The Best in Festivals & Conferences: Mutek

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CH. VI – Mutek

Mutek is Sonar’s main competitor. It is an international music festival that promotes electronic music and digital arts. This event, based around music, sound and new technologies, was founded in 2000 in Montreal. During 5 days and 5 nights or early June, more than 100 artists, panelists and industry professionals participate in this festival, which has become one of the most popular underground/niche festival of its kind in North America.

Not long after its debut in Montreal, Mutek got a lot of international attention and the organizers seized the opportunity to export the festival in other countries such as Mexico, Chile, Spain, Argentina and Brazil. Everywhere it went, Mutek tried to keep the same branding and culture, only slightly adapting their concept to foreign markets. While expanding it always kept a balance between experimental and more accessible projects/acts/music, between new, emerging and more established artists, between local and international content and between music and digital art, etc. (1).

Since this festival caters to a niche market of mostly minimal electronic music fans, it has to attract an dispersed audience from all over the continent to make it profitable. It also has to make sure its clients are loyal and return year after year to discover new artists and technology. For artists (DJs & producers mostly) and their managers, Mutek is an incredible platform for international exposure. Over the past decade, the festival has presented electronic music’s superstars such as Nicolas Jaar, Junior Boys, etc. while always keeping numerous spots for fresh new talent. Many of those new talents, such as Akufen, Deadbeat, Guillaume Coutu Dumont have gone to build career due to showcasing at Mutek. The exposure for local artists alongside established DJs is therefore always at the center of this music festival.

Another interesting aspect of Mutek is that it is a non-profit festival that is supported by public founding from different art councils, which support and encourage taking risks (content wise) and from the office of tourism, which encourages a more attractive festival to the eyes of foreigners, with renown names included in the line-up.

Here’s an interesting interview with Mutek’s founder that sums it up pretty well:

(1). http://reviews.headphonecommute.com/2010/05/27/conversations-with-alain-mongeau/

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