Tobiasz Biliński suggests that he might be crazy for thinking that he as a Polish musician can get a successful international career. For years the now 28-year old pushed for a breakthrough in the United States, performing in ‘’shitty bars’’ funded by the money he had saved by working ‘’shitty jobs’’ back home in Poland.
‘’It was super hard work. You really need to work your ass off, and you need to focus only on your music. I travelled alone for years to meet people and spread the word about my work,’’ he says.
In late September, it was revealed that Biliński’s latest project, “Perfect Son”, is amongst the 16 nominated artists for the Music Moves Europe Talent Award (MMETA), an award that is co-funded by the EU and aims to promote diversity and competitiveness in the European music industry.
A RARE EASTERN EUROPEAN
In January 2020, the award will be staged for the second time at the Eurosonic Noorderslag in Groningen, the Netherlands with eight artists from four different musical genres each winning 10,000 euros to be spent on promoting their international careers.
But even with Poland’s ‘Perfect Son’ amongst the nominees, Eastern Europe is still behind the curve in the music industry when it comes to getting border-crossing recognition and attention according to The Independent Music Companies Association (Impala), a partner of the EU initiative Music Moves Europe.
‘’In the future, we hope there will be more recognition of the central and eastern European countries in the award. By promoting cultural diversity, the award is helping new artists to get recognized,’’ Angel Labrusse, public affairs officer at Impala says.
One problem that Impala and other partners of the award have flagged is that the selection process of the nominees is based on data that is not accessible in some eastern European countries. So, while Perfect Son found his way through the eye of the needle to an emerging international career, many other artists from the east could not get a nomination for the award despite being eligible.
LACK OF CONFIDENCE
But, speaking specifically about the Polish industry, another reason for the little music moving from east to west is a lack of ambition, according to Tobiasz Biliński.
‘’The Polish music industry is in some way locked. If you want to be successful and make money from your music, you need to sing in Polish, and if you sing in Polish it is pointless to export to other countries. People do not try to promote their music abroad, and I think the main reason is that people do not believe they will achieve anything by doing so,’’ he says.
Biliński thinks differently. His lyrics are always in English, and he has already toured both the US and Europe multiple times with his previous project ‘Coldair’.
Eventually, the lonely touring paid off when Biliński, as the first Polish artist ever, signed to the Seattle-based record label Sub Pop, famous for signing grunge giants Nirvana and Soundgarden in the late 1980s. Now in 2019, the label has released the first album of his newest project and he already knows what to do if he wins the 10,000 euros in Groningen.
“I was quite surprised to be nominated. It is great. If I win, I will probably spend it on another American tour.”