It is raining, but from underneath a plastic roof a barbecue produces lots of smoke. Two representatives are talking to each other in a stand called ‘Karpathian wines’. One is complaining about the weather, while the other laughs and replies: “Yes, well, we are in Belgium now!” Only a couple of meters further the Greek singer Eleftheria Eleftheriou is sitting next to the technical staff. She takes off her shoes while crying: “I am never ever wearing high heels again.”
We have arrived on the Kathelijne square in Brussels, where the Romanian community in Belgium celebrates the Romanian Spring Party. On the market there is traditional Romanian food, wines, and handcraft. And of course music, because Mandinga is coming! With them another four countries will perform today, including Moldova, a country of course closely related to Romania.
For the other three countries (Switzerland, Belarus and Greece) the party is a good chance to gain some promotion. Their participation is of course presented as a nice gesture towards the Romanians, but promotion is the main reason why these delegations travelled a long way to get to Brussels. It raises the question whether such promotion tours actually have effect on the final results.
Eleftheria Eleftheriou from Greece did not want to say too much about that. She was accompanied the entire day by her supervisor from Universal Music, and the interview stayed quite short. Just like her performance: Eleftheriou is a new upcoming artist and she has in fact just one official song. You might as well say that Universal Music is using the Eurovision Song Contest as one big promotour, to get Eleftheriou on the international map of music.
The conversations with the Belarusian guys from Litesound went on a lot more easy and smooth. Litesound does not have a record label. They enjoyed their Romanian lunch and gave away interviews to whomever asked. “Our promotour is killing us”, stated vocalist Dmitry Karyakin, but there is no discussion that it will increase their chances. “In Belarus a lot of people know us, but we need the voters from abroad!”
Still, none of the artists seems to be able to explain how exactly the effect of promotion works. A female Azerbaijani journalist suggests to divide the focus of the promotion in a very tactful way, like her country does. “One big television performance in San Marino and you have your first twelve points”, she said. “The thing is to get into the biggest and most populair television shows, but in the smaller countries.” Along with her colleagues she has to admit though that solid proof for a correlation between promotion and success is lacking.
Meanwhile in Brussels, the concert is over. The artists have performed their song a second time at the after party, but now most of them seems to be returning to their hotel rooms. But not the Belarusian singer Jakopo Massa. “Let’s get another drink”, he suggests, and a small group of journalists and fellow-artists join him. Presumably some of the artists are just enjoying a great time of travelling. The Swiss lead vocalist Ivan Broggini raises his glass, winks and says: “This is a unique chance for us to meet so many different countries. Why do you think we have been in almost every national final?”