Big overview of WOMEX 2023

From October 25 to 29, the large world music expo and showcase festival WOMEX took place in A Coruña, Spain. Among the representatives from the Baltic States were Kristiina Alliksaar, the Chancellor of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Estonia, Dace Vilsone, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, and Daina Urbanavičienė, the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania. Estonia was represented in the official showcase program by Puuluup.

WOMEX (World Music Expo) is the most international and culturally diverse meeting place for professionals in traditional and world music, as well as the largest conference in the global music landscape. The 29th edition of this grand event brought together approximately 2,750 music professionals from 105 countries. Estonia was represented by a delegation of nearly 30 members, coordinated by the Music Estonia, a music industry development center and export office. This year, Latvia and Lithuania joined forces with Estonia, forming a Baltic focus with a shared exhibition area. A large Baltic reception also took place, opened by representatives of the cultural ministries of the three countries.

Baltic Ministries Meet at WOMEX

Ave Tölpt, Director of Music Estonia, states, “The presentation of the Baltic focus and the presence of Baltic Chancellors at one of the largest industry showcase festivals and conferences were of symbolic importance. We have increasingly planned the introduction of the Baltic common music market through focuses and collaborative projects. During the discussions between the ministries and the organizers of the Baltic focus in A Coruña, common topics and possible next steps for the Baltic music industry were mapped out.”

Representatives of the Baltic ministries and organizers of the Baltic focus discussed topics such as the music industry, export, cultural strategies, and funding in A Coruña. Kristiina Alliksaar mentioned, “We have listened to the thoughts, plans, desires, and ambitions of various music umbrella organizations and tried to think together if there is anything hindering cooperation and if any changes are needed in this regard.”

Ave Tölpt adds that good practices of neighboring countries were also compared: “For example, Lithuania is consolidating export activities under one umbrella organization, which directs a larger amount of funding for cultural export. We also compared the collection of music data, funding models supporting the industry, and bringing large international events to the Baltic States. For example, we discussed whether in 2029, the anniversary year of the Baltic Chain, one Baltic country could host WOMEX. Additionally, we are starting to work together with partners to create the idea of a Baltic music industry cluster to bring various genre and member organizations together for strategic collaboration. The next meeting could take place in the spring.”

Puuluup Gives a Powerful Concert in the Official Showcase Program

Several bands and artists have gained momentum from WOMEX, making it a significant event for promoting international careers. This year, Puuluup, an ensemble blending electronic music with the traditional Estonian zither known as the Hiiu kannel, was selected to perform in the official presentation program. Their 45-minute late-night performance on October 28 at the Parrote Stage left an indelible impression on the international audience. Previous Estonian artists at WOMEX include Duo Ruut, Maarja Nuut, Trad.Attack!, Mari Kalkun, and Cätlin Mägi.

At an exclusive meeting with French music agents and producers during WOMEX, Christophe Spagnuolo (Zamora Productions), now Puuluup’s French agent, said that a band like Puuluup is encountered once every ten years. He claimed that while Puuluup was not exactly what he was looking for, it is rare to see a band offering something that has not existed before.

After the concert, members of Puuluup, Ramo Teder and Marko Veisson, shared their impressions: “It will become clear after some time if it was the right time. I still think there is room for us. There were quite a few people here today at the Puuluup concert who were important decision-makers in the music industry and who were there for the first time, so we are still very happy that we made it here this year.”

The global conquest plans of the duo are also being documented by film cameras. Director and cinematographer Taavi Arus reveals that a documentary film telling the story of two middle-aged men who have reached a certain point in their musical careers will likely be completed by the following year.

Baltic Delegations Form a Joint Baltic Focus

Under the leadership of Music Estonia, a delegation of about 30 members from Estonia participated in WOMEX, forming a joint Baltic focus this year with Latvia and Lithuania. The pavilion, adorned with beautiful wooden panels, was designed by interior architect Tõnu Kalpus.

On Friday, October 27, in collaboration with the music information centers of Latvia and Lithuania, a networking event for music professionals from the Baltic and different regions of Spain was organized. Partners included the export offices of both the Catalan and Basque regions. On the same day, a networking event between Canadian and Baltic music professionals took place, along with a meeting between the Baltic cultural ministries and the Baltic delegation. On October 28, a large Baltic reception took place in our exhibition area, where hundreds of guests enjoyed Punch Club cocktails, and there was intensive communication and exchange of contacts.

Johanna Mängel, a journalist from Klassikaraadio, was present at WOMEX and provided a comprehensive overview of the entire event, from which the “Helikaja” show aired on November 4. Listen to the broadcast HERE.

The Latvian cultural news editorial team was also present, creating a news segment on WOMEX, which can be seen HERE.

Photographer Tomas Terekas accompanied the Latvian delegation, and his captures can be viewed HERE.

The Baltic delegation also prepared a joint brochure containing information about all delegation members and our events. Check it out HERE.

WOMEX’s Estonian partners were the Estonian Traditional Music Center, Klassikaraadio, and Tallinn Music Week. Sponsors included Euronics, Punch Club, Studio Sound, and Valge Klaar. Supporters included the Ministry of Culture of Estonia and UNESCO Music City Tallinn. The partners of the Baltic focus are the music information centers of Latvia and Lithuania (coordinator). The Baltic Culture Fund supports the Baltic focus, aiming to promote cultural cooperation between the Baltic countries and strengthen the internationalization of Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian culture through joint cultural projects and events.

In 2024, WOMEX will take place in Manchester, the second-largest music city in the United Kingdom after London, and a member of the Music Cities Network.