MEMBERS OF Balkan Beat Box perform at Hangar 11 as part of last year’s Tune In Tel Aviv..
(photo credit: TAMMY GOLDENBERG)
The sixth iteration of the Tune In Tel Aviv music festival takes place in the White City today, with more than 100 artists representing nearly as many genres, playing in over a dozen venues.
On top of the Israeli and international bands playing the festival, more than 50 industry professionals from the world over are coming for the event. Representatives from the biggest music festivals in the world including England’s Glastonbury, California’s Coachella, Texas’s legendary festival/conference South by Southwest and Spain’s Primavera will be in attendance as will executives from major record labels such as Warner Music and Mute Records.
In addition to the concerts, the festival also features a two-day conference in which international musical movers and shakers meet with members of the Israeli music scene.
The festival is the brainchild of Jeremy Hulsh, CEO of Oleh! Records, which exports and promotes Israeli music. Hulsh spoke with The Jerusalem Post about the festival and those coming to it, saying, “[These people] are all coming here to discover acts that they’re potentially going to book and sign and work with in the near future.”
Hulsh founded Oleh! Records and started Tune In Tel Aviv to address the issue that Israeli policymakers don’t always give the music scene the credit it’s due.
“If you look at music in general in Israel, it’s at the low end of the totem pole when it comes to [government] support, unlike film or television or technology,” he says, but even so, “Israelis are incredibly musical as a society and you can go to any town in this country and find hundreds of venues... with passionate musicians.”
The significance of the festival is that it is “the one time that the entire musician community... policy makers, the music industry both at home and abroad come together and try to put a value [on music]. It’s also the time that the Israeli music industry takes every year to try and figure out what direction it’s headed.
The world’s a huge place and there’s hundreds of thousands of opportunities out there.
“It’s the event of the year to learn, to discover, to network, to invest, and to try and change policy.”
Representatives from the Culture and Sports Ministry will be in attendance, and Hulsh hopes that the presence of important decision makers will induce the government to lend more support to the music industry.
“Every other country in the developed and developing world has a music export office,” Hulsh tells the Post. Sweden, he explains, a non-English speaking country with roughly the same population as Israel generates hundreds of millions of dollars each year in music exports because they’re well organized and they understand the value of their music scene.
“It’s not just Sweden,” Hulsh says, “It’s France, and it’s countries you wouldn’t even think about like Lithuania, or South Africa, or Chile.”
Perhaps it’s just that government officials don’t understand the potential of the music industry.
“The music industry globally generates over $150 billion a year,” he says, and the fact that there has never been a major government organization to coordinate music export may simply point to a lack of exposure.
Hulsh hopes the festival will change that.
In the 10 years since founding Oleh! Records and the six since Tune In Tel Aviv started, Hulsh has seen progress: “When we started, I was trying to explain to the Foreign Ministry what a showcase was... they’d never heard of South by Southwest. Now they’re investing...
trying to do something.”
And now, thousands of Israeli artists go abroad and Tune In Tel Aviv facilitates connections between artists and executives that get them booked at festivals like Primavera and Glastonbury.
Hulsh hopes to turn Tel Aviv into a city internationally known for music in the process.
“The idea is not to reinvent the wheel in Dimona, where I’m sure I could get a lot of government support to do something like this... the highest percentage of people who make a living from the music business in Israel are based in Tel Aviv. We want to showcase not just the artists, we want to showcase the venues [and the city too].”
Hulsh hopes his efforts will eventually result in a budget of five million shekels a year for the music scene, half to get artists abroad and half for projects like Tune In Tel Aviv.
The festival has even partnered with the State of Mississippi to promote the blues and Grammy-winning American blues artist Grady Champion, who will perform at the festival. Hulsh is also excited about rapper Peled, singer-songwriter Oshi and electropop artist Noga Erez.
Hulsh has been taking acts to South by Southwest for a decade so that they could gain exposure and now has found great success in bringing the spirit of South by Southwest to Israel.Tune In Tel Aviv runs from November 9-12 in Tel Aviv. For more info visit www.tuneintlv.com.