Will a new 'Music Export Office' promote Czech pop abroad?
Bands like Mig 21 and Chinaski may be pretty famous here in the Czech Republic, but might well leave you asking 'who?' That might not be the situation for that much longer, however, with the Czech Republic discussing plans for a Music Export Office - to raise the profile of Czech pop abroad. If it goes ahead with the plans, the Czech Republic will join the ranks of Finland, Denmark, Sweden and France, who all already have such government-funded offices to promote their musicians in other markets. Who better to fill me in on the situation than the woman behind the Czech export office? Earlier today, I spoke to Monika Klementova, who explained what the purpose of such an organisation would be:
"What the Music Export Office seeks to do is promote Czech music outside the Czech Republic, and to try and present Czech bands and artists outside the Czech Republic. Also, it would be great to create a database of all of the professional musicians there are here - and to help them access European Union Funds."
Up until now, maybe Czech pop music has found it difficult to break into foreign markets, and hasn't enjoyed such big success abroad. And maybe this office would help counter that - but don't you think that one of the biggest problems with Czech pop is that it is sung in this language which very few people around the world understand?
"Actually, I don't think so. I don't think it has anything to do with the language, because it isn't only Czechs who are faced with this problem, what about Hungarians, for example?"
"So I don't think that this is the case. It is more about the music. If you ask some international festivals and clubs what they are looking for, and who they would like to stage the concerts of, they always say 'it's not about the language, it's about the music'. It's about the creativity of the artist - that it is something unusual, that it is something which is maybe based upon the musical roots of a country, but with a modern twist, in a new style."
It has been written that some record companies aren't in favour of this idea. Why do you think that this idea has not yet gained the support of many of this country's major record labels?
"It's a bit difficult, because the major labels are trying to promote, and trying to push the hits, the biggest-selling records, the mainstream songs. And the Czech Export Office might support 'young-talent', and the newcomers on the market as well - and these could be difficult for the major labels to promote."
"Also, the major labels are working on their own markets. Here, in the Czech Republic, for example, you have four or five major labels just working within the Czech Republic. And these major record labels have different branches in different countries too - so they can export music that way."