Budapest Showcase Hub 4th Edition is about to begin. One of the focal points is the Austrian market. We asked mica’s Franz Hergovich about the possibilities.
If you have to identify what are the 3 most important challenges of the Austrian music industry?
First: The small home market. For most music genres the home market is too small to make a living, so they need to think internationally, which is both a challenge and an opportunity. Second: The status of most companies. A lot of them are very small, lack enough own capital to invest in artists to break them internationally, some also lack international contacts and knowledge. Third: The small local media coverage for a lot of music genres. But there are improvements in all these issues, so more and more Austrian artists are successful internationally and some more Austrian companies can compete internationally.
If we are talking about music export, how do you decide which Austrian band, performer should be sponsored and promote abroad? Trending is important? Or what are the keys of the selection process?
In all of our support schemes, from funding to showcasing, we do not select the artists ourselves. Very often there are open calls, the international festival bookers, for instance, decide themselves which acts they select, we only provide information on the status of the artist and their professional team. Generally, an act should, of course, be “export ready”, meaning being on a high artistic level and having a team, which works professionally and can make use of events like showcase festivals.
Is there any typical Austrian sound? I mean for me Austria is more electronic than guitar-based.
The electronic music scene is still vibrant in Austria and it is still the genre, which most easily crosses borders, but there’s a huge variety of exciting Austrian music in all genres, from jazz to pop, from rock to contemporary classical, from hip hop to world music. In Germany, for instance, more and more Austrian hip hop and pop and rock acts are highly successful. If there is something like a typical Austrian sound, for me it’s rather in the niche areas of pop culture and experimental music, jazz or electronica and I see common elements, that the sound is not always easily accessible and very often crosses the borders of different genres.
In Austria, there are many funding opportunities for music professionals. But what about the educational level, I mean, is there any program for youngsters to know local performers better, to organize underground gigs in High Schools or to have a possibility to play instruments?
There are education and training offers on a lot of levels, from workshops for youngsters and beginners to educational programs on the high school level. mica – music Austria itself offers workshops and advisory sessions at no charge to musicians and music professionals – we do more than 1200 consultancies and 40 workshops a year, and our staff members also teach at a lot of training courses of universities and colleges.
What do you think about public funding? We’ve seen that even in countries like Germany or the UK help the underground scene and the emerging performers by public scholarships, grants, etc. Is it helpful for the underground music industry?
Yes, I think public funding for music is very helpful, for the industry and the musicians. First of all, you need a good educational level in musical and music business matters. Then you need support to be able to build an artist’s careers or even breaking them internationally, which needs quite some time and financial investment. There’s hardly any company in Austria, which can make these investments without public funding. In my mind also underground companies are happy reaching potential worldwide audiences and a lot of successful artists started with underground companies, I don’t see a reason, why it should not be helpful for the underground as well. And it also pays off for the general public. Besides the enormous cultural value of music, there’s a lot of studies illustrating the high return on investment in creative industries.
Is there any intention of the Austrian music industry to appear in the Hungarian market? What are the main goals?
Yes, that’s why we are present at Budapest Showcase Hub this year with three acts, a panel on the Austrian music market and a networking reception. We consider our neighboring countries priority markets for the Austrian music industry and are trying to help the Austrian companies to build sustainable relations with the Hungarian music industry.
I’m wondering what’s the possibility of a band from Central Europe in Austria? Is there any possibility at all?
Yes, I think there are possibilities for acts from Central Europe in Austria because there are some agencies and labels and also media open for acts from the CEE region. But as everywhere it’s a tough competition, so the music has to be outstanding and it will help to work with local partners.
What should have a Hungarian band done to being noticed in Austria? I know there’s no exact recipe but what are the main things and details you must attend?
Use the chance to meet with us and some Austrian professionals at BUSH next week. Deepen your contacts by attending Waves Vienna in September 2020, that’s the best way to get in touch with the Austrian music scene. If your music fits their program, get in touch with Radio FM4. Try to find matching Austrian acts and perform with them in Austria in front of their home crowd (and invite them back to Hungary).
Franz Hergovich, born in Vienna in 1967, works as project manager at mica – music austria since 2008. He co-founded Austrian Music Export as common initiative of mica – music austria and the Austrian Music Fund. Since 2011 he is the representative of the managing director at mica. He was head of national distribution at Soul Seduction for a decade and worked as a concert promoter and DJ.
He was Secretary of EMO (European Music Office) from 2010-2013, a member of the IAMIC Board (International Association of Music Information Centres) in 2012/13 and managing director of the MICA – Music Promotion Agency GmbH from 2011-2015. Currently he is a member of the board of the network of European Music Export Offices, EMEE (European Music Exporters Exchange).