This was the European Forum on Music 2021!

The theme for this year’s European Forum on Music, taking place from 2-5 June 2021 online, was “Claiming a front row seat. The place of music in society”. During these four days filled with great speakers, debates, informal networking and artistic programme, we touched on many topics, such as the place of music in society, the importance of music for the SDGs and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the live music sector. The Forum provided many more sessions, e.g. on the working conditions of artists (esp. freelance musicians and collective bargaining), the implementation of the EU Copyright Directive and future funding for culture in the EU funding programmes (Creative Europe, Horizon Europe).

Did you miss the EFM? We recorded some of the panels to give you some insights about this year's conference!

► Keynote on "Claiming a front row seat - the place of music in society"

Angélique Kidjo

Angélique Kidjo, four-time Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter from Benin, known for her diverse musical influences and creative music videos opened the10th European Forum on Music on 2 June 2021 in her keynote speech. With her words, she reflected the theme for this year's EFM: “Through music we are able to find common ground and solutions to problems that are out there, that sometimes cannot be fixed through politics or policy. We bring another way of talking to the table.” In her speech, she outlined what effects the pandemic had on the music sector, socially and economically – in particular the mental health of adolescents and the income of musicians by raising the question “How do we find a way for arts, for music to really continue with the right remuneration for our work? Because the young generation coming, they might not be able to make a living out of it”. She also talked about working on her new album Mother Nature during the pandemic together with young African artists which addresses social issues such as climate change and police brutality.

Watch the keynote speech here


► What place for music in society?

The music sector is one of the hardest hit and at the same time it will be one of the sectors that can contribute significantly to the recovery, with its intrinsic power as an artform, its strength to be a tool for social and individual development and its economic force for jobs and growth. The opening discussion revolved around different political strategies on how to return to a vibrant music and cultural life, what frameworks are needed in order to do so and what are the concerns of the music and art sectors.

- Paulo Pires do Vale, Commissioner of the Portuguese National Plan for the Arts
- Barbara Gessler, European Commission
- Niklas Nienass, Member of the European Parliament
- Tere Badia, Secretary General of Culture Action Europe
- Moritz Eggert, Composer and President of the German Composers Union

Moderator: Audrey Guerre, Coordinator of Live DMA

Watch the panel discussion here


► In Conversation - the working conditions of musical artists

This session took a closer look at the term status of the artists, how UNESCO and national governments are addressing it and what can be done at European level to improve the working conditions of (musical) artists.

- Garry Neil, Cultural Policy Expert
- Søs Nyengaard, Chairman of the Danish Musician's Union
- Jean-François Guillardeau, Policy Officer at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Competition

Moderator: Benoît Machuel, General Secretary of International Federation of Musicians (FIM)

Watch the panel discussion here


► Music and the SDGs

This session explored the interrelation between music and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): What and how can the music sector contribute to the SDGs? And what impact will/can the SDGs have on the music sector? What can the music sector do to support a stronger role for culture in the SDGs and the post-2030 Agenda?

- Shain Shapiro, Executive Director Center for Music Ecosystems
- Brydie Leigh-Bartleet, Director Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre
- Jordi Pascual, Coordinator of UCLG Comittee on Culture and member of the 2030 culture goal campaign

Moderator: Silja Fischer, Secretary General of the International Music Council

Watch the panel discussion here


► Weighing out values

This was the second session at the EFM 2021 dedicated to music and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Under the topic "Weighing out values", the panelists addressed the following questions: - What if aiming at one SDG seems to be incompatible with aiming at another one? - What if aiming at SDGs seems to be incompatible with other values that are important to us? - How can we make sure that we use the expertise gained during the Covid crisis for positive and sustainable change?

- Sonja Greiner, Secretary General European Choral Association
- Marta Keil, CuratorPerforming Arts Institute Warsaw
- Holger Jan Schmidt, Secretary General of Yourope

Moderator: Maria Hansen, Executive Director ELIA - globally connected network for higher arts education

Watch the panel discussion here


► Music - the new villain on the block: overcoming stigmata and getting back to enjoying music

Covid-19 has hit the music sector hard in every aspect – as we see cultural life slowly coming back some parts are still missing out. What about going to a music concert that is not in front of a seated audience – but where dancing and moving is part of the show? What about musical practices in big groups, e.g. singing and (brass) bands? What about the less formal structures? What has survived? What does the musical landscape look like now? How big is the gap of more than one year without or only very little active music practice together with others? And (how) can we get back to enjoying music and making music in big groups again?

The panelists discussed these questions and shared their own views and strategies to turn the negative effects of Covid into positive strategies for their musical practices. They also addressed requests towards political decision makers, to identify what cultural policies and instruments are needed now.

- Willem van Moort, Director of BplusC
- David Zsoldos, Vice President of JM International (JMI)
- Giambattista Tofoni, General Manager of Europe Jazz Network
- Annette Ziegenmeyer, European Association for Music in Schools (EAS)
- Pamela Schobeß, Chair of theClubcommission

Moderator: Victoria Liedbergius, Board member of the European Music Council (EMC) 

Watch the panel discussion here


► Info session on the EU Copyright Directive - Where are we now?

The Copyright Directive was adopted two years ago at EU level. The EU member states have until early June 2021 to implement this directive into national law. This info session looked into the major changes that the Copyright Directive will bring - especially for the music sector. We also took stock of how the implementation in national law has progressed and give examples from different member states how they have put the new Copyright Directive into place.

With: Marc du Moulin, Secretary General of the European Composer and Songwriter Alliance (ECSA)

Watch the info session here



EMC President Ian Smith looked back at the sessions of the EFM to wrap up the main ideas from each one, and paid a tribute to the artistic programme that was offered during the four-days conference.

Watch the final closing here