The rise of Maneskin reminds the world of the facility of Eurovision – and of Italian music.
Maneskin, the Italian rock band that won the Eurovision Song Contest last month, flies. The song that won this competition, Zitti e Buoni (“Shut Up and Behave”), reached the top 10 on the Spotify charts worldwide – a first for an Italian artist – and has now garnered over 100 million plays on the platform. But that’s not a one-hit wonder: Another Maneskin track, I WANNA BE YOUR SLAVE, is now climbing the global charts and is currently at number 12 (and climbing) in Spotify’s global daily rankings. In fact, Maneskin currently has 19 million monthly listeners on Spotify, and the New York Times even asks if the group can “take on the world” after Eurovision. For Claudio Ferrante, CEO of Artist First in Italy (pictured), Maneskin’s victory proves to be a “game changer” for the Italian music market – and an important reminder of the power of television content that many have written off in the past. Here in an MBW Op / ed Ferrante gives his point of view …
At the time of writing, it has been almost four weeks since the Italian rock band Maneskin stormed to victory in the 65th Eurovision Song Contest, this year’s television institution in the Netherlands and over 183 million people in the 41 participating countries … and another 200 territories worldwide YouTube.
For the Italian market, it’s not an exaggeration to say that this win is a game changer, especially after second place that Italian artist Mahmood took last year (produced by Artist First’s Dardust, by the way).
For some, especially in the UK, Eurovision is seen as great fun, but ultimately inconsequential – some kind of camp entertainment extravaganza, rather than something to do with “real music”. But in other continental European countries it’s a deadly serious showcase.
It also carries tremendous weight and importance with songwriters, for whom it is a global platform for their craft.
In a world of 24 hours, multichannel and multiplatform media options, Eurovision still remains a “deadline to watch” television.
It’s easy to forget that ABBA famously exploded into global consciousness with Waterloo, their triumphant winning song from 1974. There have been many examples of careers that were made after appearances on the show by Sandie Shaw, Johnny Logan and even Celine Dion, which won in 1988, representing Switzerland.
So in the more jaded world of 2021, what is the Eurovision effect for Maneskin and the wider Italian and European music market?
Does this signal the end of Anglo-American dominance of popular music and a new pride for European countries in their native artists? Is this new generation of music lovers – and Eurovision is incredibly popular with younger viewers – always more “appropriate” when it comes to what they are listening to?
One could argue that more and more people today simply don’t care where an action comes from. The very idea of an alternative rock band winning Eurovision, let alone an Italian one, left a lot of people scratching their heads.
The major labels in some European countries, who have relied on British and US acts for so long, are increasingly looking, with some justification, for local talent to promote in their homeland.
It’s important to say that Maneskin’s victory and the band’s subsequent success weren’t all down to stupid luck. The band was managed by a formidable young executive named Marta Donà, who has much credit for implementing a highly strategic campaign that has resulted in the band getting noticed within the broader Sony Music hierarchy.
Donà knew that she had a band that was the right act at the right time. Adventurous, interesting and sexy – with a lead singer in Damiano David who exudes rock star charisma. In an industry where the trend sometimes seems to be towards “faceless” acts – or very artificial ones like K-POP – there is something very authentic here.
As a little side note, it should also be mentioned that the Sanremo Festival in Italy – a celebration of the Italian music industry and the most popular TV show in Italy that Maneskin won again this year – is itself becoming a major reference point for the international music business, thanks to the artistic direction of Amadeus and the production of Claudio Fasulo von Rai1.
After a lost year during this pandemic – and Italy may have suffered more than some others throughout the period – it feels like we are now emerging from the dark and we see a backlog of artists to believe in. It feels like authenticity and compelling music is what fans are asking for.
Are the numbers backing up the excitement? You bet.
Since winning the Eurovision Maneskin winning song, Zitti e Buoni has more than 100 million streams on Spotify and the band has up to 18.9 million monthly listeners, overtaking rock gods such as Muse (10.7 million), Foo Fighters (13 , 5 million) and pearl jam (10.8 m).
On May 23, the day after Eurovision, Zitti e Buoni reached number 9 on the Spotify Global Charts (highest new entry) and reached number 1 in 25 countries. It was also the first Italian song to hit the official UK singles chart in over 30 years. (Another Maneskin track, the English language I WANNA BE YOUR SLAVE, went to # 12 in the UK last week … and climbed 12 places. It looks likely to break the UK top 10 on Friday.)
So, as we enter this new post-COVID age, it may be time to rethink the way we look at domestic music across Europe and around the world.
Maybe it’s time for an A&R renaissance. And I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but it’s worth remembering: we Italians INVENTED the renaissance!
Ciao!Music business worldwide