This year's fourth edition of the M4Music festival attracted a record number of Swiss bands. The three-day festival gave young unknowns a chance to meet representatives of the music industry.This content was published on April 21, 2001 - 11:26
The festival, founded by Swiss retail giant Migros, took place in Zurich this month. Philipp Schnyder, head of the festival, told swissinfo about the concept behind the event. "M4Music Festival is about bringing people together, exchanging ideas, getting to know new people, and having a look at the artists and their arts."
For young Swiss bands, the highlight of the event was the "clinic", where they could submit demos to have them evaluated by professionals from the music industry and radio stations. This was done on stage, in front of an enthusiastic crowd.
One of the more promising bands was "Mild in Taste" from Frutigen in the Bernese Oberland. They were anxious to hear what the professionals thought about their song "Liar", but came away disappointed.
"It's very difficult for a jury to give a statement about a band or a song when it's only heard a minute and a half of a song", said Martin Hauswirth, the drummer.
Steve Imobersteg, the lead singer, regretted that the festival's VIP lounge was accessible only to people with a festival pass and people from the music industry.
"I find the VIP bar should be open for everyone, not only for important people. The festival on the whole is impersonal. It's cold, and it's about work and not fun".
"Mild in Taste" was founded in 1999 by Stefan Imobersteg (vocals), Orlando Demont (guitars), Silvan Schmid (Bass) and Martin Hauswirth (drums). The band met almost by accident a year earlier, as they were all footballers at Frutigen's local club.
Much of the discussion at festival focused on the relationship between music, the Internet and copyright laws. There was also a debate on whether quotas should be introduced to force radio stations to play Swiss music.
Schnyder says the copyright issue is one of the most controversial facing the music industry today. "Well-known artists feel threatened, because they fear people won't buy their music anymore. But there's another camp of lesser known musicians who say the Internet is their best hope of promotion."
The festival also focused on how technology is likely to affect the way music is produced, sold and listened to in the future. One view is that the Internet will become the main medium by which music is distributed.
Alec von Tavel, founder of the Swiss distributor Disctrade, attended the M4Music festival because he was interested in how the Internet is affecting the music industry.
"I think the issue of music and the Internet is very important to every record company and artist at the moment. As nobody knows in which direction this thing is going to go, it's important to keep your ears open."
Alec von Tavel sees no reason to be afraid of the Internet. "I found great new music thanks to the Internet, and then I bought the CDs. So to me, it's more of a promotion thing, than something to kill the music industry, even though it might kill it."
Xenia Schlägel, of Sony Music in Switzerland, expressed a different view. "People have to be aware that music means someone had to write it, and someone lives from it. The public is not aware that by downloading files from the Internet, somebody suffers."
"Mild in Taste" will have a website by next autumn. In the meantime, they can be reached at the following e-mail address: email@example.com
by Jeff Nottage
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