‘Romania is an emerging music market that’s growing at a fast pace. It’s catching up with more developed markets.’

Photo by Cristina Oltean
Anca Lupes

Romania is on the right track to becoming one of the CSEE region’s key music industry power players.

The market had the highest estimated media and entertainment industry growth rate (7%) among the Central and Eastern European countries in 2023, according to a report from PwC Romania.

Plus, with 91.6% of the country’s population of 19 million people connected to the internet as of the start of 2024, the addressable market for streaming services in Romania is evident (Spotify has been available in Romania since 2018).

The market is already home to Untold – a key European festival date in Transylvania in August that attracted 420,000 attendees in 2023. Its 2024 lineup features superstars like Sam Smith, Burna Boy, Martin Garrix and others.

We’ve also previously written about Romania’s own superstar artist exports, like pop stars INNA and Minelli, both signed to powerhouse local independent label Global Records and both of whom have achieved significant streaming hits.

Another rising Romania-born entity that’s worth keeping an eye on is the country’s Mastering the Music Business (MMB) conference and showcase festival.

Founded in 2016 by Anca Lupes and organized by an NGO called RAW Music, the event has featured over 700 speakers and industry experts over its past eight editions. Amongst them are Thorsten Freese (Managing Director Germany, Believe), Scott Cohen (co-founder of The Orchard and CEO of JKBX), and Tamas Kadar (CEO of Sziget festival).

Lupes says the main objective of the event is to promote and connect the Romanian music industry with the rest of Europe and the wider global music business.

The exec, a veteran of Romania’s music business, started out in 1991 as a music journalist and went on to work for one of the biggest concert promoters in Romania, Cardinal Multi Media Production (CMMC), which organized festivals and large-scale concerts for the likes of Michael Jackson.

Lupes then became the first music business professional from Romania to graduate from the Master’s in Music Business program at Berklee College of Music in 2009, and started teaching music business courses in her home market.

After becoming established as an educator in Romania’s local music business, in 2016 Lupes set up MMB, which is claimed to be the market’s first-ever international music business conference.

“I founded MMB because I wanted to accelerate the process of capacity building in Romania, so the conference was focused [initially] on workshops and presentations,” explains Lupes.

Today, MMB offers various workshops on key industry topics like copyright, distribution, artist management, international touring, emerging technologies, music production, songwriting, and more.

MMB also features a Showcase Festival, and Lupes tells us that, on average, 20% of the artists that perform at the showcase secure bookings at both local and international festivals.

Lupes says that the 2024 attendee list includes representatives from Glastonbury Festival, Primavera, and Sziget, among others, in addition to various prominent music managers, sync agents, booking agents, publishers and label executives.

“This year’s MMB event will tackle a wide array of topics and themes focused on both the operational and creative aspects of the music industry,” says Lupes.

“There will also be a significant focus on how regional music trends, particularly Manele and its derivatives like Trapanele and Pop-manele, are influencing the broader Romanian music scene, reflecting a cultural synthesis that impacts contemporary music styles.

“Additionally, topics like mental health, diversity in music, and the role of technology in music production signal a comprehensive approach to addressing both the artistic and human elements of the music industry, ensuring that it remains adaptive and inclusive.”

Lupes claims that the existence of MMB has had a positive ripple effect on Romania’s local music market. For example, according to Lupes, the ‘Women In Music Romania project’, set to host its fourth mentoring program this year, launched “as a direct result” of MMB.

Lupes also tells us that MMB led to the creation of local indie label trade organization INDIERO in 2019, which has since become a member of both European indie label body IMPALA, and global independent music body, WIN.

Commenting on Romania’s local music market and positioning within the wider region, Lupes notes that “digital is developing very fast” in Romania, “because internet access is very good and also very affordable here”.

“[Digital] has now become the main revenue source for the recording industry, with Romania being one of the Top 5 most developed digital markets in the region,” adds Lupes.

“[Digital] has now become the main revenue source for the recording industry, with Romania being one of the Top 5 most developed digital markets in the region.”

Anca Lupes, Raw Music President 

Lupes is also keen to highlight just how far the local market has come over the past few decades.

“Whenever I discuss Romania’s music industry, I have to pinpoint the fact that it was on hold for 50 years due to the communist regime,” says Lupes.

“And it really started in 1996, after the [Copyright law of Romania] passed. Since then, it has grown continuously, and it’s catching up with more developed markets.”

According to Lupes, while the market faces challenges such as a “lack of infrastructure in the live sector”, looking to the future of the market, and its positioning on the global stage, Lupes points out: “Romania is the second biggest market in the CSEE after Poland, and the population of the whole region amounts to over 500 million people. That’s a big market to consider.”

She adds: ”Romania is still an emerging music market that’s growing at a fast pace. There is still a lot of space to be filled – in establishing companies, developing artists, and providing all sorts of services for both the recording industry and the live industry. We have a lot of talent in Romania – not only artists, but also writers and producers.

“A good example [of our local songwriter and producer development] was a songwriting camp for sync in advertising that we organized [on two occasions] with a Dutch agency. A few international campaigns emerged using music from collaborations that started [at the camp].”

Commenting on the long-term goals of MMB specifically, Lupes says: “We will continue to promote the Romanian music industry and local artists internationally and strengthen the relationships with other international conferences and showcases.

“We have many success stories about foreign bands releasing singles with local artists, or [who were] booked for local festivals and [have grown] a following in Romania, as well as Romanian bands getting booked to iconic festivals abroad, all after just one performance at our showcase.

“[We want to] support international mobility of local professionals and artists, establishing the event as an entry point to the Romanian market but also as an exit point for [local artists and professionals] interested in exploring other territories.”

 Music Business Worldwide

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