Tallinn Music Week 2020 conference opening speech by Katrin Isotamm, Head of Communication at Telia Estonia

TMW is presented by Telia
28 August 2020

Welcome and congratulations – for holding the city festival of tomorrow´s music, arts and ideas for 12th time already, and especially here and now – because what a time it is to hold it… The double efforts of TMW team are however even more valuable in this new reality than they were ever before because coming together, be it a blended version of virtual and physical presence, connecting, supporting each other, thinking about and shaping the future together, and most importantly – having some fun and positive emotions together is something we need and also long to do. So personally, I´ve been really looking forward for TMW to kick off!

Also congrats for the first-ever TMW hybrid conference, and warm regards to the ones behind their screens in numerous parts of the world! It is of course only natural to have a special focus on resilience and leading change this time.

Probably said too many times already, but the idea of change and adoption has been really taken to new heights this year, and at all levels simultaneously – affecting our personal lives, businesses, all industries, and the whole society.

Even if we might experience slight fatigue of screens due to the heavy usage over the past months, it is still all sorts of digital solutions, -devices, -environments and -formats that have helped us to connect, stay in touch, seek for advice and support, or just bring positive emotions over the spring and summer – and given that the world will most probably not be the same as 8 months ago ever again, taking further steps in digitalization and implementing new technologies in all industries and areas of life (creative, education, etc) is now more important than ever.

We saw 50 %+ increase in calls and data usage over spring in Estonia. Telia also had to put in double or triple efforts to keep our networks and services up and running at all times and with high quality, regardless of sharply increased needs and changed usage patterns (everybody switching their devices in at 8 am simultaneously and so on). We saw people moving to the countryside and working uninterruptedly from there, thousands of kids transforming to remote schooling in just a couple of days. We saw peaking demand for high-quality tv content and experimented many new formats in entertainment and education – virtual concerts of course, but also e-sports, school lessons over tv to supports kids and teachers in this new situation, etc.

All in all, Estonia was much better off than many other countries to face the unexpected crisis thanks to the high level of digitalization of the country dating back to brave and future-oriented steps taken already in 1990ies. However, we also saw downsides and new problems emerging. Many kids not having a proper internet connection or computer to work with. Digital fatigue. Digital divide for seniors that poses a serious threat of solitude. Cyberbullying that became even more of a severe problem given that everyone was online, all the time.

As the world continues to change and reshape, we need to be conscious about those different sides of digitalization. We definitely need to boldly but also responsibly utilize the new opportunities brought on by new technologies. Looking at people´s behaviours right now one can easily say that the digital trends in entertainment and creative industry will not turn back even if we get rid of COVID19. So innovation and digital engagement are inevitable for future success. Accessible and interactive virtual platforms, AR and VR solutions will definitely enrich the creative industry and -experience going forward. But we also need to consider how physical distance and virtual formats mentally affect both artists and their audiences. We need to address the digital divide so everyone would have equal access to all those great new opportunities, and enhance better, smarter and safer usage of internet overall.

I believe that these issues are serious enough to be tackled and solved only in strong partnerships and by ecosystems – no-one can do it alone, neither state, private sector, or purposeful NGOs. I´m really proud of Telia´s partnership with TMW – cooperation that brings a lot of value to our customers and has continuously evolved based on shared values. TMW is a forerunner in many ways, rising important problems and taking action. The festival stands for sustainable development, equal opportunities, diversity, ´a society without stitches´ – the same as Telia. For 3 years now, we´ve been joining forces to actively promote SDGs and a more conscious world together, and we continue as these values and goals are even more relevant in 2020 and going forward. The resilience of the creative sector, a collaboration between many different partners and industries, and enabling human connection  – if not physically then through culture and technology will help to shape a better future for us.

What we decide and act upon today will change how tomorrow will look like. We need to re-think, re-imagine, re-purpose, re-connect, re-build. This is what this conference is for, right? Let´s get to it!

Photo by Aron Urb
Video by RGB