Sofia, Bulgaria 26th October 2023

“We are looking at SoAlive music conference not as a stage for entertainment, but rather as a platform for music education and growth.” – Mariya Gabriel, Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Last week marked the inaugural SoAlive Music Conference (SAMC), successfully convening over 400 industry delegates, showcasing dozens of vibrant bands, and captivating thousands of live music fans over three unforgettable days.

Organised in collaboration with new IMPALA member ANMIP-BG, this event was marked by insightful keynotes from industry powerhouses, featuring Azis, the music sensation boasting over 2 billion YouTube views, renowned music journalist David Fricke and Dr. Mathew Knowles.

The opening night of the conference starred impassioned speeches by Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mariya Gabriel, and Minister of Culture, Krastyo Krastev. Mariya Gabriel observed, “With innovation and youth, the Balkans have the potential to become a centre for music industry development.” The music sector also received its first-ever address from EU Commissioner of Culture, Innovation, Research and Youth, Iliana Ivanova, delivered through a special video feature.

The event featured presentations from esteemed international music organisations, with participants witnessing discourses by YOUROPE (The European Festival Association), IMPALA (The Independent Music Companies Association), the LIVEMX project, the International Music Council’s Fair Music Project, and innovators in sustainability and promotional merchandise, among others. These sessions underscored the global perspectives and innovative strides essential to the evolution and sustainability of the music industry, highlighting the integral role of the Balkan region in this dynamic global framework. The conference also featured a song writing camp, which resulted in 10 brand new songs by artists from across the Balkans.

Mariya Gabriel, Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs stated “At the Ministry of Culture we are proud to support such initiatives that contribute to the enrichment of our cultural landscape, promote tourism and boost the economy. That is why we are looking at SoAlive music conference not as a stage for entertainment, but rather as a platform for music education and growth.”

Krastyo Krastev, Bulgaria’s Minister of Culture reflected “As the founder of SoAlive Music Conference, I deeply believe that the pulsating heart of music, particularly within the independent sector, beats louder when innovation and creativity collide. SoAlive is not just an event; it’s a catalyst for change, empowering artists, producers, and industry professionals to transcend boundaries and redefine the musical narrative. In a world that’s constantly evolving, we provide a platform for the independent music scene to not just participate in the change but lead it. Our journey is not just about discovering new music; it’s about discovering new ways to experience, share, and innovate within the realm of music.” 

Ruth Koleva, President of ANMIP-BG and Founder of SoAlive Music Conference and President stated “SoAlive is different in that it focuses on the cultural and historical heritage of the Balkans. The aim is to promote this heritage and at the same time support the access of artists from the Balkans and South East Europe to the wider European music market. It is important here to seize the opportunities of the digital age, as new technologies remain central to the development of the music industry. The SoAlive Music Conference is another opportunity to discuss strategies, initiatives and ideas in the field of cultural diplomacy. It demonstrates the power of music and the arts and their integral role in creating a narrative that showcases the cultural richness of regions around the world.” 

Dario Draštata, Executive Director of Dallas Records, President of Regional association of independent record labels Balkans (RUNDA) and IMPALA Chair expressed a sense of privilege to be in Sofia at the first So Alive Music Conference, highlighting that “The conference was a great networking platform and chance to exchange knowledge, experience, ideas, while learning and finding inspiration from top speakers from all over the world. SoAlive is another CEE region key event that’s opening channels and building bridges with the global music industry, as well as creating new opportunities to emerging and diverse Balkan music community & beyond.”

Kees van Weijen, President of STOMP and Executive board member of IMPALA remarked It was inspiring to see numerous young music professionals from the Balkans enjoying the concerts and informative panels on European and regional music topics. I also had the pleasure of meeting new members from the Bulgarian Trade Association ANMIP-BG, and I’m looking forward to witnessing their promising future.

The next edition of SoAlive Music Conference is slated for October 2024 with preparations already underway to ensure it remains a pivotal gathering for music professionals, artists, and enthusiasts worldwide.

About SoAlive Music Conference
SoAlive Music Conference is a premier industry event designed as a nexus for music professionals, artists, and innovators. It’s a vibrant platform for dialogue, ideas exchange, and artistic collaborations, propelling the Balkan music scene onto the global stage.

ANMIP-BG is the leading organisation of independent music publishers and producers in Bulgaria. Established in tradition, yet constantly evolving, ANMIP defend the independent spirit that drives the heart of Bulgarian music. The association is based on the collective strength of dedicated professionals who strive to develop our country’s rich musical landscape within a contemporary framework. Its mission is to strengthen and promote the independent music community in Bulgaria by providing unparalleled support, resources, and representation. ANMIP strive to create a thriving ecosystem where creativity knows no boundaries and where the independent voice of every publisher and producer can be heard.

IMPALA was established in 2000 and now represents nearly 6000 independent music companies. 99% of Europe’s music companies are small, micro and medium businesses and self-releasing artists. Known as the independents, they are world leaders in terms of innovation and discovering new music and artists – they produce more than 80% of all new releases and account for 80% of the sector’s jobs. IMPALA’s mission is to grow the independent music sector sustainably, return more value to artists, promote diversity and entrepreneurship, improve political access, inspire change, and increase access to finance. IMPALA works on a range of key issues for its members, runs various award schemes and has a programme aimed at businesses who want to develop a strategic relationship with the independent sector – Friends of IMPALA.

For a detailed recap of SAMC 2023, exclusive content, interviews, and more, please visit or contact

IMPALA – Independent Music Companies Association

Rue des Deux Eglises 37-39, 1000, Brussels, BELGIUM

+32 2 503 31 38