ESNS Editorial: César Andión gives us the latest word from Spain


“Come and experience our festivals, it’s just different here.”

Each year, ESNS highlights the best emerging acts from a different European country – and ESNS23 is thrilled to give the stage to Spain. Focus on Spain is presented in close collaboration with The Spanish Wave and diverse regions of Spain including Andalucia, Basque Country, Balearics, Catalonia, Galicia, Madrid, Murcia, Valencia and Navarra. To get the latest word from this year’s focus country, we spoke to the head of The Spanish Wave, Live Nation Spain, Director of AMF and long-esteemed part of the European music industry César Andión. Read on for his trusted take on the quintessential Spanish festival experience, how homegrown talent is taking the world by storm, a vision for European collaboration, and a call for new young voices to take the torch and lead our way forward.

Interview by Roxy Merrell

Cesar Andion (photo Alfredo Arias)

We’re just in the exciting process of confirming more acts from Spain. What kind of genres and trends can audiences expect from the Spanish selection at ESNS23?

The selection from ESNS has been excellent, we did our consultancy of course to reach the goal of: quality first, origin of different Spanish regions, and male/female balance. I think there are more female acts, which is really good. The pitched ones show what's fresh and hot at the same time in Spain regarding styles – like urban, pop, guitars, electronica and more rootsie genres as well.

How would you describe the contemporary sound of Spain right now in five words?

Exciting, young, fresh, hot, exportable.

Music almost always reflects the scenes it comes from – whether geographic landscapes, political climate and subcultures. Spain is made up of numerous distinct regions, cities and cultures. The first announcement represents 9 different regions. Why is this so important? Do you see distinct sounds coming from different regions?

Back in the day maybe used to be like that, i.e. Madrid and Basque Country were more rock ‘n’ roll driven, Catalonia more indie or folk, Galicia post-punk, Andalucia more shoegazey and also rootsie. Things have changed a lot – young people like many genres at the same time, they can like trap and then techno or metal rock with no boundaries – we were more narrow minded when we were young ;-). There are not that many cliches or stereotypes nowadays, I believe young artists and fans are more open-minded.

The EU market is our next goal, and that’s one of the reasons for The Spanish Wave’s existence

Spanish-language music has been kicking off and finding new audiences in recent years. How is this changing the scene? Can you tell us how Spain is a gateway to the Latin American sector?

In Spain, music means culture, industry and tourism. Spain is a unique country and market, not only because we have so many different regions, cultures and languages but also because we are European but also very connected to Latin America. This is especially true for music, with Latin America being our biggest market for success and trade, but it’s not a unified one; every country is different, so it works individually so managers/artists need to work in different ways depending where they´d like to grow. But obviously, if you make it there as an artist, your chances for selling more music, more touring, etc., then your numbers can skyrocket – other European countries don't have that same chance, except maybe Portugal in Brazil.

How is Spain a significant player in the EU music market?

The EU market is our next goal, and that’s one of the reasons for The Spanish Wave’s existence; we are European, and Spanish artists should tour Europe more often and on a regular basis. There is a huge circuit in continental Europe, a massive market that is super open-minded to discover other countries' acts. We are all European, and supporting more platforms, pledges, initiatives (public or private) really enrich our union – something I believe in strongly as a unionist. A vision where young artists can tour, sell music and do PR across our EU easily! Back in the mid-‘80s I used to organise small European tours for Spanish acts sending letters, faxes or phone calls, now we must make it easier for everyone.

We’d love to give readers a quick glance into the music sector in Spain. Can you tell us a bit about its front-running festivals and what they’re about? What trends from the rest of Europe do you see picking up speed in Spanish line-ups?

Spain is a festival country, we are a country where people from overseas come to our festivals for a different experience – summer heat means shows don’t start til 5pm. In most cases, that means you have half a day to go to the beach, museums, nice restaurants, shopping or reading books in your bed, aka having a real holiday experiencing the cities or towns all day and then dancing all night long.

Spain's festivals are unique also because of our regional diversity and also many in their artists bills, many of them need at least 40% of local talent, as Spaniards love their own bands as much as foreign ones. Once again – won't stop repeating this – we need more unity and exposure of “other” countries' amazing talent in our EU festivals where you can discover and enjoy bands from Estonia, Ukraine, Finland, Germany, Italy, France, etc. and also from Latin America, Asia, and beyond.

Regarding styles depending on the artistic direction of each festival but usually (sometimes too much) it’s lots of indie, pop and urban. I wish some would open their bookings to other sounds like soul, jazz and roots.

Experience our festivals and experience visiting us for a venue gig, it’s just a totally different experience here: the vibe, the fans, the party.

If we expand on that, can you tell us about what’s going on – the most exciting new labels, platforms and magazines, venues, your favourite record shops, etc.?

Sadly, many mags are no longer with us. Spain was always a great country for music magazines, and now the legacy lives on with a few really good ones – including Mondo Sonoro, Rock Delux, Ruta 66, Efe Eme, Enlace Funk and Popular 1.

I am a record collector (I don’t call them vinyl) there are great record shops across the country – just hit me if you need any tips ;-) Venues are the same, there are great venues and great people behind them, also with clubbing! Madrid is the techno capital after Berlin!

What should music enthusiasts not miss when visiting Spain?

Experience our festivals and experience visiting us for a venue gig, it’s just a totally different experience here: the vibe, the fans, the party.

The conference programme is taking shape behind the scenes. What types of themes from Spain do you think are top-of-mind today?

Our regional diversity in our music industry: festivals, promoters, media, artists, and more. There is more in Spain than just Madrid and Barcelona, so we will stress to show our diversity to the international delegates.

In your years of experience as an essential part in the Spanish music industry, how have things changed in the past decade?

There is much more competition, there are lots of new promoters and festivals, I am a positive person that believes in good honest fair competition, so I take this as a good thing. The industry is more “professional” now and also and finally more women are in the music business (still lots to do!).

How has the impact of Covid-19 changed the playing field?

People have been very creative and new festivals and projects have started. I hope the industry is more together after Covid-19. Many people have also changed trades, so there is a lack of young people taking the torch – we need young managers, labels, promoters, writers, etc. and more females in leading roles.

Ready for more?