Connecting east and west at MENT Ljubljana 2018

February 15, 2018

Showcase music festivals are often about local bands trying to break out of their home region. At this year’s MENT Ljubljana, there was an increased number of European music professionals trying to break in to the local market.

“There was interest from all sides of Europe. Managers and bands from other markets want to come here and crack the market in the former Yugoslavia,” said MENT co-manager Andraz Kajzer.

That’s because MENT is a funding member of INES.

“It helps bring together more professionals, get more results, and better exposure for bands,” Kajzer said.

MENT’s biggest year ever

Joining INES is yet another achievement for MENT, which is enjoying record success and awards. This year was MENT’s fourth year, attracting over 4500 festival-goers – its biggest crowd ever.

And only weeks ago, MENT was named the Best Small Festival and the Best Indoor Festival at the European Festival Awards, which were voted for by the public. Over 350 festivals were nominated.

“The goal of the event is to attract people from our region, which includes ex-Yugoslavia as well as Hungary, Austria and Italy. But also those from Western Europe. We want to put them all on one level,” Kajzer said.

MENT’s music business conference hosted 550 delegates from 37 countries – another record. Of those, 20 delegates attended through the INES#pro program, which provides passes and travel costs for selected European music professionals to increase their skills.

“There is a lack of knowledge in the music business. It is hard for bands to get out of the local scene and play abroad. The main markets of Europe – UK, France, Germany – are leading the European business game. We have to get educated and network with professionals from these countries and establish a better situation for all music and art.”

This year’s MENT conference had almost 30 events for professionals, several co-hosted by INES. Many were filmed and will be posted online as part of INES#conference soon.

“This will become a great platform for people who want to learn about the music business and get knowledge online,” Kajzer said.

The conference featured an INES speed networking session, where representatives of all eight INES festivals were on hand to meet with music professionals and give tips on reaching new markets.

Among the other interesting events was a dynamic workshop by Dorit Chrysler on how to play the theremin, the otherworldly electronic instrument controlled by hand motions. And a panel of pan-European managers and experts discussed how artists could take advantage of new music streaming revenues.

INES speed networking session

INES festivals create a network

The member of INES used MENT as an opportunity to start networking. Representatives from the eight festivals and digital partner gigmit held the first INES member meeting during MENT to discuss how to better integrate their activities and develop the network.

“We are all connected now. We’re in touch all the time. We also communicate individually regarding every issue that we think can help other festivals. We now have an online channel to ask each other questions and learn from each other,” Kajzer said.

European talent exchange at MENT

MENT is both a music conference and festival, and both are growing in size. The festival bill had 71 acts from 23 countries playing in 10 venues across the Slovenian capital. Of those artists, nine were selected from other INES festivals through an exchange programme called INES#talent.

MENT’s INES#talent acts were 5K HD (AT), Antropoloops (ES), Eric Shoves Them In His Pockets (PL), Hater (SE), Maniucha I Ksawery (PL), Mother’s Cake (AT), Niemoc (PL), Wandl (AT), We Bless This Mess (PT).

“INES makes it much easier for these artists to get noticed by showcase festivals across Europe, and helps them travel here. There will be more bands in action as a result. They’ve got a really good chance of getting booked. It opens the doors to a longer and stronger career,” Kajzer said.

MENT has also nominated ten artists from its region to attend other INES festivals.
The next event will be ENEA Spring Break Showcase Festival in Poland in April 2018.

5KHD © Nejc Ketiš