Tallinn Music Week 2023 draws 18.032 visits to the Estonian capital Tallinn

17 May 2023 ConferenceMusic Festival

Bazzookas (NL) at TMW City Stage in Telliskivi Creative City Photo: Sulev Lange

  • The 15th edition of the international new music and city festival Tallinn Music Week (TMW) took place last week, from 10th to 14th May in the Estonian capital Tallinn.
  • TMW 2023 hosted 188 artists from 41 countries, 173 conference speakers and 1212 music and culture industry professionals from all over the world. The event drew a total of about 18.032 visits. 
  • 51% of the acts on the music festival line-up had women or queer representation.
  • The next edition of TMW is scheduled to take place from 3rd to 7th April 2024. A limited amount of TMW 2024 Early Bird passes are on sale at the TMW webshop until 31st May. TMW 2024 artist applications open on Monday, 22nd May.

From 10th to 14th May, TMW, the festival of “tomorrow’s music, arts and ideas” filled Tallinn with music from around the world, tackled the present and future of the music industry and offered explorations from art to diverse neighbourhoods across the UNESCO City of Music and European Green Capital 2023. 

TMW’s 15th edition kicked off in  Tallinn Art Hall’s Lasnamäe Pavilion. The music festival from 11th to 13th May reached Telliskivi Creative City, the Old Town, Noblessner Port and Kopli area, showcasing 188 artists of various genres from all over Europe, North and South America, Canada, Africa and the Middle East — from Ugandan Arsenal Mikebe’s powerful percussion set to the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre Choir’s premiere of six new works by young composers; from Ukrainian-Welsh queer duo tAngerine Cat, London-based hyper-pop artist and Keychange talent Pyra to Swedish pop’s wunderkind Graham Lake and the whole Made in Canada showcase. The multi-genre programme put emphasis on local manifestations of global music trends, traditional music both in its original form and modern remakes and forward-looking post-genre fusions. TMW also takes pride in the fact that 51% of the acts on the bill had women or queer representation. 

Arsenal Mikebe (UG) at Africa NOW showcase. Photo: Kaie Kiil

Estonian vibrant music scenes and talent were presented, among others, by diverse record labels Estonian Funk Embassy, Porridge Bullet and TIKS rekords; festivals from Viljandi Folk to Üle Heli, venues from Club HALL to Philly Joe’s Jazz Club, Fotografiska Tallinn and brand new Paavli Culture Factory; organisations from Estonian Public Broadcaster Ráadio 2, celebrating its 30th anniversary, Estonian Choral Association, Fenno-Ugria, the newly launched Heavy Music Association and more. Among the 91 domestic artists were the pop producers and singers Karl Killing and Daniel Levi, soul diva Rita Ray, folk innovators Duo Ruut and Tuulikki Bartosik, avant-pop trailblazer Mart Avi, alternative RnB act manna, noise rock legend Shelton San, jazz stars Kadri Voorand and Mingo Rajandi, Estonian-Swiss multi-talent Ingrid Lukas, as well as newcomers such as Borm Bubu and maria kallastu.

The 2-day conference in Nordic Hotel Forum opened on Friday, 12th May with addresses by the Minister of Culture for Estonia Heidy Purga and Director of TMW Helen Sildna and a video greeting by Georg Häusler. Director for Culture, Creativity and Sport in the European Commission. Developed in collaboration with the national music export and development office Music Estonia, the conference addressed topics from human and AI relations to digital literacy and the future of radio and music education. Attended by 1212 music and culture industry professionals, the event hosted the opening dialogue “The age of ecosystems — how to further develop a sustainable European music ecosystem in transition?” of the European Commission’s Music Moves Europe sessions for the next four years. 

Ed O’Brien at the TMW conference. Photo: Aron Urb

The highlights of the conference included keynotes and discussions on digital innovation and A.I. and an interview with Ed O’Brien of Radiohead and EOB about the importance of civic engagement and sustainability for musicians. New ‘glocal’ identities were analysed by the panel of festival heads, curators and conceptualists from all over the world. Presented by ArcticSonic, the story of climate change was told through science and indigenous inuit artists. Diversity, equity and inclusion in music were represented at the conference by Keychange’s innovators and special Creative Labs programme.

The TMW city programme featured free daytime City Stage gigs from Viru Center to the sun terrace next to the sea container at Telliskivi Creative City. The art programme featured a gallery tour hosted by the Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center as well as complex sound art exhibitions within the art festival “I Don’t Understand” and light installations by the students of the Estonian Academy of Arts. The city festival also hosted public discussion series Talks, kids’ mini-festival, Record Fair and a bike tour down the Pollinator Highway. Over 30 restaurants in the TMW Tastes selection introduced Tallinn’s burgeoning food scene. TMW’s green tours and community discussions were supported by Tallinn – European Green Capital 2023. 

Sound art exhibition Sound Speaks. Photo: Ake Heiman

The next edition of TWM is scheduled to take place from 3rd – 7th April 2024.

TMW 2024 passes are now on sale at the TMW webshop. Until the end of May, the Festival Pass and PRO Pass are available at Super Early Bird prices of 45 euros and 100 euros respectively. TMW 2024 artist applications open via TMW homepage on Monday, 22nd May.

Comments from the TMW 2023 partners and PRO delegates

Ed O’Brien, musician (Radiohead, EOB):
“I had an incredible few days in Tallinn at the wonderful TMW festival. Met some very cool people, saw some great live music, and experienced art and sound installations. I’d never been to Estonia but was so blown away by this vibrant country. They understand the importance of culture and its part in a vibrant society.  When one visits a place that truly appreciates contemporary art, music and literature it feels well, for want of a better word, BEAUTIFUL … The odd and different things are cherished too, not gauged by how much something is worth or how many it has sold. It’s all about connecting emotionally, spiritually and physically with something beautiful.”

Jaanus Juss, Founder of Telliskivi Creative City:
“TMW is definitely an event that turns our somewhat sleepy city into the centre of the world with its positive energy year after year. It raises the world’s awareness of Tallinn as a cultural mecca with fresh ideas and endless possibilities. It is very uplifting to talk to international delegates and journalists, who are amazed at how culture can be promoted in Estonia.”

Susanne Holmann, Deputy Head of the Cultural Policy Unit, European Commission:
“TMW was a great host for the first session of the new Music Moves Europe Dialogues, a new series of discussions and workshops designed to bring together diverse players in the European music ecosystem, including artists, industry professionals, representative organisations, policymakers, and researchers. The discussions build on previous exchanges at the EU level and should help us to reflect together, and raise understanding of the complex music ecosystem and the needs of the sector to develop further in a sustainable manner. It should also generate ideas for European and national policy-making on music, including ways to support the sector, its professionals and musicians in a targeted way. The MME Dialogues are implemented by a consortium of major European music conferences with support from the European Commission, including funding under Creative Europe.
Surely, events like TMW allow us to discover new music, mostly made in Europe – something to be proud of. They are also crucial for creating a collaborative and inclusive environment where different perspectives can be heard and taken into consideration. They provide an opportunity for stakeholders to network, form partnerships, and explore new possibilities for collaboration. They are essential for promoting dialogue and understanding within the music ecosystem, and they can help to raise awareness of key challenges affecting it, such as the sector’s digital transformation, its green and sustainable transition, aspects relating to equality and gender balance, questions linked to copyright reform and fair remuneration of artists, the lack of sound music data or the cross-border circulation of emerging artists and repertoire within Europe and beyond.”

Divya Bhatia, Festival Director of Jodhpur RIFF:
“TMW exudes a generosity of spirit like no other showcase I have been to. It is so clear and comprehensive and focused on its mandate that one can’t help but feel a relaxed and simple enthusiasm about going about the business at hand. Full credit to the team, the venues, partners and visionary leadership of TMW for such a fresh and positive event in our industry.”

Jukka Hätinen, marketing and communications specialist and presenter at Radio Helsinki:
“From the thought-provoking Talks to the mouth-watering Tastes to the uncut diamond that is called Telliskivi, the city of Tallinn was blooming and buzzing. This year’s Tallinn Music Week was hands down the liveliest and most exciting edition of the festival I’ve attended. Be it trailblazing pop or innovative avant-garde, interesting artists were around each corner to be found. I also loved how the city’s creative force is taking over new areas in Tallinn – for example, the Art Pavilion at Lasnamäe and what’s bubbling at Kopli.”

Ragnar Berthling, Managing Director of Musikcentrum Öst and Co-founder of Keychange: “TMW was one of the initiators of Keychange and has been a driving force for developing Keychange into what it is today. By bringing this diverse group together for meaningful exchange and showcasing the artists at the best possible venues. This work has continued and developed through the crisis of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. This is why the whole Keychange team is excited to come to Tallinn again in 2024 for a visionary wrap-up and to set new bold targets for the future Keychange. There can be no better place.”

Sophie Walker, Associate Editor at The Line of Best Fit:
“TMW is an incredible showcase not only of the quality, breadth and distinction of Estonian artists but of the city itself. Moving from stage to stage across Tallinn, you enter more than a venue but a carefully curated world. No two acts are the same, just as every turn you take yields another surprise in this exciting, constantly evolving city.”

Gordon Johnstone, member of the Scottish band Post Coal Prom Queen:
“TMW has been a phenomenal experience – it has been the most friendly, supportive, welcoming and fascinating festival we’ve ever attended. The whole festival perfectly captured the ambition, talent and potential of the Estonian music scene. We saw Estonian singer-songwriters in their teens, traditional folk, metal, hip hop, noise and pop – Estonia’s music scene challenges any music scene in the world in its talent and diversity.”

Ott Evestus, Founder of Estonian Heavy Music Association:
“TMW brings us from the office to the map! Just one weekend of work and our organisation is already on the map of Europe, we have a much better understanding of our role both locally and on the European scale, and the paths towards international cooperation are unfolding. The feedback from the artists who performed at our Metal Stage showcase shows that never before have so many delegates visited the heavier-sounding showcase as this year. This means that the musicians can really focus on their performances while the association makes sure they get seen by the right people.”

Mari Kalkun (EE) at Fenno-Ugria Night. Photo: Henri-Kristian Kirsip

TMW2023 in numbers

188 artists from 41 countries Lineup
51% of the artists in the lineup included women and queer members
173 conference speakers, of which 78 (45%) were women. Lineup
1212 PRO delegates/music industry representatives
28 music showcase nights across 12 music venues
58 programme locations across Tallinn
18.032 festival visits

TMW 2023 was organised by Shiftworks with various partners and co-organisers. The conference programme was completed in collaboration with the national music industry development centre and export office Music Estonia.

TMW is a co-founder of The Federation of International Music Conferences (FoMC), and a member of the European talent exchange programme ESNS Exchange, the global gender equality network Keychange and the European showcase platform for world music UPBEAT.

TMW 2023 was supported by Nordic Hotel Forum, the Ministry of Culture, the Cultural Endowment, the city of Tallinn, the UNESCO City of Music Tallinn, and Tallinn – European Green Capital. The partners were Music Estonia, Fairmus, Viru Center, Telliskivi Creative City, Postimees, Öun Drinks, Go Travel, British Council Estonia, and the Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Estonia. Media partners: Postimees, Raadio 2

Music programme curators: Club HALL, Damn.Loud, Dark Disko. Estonian Choral Association, Estonian Funk Embassy, Estonian Heavy Music Association, Fenno-Ugria, Intsikurmu Festival, OOPUS, Paavli Culture Factory, Philly Joe’s Jazz Club, Porridge Bullet,  Sveta Baar, TIKS rekords, Viljandi Folk Music Festival, Võnge Festival, Raadio 2, Smoke Break, World Clinic, Üle Heli. The international partners: Keychange, Canadian Estonian Music Week, The Women in Music Canada, Cindy & Kate, Skaņu mežs,

City festival partners: Tallinn – European Green Capital, Estonian Contemporary Art Development Center (ECADC), students of the Estonian Academy of Arts (EKA) and sculptor Elo Liiv, Endover, the Nordic Council of Ministers in Estonia, Telliskivi Creative City, Viru Center, Record Fair

Conference centre: Nordic Hotel Forum

Music venues: Club HALL, Erinevate Tubade Klubi/Club of Different Rooms, F-Hoone, Fotografiska Tallinn, Kivi Paber Käärid, Paavli Culture Factory, Philly Joe’s Jazz Club, Sveta Baar, Uus Laine, Vaba Lava Tallinn, Von Krahl,  

Art galleries and locations: Tallinn Art Hall Lasnamäe Pavilion, Okapi Gallery, Temnikova & Kasela Gallery, Gallery Positiiv, Juhan Kuus Documentary Photography Centre, Vaal Gallery. Telliskivi Creative City Green Hall and B-building’s corridor, Kuppel Gallery, Fotografiska Tallinn, Krulli Quarter

City Stages: Ilma pood, TMW info desk/sea container in Telliskivi Creative City, Põhja Konn, Tallinn Art Hall Lasnamäe Pavilion, Viru Burger x Volta Resto, Viru Food Hall, Salme 12 (Kalamaja Days)

Restaurants: Barbarea, Bliss, Bueno Gourmet, Café Fotografiska Tallinn, CHI, F-hoone, F.Burger, Fika – Bread and Coffee, Guru, Kebaboom, KimiJimi Food Club, Kolm Sibulat – Three Onions, Kolm Tilli pizza & pasta, Külm Ice Cream, La Muu Café, Lee, Lendav Maaler, Lendav Taldrik, MEZE, Mikkeller, Moon, MySushi, Noho, Oasis, Ocean 11, Orangerie, Paju Villa, Paper Mill Coffee & Roastery, Pavlova, Peas Out!, Peet Ruut, Poké Bowl, Rudolf, Salt, Samsa Family Bakers, SMAK, Stereo Street Food, Tsunft, Vapiano, Viru Burger X Volta Resto, ÜloTMW homepage and DigiPRO platform: Raik Ilves

Visual identity and design: Vello Lutter and Uku-Kristjan Küttis (AKU Collective)

Conference panel stream and recordings: RGB

TMW 2023 PRO and DigiPRO clients can watch the conference panel recordings on TMW PRO platform until the TMW 2024 festival from next week.

TMW press photos

Best of TMW 2023