Submitted by Boyan Pinter
PIN Conference marked their ninth edition in the multi-purpose venue YCC – Youth Culture Center Skopje, known to the locals as MKC, between Nov. 24th and Nov. 26th. Close to 130 international and regional music professionals were in attendance. The music program consisted of 40 bands from 13 different countries, with North Macedonia and Serbia being the most widely represented.
The conference took place in 2021 but to a much lower turnout, so it was a much-anticipated return to PIN after two long years of Covid. PIN Event manager and panel moderator Ognen Stojanoski said that PIN “like(s) to do things in a very unorthodox way” and that was reflected in their amusing conference and showcase programming.
The conference portion of PIN took place over the space of all three days starting at noon and covered topics such as cancel culture, subsidies and funding programs, a listening session, and digital distribution. The notable programs MOST – a bridge for Balkan Culture and HEMI – the hub for the exchange of music innovation were prominently featured in the discussions. These organizations also make a considerable contribution to keeping showcase platforms like PIN alive and well as the region is looking for more recognition and opportunities for growth.
The music program was spread out over all three days of the event with bands performing in a number of different venues for the inquisitive ears of music professionals as well as local music lovers, who were able to enter and enjoy the bands free of charge. The YCC has three individual venues: Frosina Hall, which is a multi-purpose cinema, theater and music venue; The MKC club, which regularly is a space for a restaurant and bar, and the Dance Hall, which is the space reserved for bigger productions with a high ceiling, a fair amount of lighting instruments and quality sound. The surprise comes when one finds out that another, less-orthodox, location has also been transformed into a music venue – that entrance to the toilets. It is sometimes a badge of honor to be the one band booked to perform “the toilet show” and this year the honor fell to the bands Parketi (NM), Short Reports (RS), and Oligarch (RU).
Notable performance gave the bands Zimbru (RO) at the dance hall, Duo Ruut (Estonia) at Frosina Hall, Puuluup (Estonia) at MKC Club, Toot Ensemble (CZ), and Deva (HU). Romanian band Zimbru also received the 2022 Hemi Music Award in recognition of their continuous development and appreciation given to them by the HEMI family of showcase conferences and bookers.
A select number of delegates were also taken on a tour of old town Skopje to be shown around the little shops of the charming old market square where Eastern and Middle Eastern Cultures meet. Next year PIN is scheduled to return for its 10th edition in Skopje.