From Pussy Riot to Kerli to Spotify – the Tallinn Music Week is making waves again

The Tallinn Music Week (TMW), the annual music conference and showcase festival, will bring notable names in the music industry and 227 bands from 20 countries to the Estonian capital.

TMW is a three-day music industry conference and one of the biggest indoor festivals in the Nordic and Baltic region. The mission of the festival, taking place for the sixth time this year, from 27-29 March, is to raise the reputation of Estonian music and to enhance the international development and reputation of the local and regional music industry, as well as to promote Tallinn and Estonia as exciting cultural tourism destinations.

Helen Sildna, the main organiser behind the enormous event, caught her festival bug when attending the legendary Rock Summer at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds in 1988. Later in the noughties, being a big music lover, she travelled extensively around Europe and gathered inspiration. “The original idea behind the Tallinn Music Week is not unique, as there were already similar concepts in place around Europe, such as the Great Escape in Brighton (UK), for example,” Sildna said, “but in Tallinn we are trying to do things in our own little innovative way each year and introduce new features. In addition of highlighting the new musical talent, we also aim to be a cooperation platform for Estonian businesses and organisations and promote dynamic and progressive Estonia: exporting Estonian creations, promoting entrepreneurship, educating a brave and forward-looking young generation who will take Estonia to the world map.”

Whether it’s TMW’s innovative ways, a good line-up or Tallinn’s old charm itself, but the festival’s international reputation has grown year-by-year. The Wire Magazine has suggested that the “Tallinn Music Week has proven that a country as small as Estonia punches well above its weight in terms of musical talent. The degree of technical ability and polish shown, across many different genres, both live and on record, was very impressive. What’s more, Tallinn’s musical community is warm, well informed and enthusiastic.”

The up-and-coming talents in the showcase festival line-up are not just from Estonia – bands and artists from other Baltic countries, Finland, Russia, Germany, the UK and as far as Israel and the US are also represented. Equally diverse are the styles – ranging from folk and jazz to punk and electro, from classical music to metal and anything in between.

Apart from introducing new talent to the international spotters – over 300 international music industry delegates attended TMW last year – the festival features an international music industry conference where hundreds of music industry players from all over Europe and the US discuss the future of the music business and creative industries. This year’s conference will kick off with an opening speech by Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the President of Estonia and a passionate advocate for the role of music and culture in ensuring political freedom and progress. The political freedom and progress theme will be followed – perhaps conveniently, considering the recent events in Estonia’s vicinity – by a discussion on musicians against totalitarian rule with the members of the Russian punk protest group, Pussy Riot. The discussion, under the banner “Culture riot: artists and music against totalitarian rule”, will be led by Russian music journalist Artemyi Troitsky.

This year’s keynote speaker is Robert Levine, the former executive editor of the Billboard magazine. Other highlights include a live interview with Kerli, the most successful Estonian pop artist of all time; and Kieron Tyler from the British music magazine MOJO will interview Bob Stanley, a member of the British indie pop band, Saint Etienne, and author of the book “Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop” – picked as the music book of 2013 by the Sunday Times and Rough Trade.

Jon Bon Jovi has noted, “We are at a crossroads in the music business: with the rise of the internet, the world we live in has changed, and the past is not coming back. But I see the glass as half-full: the internet and social networking are new avenues for the next Bob Dylan to be born on.” Therefore it’s a sign of the times that one of the themes of TMW is also copyright in the digital era and the future of streaming music. Spotify, one of the world’s most successful music streaming companies, will do a presentation and Jonathan Forster, its Nordics and Baltics managing directorwill discuss the ways how streaming could stop the downfall of the music business.

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More info on the showcase festival and programs: Tallinn Music Week.

Cover photo: Pussy Riot (Wikimedia).

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About the author: Estonian World

Estonian World is a global independent online magazine, founded in London in 2012 and headquartered in Tallinn, Estonia. The magazine has editorial representations in London, New York, Toronto and Tallinn, and contributors all over the world, on every continent. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.