ESNS Editorial: Broadcasting local talent onto international airwaves


How a border-defying European radio network (EBU) transmits homegrown acts into worldwide appeal

From skimming channels to putting exclusive showcases on air, radio has been a staple in shaping the music industry for over a century. In this internet age of limitless streaming services and taste-making algorithms, public broadcasters like the Netherlands’ NPO 3FM maintain their reputation as the cornerstone of launching local European acts into international appeal.

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Roosmarijn Reijmer © 3FM

Next to off-the-chart evolutions of radio – augmenting the boundaries of the medium to include livestreams and interactive content – a trick of the trade has been collaborating with a wide network of national broadcasters known as the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). For 22 years now, the EBU Eurosonic group has been emanating emerging local talent onto European airwaves – and translating it off-air during ESNS. Where better to discover homegrown finds than in the fresh selection of acts, handpicked by the close to 30 public broadcasters from across Europe?

In this rapidly changing music landscape, what’s the secret to keeping European radio in transmission? We go behind the NPO 3FM curtain with Music Director Roosmarijn Reijmer to find out.

Interview by Roxy Merrell

We take supporting emerging artists very seriously – and we’re proud to say we have a long line of success stories to show for it.

How does NPO 3FM collaborate with EBU and ESNS to promote emerging European artists?

NPO 3FM is a member of EBU, what I describe as the unified European media, in our case of radio stations. It provides me with a network of friendly European radio stations that exchange information and content across borders.

In October this year, we – together with Studio Brussel – organised a showcase with Arctic Monkeys. The choice to collaborate with Studio Brussel is for good reason – we’re both members of EBU, so we have been making things happen and exchanging information for decades. We just heard this morning that we got approval to share our showcase with the whole of Europe. That means that our network can now get their hands on our exclusive showcase, a performance for only 300 people, and share a brand new album with their audiences. It could be playing in Czech Republic and Finland before in the blink of an eye. EBU makes that possible!

Sometimes, we collaborate and host events together. Recently, we hosted Europe’s Biggest Dance Show (presented by Euroradio and hosted by BBC Radio 1). A whole load of EBU-affiliated European radio stations were connected to broadcast music all night long – each station getting a 30-minute or hour-long slot to transport listeners by the sounds of Europe. It was amazing!

Son Mieux live at ESNS 2021 by Ben Houdijk
Radio is without a doubt a cornerstone for breaking acts into the industry. And it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon.

How do NPO 3FM and EBU stations promote European talent at ESNS?

We’re longstanding partners with ESNS, and we host facilities and make content for all the European radio stations during the festival. Together, we build a whole collection of great coverage on European music that’s worth checking out, and distribute it across that same network. People always say: “The Netherlands is the port of Europe” and ESNS is a great example of that being totally true! Each partnering radio station sends an act to ESNS. By doing so, they transmit a signal to all European radio stations: this band is worth your time. For the coming edition, our selection is Son Mieux.

Son Mieux has scored a few massive hits in the Netherlands and toured a bit in Europe, and then the next step is: how to get new fans outside of their home turf? You need attention from radio stations to get your name out there. Our collaboration with ESNS is a really effective way for radio stations to get each other’s and the media’s attention.

How is radio important in breaking through?

Every day, 100,000 songs are uploaded onto streaming services. It’s simply impossible for all of them to become hits – maybe one in 100,000. Where do you go to find that hit? Everyone can crate dig and discover cool songs, but when does a band get enough clout to go on tour, score a hit, make album sales, or just build up a serious following of fans? If you want to establish a loyal following of fans, it’s important that listeners come into consistent, day-to-day contact with a band. After sending Son Mieux to the EBU, it took 13 weeks for them to climb the charts to number one – and with number one I mean: played in your local supermarket, television shows, selling tons of tickets on tour, a real level up as an artist. Radio is without a doubt a cornerstone for breaking acts into the industry. And it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon.

Roosmarijn as 3FM DJ at ESNS 2017 by Jorn Baars

European artists and local acts have been gaining momentum on and off air across Europe. How do you see the role of public broadcasting in this transition?

We constantly keep an eye on what’s happening in other European countries. I look at streaming charts and what’s featured on radio playlists, because I know that all those things combined make good ingredients for scoring a lasting hit – not just a peak in streams, but a solid addition to fan favourites. Algorithms do the same thing, but they so often get it wrong! I just find radio as a trusted source incredibly important. You can simply see that it works – and has done for decades.

How does NPO 3FM go about promoting new talent and new music? Can you tell us about your talent development program, 3FM Talent?

We take supporting emerging artists very seriously – and we’re proud to say we have a long line of success stories to show for it. The 3FM Talent programme has been around for 20 years. If an artist is selected for 3FM Talent, we’re offering a stamp of approval to our listeners. We help and support where we can, to help bring these artists into the spotlight. That means playlists, inviting them to perform at our events, plugging them with bookers. Next to a few good releases and a good sound, artists selected for the 3FM Talent programme need to be ready to take their next steps! The program is lined up to break them into the scene.

How does NPO 3FM curate radio content for younger audiences?

As a radio station, we do this by making sure we’re present on different platforms and launching creative ideas. We recently launched the first edition of Trending Talent on TikTok, where bedroom singer-songwriters can participate in a talent show. There’s a lot of those artists out there – and some have absolutely no tracking yet, no talk of record deals or anything formal, but can really be discovered. Sometimes they become incredibly popular on TikTok. The concept is a great new way to highlight new talent, and we’re looking forward to hosting our second edition next year.