- 22 Nov 23
The Mary Wallopers were amongst the Top 4 most-booked acts of 2023's ESNS Exchange - playing an impressive 10 shows outside of Ireland. Now 20 years running, we're looking back on ESNS Exchange's influential role in European music...
As a result of the challenges posed by international promotion and distribution, European music has historically lagged behind its Anglo-American counterparts. ESNS Exchange however, has been facilitating, promoting and supporting the unrestricted global circulation of creative European talent since 2003, making the cross-border ‘exchange’ of artists possible and fostering a global circulation of European talent on a wider scale than ever before.
One of the many initiatives of the non-profit showcase festival Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS), ESNS Exchange – formerly known as the European Talent Exchange Programme – is now celebrating its twentieth year. Through its many years in business, ESNS Exchange has provided an invaluable jumping-off point for emerging artists throughout Europe, facilitating the bookings of European acts at festivals outside their home countries, granting artists the unique opportunity to cross European borders and grow beyond the confines of their local scenes. The programme also generates extensive media exposure for acts, with the aid of the European Broadcasting Union, export offices and local media – all working in tandem to give a major boost to the international careers of up-and-coming European artists.
Playing a set at one or more of the major ESNS Exchange festivals throughout Europe – which attract thousands of music enthusiasts annually – can be a major step in an artist’s career, gaining them an entirely new form of exposure, building a global audience and bringing their music to a whole host of new ears. These festivals include Primavera Sound, Body & Soul, Glastonbury, Sziget, Coachella, Montreux Jazz Festival, and countless more.
To date, ESNS Exchange has supported some 2,160 European artists hailing from 36 countries, enabling them to perform at an impressive tally of 5,332 shows across 190 partner festivals in 44 countries. With a remarkable two-decade history of facilitating the international distribution of European music, artists, and productions, as well as fostering collaborative efforts between the music industry and media to promote acts and their repertoire, ESNS Exchange has been instrumental in thrusting many Irish acts onto the global stage; propelling their creative careers to new, stratospheric heights; including the likes of Pillow Queens, Mary Wallopers, Kojaque, Villagers, John Francis Flynn, Inhaler and New Dad – to name but a few.
ESNS has also nurtured the successful careers of British band Editors, indie rockers The XX, norwegian singer-songwriters AURORA and Sigrid, as well as South London rapper Flohio. Countless artists have reaped the benefits of the programme, later embarking on international tours that span the globe.
As the summer festival season of 2023 comes to an end, ESNS Exchange has presented a total of 347 shows by 147 acts from 36 countries playing at 90 festivals in 33 countries thus far. Likewise, this year, ESNS hosted their first in-person live showcase of European music in over two years.
2023’s results have been hugely impressive, with Belgian indie sensation The Haunted Youth topping the bill, playing a total of 13 shows at participating festivals, followed closely by Dundalk folk-trad outfit The Mary Wallopers – leading the way as the second most-booked act, scoring an impressive 10 shows. Also amongst the list are garage punk outfit Sprints, with 7 shows, indie singer-songwriter Somebody's Child with 5, alternative quintet Gurriers with 4, whilst indie pop-duo 49th & Main and M(h)aol both scored 2.
Irish singer-songwriter CMAT was the second most-booked artist amongst an impressive array of homegrown talent, playing 10 festival shows last year, whilst Enola Gay scored 9 and folk singer-songwriter John Francis Flynn played 2. The ever-popular post-punk quintet Fontaines D.C were the most-booked act of the 2019 edition with 14 shows, whilst The Murder Capital also fared well that year.
In commemoration of two decades in showcasing the striking diversity of Europe’s many disparate live music scenes, ESNS Exchange have released a retrospective overview of all exchange results for the past 20 years, including archives of over 130 partner festivals, exchange alumni and other artist bookings. ESNS 2024 is set to be an equally stellar display of Irish talent, with ten acts already announced, including Chalk, Chubby Cat, CMAT, Conchúr White, Kingfishr, yunè pinku, Yard, Sweetlemondae, The Love Buzz and Le Boom.
The ESNS conference for 2024 is set to take place in Groningen from the 17th of January. ESNS Exchange will also be hosting a commemorative panel at BIME festival in Bilbao on the 25th of October.
For further information about the work of ESNS Exchange, see esns-exchange.eu
To find out more about ESNS 2024, visit esns.nl