Interview with André Gomes de Abreu, Director of BandCom (Portugal)
Please tell us a bit about BandCom.
Right now, BandCom is the outcome of almost 4 years of an amazing journey through some of the best years – have no doubts about it – of portuguese music. Day after day, we’re in the middle of an amazing flow of energy, creativity and information.
So, we just use the social platforms to inform and give power to the people and the artists, since we have to accept the world is constantly changing and we have to create chances for the artists to be heard when it appears quite impossible.
Our great focus is on how we inform, struggling to innovate ways to present new music and new musicians. And we do this for absolutely nothing but our music lover pride which forces us into realizing how important is to preserve the past, the present and the future of portuguese music. And we know we are still very far away from it when there isn’t a single organized TV show about music in Portugal available to the public and the opportunities of rediscovering music turn to few and, worse, random, lucky, honorary moments.
BandCom seems to have grown from a blog promoting new artists to a well trusted site in Portugal where artists and industry representatives can find reviews, videos, lists of venues, record labels, agents, radio stations and more. Have there been any major “stumbling blocks” for you while growing in the competitive world of media?
Well, first of all, the first part of the question is a great compliment for us and we thank you for recognizing it.
Dealing with information, as we said previously, is what we do better. All that useful links are part of our work and have to be accessible to all the music industry players because the money to be made in there is theirs and the public has the right to know what can be done with few support after all.
This whole point about information is definitely one of the biggest stumbling blocks for everyone who has any sort of relationship with music. We faced it, developed many strategies to keep us updated so we can provide real news to anyone and now the major part of the portuguese industry see in us an important collaborator. A fellow team member who also needs to be updated, influenced and brought into some important perspectives and future events.
Second, there are some daily stumbling blocks which we can’t get over that easier: we need to create content constantly to be read by our followers. In this content/media chain, we must be the first critics of what we do and look for perfection that could be perceived by the readers too. And that is a serious and intriguing obstacle run against what the worst change can bring we can only hope to win someday.
Third, we have this sense of mission of something we’re trying to accomplish but won’t and/or can’t define anything about our relative importance in media so that we become really, toxically viral.
And that is a big, big driver not to stop. At least, we are safe from ourselves.
How is the Music Scene in Portugal at the moment?
We can see it from different and simplistic perspectives which lead us into a general conception: the portuguese music scene is healthier but not wealthier. If we do have a “scene” after all. If we know where do we came from right now.
From the public’s point of view, this genetic feeling of almost instant disapproval towards your artists with no apparent reason is being put aside as the public renews and knows their artists better. However, this economic crisis, and lots of other minor or even local factors, play a decisive role in, for example, keeping a music project active. How can you know anyone if some bands have to split so quickly they can’t challenge the status quo and go to places which maps almost forgot?
From the musicians’ point of view, I think there is a larger sense of community between them, I think they see/have more opportunities in and outside of Portugal, I think they work with better and more skilled people, I think they know the talent is in there. But 99% of them don’t live exclusively from their music, almost 99% of the mainstream media have no interest in new portuguese music because the public don’t demand it from them and certainly more than 50% of their audience finds not enough money to even enjoy a decent life and empowers itself with a false security of the power of a like in Facebook, a comment, a review.
Musicians can benefit from “likes” but don’t live from them and sometimes you don’t have to pay that much to attend a good show.
From the industry’s point of view, I think there’s a lot to be known, lots of mistakes to be made and a long way to recover. Portugal is a small and troubled market, most of the future artists are out of their reach and need to go through their maturity processes just like the stars of today – and when I talk about stars, I talk about gifted and somewhat successful people and not only true or false mainstream stars. Anyway, they know they need new Portuguese music to present to a new country.
Surely, the artists and their work are always the first on the line but we still keep dreaming. That’s what make us all Portuguese: Americans have the American Dream, Portuguese have their Portuguese Ambition, accepting a minimum level of imperfection and imbalance as crucial to be inspired to succeed.
What do you think is the single largest problem faced by the music industry today? How do you think it can be resolved?
Well, the one thing I’m 100% certain about is that the problem of the music industry today is bigger than just one small obstacle.
I don’t have all of them, and not even a miracle to solve any of them. First, we have to stay realistic but optimist as well and don’t fall into the easiest to say like “this is all bad”. Because it’s not. It’s not all about money, it’s not all about education, it’s not all about talent, it’s not all about bad choices, but they easily interconnect with each other and, starting with some Portuguese examples for you, people with less money tend not to be so invested in music and then it becomes easier for everybody to forget some basic, minimum requirements.
Even though is an industry like any economy bible can define, music industry has this harshly worked-out question: how can we democratically make something valuable today?
Isn’t this a problem about every artistic industry? For various reasons, everyone knows it’s a genuine problem of this industry.
And since the problem is multifactorial, the solution is multifactorial too. If we don’t keep trying on everything we know right now and accepting, adapting, developing new ideas, we will fail.
Your plans for 2015?
In the first days of the year, we’ll release all of the tops of 2014, so we invite everybody to stay alert.
Then we’ll put some plans of ours together. Generally speaking, we want to go bigger: bigger on the team, bigger on the number of articles we present, bigger on talent scouting, bigger on the relation with all the music industry players.
We don’t want to announce lots of things which can or can’t be a reality when we look at everything in the end of the year, but we are developing a new website and the first of a series of compilations of Portuguese artists we want to present worldwide and explain why you need to know and to see them live if you can.
Do you think Music2Deal.com can help get Portuguese artists to a further audience both Nationally and Internationally?
Music2Deal.com is an example of a new project which, instead of its pure profit, presents immediately very interesting ways of quality worktime for every professional. It’s the ultimate social network for the music industry.
We believe in the success of Music2Deal and we firmly believe Portuguese artists can only benefit from a network where everybody wants to hear them.
by Sara Shirazi