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“The Balkan:MOST Showcase Festival was more than just a celebration; it was a testament to the resilience, creativity, and boundless potential of the Balkan music industry.”

Our MOST project has come to an end with an amazing three-day-long music festival. Dóra Badics from our Sound Pillar went to the city of Veszprém to represent us at the BALKAN:MOST Festival. Now she talks about the event and her unique experience in detail.

It has been a bit over a week since the Balkan:MOST conference and showcase festival came to a close and we’re still buzzing from the magical three-days that took place in Veszprém. Delegates from all corners of the world and the Balkans, including musicians, concert promoters, and festival managers, gathered to celebrate the culmination of 4 years of hard work and dedication. As an associate partner in the project and leaders of the Urban Hub Pillar of MOST, we had the privilege of taking part in this beautiful celebration of the last four years’ efforts. Hopping between panel discussions and workshops by day, to being swept away by incredible musical performances by night, it was an experience that we most certainly will not forget!

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The festival commenced with a pop-up concert in a local bar followed by an opening reception for all the delegates and musicians, where we got to reunite with all the people wonderful people we’ve met or worked with along the journey as well as mingle with others who we haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet. This was the perfect greeting to set the tone for the next three inspiring days we were about to spend together.

During the daytime, the conference offered a platform for insightful panel discussions and engaging workshops, providing delegates an opportunity to network, exchange ideas and take part in provocative discussions. “Fake Balkan” was a particularly thought-provoking panel, delving into the challenges that Balkan musicians face when trying to enter broader markets as well as the intrigue of Balkan music to audiences worldwide.

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Another panel, titled “The State of Music Export Offices in the Balkans” provided a deep dive into the future of music export and marketing initiatives across the ex-Yugoslavian region and the wider Balkans.

“The Bridge we build – MOST Achievements and Experiences” was a panel that celebrated the success stories of MOST alumni. Eric Van Monckhoven, Rok Kosir, Ben Mandelson, Strahinja Babic, Maja Vujacic, Marin Bosnjak, and many others shared anecdotes about the vital role that MOST has played in their careers. For example, Strahinja Babic, one of the participants in the second round of the Urban Hub Pillar, explained that receiving the MOST grant for his passion project gave him the kick he needed to quit his job and pursue a full-time career in music and festival management in Serbia!

Our pillar also facilitated a panel discussion reflecting on how we measure impact in the music industry, moderated by Zsolt Főző (Production and project lead at Hangvető) featuring our reporter Dana Mckelvey (PhD candidate in Sociology and Social Anthropology), along with Ruth Jakobi (EMC, secretary general), and Patryk Galuszka (Associate professor at University of Lodz). Their discussion sparked interesting dialogue with the audience and their insights left us with very valuable takeaways about the importance and methodologies of measuring the impact of our projects.

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As the sun set, the conference transformed into a music festival, gifting us with series of breathtaking showcase concerts spread across the old town on three different stage venues. The air was electrified with the performances of extraordinarily talented musicians, such as Dubioza Kolektiv, Alice in Wonderband, Barcelona Gypsy Balkan Orchestra, Oratnitza, and many more, each one a testament to the rich tapestry of Balkan music.

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As we said our goodbyes, there was a bit of sadness, but also an excitement for what the future holds! The MOST project may have come to a close, but it’s only the beginning of a new chapter in the harmonious journey of bridging Western and Balkan music industries. The Balkan:MOST Showcase Festival was more than just a celebration; it was a testament to the resilience, creativity, and boundless potential of the Balkan music industry, as well as the power of collaboration and the unifying force of music. It’s been an honor to play a part in this incredible journey, and we can’t wait to see the ripples of its impact spread far and wide!