Poland Plus: INES helps make Enea Spring Break more international

May 29, 2018

Enea Spring Break is Poland’s biggest showcase festival, serving as a launchpad for the country’s best new talent. Its music business conference has long helped connect players from across the Polish cultural industry. This year Spring Break had a different flavour – more diverse music, and more multilingual content.

That’s thanks to INES, the Innovation Network of European Showcases, of which Spring Break is a founding member. INES launched in 2018 as a partnership between eight showcase festivals who send bands and delegates across borders.

“INES made our conference more international,” said Tomek Wasko, director of Spring Break. “So far, our panels were mostly held in Polish. This year, half the panels were in English. It was a nice thing to offer international delegates, who usually did not participate in the conference.”

INES added six events to the conference to boost the appeal for European participants. It worked: of the 400 music business professionals attending, about 150 were international guests. “It’s good for the Polish industry to meet delegates from other countries, to network and make contacts. I’m sure many will come back in the coming years,” Wasko said.

Conference topics ranged from educational to emotional. Delegates learned how to work with national music export offices, and get their tracks in front of video game producers. They also heard first-person stories about music legends from Henry McGroggan, who has worked with Iggy Pop, David Bowie and David Byrne, just to name a few.

And on a more serious note, a panel discussed mental health for music industry workers, after a study showed 71% had anxiety attacks and 65% suffered depression. “It’s important to discuss the mental health of musicians, especially considering what happened to Avicii. I’m proud we could have a discussion about helping musicians,” Wasko said.

All six of the INES#conference events were filmed and will soon be published as part of the INES#library, which shares music industry knowledge online.

Comparing local talent against international standards

On the festival stages, things were also more eclectic. During its first INES year, Spring Break continued a trend of inviting more international artists to perform alongside local talent.

“They bring quality to the festival. It’s nice to see Polish bands performing next to international bands, because we can see what the talent is like elsewhere and realize if our artists are ready to make it outside of Poland,” he said.

There were over 150 bands playing at Spring Break this year, of which 11 came from the INES#talent pool, which sends the best emerging artists from across Europe to the various INES festivals. Berlin-based band HYMMJ was one of the bands selected through INES#talent, and had nothing but good things to say about Spring Break.

“Our show at Spring Break was great. Everything was perfectly organized and the crowd was enthusiastic! Radio stations, booking agencies and festivals approached us afterwards – so we couldn’t ask for a better first show in Poland! Thanks to INES for making this possible!” HYMMJ band members wrote.

Spring Break has also nominated its own favourite local acts to join the INES#talent pool, and already several have been booked to play at MENT Ljubljana and Liverpool Sound City. “They get to see how these types of festivals work in different markets, and test themselves in different countries,” Wasko said.

Marking five years in Poznan

Spring Break is now in its fifth year, and has become one of the major events on the cultural calendar of its host city Poznan. More than 5000 members of the public attended the live music part of the festival, which took place across 18 venues.

Poznan was selected as the location by default, as that’s where Wasko’s organization was based when they set about launching their showcase event. But it has proved to be a fortuitous decision due to Poznan’s size and location.

“It’s a great city because the venues are all so close to each other. You wouldn’t have that in Warsaw, which is a very spread-out city. Poznan is also close to the German border. Berlin is so close, just three hours drive. That helps bands who have to travel here.”

The next Spring Break will take place in May 2019, with even more international influence thanks to INES.