Q&A with Codruta Vulcu

Internationally the work description for festival and concert promoters remains generally similar. Booking artists, investing creativity and economical confidence, while simultaneously taking care of promotion and production. But, if this fails to be exciting enough, perhaps you could try replacing artists with a Pope? As there are usually fewer popes than artists, even though certain artists may consider themselves some sort of spiritual leaders, putting a Pope on stage would appear a very rare occassion for the vast majority of concert promoters.

However, Codruta Vulcu does in fact belong to the very exclusive minority within the global community of concert promoters, who has in fact put a Pope on stage. To be precise she did this on June 2nd in Blaj in Romania in front of some 100.000 people. Taking into consideration the fact that the Vatican appears to be somewhat behind the rest of the world when it comes to gender equality, the staging of this event says a lot about her qualification and abilities. 

In terms of her secular and other professional activities, Vulcu is the founder and director of the ARTmania Festival in Sibiu in Romania, a location that indicates the geographical reach of ETEP. The festival is held in the centre of Sibiu and celebrates its 15th edition in 2020. Vulcu and her team even manage to add a music conference for professionals to the event, a worthwhile convention which allows other Europeans to discover and explore how the music sector works in this part of Europe. In return Vulcu attends several of those events in Europe, that she considers helpful for her activities at Artmania. Attending ESNS has enabled her to undertake a profound analysis of ETEP and the situation for the live music sector in Eastern and Western Europe.

Text: Manfred Tari

ETEP.nl: What are your personal observations of ESNS and in particular ETEP-artists for your festival ARTmania?

Codruta Vulcu: ESNS feels like the start of the New Year, for the entire European Music Industry.
This gets you get back into the concert and event mood again, and gets you get inspired by seeing new and super quality acts and inspires you to share new trends & developments with your international colleagues.

The conference also acts as the meeting point for some important associations within the industry, such as the health and safety departments, where you wrap up the conclusions of the previous year and start working on ideas & methods to improve the sector.

In regard to the artists, I start following the ETEP acts as soon as they are announced via the Eurosonic platform. It’s a great selection of premium acts, from different music genres, which we can already see will be the headliners of the future. During the event I go and also check how their live performance is, in order to decide about the final booking.

Also observing how the audience reacts to these acts, alongside the response of the professional community, gives me a clue to the potential of a particular musician or band.

ETEP.nl: When taking ETEP under scrutiny, which of the programme’s benefits comes into your mind first?

Codruta Vulcu: I think it’s very important, to have a good working exchange scheme in Europe for the musical repertoire. Europe was always about diversity and creativity and I strongly believe through this cultural exchange we learn more about each other. Also, we bring high added value to each other’s way of experiencing reality.

On a more practical level, for the festival organizer, the ETEP program already offers a great selection of acts from all the other European countries. It would be very hard to follow the new and upcoming acts from every country without this program.

Also, the attached financial scheme, helps you choose acts strictly based on the quality of the act and on the way you consider it best fits in your own festival line-up, despite the act maybe being unknown in your own territory. I think this helps the festival, but also the artists. Performing at several European festivals, which usually have both local and international campaigns, the artists manage to become known on a pan European level much faster.

ETEP.nl: What would be your recommendations for how ETEP could even be improved in the future?

Codruta Vulcu: For a festival organizer a wishful thinking would be to include or develop a similar program for the promotion of European festivals in other European countries.

I believe not only artists but also festivals, which are individual artistic products, generate a huge youth movement, within the continent. And this movement of youth to discover new festivals, to have new experiences, in new European countries helps us learn more about European cultural diversity, understand each other more, and, in the end, enhance the feeling of one big European family.

ETEP.nl: A few years ago there was an extra edition of ETEP named CEETEP, focusing on the needs of artists and festivals in Central Europe. Is there still a need for something like CEETEP that perhaps meet the needs of artists and festivals better than just ETEP in its current format?

Codruta Vulcu: Coming from the eastern part of Europe, I would strongly recommend something similar to CEETEP to be reignited. The market develops at a fast pace and supporting the local artists and the exchange of these artists within the regional festivals is vital for maintaining the diversity of the regional musical scene.

And maybe the young acts from this region need support more than any others in launching their music within the region and further towards Western Europe.

ETEP.nl: Please explain the market situation of festivals in Eastern Europe. Have you identified particular differences compared to festivals in Western Europe?

Codruta Vulcu: The festival market in Eastern Europe is booming for the moment, having several events recognised at an international level. From major festivals to boutique ones, from field events to city festivals, the region provides quality products for every taste. Most are usually organised with a lot of consideration to detail plus having the flavour of Eastern hospitality.

But I have realised a major difference, during the talks with my industry friends. In comparison to Western European festivals, those in Eastern Europe depend strongly on the marketing and sponsorship money of big companies. Without them, the festival scene would look completely different. And here is where I think the biggest challenge will be for us, in the future; how to make the festival scene sustainable when this supply of funds becomes redirected or cut because of potential financial recession periods or crises.

ETEP.nl: What kind of artists and bands are of interest for your event? Would you take on also newcomers and if so, what are your artistic preferences?

Codruta Vulcu: Despite only being in the ETEP programme with ARTmania festival, which is a rock and metal event, I am also listening and attending the shows of other musical genres. During the conference we scout for acts for several events we either organize, coproduce or only book.

And yes, I am checking the newcomers as they bring the fresh sound & vibe to any event. Not to mention that some of them will be the headliners of the future so we try to promote them on our market.

ETEP.nl: Do you promote ARTmania abroad in other countries and in case yes, in which countries?

Codruta Vulcu: We have not done that so far, but in 2020 we start promoting the event in Germany, Austria and the Nordic countries. Taking place in Sibiu, in a beautiful medieval town in the center of Transylvania, coming to the festival is not only about listening to your favourite acts, but also visiting some amazing city sites & surroundings.

ETEP.nl: Which festivals and music conferences do you intend to visit in 2020?

Codruta Vulcu: A must see for me this year are: Mad Cool festival in Spain, Iceland Airwaves in Iceland, Sea Star Festival in Croatia, NOS Alive in Portugal and Nova Rock in Austria.

As for conferences and showcase festivals these events are always a must: ESNS, ILMC, Reeperbahn Festival and International Festival Forum.