The 15th edition of Tallinn Music Week (TMW) saw around 1,200 international industry delegates attend the conference while 188 artists from 41 countries performed across 12 venues in the UNESCO City of Music.

Among the many topics covered during the 10-14 May conference was environmental sustainability, addressing human and AI relations, digital literacy, and DIY live touring. It also saw the launch of the European Commission’s Music Moves Europe dialogue sessions.

The event kicked off with a speech by Estonia minister of culture Heidy Purga (pictured) who spoke of the importance of music being a universal language that connects people across borders and cultures.

“All of this takes place at a time when an unjust war is happening close to our borders, ruining lives of our brothers and sisters in Ukraine,” she said. “Hopefully this event and music can bring us even closer, and show our solidarity for people who are also fighting for our freedom.”

Among the many conference highlights was an interview with Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien whose open and candid dialogue covered everything from green touring initiatives and battling mental health problems to stepping down from the Featured Artist Coalition board in order to make way for a more diverse representation.

Radiohead was among the first bands to take serious steps to reduce the carbon footprint of their tours, in 2006. Having conducted an audit of the environmental impact of their touring activity, the band instigated a series of measures to reduce it including shipping all equipment rather than flying it.

“Like a lot of people we were aware of the climate emergency, we were going around the world, taking buses and flying, so we wanted to do an audit,” said O’Brien. “The biggest problem for a band like us is the audience travel, they have the biggest carbon footprint.

“Up until 2008 we shunned arenas, and wanted to play in places of beauty, or a bit different, but we realised that people driving in their cars was a big problem. Wanting to play in hubs with good public transport, we went back into arenas. We hadn’t played arenas since OK Computer; 10 years before.”

Superstruct Entertainment operates more than 85 festivals in Europe and Australia. At TMW, the burgeoning operator’s director of global brand partnerships Manuel Hubault delivered a powerful presentation titled Helping brands unlock the true value of partnering with festival IPs.

Hubault said that among the key issues for festival operators when agreeing brand partnership is establishing better and clearer dialogue: “Music people don’t speak the same language as brand people, so we need to get better at understanding each other and finding common ground.”

He also spoke of the need to look beyond in-house resources, to build new partnerships and make the most of existing ones. He said, “Leverage the ecosystem; that could be your providers, your partners, media, production, but also the artists community. Really explore the ‘what if?s’ and move away from a ‘yes and no’ situation and take the time to really understand where the brand is coming from.”

Among a strong UK delegation were representatives from global music charity In Place of War, whose CEO Ruth Daniel chaired a panel including Artic Sounds festival director Jacob Froberg. He spoke of the very real impact climate change is having on his homeland of Greenland and the many challenges involved when staging a festival in that environment.

The next edition of TMW is scheduled for 3-7 April 2024.