Frank Helmink
Buma Cultuur's managing director and self-confessed metalhead Frank Helmink bade us a warm welcome. It had been a breeze to organize this event, he told us, and with a heartfelt "Heavy music is the only kind I really like" he handed the mic on to keynote speakers TJ Lammers and Adrian Vandenberg.

Keynote: Adrian Vandenberg & TJ Lammers
Under the firm direction of writer and journalist TJ Lammers, Adrian Vandenberg revisited the many highlights of his career, in particular as an international hard rock guitarist from the moment his band Vandenberg secured an American record deal with their first demo, to the enduring success of Whitesnake. However, Adrian insisted: "It's all about being true to yourself. That means being critical about your performance too. As a rock musician you gotto be brave and opportunistic. Grab the opportunity when it knocks. You owe it to all the other struggling Dutch artists." He realizes success is not everyone's lot. "Attitude is important, but it's hard to learn", says Adrian: "Your fans must be able to taste your authenticity." Adrian finds himself faced with an new challenge since he last recorded an album with Manic Eden in 1994; the playing-field has changed dramatically. This winter he has his own new band's debut album planned, with a serious tour to follow...

Eric Corton

The round table discussion under the casual presentation of Eric Corton centred around the theme: "If it ain't Dutch it ain't much". Six pros from the music business shed their light on the position of Dutch heavy acts abroad and at home.

Ian Sales
ITB agent Ian Sales confessed to having little experience with Dutch acts but insisted that what goes for them goes for everyone he has ever worked with: "Nothing tops a good live presentation. And merchandising keeps a band going: so get yourself a good agent!"

Jeps Salfischberger
Mojo's Jeps Salfischberger sang the praises of the Dutch heavy scene: As he speaks, FortaRock XL is close to being sold out. Distortion Festival first edition last December broke even, and the underground is bursting with life. He sees room for change in the business due to downloads and streaming and the new distribution network that comes with it. "New people, new flavours."

Charlotte Wessels
The alleged pros of self-promotion through the Internet were questioned by Charlotte Wessels, who will open Fortarock XL on the main stage with her band Delain the following day. "Sure, everyone can put out their music on the Internet, but that gives you about as much chance of being discovered as your demo cassette being chucked onto a pile.

Daniel Regan
Daniel Regan, manager for Epica, elaborated: "It's a challenge to reach over 200 people here. Heavy music is almost non-existent in the media. This forces everyone to look abroad. We could do with more sponsoring and more metal acts on radio and TV. The scene is simply better off in other countries.""

Ed van Zijl
Mascot Records managing director, Ed van Zijl, took another point of view: "Media support is not the alpha and omega of exposure. You can't sit around waiting for a sponsor. You gotta move. It's useless to try without a label. If you're 18, you need a label because there is so much you don't know yet. Find out what a label does and what it can do for you. "

Bob Schoenmaekers
The big guy behind Graspop Metal Meeting, Bob Schoenmaekers, knows sponsors like the back of his hand, but remains unimpressed: "Sponsoring for this genre is difficult. If we can't get money this way, we'll just do without. Go your own way. Play live whenever you can. Quality will out. But it may take a while, so just keep at it."