World Music Monitor for The Netherlands over 2014 and 2016

As a follow-up to previous research in 2011 (published in A World of Sounds & Opportunities – 2012), World Music Forum NL has continued monitoring developments in The Netherlands over 2014, 2016 and will continue to do so. Below an overview of the results over 2014 and 2016. Over 2017 these main trends have stabilized.

Facts & Figures World Music in The Netherlands 

Main trends
Increase of world concerts at festivals in general
Increase of world/trad at jazz- and popfestivals
Stabilization of single concerts in small/medium venues
A growing market for cross-over music and a decrease of traditional- and arts music

The figures on world & trad

Audience reach 2 million>

Festivals                190 ( 55 world and 135 with world/trad features)

large 700>              145
small <150             180
club                           53
open air                   40
community            300
(estimated figures, over 2017 these figures have stabilized)

The Netherlands is gifted with a large number of venues, concerthalls, clubs, open air stages, festivals (indoor and outdoor), community facilities and musicbars dispersed throughout the country. Most of these depend heavily on subsidies by governmental institutions. Some festivals and musicbars are run privately on a commercial basis.

All of these venues run world/trad music concerts.

Due to the previous economical crises and severe budget cuts on the Arts and Culture by the governmental institutions we observed a decrease of world- and tradmusic of about 50% between 2011 and 2016. The overall volume of concerts is partly compensated by the festivalization of the cultural landscape. Also, these numbers have stabilized over 2017.

The Netherlands is currently going through a period of ‘festivalization’. This is also shown in the figures on world/tradmusic: more festivals, existing festivals expanding with a day as opposed to less single concerts in the venues. We also notice an increase of worldmusic on stages of multidisciplinary festivals as Lowlands, Zwarte Cross and larger Jazz festivals. This increase however can be attributed solely to crossover bands and Artists. Art music and traditional music do not play an important role in this. These forms of music can only be found at thematic Festivals as Sacred Music or Along the Silk Road.

Almost all of the venues – but the Musicbars – are partly funded by govermental institutions on all levels. A great deal of the venues are active in the densily populated area formed by the cities of Amsterdam – Rotterdam –Utrecht – The Hague. This megapolis is located in the western-central region of the Netherlands and although only taking 20% of it’s territory it inhabits and employs half of the Dutch population. It is also one of the most cultural diverse areas in the World with over 185 nationalities.

Hence it is no surprise that most venues can be found here although all of the 390 municipalities in the Netherlands have their own cultural facilities.

Based on World Music Monitor the Netherlands (2016 World Music Forum NL) by Emiel Barendsen. Read the extensive reports below: 

Results Monitor WM_NL_ 2016

 Results Monitor WM_NL 2014


In 2012 World Music Forum NL (WMFNL) published research on World Music in the Netherlands that charted the extent, potency and boundaries of World Music in the Netherlands. The need to do so was fuelled by the lack of facts and figures compared to other forms of musical output such as Classical, Pop, Urban, Electronic Dance Music and Jazz & Blues. Decision makers at all levels did not have the necessary comparative figures to build a sound policy.

A major step was taken in the further empowerment of World Music in the Netherlands when it published its research report:
‘A World of Sounds & Opportunities’


Exchanging World Music Market Research in Europe
Towards a model for a European World Music Monitor (EWMM)

However, national research is not enough, as music does not stop at physical, economic, social and geopolitical borders. To truly empower the World Music industry the next step is to set out to join forces on a larger scale with European countries.

Followed by conference- and networking sessions at Womex 2013 and Babel Med 2014 our team was convinced of similar needs by other countries that exchanging and comparing data on World Music and its development are imperative.

In so doing, knowledge of one’s national market can function as a gateway to opportunities within the greater European market. In view of the EU interest in cultural data, forms of funding on a European basis could be viable once enough partners decide to form an agreement.

At  WOMEX 2014 – Session European Export Offices, World Music Forum NL (WMFNL) presented a model for a European World Music Monitor (EWMM) in order to empower the world music industry in general and the European world music industry in particular. The next step  is to construct a coherent agenda, as the basis of a European grant for pan-European research. To this end World Music Forum NL  seeks peers and partnerships with EU countries willing and able to support this initiative locally. Several countries and organisations have indicated interest to partner in this project.

The idea
World music has developed into a flourishing scene in many European countries. Despite the development of multi-cultural societies it is dominated by pop, jazz and classical music when it comes to airplay, media reach and funding. Besides providing compelling cultural and political arguments, economic data are necessary to effectively convince policymakers and funders. European exchange of world music research data offers a solid tool to gain a stronger strategic positioning within the music field and aid in influencing cultural policy.

The development and establishment of national indicescan make a difference in drawing up policy and creating a better position for World Music.Common issues and goals in different countries can be identified using this method.

European Monitor Model

In order to arrive at a comparative and comprehensible research method WMFNL has come to the conclusion that this can be achieved best by establishing a (bi?) annual European World Music Monitor.

This is a relatively easy method to gather information and data, which will chart the development of the World Music industry in Europe and therefore indicate opportunities in the European market. WMFNL proposes gathering the necessary data by establishing four key performance indices, on which all partners should agree.

WMFNL proposes to have these data gathered and presented in a Monitoring-format, eventually leading to a European World Music Monitor (EWMM). In our view, this monitor should be based on data gathered on a per country basis by local partners/ correspondents. The yearly WOMEX convention may serve as rallying points where data can be presented in network meetings. In this way participating countries and those wishing to join can discuss matters and take decisions on technical and policy matters.

We propose that we follow the model generally used in many other types of indexes: by data gathered over the years we can see developments and trends rather than absolute figures. We want to concentrate on data that can serve as performance indicators – such as numbers of bands, or turnover, or any other data where more means better.

It is a common practice to first group related performance indicators in batches. We propose to use the following five: creators, consumers, locations, facilitators and educators. These give an idea as to who makes music, who listens to it, where supply and demand meet, who supervises the process, and how knowledge reproduction is organized. We see these five batches being ´fed´ by (a selection of) the following data.

Creators                 Genres, employment, numbers of performances (gigs),

Consumers             Live audiences, media audiences

Locations                 Venues, festivals, other locations

Facilitators              Bookers, planners, management, transport etc.

Educators                Music schools, universities incl. research, informal teaching,

In all cases, it is possible to concentrate on numbers (like numbers of bands, or MB of downloads) or on financial data (such as turnover, or income, or any other figure). This depends on what type of data are available. Since we use the index form, it is not important which route we take as long as the same data are used from one year to another. Naturally, in the long run, the index would prove increasingly effective  if we could agree to to standardize performance indicators in all countries, but in the start-up phase it would make sense to utilize what is currently available.

FAQ – European World Music M

  •        Why?

In order to empower the world music industry in general, and the European world music industry in particular, it is paramount to rely on facts and figures. At present the European situation is diffuse and not comparative as far as the latter is concerned. By developing and establishing national indices as a tool, the world music industry would enable itself to develop policies based upon current trends within the common European market.

  •        For who?

The indices are meant to be a useful tool for all those working in the European world music industry: NGO’s, governmental, promoters, agents, managers, media and other decision makers.

  •        Why an index?

The content of an index is generally easy to collect from public resources. An index is never a means to an end but always indicative, leaving sufficient margins for interpretation. Therefore always indicating trends and tendencies.

  •        What are we looking for?

WMFNL is looking for peers and partnerships with EU countries willing and able to support this initiative locally. We ask commitment and access to local financial funding from these potential founding partners to start the process and to eventually match the necessary funding in order to obtain a grant or subsidy from the EU.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) describing the multilateral agreement between the parties would be an integral part of the process. The MoU would express a meeting of the minds (the convergence of will) between the parties indicating both the intended common line of action responsibilities of the participants

  •        Initial results

By starting the process of obtaining a grant by the EU in 2020 we expect to present the first result of the European index on World Music in 2017.

  •        Entry partner countries

Several organizations in different countries have indicated their interest. Interested parties are requested to contact World Music Forum NL               


Partnership countries

  •        EU Member States
  •        Other states with special EU-agreements


  •        Active in cultural and creative sectors defined by European Parliament /Creative Europe
  •        Existence as legal person for at least 2 years or more
  •        Sufficient financial capacity throughout the period
  •        Sufficient required professional competencies and qualifications

European Market Research Team

Rob Boonzajer Flaes, Researcher, QRA, Emiel Barendsen, President Advisory Council World Music Forum NL, Sonja Heimann, Director World Music Forum NL, Stan Rijven, Programmer World Music Forum NL.

Note : 
Contact information and application partnership: World Music Forum NL  Sonja Heimann,

sonja @

© World Music Forum NL October 2014