Tenth Tallinn Music Week proved itself as a forward-looking city festival | Tallinn Music Week
25-31 March 2019 – Tallinn, Estonia

Tenth Tallinn Music Week proved itself as a forward-looking city festival

At the centre of various programme parts, discussions and activities of Tallinn Music Week (TMW) city festival last week in Tallinn were smart and sustainable human-centered cities that have room for creativity as well as entrepreneurialism that brings together different areas. The TMW Creative Impact Conference was the first international conference in Estonia to reach a gender balance among speakers. To highlight the future changes in Tallinn by the Main Street city development, the TMW transformed Viru Square into a pedestrian-friendly festival oasis as part of an unprecedented public space experiment.

The festival was presented by Telia Estonia with Nordic Hotel Forum, Eesti Meedia, Enterprise Estonia and Telliskivi Creative City as the main partners. The Main Street public space experiment was supported by Viru Keskus.

TMW that took place already for the tenth time on 2-8 April drew a total of 34 170 visitors, including 1330 festival delegates who attended the TMW Creative Impact Conference. In addition to the diverse music programme and conference, the festival also offered new experiences in film, arts and cuisine.

The TMW Creative Impact Conference that took place on 6 and 7 April in Tallinn Creative Hub’s seven rooms, hosted 146 visionaries and specialists from different fields, out of which 76 were women and 70 men. Thus, the TMW conference was the first international conference in Estonia to reach a gender balance among speakers. The main topics of the conference were creativity as the generator of the new economy, the future of music, human-friendly public space and design thinking. Important keywords throughout the conference were future skills, gender equality, civil activism and sustainable development.

“I am so proud to see how Tallinn Music Week has developed into a creative hub, combining the freshest thinking in music, economy, the future of our cities, and facing environmental challenges,” President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid said in her opening speech. “Let us use technology to find solutions to world problems, to help Africa leapfrog into the future and to grow our economies without ruining our nature. That was so 20th century to get rich on the expense of our environment.”

The opening speech by President Kersti Kaljulaid at the TMW conference. In text.

The opening of the conference was followed by a speech on inclusive digitalisation and sustainable development goals by Henriette Wendt, Senior Vice President and Head of Cluster at Telia, and a presentation on future technologies and cities as the networks of creative cooperation by Kristjan Port, Professor at the School of Natural Sciences and Health of Tallinn University. The new economy session of the conference was run by Luminor bank, covering discussions from immediate financial advice to digital innovation. The discussions on music centered, among other topics, on creating future scenarios for analytical journalism, researching sources of revenues and new music markets in the digital era, and mapping the global clubbing landscape. The human-centered public space session, presented by Telliskivi Creative City, focused on the night economy and the vision of Tallinn-Helsinki twin city, and one of the most exciting parts of the design thinking session were the presentations on the future scenarios for the city of Narva.

Discussions and activities around human-centered public space, future of Tallinn and the European Capital of Culture were visible throughout the festival programme. The second half of the festival week drew attention to the fact that the city centre of Tallinn will be transformed in coming years as the main street is being reconstructed. One of the most memorable events, as part of the activities mapping the possibilities of a human-friendly public space, took place on Saturday, 7 April, when rapper Arop, author of the best Estonian song last year, held a secret gig at Viru Square on the rooftop of a mirrored glass design house built by ÖÖD, which also  served as a studio for MyHits radio during the festival week.

Arop at Viru Ring. Photo: Patrik Tamm

“Tallinn Music Week is much larger than a music event, it is a central event for the whole city culture,” Mayor of Tallinn Taavi Aas commented. “This festival marks the beginning of spring and brings people to public spaces, making them interact with what is being created and with each other. I am happy that Tallinn Music Week brings together different spheres of life, city planning meets music, and the festival used its powerful platform this year to remind us that the heart of Tallinn is changing, it will become friendlier and closer to people, that is the objective of the new Main Street.”

The concerts and club nights of the TMW 2018 three-day music programme took place at almost 20 venues all across the city, from Telliskivi to the Russian Cultural Centre, from Rotermann underground parking lot to the Swedish St Michael’s Church and legendary artists hub KuKu club. There were 262 artists from around the world performing in different genres – from jazz to metal, from folk to contemporary classical music, and from pop to adventurous future sounds. The music programme was opened on Thursday, 5 April, at the Russian Cultural Centre with a concert by Absolute Club, a project by Kristjan Järvi and the Sunbeam Productions, dedicated to the centenary of Estonia and the jubilee of the TMW.

TMW 2018 Opening Concert. Photo: Ly Unga

The festival, focused on presenting new musical talents, brought fresh sounds with the warm-up party for the upcoming Narva Station festival and the juke and footwork night Booty Powder at Sveta bar, a two-day artpop and future music spectacle CryptoMarket at KuKu club, a rave at the Rotermann underground parking lot, a techno marathon by British record label Downwards at club HALL, club concerts presented by Telia, including a night for the new summer festival Sweet Spot at Telliskivi Roheline Saal, and a contemporary music programme by British record label 130701 and Japan Sound Portrait project. Selections of classical music were presented by Eesti Kontsert and the Association of Choir Music. In addition to the nightly concerts and club nights, there were more than 100 afternoon city stage concerts at unusual places, from the Re-use Centre to one of the suites of the Nordic Hotel Forum hotel, and from Viru Keskus shopping centre to Temnikova & Kasela Gallery.

The festival pop-up cafe at the Design and Architecture Gallery, run by coffee gourmands’ favourite Renard Coffee Shop and the culinary duo RabaPeet, attracted both diners as well as visitors interested in the public discussions of TMW Talks. Discussions held at the pop-up cafe, record store BiitMe and cafe Must Puudel focused on burning issues at the crossroads of music, identity and culture – from environmental myths to the new self-awareness of the Eastern European music scene, and from the future scenarios of the Tallinn Main Street to the revival of the popular Check My Demo session at Raadio 2.

The TMW jubilee festival also presented an art programme curated by the Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center, movie screenings at Kino Sõprus, creative workshops for children, a restaurant programme TMW Tastes and a spring-time Design Market.

The winners of the TMW 2018 Artist Award, presented by Telia and Telliskivi Creative City, will be decided by both the public vote as well as on the feedback of the festival delegates of music specialists. You can choose your favourite Estonian artist on the TMW website or app until midnight of 18 April. Additional information.

TMW is founded and run by Shiftworks, previously known as Musiccase. The new name of the company traces the collective actions of reinvention, turning creative, cultural and communication tools into effective soft power engine.

Tallinn Music Week 2018 in numbers:

262 artists from 31 countries
34 170 festival visitors
1330 delegates, incl. 870 foreigners
150 foreign journalists
83 festival venues

Tallinn Music Week 2017 in numbers:

250 artists from 32 countries
36 823 festival visitors
1193 delegates, incl. 879 foreigners
132 foreign journalists
80 festival venues

TMW 2018 partners and delegates about the festival:

“As we know, the best way to predict the future is to create it yourself. The TMW is doing just that – actively shaping the ideas and Estonia of tomorrow. By inspiring, thinking big and being bold. Thank you!”

– Katrin Isotamm, Head of Communications at Telia Estonia

“We are happy to have been a major supporter and partner of the TMW for all 10 years, since the beginning of the festival to this day. Throughout these shared 10 years, we have believed in the festival, and followed its fast development and strong growth. Every spring, the TMW makes our hearts beat faster and our hotel to shake with music, our building is full of music and music-loving guests at that time. We love this time of spring! I do not believe there are any music fans left who do not find Nordic Hotel Forum to be a culture-friendly hotel and a second home in Tallinn for all our music friends. And we are sincerely happy about that!”

– Feliks Mägus, General Manager of Nordic Hotel Forum

“Throughout all these long years, the annual cooperation with the wonderful TMW team and the dozens of concerts at the atrium of Viru Keskus have become a natural part of the heart of the city as well as our activities. But I have to give extra credit to the TMW for their grandiose vision to embrace the whole city, in addition to music, with arts, tastes and, most of all, important topics concerning the society as well as the city of Tallinn. It is remarkable that a secret concert took place at Viru Square which gathered the audience to a new area, and that together with the TMW we were able to draw attention to upcoming changes in the city center and to the fact that we are able to create a human-centered and dignified area only jointly with the citizens, companies and the city of Tallinn.”

– Taivi Koitla, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer of Viru Keskus

“The TMW conference is especially powerful and meaningful because the focus of the speakers and workshops is on solutions. When we make visions and, at the same time, stand our ground, we do not just concentrate on discussing the issues of the society and the environment around us, but we also take a step forward. We are happy to have been a part of that.”

– Mirjam Mikkin, Marketing Manager of Luminor Estonia

“Visit Estonia team has had good cooperation with Tallinn Music Week for years. The festival becomes more internationally popular and brings foreign journalists and artists to Estonia who would otherwise not come here. They will talk about an event that is professionally organised and exciting. This will bring new audience in coming years, but also other guests outside the festival time who see Estonia as an interesting destination. In the case of the TMW, this means active youth who are looking for exciting experiences and are willing to share them with their friends. A well organised big event is like a stone thrown into calm waters – it makes a noise once, but the circles around it make waves longer and further.”

– Annely Vürmer, Acting Director of the Estonian Tourist Board at Enterprise Estonia

“Tallinn Music Week is unlike any other music industry conference. It frames music, industry insight and curated networking opportunities within the very broad context of creative impact, innovation and music’s contribution to alternative futures. This is why TMW 2018 offered a perfect platform for the first gathering of our Keychange network which consists of 60 female artists and industry pros who will forge their own, innovative ways to shape music in the 21st Century. From meeting with local entrepreneurs in Tallinn’s creative industries hub to watching Keychange acts take over the stages at some of the city’s incredible venues, we’re still buzzing from last week’s experience of TMW. Congratulations to everyone involved and for presenting a brilliant and  balanced conference which included as many women as men discussing the latest in creative thinking.“

– Vanessa Reed, Chief Executive at PRS Foundation

“Of the many conferences I have attended over the years, Tallinn Music Week is truly one of my favorites. TMW is a perfect representative of what makes Estonia so special: innovative, collaborative, forward-thinking, ambitious, warm and inviting. The city of Tallinn is a truly special place – a perfect balance of the beauty of antiquity and the excitement of the new – and Tallinn Music Week uses the city as the perfect creative canvas for both. The most pressing issues of our time – global security, individual identity, artistic pursuit and challenges through modern technology – are discussed, expressed and experienced in a warm collective dialogue. Like the best conferences and festivals, you want to be in multiple places at once and find yourself constantly informed, entertained and inspired. It is something not to be missed.”

– Thomas Golubic, Guild of Music Supervisors (US)

“In its 10th year Tallinn Music Week was implicitly and directly about the balance between now and the future. Whether it’s gender equality or setting a context for Estonia and Tallinn as they move forward, the signs are inescapable: President Kersti Kaljulaid making her opening speech two days after she was in The White House, the festival’s kick-off concert being held in the Russian Cultural Institute, the announcement of a sister festival in the border town of Narva, shows taking place in the Russian Theatre – where the stunning Belausian trio Port Mone mesmerised a rapt audience. But Tallinn Music Week is not a lesson – it is a festival, a celebration. It is fun. Just look at the winning concert by prog rock-obsessed local heroes Pohja Konn. Would that looking forward with positivity was always this enjoyable.“

-Kieron Tyler, MOJOmagazine (UK)

“More than just a music festival, Tallinn Music Week is a vision of a brighter future, a celebration of human creativity, a way of building communities and new ways of working. It is critical yet positive, and its musical programming is an exhilarating learning experience. Here’s to another decade of creative thinking!“

– Anastasia Connor, Drowned In Sound (UK)

“Like Tarkovsky’s ‘Zone’, the festival is a magical place where anything can happen; a place of exploration, revelation, self-examination, release. Deconstructing socio-cultural myths, exploring the new human-digital interzones (in performance or policy) and somehow playing guitar with a drumstick in a wild artist’s social club at 2am are all tiny refractions of the same prism. A veritable fun factory. Liquid Modernity for the Real Heads. A blast. More.“

– Richard Foster, The Quietus  (UK)

“My 4th time at Tallinn Music Week and I can again confirm it is an eye opening, mind blowing experience. It goes totally out of the music world but then comes back and hits harder than you’d ever expect. Among all the festivals and showcases TMW dares to go further than any other such event I have been to. It became a showcase for a better future but somehow manages to still show great music and bring together a really broad bunch of interesting and inspiring people. With this mix the event does what has always proven to be the best idea: it broadens the horizon and explores other territories to bring new ideas into it’s first focus: music. Daring!“

– Andraž Kajzer, MENT festival (SI)

TMW is founded and run by Shiftworks, previously known as Musiccase. The new name of the company traces the collective actions of reinvention, turning creative, cultural and communication tools into effective soft power engine.

TMW 2018 is presented by Telia.
TMW 2018 is powered by Nordic Hotel Forum, Eesti Meedia, Enterprise Estonia and Telliskivi Creative City.
TMW 2018 partners are the Estonian Ministry of Culture,  Luminor, Viru Keskus, Music Estonia, Solaris, Tallink, Taxify, Moe Vodka, La Muu.
TMW 2018 is supported by Go Travel, ERR, R2, Rada7, RGB, The Estonian Design Centre, Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center, Estonian Academy of Arts, Festivality, Kokomo, The Estonian Children’s Literature Centre,  Estonian Roundtable for Development Cooperation, Cinema Sõprus, The Estonian Ministry of Culture, the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Tallinn City Enterprise Department, European Regional Development Fund, Tallinn Department of Culture, The European Commission, Ministry of the Environment, Interreg Europe.
TMW 2018 international partners are: Ebba Lindqvist PR, Chimes, Radio Helsinki, British Council, Embassy of Sweden in Tallinn, Finest Sounds, ETEP – European Talent Exchange Propgramme, Keychange.

Festival’s website is created by Velvet and Festivality, visual identity by AKU.