„In Czech Republic, it’s popular to have a beer and listen to rock music…”



Interview with Jarda Konáš from Headliner magazine. He also has his own TV show about music, which is called „The Song Story”.

Bedrich Smetana? Sure! Him and other classic artists are well known in the Czech Republic and other countries. But what about modern music? Daniel Landa probably does not sound familiar. Are Czech people still listening to classic music instead of getting to know the contemporary production? In order to find out more about this we met Jarda Konáš a music journalist from Headliner magazine, in a café in Prague and asked him some questions about the contemporary music status quo in the Czech Republic.

How would you explain Headliner magazine to someone who has never read it before?

Our magazine is especially one thing: it is not printed. It is focussed on smartphones, tablets and touch displays. So we put our articles on the internet. It’s a completely different platform. So that is why Headliner magazine is not that magazine.

Also important is that our magazine is going forward to the reader. That means on the one hand that it is for free. We have about 15.000 readers per month who download our magazine and we pay it (six or seven kc per download). On the other hand, the content is for mass readers. So we basically focus on pop and rock music – on music that everybody knows and on contemporary artists.

Would you say that technologies like phones have helped people to learn more about Czech music?

Yeah. Czech Republic is a small market and when you have a print magazine, it’s quiet limited for viewers and also for distribution. [Therefore] we decided not to use a printed magazine and we were the first who made a magazine like that in Czech Republic. That is why headliner is unique and why it is so popular between Czech bands. It’s a completely different platform. So it can help to distribute information about Czech contemporary music.

What is the genre of this contemporary music?

In Czech Republic it’s popular to have a beer and listen to rock music. Rock music in clubs have the biggest support.

But for musicians it’s easier to be successfull in electronic music because when there is an interesting DJ, the club invites him to play because it’s easy: just a guy with a laptop and it dosen’t cost much. So that’s why young electric musicians play much more than rock bands and also often abroad. But also Czech listeners are conservative and they like old bands they already know. Most of Czech successfull bands play in Czech language because Czechs want to understand what they are listening to. Also; when bands try to sing in English, 95 percent of English is funny! That’s the same as a Chinese band would try to sing in Czech. You have no chance to pronounce or sing it [properly].

It seems that Czechs do not really listen to new czech music. Would you support the statement that they are much more interested in classic music than in today’s modern offer?

I wouldn´t say [in] classic music but in „older music“. They listen to sixty year old pop singers and that’s why also Czech radios are airing it. They primaly focus on this sort of music and most popular thing on radio in the Czech Republic is that’s transmition is based on 80´s Czech music because Czech people really want to listen to it. And then other radios see that this one radio is the most successfull in Czech Republic and that they have to make similar programme. This is also the reason why young bands and young musicians in the Czech Republic have a really small chance to get aired- it is close to zero!

Can you find local music in clubs or bars in Prague? Do young artists have any chance of becoming popular by playing in them?

I think that in Prague [there] are four or five clubs that play three to five days a week and they offer good selection of interesting and actual contemporary music. In these clubs, the contemporary czech scene is made. The bands there really create the sound of Czech music. They play in many clubs in Prague and have a great support there. People who run the clubs are really open minded and the stage is for everybody who wants to play. That is how young Czech bands become popular. They travel through all the villages in Czech Republic and play in every town. In really small towns we call that they play in the „ass”. They will finally- after a few years- make their fans like supporting them.

How has Czech music culture changed during the last decades?

During the Communist era, the musica market and show business was really closed and focused on Czech and Slovakian musicians because rock and English speaking music were music of the enemy. That is why two or three generations of czech people grew up listening to […] Soviet pop. They were not looking for bands from abroad for fourty years. So they won’t for the next twenty years.

But my generation is different. I was four years [old] when the Iron Curtain fell. I grew up in an open scene and in the global show business. I am the first generation that has this approach to music. In general, on today’s Czech market there are two types: active guys, who really go foreward to the music, and passive guys who only switch on the radio at work without really recognizing. Most of Czech Republic listners are passive, but most of people who read headliner magazine are the active ones.

Short look into the future… What has to change for Czech music to become more popular?

[Radio listeners]call the head quaters and say: ,,Come on, I dont want to hear new music! I was listening to the older songs for twenty years! I want to hear the same music, that’s why I’m listening to you!”. So what radios have to do is focus on actual culture.

First, listeners have to change and have to really want to listen to the new music. If they don’t want to, nothing will change. The second problem is that most of the listeners don’t listen to radio stations on the internet. But I think that in five- maybe ten years- more Czech people will listen to internet radios and the internet radios will be the reason why Czech broadcasting radio stations and TV shows will try to change. So if something has to change in Czech Republic first, they have to make a much more friendly environment for young Czech music and musicians.

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