Live storytelling about international metal success
That was great!

With a promising subtitle - Live storytelling about international metal success - it was no surprise that the Buma ROCKS!-organized Heavy Panel managed to fill the room at Groningen's Oosterpoort to the last chair. An audience consisting of music industry professionals such as club and festival directors, band managers, music marketeers and rock journalists, paid close attention to the four artists on stage. Caroline Westendorp (The Charm The Fury), Steef van den Bogaard (Black-Bone), Stef Broks (Textures) and Ruud Jolie (Within Temptation) shared their knowledge and anecdotes about touring internationally. The Heavy Panel was moderated by Mark van Schaick, editor of musicians' magazines Gitarist, Slagwerkkrant and Interface.

With Black-Bone having just had their first across-the-border experience, a tour of Europe supporting Mustasch, and Within Temptation ready to embark on yet another headlining tour around the world on the release of brand new album Hydra, the stories told differed less than one would expect. Reaching an international audience requires not only focus and hard work, but being able to meet the right people as well, be it like-minded bands to team up with for a tour, or agents and managers with a clear vision of what a band is able to achieve.

After having played outside of the Netherlands for more than ten years, Stef Broks has seen a shift in his perception of what makes a tour a success. Like Ruud Jolie, he is not merely satisfied anymore by an enthusiastic response from the audience, but rather judges a concert on its promotional reach and all of the social media word-of-mouth it generates.

Ruud Jolie started playing foreign stages before social media existed, but nowadays he and his bandmembers are just as well immersed in Facebook and Twitter duties as the other panel members. Just as in real life, he said, he converses with fans that approach him in a no-nonsense manner.

Both Stef and Caroline played the UK quite a bit, and both mentioned it is a tough market compared to other European regions. A good agent is essential, and the willingness to endure a certain amount of discomfort just as much.

Any governmental or regional support is welcome, ofcourse, but, as Stef points out, let's subsidize the acts with a plan, instead of just throwing money to the first one that steps forward. Don't be afraid to start lobbying by yourself.

Did you like the panel? There's much more to come at this year's edition of Buma ROCKS!, the international conference and showcase festival for loud music.

Buma ROCKS! 2014 is set for Friday May 30, again at Doornroosje in Nijmegen, one day before the FortaRock metal festival in the same city.