ESNS Exchange: a miraculous exchange program for groups at the Eurosonic festival

Initiated in 2003 by the essential Dutch festival, which will take place from January 18 to 21, 2023 in Groningen, the ESNS Exchange system allows a selection of emerging European artists to be programmed more easily in festivals. across Europe and beyond.

“Among the biggest events, Glastonbury, Roskilde or Coachella, come especially to Eurosonic to discover new European talents”, exclaims Robert Meijerink, the artistic director of the Eurosonic festival, based in Groningen, in the Netherlands. Every January, since 1986, the groundbreaking meeting has invited more than 300 young artists from Europe as well as a large audience, i.e. around 40,000 people, mainly made up of professionals from the sector, concert programmers and festivals in mind.

ESNS Exchange, an exchange program

Alongside the festivities and conferences, Eurosonic launched the ESNS Exchange program in 2003 (formerly ETEP for “European Talent Exchange Program”). Supported by the European Commission, just like the festival, this initiative allows the European groups selected to be more easily programmed in international festivals and to afford better media exposure. This year, the selection of ESNS Exchange includes in particular the dirty English kids of Yard Act, programmed in eleven festivals thanks to this device, as well as their sisters of Wet Leg, seven programmings on the counter like the Dutch · es of Altin Gün. It is also an opportunity to find the Belgian rising star Lous and the Yakuza, the wonderful Austrian Sofie Royer, the unstoppable Ukrainian rapper Alyona Alyona, or even this dear French duo, Kids Return.

A springboard for young training

“Eurosonic is a real springboard for us”, confide the two friends of 25 years who left Forever Melodies, their first album, two months ago. Forged on stage, Kids Return has already lined up some sixty international dates this year and is planning a stopover at La Cigale, in Paris, as well as a new American tour for 2023. They continue: “In Eastern Europe, where we are not developed at all, there is a huge market for our music. Thanks to ESNS Exchange, we know that we can find dates in Lithuania or elsewhere. Everything is accelerating.

To concoct the meticulous selection of ESNS Exchange, Robert Meijerink, the boss of Eurosonic, surrounds himself with concert programmers, while relying on the advice of teams from European festivals and national public radio stations belonging to the EBU network (European Broadcasting Union). “For example, in France, we contact festivals like La Route du Rock and we work with Radio France to find out who will be the next known faces in the country.”, he explains.

Post-Covid-19 tours in full inflation

At a time when post-Covid-19 tours are looking less bright than expected due to high inflation, which increases the production costs of concerts and sometimes leads to cancellations, the ESNS Exchange program is proving to be d all the more important. Robert Meijerink: “We have to take care of new talent. This program gives the opportunity to use money to support festivals and artists. We must help new musicians to establish a career that is not confined only to Eurosonic but to all the festivals of the world.

For their part, Adrien Rozé and Clément Savoye of Kids Return, who have never been afraid to take the car to leave Paris, swallow miles and give a concert at the other end of France, consider themselves “fortunate”: “In the United States, it’s really a hassle. When we think back to the dates we did there… You arrive in the room, there is no engineer for the lights and there is still the piss from the group from the day before in the toilets, so much there is no budget. The only cool thing is that in the back of a room in San Francisco, on the wall, you will have the signature of Julian Casablancas!” they swing, laughing. Before bidding: “In France and in Europe, with the example of Eurosonic and ESNS Exchange, we are lucky because there are a lot of subsidies for music.

Post-Brexit music

Without forgetting our British comrades, caught in the shackles of Brexit. Since Great Britain officially left the European Union at the beginning of 2020, the groups have struggled between the obligations of paying visas for each member and taxes for their equipment or even spending hours at customs. “Even if it makes things difficult for everyone, I think this decision affects the British especially. But the role of Eurosonic remains very clear: we always welcome groups from Great Britain”, assures Robert Meijerink.

He engages (“I think we need to make more room for Europe in the face of Brexit”) and tells us that at one time, Eurosonic could stack up to 25 or 30 British artists on its poster. Today, with its ESNS Exchange system, the Groningen winter meeting place prefers to mix up the diversity of its continent. Since 2019, Eurosonic has been refining its European formula with its annual Music Moves Europe Awards. At the same time as the festival, which will take place between January 18 and 21, 2023, the MME ceremony will reward 15 young European talents, each representing their country. The selection is based on streams collected by artists on digital platforms such as Spotify, Deezer or YouTube. But, in the same way as ESNS Exchange, it is also established through the opinions of a hundred music professionals based in Europe, in particular concert and radio programmers.

Kids Return to the MME Awards

In 2023, it’s (surprise!) Kids Return who will represent France at the MME Awards. “He was, by far, the artist most mentioned by our French collaborators”, confesses Robert Meijerink. Within the jury, which will designate two winners on January 19, in addition to the public prize, we find in particular Gemma Bradley from the BBC, Kevin Cole from the American radio station KEXP or Cindy Castillo from the Mad Cool Festival in Madrid. “Playing in front of the pros is a real challenge”, drop the guys from Kids Return on the phone, who have already played Eurosonic for the 2022 digital edition. Before concluding : “In fact, you have to make them forget that they are pros. They must find themselves like kids to love! There you have succeeded.

Eurosonic Festival, from January 18 to 21 in Groningeu. You can already book your tickets at this address.


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