Why did we start Eastaste?
A quick interview with Renato Horvath, one of the founders of Eastaste.
Can you tell us about your background?
My first major passion was film-making. I started working with production companies in London but then moved back to Hungary to work on foreign films there. Later I got involved with all kinds of cultural events, like the Sneaker Pimps exhibition, which somehow led to managing bands. It took over my life and we established Fourty Management with two friends looking after about a dozen of Hungarian alternative bands. It kind of dried up after a few years, and I moved back to London where I also started organizing live events with great local bands, and kept on working with a couple of my Hungarian ones as well.
What was the main motivation behind starting Easttaste?
In recent years it has become clear that combining music and film is essential if both me and my bands want to make a living, so it seemed natural to use my experience from these two fields. There’s a similar pattern in whatever I do to bridge the East and the West, which is probably rooted in me hating to be behind the Iron Wall as a kid.
Why Eastaste - why are you focusing on Eastern Europe in particular?
As a booking agent for several Hungarian bands, I’ve been to many festivals and club gigs in the region, It was almost a revelation how many bands emerge every year from Eastern Europe that make great music with a universal appeal.
I also managed some Hungarian bands which could prove themselves at big festivals like SXSW or Glastonbury, received great reviews from bloggers all over the world and got released by foreign labels.
You can also see a growing number of musicians from the region getting all kinds of attention from the rest of the world that has the potential to blow them up, but it rarely happens. As one booking agent from The Agency Group put it, Eastern Europe is simply not on their map, so it’s extremely difficult to break through via the traditional channels.
Of course you have the internet, which could and should really be the catalyst, but it’s almost as if there’s a wall, and even though you’re a big alt or whatever hit in your Eastern European country, it almost never translates to a proper international success (well, except the massive Romanian club music factory…). I think there are many factors behind it, like the lack of physical presence in one of the world’s great music hubs, language barriers to some extent, lack of good online PR and so on.
So you have these great bands, who are totally off the radar for the rest of the world and almost none of them takes advantage of the licensing industry. Oddly, it’s actually a positive thing from the perspective of the music supervisors. They always look for fresh, new, unheard bands no matter where they are from.
Is music licensing a way how artists can make their living in future?
In the last 5-10 years it has become an essential part of the circle. Most new acts don’t make enough money from the declining income generated from touring, music and merch sales to make a living from it. On the other hand money spent on licensing has been on a steady increase every year, but it can work on other levels too. Everybody knows the famous stories of Jose Gonzales, Dandy Warhols or Feist who made it big due to one single music placement.
Even though the competition is very big now in this field, there are still decent budgets out there. Moog from Hungary just had two of their songs licensed in a big US TV show, which bankrolled their move to Los Angeles. DVA had a song in a Deutsche Telekom ad that also earned them some hard cash. Just think of all the media that’s being produced all over the world that needs music. The demand is huge.
And it’s not just money up front, but many of these licensing deals generate royalties every time a movie is screened or a show gets broadcast, which is an income down the line for several years. Actually this whole royalty question is an area that many musicians from the region have to get their heads around. It’s shocking how much they don’t trust their rights organizations and thus don’t register their songs, which results in zero royalties.
Musicians should wake up to realize there’s a whole other dimension in the music industry that can really help them succeed in their careers.