For each of the well-known and soon-to-be-discovered artists that flood into Iceland to play Airwaves each year, there’s also a behind-the-scenes crew. From a general manager who handles the band’s business affairs, to a tour-manager who handles the practicalities of being on the road (and also maybe, sometimes, handles an amp or two), to the label people who help get their music out to the public, there are many people who grease the wheels and help bands progress in their career.
At festivals, sometimes a lot of these people end up in one place. In fact some festivals, such as SXSW and Eurosonic, focus primarily on the business aspect, hosting glitzy conferences where thousands of publishers, agents, and the like descend to network, dish out business cards, hoover up canapés, and seek out emerging artists or new connections.
But an increasing number of “consumer” festivals — those primarily concerned with giving artists and audiences a great experience — are also bolting on a business element to make the most of the people present. Here in Iceland, Airwaves seems like an opportunity to do exactly that. The Iceland Music Export (IMX) is the agency tasked with developing Iceland’s fertile music scene into a burgeoning industry, so this year they’ve arranged a “Nonference” element for the festival.
“We’re trying this out for the first time,” says Anna Ásthildur (pictured, at Eurosonic), a project manager at IMX. “Conferences at other showcase festivals abroad are common. We wanted to use the opportunity and get all the music professionals coming the Iceland Airwaves from all over the world to share their experiences and knowledge with Icelandic musicians and music professionals. It’s also a work space where people can come and meet people working in music and maybe doing similar things to them, so it’s a place to share and connect. Anyone interested in music should find something to their liking.”
The event will take place in the upper floors of the Gamla Bíó venue. “We will also have a DJ and a chef come and spin some tunes and cook for us every evening, so it will be very fun!” says Anna.
The conference element is only open to people with artist, press or “darling” wristbands. But Anna says: “if interested people have a wristband and would like to attend, they can e-mail us and we can try to help them out.”
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