'Big is no more important than Small'

Evan Murray spoke to Anca Lupes, Executive Director at Indiero - Romanian Indie Labels Association, President at RAW Music, Founder at Mastering the Music Business, Romania

Mastering The Music Business is the leading music business conference and showcase event in Romania since 2016.

Hope all is well, and everyone around you is healthy. What's happening on your end? Do give us an insight.

Luckily we are all well, so are our friends and families. We had to cancel Mastering The Music Business one week before starting day, when measures taken by our government banned all events with more than 100 participants. It was one of the first events that had to be cancelled. A few days after, the state of emergency was declared in Romania. It was a big hit for us, you can imagine what cancelling a festival means. And it was going well, it was supposed to be its fifth edition, it was the biggest so far, tickets were selling well etc.

What are some of the biggest challenges the festival is facing right now? 

Financial challenges are our biggest concern, without a doubt. This is a 100% private festival, with no state funding. So everything we make is from sponsorship and selling tickets. We did a lot of spending in advance, and then we found ourselves deprived not only of sponsors money, but also of ticket money, as we had to make refunds to those who asked for.

ECKOES (UK) at the Showcase festival

Are there any preps, in case the scenario repeats ? 

Insuring the event comes to mind, but as far as I know, insurance companies did not cover pandemics. Probably from now on…. hoping that this will change. 

How do you expect the music industry to change with the impact the virus has had? 

I see good changes and bad changes. I see a mentality change – some people are more proactive, artists finding ways to stay in contact with their fans and at the same time to help their peers, industry getting together and working with the government to find solutions for the restart of the event industry, I see politicians paying attention to culture and artists and acknowledging the other cultural workers in general – which could be a good thing in the future. But I also see a lot of negativity and misplaced blame.

As music trends roll, do you have any predictions of what's coming next? From your point of view, where is the live music industry headed?  It seems to me this is a crisis that will hurt more, the big structures in the music industry, especially in the live sector. Big promoters, big festivals and major artists – as their playfields will stay closed for a longer time.

Smaller venues and smaller artists and smaller events in scope will be the first ones to be allowed to restart. The outcome of that restart will help open bigger events. That’s why I think whoever will start organizing events, will have a huge responsibility but I also think “the big ones” should help them get everything right, because this will lead to their events being allowed too.

Anca Lupes

Any comments or open thoughts?

I think the music industry should come together and develop strategies to put in place whenever something like this happens again. Because what this crisis has shown is that big is not more important than small, and you cannot have only some territories to focus on.

Look at what happened with countries and numbers – many developed countries have had worse outcomes than smaller, not so developed countries. So, if I were a big player in the global event industry, I’d try to open and secure as many markets possible, just to be sure that I can keep operations at a normal level.

Now countries will open up one by one, depending on the numbers of infected people, deaths etc and their rules for health and security at big shows will be different. In some, you won’t be allowed to have gatherings of more than – let’s say – 5000 people for the following year.

For most major artistes – they cannot do shows with these kind of audiences because it’s not financially sustainable. So, I will pay more attention to smaller artists and bands, because – at least in such a crisis – they will be the first to be able to start generating revenue. 

As in each situation, each bad comes with a good, you just should be able to comprehend it properly and act accordingly.

EVAN MURRAY is Event Co-ordinator at Live at Heart, Newfoundland, Export Development Officer at Vision 360 (Canada) and Canadian Coordinator at Live at Heart, Sweden. He is also International Music Consultant at Wonderwall Media, India.