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Swiss pop gets the hard sell

Switzerland is looking to raise its pop music profile abroad Keystone

Pop music may not be the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about great Swiss exports.

This content was published on January 15, 2003 - 15:21

But a new organisation, known as Swiss Music Export (SME), is hoping to change all that.

Officially launched in both Zurich and Lausanne this week, SME has set itself the challenging task of increasing international awareness of contemporary Swiss music.

The association's director Marc Ridet insists there's plenty of talent in Switzerland, particularly in the realm of electronic music and rock but that, until now, there has been no concerted plan to showcase that talent.

"There's been a lot of interest in Swiss artists recently, but no one has really been proactive in going out and contacting festival organisers or preparing platforms exclusively for Swiss acts.

Right way

"More and more countries have been setting up this kind of project. Even the English, who are known for the strength of their music, have recently decided to open an export office in New York to boost their American sales. So we're convinced this is the right way to go."

Jointly funded by four cultural organisations, SME has an initial annual budget of just SFr200,000 ($145,000), but Ridet says that's enough to make a difference, given the precise aims of the association.

"We're concentrating on getting slots for Swiss artists at live events and festivals, and also on setting up stands at industry fairs such as MIDEM in Cannes and POPKOMM in Cologne," Ridet explained.

"And we'll also be doing a lot of networking, particularly with journalists in our primary target countries of Germany, France and England.

"Because we'll be working generally with new talent rather than established artists, our job will be done once we get them signed up to a publisher or record company. They will then be the ones who take on the more costly work of actually promoting the musicians to a wider audience."

Sonar festival

Although SME was officially launched this week, Ridet and his team have actually been working on the project for over a year with appearances at Barcelona's Sonar festival and the Batofar complex in Paris already under their belts.

During that time, Swiss acts such as Chewy, Luciano and Shakedown have all grown in stature and all of them with some help from SME.

More Swiss artists will be put on display next week when the association makes its first official showing at the MIDEM market. Further outings will include the festival for electronic music at Berlin's Club Transmediale, the Printemps de Bourges festival and the 2003 edition of Sonar.

swissinfo, Mark Ledsom in Zurich

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