Building back better together: ESNS 2022 is ready for digital publishing

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

ESNS, one of Europe’s premier events for new talent and professionals, is taking place this week, January 19-22, as an online-only event, and Pollstar has reached out to the Director of the conference, Ruud Berends, for last minute information.

More than 200 artists will present themselves in front of an international delegation of pros in pre-recorded showcases (full program here), the conference panels, almost all of which will be live, will focus on topics such as sustainability and music industry recovery. The official theme for this year is “Building Back Better Together”.

Last year’s first digital-only ESNS edition taught Berends and his team which formats work best in a virtual environment. Delegates particularly appreciated the so-called networking carousel. “The feedback was amazing,” Berends said, “we had about 10,000 one-on-one encounters a day. Very happy with that, but obviously nothing compares to [real-life meetings] at the Oosterpoort.

Froukje during his performance last year. Jorrit van de KolkFroukje during his performance last year. The singer from Rotterdam is also on the bill at the ESNS this year.

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

As usual, a panel will look at the upcoming festival season in Europe. This year’s speakers are 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 of getting better pay for songwriters through his Hipgnosis Songs Fund in an interview with Helienne Lindvall.

Other panels on the program include “A model for a united industry”, “Diversity behind the scenes”, “Are you ready to export to Mexico?”, “Rabbit or man on the moon? Doing business in China and “Short Videos, Films, Series and NFTs – Booming Music and Audiovisual Industry in India”.

Ruud Berends.Ruud Berends.The main man running the ESNS conference.

Berends didn’t want to pick a climax. “I can’t,” he said, “it’s just too much. The main issues are durability, a [European] green deal, [the sector’s] recovery, but also technology and innovation, web 3.0 and the metaverse, NFTs, virtual reality, augmented reality, hybridization of places, streaming, fair distribution of income for musicians and authors -composers, social themes such as cancel culture, awakening, parenthood, black lives matter, gender equality, sexual harassment and diversity.”

The European Green Deal will be discussed in several sessions. Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, and primarily responsible for The Green Deal will open the conference with a keynote speech on Wednesday 19 January. The Green Deal will also feature prominently in a keynote speech by Marjan Minnesma, director of Urgenda on Friday, entitled “Scale up and Hurry up!”.

Last but not least, there will be a panel titled “The EU Green Deal – Where does the music fit in?” with Claire O’Neill (A Greener Festival), Niklas Nienass (European Parliament), Holger Jan Schmidt (Yourope), Laurence Graff (European Commission), moderated by Linnéa Svensson from Greener Event.

Emmanuel Legrand will host “Relaunch of the music sector – Where are we?” with Burak Özgen (GESAC), Mikolaj Ziółkowski (Open’er Festival), Susanne Hollmann (European Commission) and Erminia Sciacchitano (Ministry of Culture of Italy) to find out how festivals have been impacted and where they stand today .

The Music Moves Europe Awards ceremony will return and be streamed via, as well as on the ESNS online platform,, on January 20 at 8:00 p.m. CET. This year’s nominees are Alina Pash (Ukraine), Anna (Italy), Balkan Taksim (Romania), Blanks (Netherlands), Denise Chaila (Ireland), Дeva (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, the Music Moves Europe Talent Awards were hosted by Mel C.Last year, the Music Moves Europe Talent Awards were hosted by Mel C.

Five Music Moves Europe Award winners will receive €10,000 each, the Grand Jury Award winner will receive an additional green tour voucher worth €5,000. The fifteen nominees are invited to a business education day, to learn about the best practices of the music industry, organized by the 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 is “a tool for analyzing European charts and festivals developed with the support of Creative Europe”, according to the official announcement, which adds: “The charts track and show European artists, with the aim of show the impact of the artists’ music outside their country of origin.”

ESNS Radar includes a European chart, an emerging European chart for emerging talent, and the ESNS chart with acts from three years of the festival’s lineup. All three charts are based on airplay from over 60 European radio stations, as well as streaming data compiled from Spotify and YouTube.

It's hard to believe that the Grote Markt, usually one of the busiest places in the ESNS, won't host a massive scene in 2022.Niels KnelisIt’s hard to believe that the Grote Markt, usually one of the busiest places in the ESNS, won’t host a massive scene in 2022.

In addition, bookers and other professionals have the opportunity to see what else is happening in the music industry, thanks to a complete overview of bookings of the latest line-ups from more than 130 festivals that are part of the ESNS Exchange program. . ESNS Radar is an open platform for all music fans to explore trending European repertoire.

To access ESNS Analytics, an ESNS conference ticket is required. The Analytics platform offers “an in-depth analysis of information by artist” on the platform, as well as a list of all ESNS alumni for the past three years – information that should offer music professionals valuable insight into acts that are on the rise and in high demand. . Some of the additional tools the platform offers delegates include an annual artist stream overview, a detailed stream history for the past 28 days, a Spotify follower chart, a social media follower chart, an overview of festival bookings and more.

ESNS has partnered with SoundCharts as the data partner for this project.

ESNS takes place online from January 19 to 22. Tickets for the digital conference are available for €99 on

While Berends hopes this will be the last time the ESNS is forced to take place solely online, there was no way to tell. “If there’s anything we’ve learned over the past two years, it’s that we don’t know what will happen tomorrow. I’m slightly optimistic, but maybe that’s wishful thinking.”

And he concluded, “Hope to see you all online this week and soon IRL!”

Jennifer C. Burleigh