Tuned in and turned up in Tel Aviv

A number of local young artists and bands line up to perform for and hear advice from international music professionals at Tune in Tel Aviv.

November 9, 2015 20:22
Balkan Beat Box

Balkan Beat Box. (photo credit: GUY PEREG)

Dozens of international music industry professionals, including festival programmers, label heads and artist managers, are going to discover this week what local aficionados have known for a long time – Israel is a hotbed of musical creativity and innovation.

They’ll be converging for Tune in Tel Aviv, an annual showcase and conference taking place from November 11-15 featuring some of the most internationally-focused Israeli musical acts. Organized by Oleh! Records, a non-profit organization aimed at exporting Israeli music abroad, the fourday event at various venues around the city will feature up and coming indie artists like Sun Tailor, Jane Bordeaux, Panic Ensemble, Lola Marsh and Maya Johana. A conference being held on Friday at the Tahana will be a forum for connection and discussion on issues affecting the Israeli music sector both domestically and abroad, and will be preceded by the main event on Thursday at Hangar 11 featuring Balkan Beat Box, TYP (Ivri Lider’s techno-pop side trip) and Red Band. The public can also buy tickets for all of the musical events.

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Jeremy Hulsh, founder of Oleh! Records and the organizer behind Tune in Tel Aviv, sat down with The Jerusalem Post to talk about the importance of the Israeli music scene and its potential to refine Israel’s image abroad.

Can you talk about the impetus to launch Tune In Tel Aviv?

The spark that started Tune In happened many years ago. I was taking hundreds of Israeli acts abroad to showcase them at major industry events, including South by Southwest, Canadian Music Week, Primavera and The Great Escape. These are all events that bring fans, but also the media really pays attention to what’s happening.

Israel never had one of those; we never had an industry event. We have Fashion Week, and we have other international platforms, but nothing to service the musician community, or the music-loving public.

So that’s really why I put Tune In Tel Aviv together, which is essentially bringing together the music industry here, and tens of thousands of potential fans that want to discover new music, or support the bands that they love so much in an audience that includes record labels, A&R festival promoters from around the world, and it turns into a snowball effect basically.

How many people do you expect to come out?

Our platform is really robust; we have multiple venues. Our big, main event is happening on Thursday November 12 at Hangar 11. We’re investing a lot of time and energy into a really special sound and light production, which will include headliners from Balkan Beat Box to TYP and Red Band.

Plus there will be a massive after-party with the biggest DJs in the country. That event itself, which is essentially two events, has the potential to bring 6,000 people.

Then we have the conference, which we’re expecting about 1,000 people to come to. Then we’re expecting another couple thousand to come out to all the other venues and events. So, there’s really something for everybody. The main event is the highest-end production and serious opening night event. Then there are the club shows that will be happening on Friday, November 13 all over the city, and the closing night that’s happening at a new club, which is fantastic, called Bascula. That’s going to be pretty ridiculous because we’re pairing up artists who don’t normally share the same stage or have the same vibe. It will be a very eclectic experience.

You’re the founder and director of Oleh! Records. Can you talk about that?

I founded Oleh! Records, Israel’s export music office, almost 10 years ago. Back then, we weren’t operating as an export office.

We’re a charity. Another interesting thing about Tune In Tel Aviv is that this is a totally charitable event. All the proceeds that we generate go into supporting Israeli musicians, at home and abroad. It allows us to cover these types of projects like Tune In, but outside of that, we can do dozens of showcase events at places like South by Southwest or Glastonbury, which are Tune In Tel Aviv events. Glastonbury is the longest-running festival in the UK, and it brings 150,000 people per year. The people who put these festivals together are coming to Israel to discover the music scene, but also to share information, which is what the conference is about. We’re going to be discussing topics concerning critical issues affecting Israel’s musical and cultural community.

One of our mandates as a charity is to improve conditions and the level of support that musicians get in this country. So we’re partnering with ACUM, which is a royalty collections society, and other societies that support musicians. We’re also giving all music school students discounts to come to the conference. Anybody can come and meet these people; sit down face-to-face during the mentoring sessions. I’m bringing the director-general of the Culture and Sport Ministry to talk about forming a music export policy. He’s going to be sitting on stage with Amir Peretz, a member of Knesset, and other people who are keenly interested in change that just hasn’t happened yet.

Our position as a charity is that Israel has the opportunity to generate not only positive branding, which is usually discussed in terms of hasbara (which is nice, but it’s a byproduct of the artist’s success and success is generated through economic development).

So these are issues that we’ve been talking about for years, but only recently are policy makers starting to pay attention because the music industry is probably the least-supported segment of the creative industries in Israel.

We need strategy, implementation and professionals who understand the needs of the music sector. If you look at country like Sweden, which is the same size as Israel, they’re generating tens and tens of millions of dollars a year in music export. That money goes to the musicians and to the state, so it’s a real export product. We’re trying to frame our conversation in terms of not continuing this situation where Israeli musicians are dependent on the government for hand-outs, who allow them one opportunity here or there. Let’s talk about best business practices and benchmarks for success. Let’s come together and try to put a real value on our contribution to Israel. For the public though, who doesn’t work in the music industry and just loves music, this is going to be the biggest party of the year.

For more info and tickets visit www.tuneintlv.com.

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