in LATAM, Mexican super festival Vive Latino is now in Spain, more and more companies are opening branches on both sides of the Atlantic. Altafonte is doing an amazing job promoting acts from both regions, same with Esmerarte and others. Sounds like an over-used cliché, but its real: Spain is the gateway to both continents, and AMF will try to be a meeting point to strengthen this reality.
What still needs to be done to properly open the floodgates, so to speak, between Latin America and Europe? Or are they already open, it’s now just about bringing together the right people?
Ruud Berends: In a way, you answered the question yourself already. In our industry it is all about getting the right people together, to build new connections and networks, and to facilitate the best possible business for our clients and events.
César Andión: I agree with Ruud. [The business] has always been there, but obviously with the global success of Latin acts like Bad Bunny, J Balvin, Rosalía, especially among young people, interest got bigger. Now, any festival, any music conference, emerging talent showcase festival, etc. has a strong presence of Spanish and/or LATAM acts and industry. Export offices from LATAM have a presence in Europe, festivals and are doing a great job and are investing; music forums like AMF are here to be a meeting point for all of them in Southern Europe.
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Will AMF also host artist showcases from Spain and Latin America to introduce new talent to delegates, or is it strictly about networking amongst the business pros?
César Andión: AMF is one of the three parts of Anadalucía BIG. AMF is the music industry forum, Andalucia BIG Festival is a festival, and Andalucía Live Concerts encompasses tours and shows across the capitals of all Andalucian provinces. It is a complete project to promote music in Andalucía, internationally, nationally, and locally.
AMF will feature showcases from local talent, and the focus country invited each year. This year we will have María Yfeu (Sevilla), and Tito Ramirez (Granada), plus Centavrvs and the Instituto Mexicano del Sonido from Mexico. We also made one exception: we felt we need to show our support with Ukraine, so we will have an incredible artist from Lyiv, called Maryna Krutb, perform at AMF.
It’s called Andalucía BIG Festival by Mad Cool? How is Mad Cool involved, and are you happy with this year’s return of the festival?
Cindy Castillo: We are extremely happy with how Mad Cool 22 developed. It has been three years waiting for it to happen, and it was a historical, emotional moment for all of us. Andalucía BIG is an event organized by Mad Cool that aims to contribute to the Andalusian region in all possible social, economic and cultural ways through music, art and professionals.
Mr. Berends, you have ample experience curating and building exchange networks from scratch. In what ways did establishing AMF differ from everything you’ve worked on before?
Ruud Berends: Obviously, there are similarities, and it is not easy to build new events from scratch, but this one is special and a unique cooperation between so many different organizations.
In some ways Spain is still a relatively fresh country which is now exploding on a festival and event level, in Spain and beyond. I love the idea to keep AMF small and focused, something which I believe will work well in our industry.
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When we talk about bringing together the Latin American and Spanish biz with Europe, do you include the UK in that equation?
César Andión: Totally. The UK is so important for us – for obvious business reasons, but also because we see that the UK industry and fans are opening to other music genres and cultural landscapes. I run the export project The Spanish Wave, and it’s succeeding in the UK with great showcases and networking at The Great Escape, Focus Wales, Liverpool Sound City, IFF and Latino Life festival in Finsbury Park, London. For us Europeans, the UK is and will always be Europe in all aspects. I even love Marmite!
Has Brexit created barriers?
César Andión: In my humble opinion, only mentally. There may be some difficulties in touring, but they will gradually ease up. Fans move around, and Spanish festivals have a massive British fanbase. We have massive touring activity from the UK, and I hope the UK will get more and more touring from Spanish and LATAM acts. The walls come tumbling down!
Cindy Castillo: It has for sure complicated things, increased the costs for bands and promoters, as well as bureaucratic procedures, which limits the international impact and expansion of bands. However, music will always find a way, and as Cesar mentioned, hopefully it will ease as time passes by.
Are you only going to focus on Andalucía, or all of Spain?
César Andión: AMF open to delegates from all of Spain, but we think we need to promote the incredible artists that come from Andalucía, which has always been one of the most creative, exciting regions of Spain. Granada, Sevilla are nests of indie, pop, rock, flamenco, but even funk and soul and urban music.
The industry and talent of Andalucía has been, is and will be one of the most exciting ones in Spain and Europe. The region looks back on centuries of connections with LATAM. Sevilla and Cadiz where the main ports for goods and cultural exchange since 1500s. Is Rumba Cuban or Spanish? It belongs to us all!
Andalucía Music Forum: The Gateway Between Latin America And Europe