How can we use science to imagine a brighter, more equitable future of the music sector?

Frank Kimenai curated ESNS Science Programme
People cheering with their hand up at music festival

“The music sector is in dire need of significant, systemic change”, explains Frank Kimenai, PhD-candidate at ESHCC, in an interview with ESNS (Eurosonic Noorderslag). ESNS is an annual four-day music showcase festival and conference, this year taking place from 18 to 21 January 2023 in Groningen. Driven by a vision for equity in the music sector, Frank curated ESNS Science: a conference programme that reveals how we can use science to imagine a brighter, more equitable future and build a roadmap for the sector to change course.


The ESNS Science Programme includes a variety of panels and sessions that address among others transformation strategies, imagining a sustainable future, the potential and consequences of a basic income on musicians and the music industry (featuring ESHCC’s Yosha Wijngaarden) and ‘Superstar Economy’: the tenacious and unhealthy economic structure in the music sector. The latter panel features POPLIVE researchers Martijn Mulder and Erik Hitters.

A sustainable future for the music sector

The ESNS Science programme focuses on explicitly on social economical sustainability: creating a sector that is feasible, viable and healthy for people to function in for the long run. Frank: “If we look at the sector as it is today, we see that this is very much not the case. People in the sector suffer from mental health issues and financially precarious situations. A sustainable future, then, would be a future in which a lot of these inequalities, inequities and imbalances are solved. This might sound naive, but we owe it to ourselves to make sure that the sector gets healthier and more equitable.

Envision where you want to go to, and then figure out how to get there

“If you’re talking about sustainable futures, you first have to envision where you want to go, and then you have to figure out how to get there”, says Frank. He presents two sessions on the programme that tackle this concept. The first one is ‘Turn and face the change: How can the music sector transition towards a sustainable future?’ with Derk Loorbach, professor in transformation sciences from the Dutch Institute for Transitions (DRIFT). Frank: “Loorbach developed the x curve: a very tangible model which helps you get a grip on the transformation process. It’s based on the theory that if 20% of the population within a system, society or sector wants change, that's the tipping point for change to occur. Loorbach will present concrete advice on how to get there, followed by an interactive workshop on the process of transformation.”

In the second session ‘The future is so bright, I gotta wear shades: Imagining future scenarios with and for the music sector’, Loes Damhof, UNESCO Chair Futures Literacy at Hanze University of Applied Sciences, will clarify why thinking about the future will help you in your current state of affairs.

Download the conference flyer to learn more about the ESNS Science Programme sessions.

Read the full interview on the ESNS website   

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