Kristian Kostov is a young solo singer, songwriter and producer with a multicultural and interfaith background. He stormed through the biggest TV shows such as The Voice Kids Russia (2014, finalist), X-Factor Bulgaria (2016, 2nd place), Eurovision Song Contest (2017, 2nd place) with the highest percentage in history of votes in semifinals (94% of votes). In 2018 Kostov won the European Border Breakers Awards, as well as the Public Choice Award 2018.
We asked Kristian some questions to get to know him better as a jury member for this years Music Moves Europe Talent Awards.
What’s your view on the European music scene?
The European music scene is more interconnected with other markets and scenes than it has ever been before. Also, I think we can see that some genres are merging, and new genres appear very fast, a process that reflects some cultural changes on a larger scale. As a result, music is becoming more diverse to cater to different tastes. Today, new artists have multiple opportunities to enter the music business thanks to the Internet and social media that give vast reach, or even make a song go viral worldwide. Common examples are artists like Bazzi or Juice WRLD.
What are you looking for in new European artists?
Authenticity, interesting personality and a good story. Everybody loves good stories. In making any kind of evaluation within the music industry, especially when being a part of a jury, I mainly refer to a set of criteria that helps me be both impartial and personal.
Strong first impression. This has never been more important in the history of music industry than now. Accessibility for newcomer artists (technologically, financially, socially), has led to an oversaturated market; increasingly low attention span among people, and subsequently, rapid loss of relevance – these factors have made a huge influence on the industry.
Uniqueness of the artist. Just as it implies: if I feel that the market has yet to welcome such artists, it influences my opinion in a positive direction. I like change and I personally try to promote it.
Skill, technique and growth potential. Having started my career as a jazz musician, it is very important for me to see the effort put in by the artist to sound and present themselves better on stage. That said, I don’t expect flawless technique, because even a beginner can impress me if they show true potential and a desire to become better.
Flexibility. To be flexible means to know how to adapt without betraying your true self as an artist. Nobody wants to see a soul singer trying to add trap rap to his repertoire, yet creating fusions of genres in the light of contemporary trends has always spurred evolution within the industry.
Do you have any inspiring examples?
For me, it’s Sigrid. Her music, pure appearance and the message she conveys contrast with this mainstream celebrity image that we have all become accustomed to, and this is something I like the most. She is different, and she is successful. I hope to see more examples like this in the future.
What do artists need if they want to make it big?
First of all, discipline. Then, building a team. Behind the success of every big star there is a team of dedicated, hardworking and reliable people who believe in their artist. It is also important to work simultaneously on music, visuals and branding, thus delivering a multi-platform product, with all elements complementing and reinforcing each other.
What should emerging artists know about the music business?
There is no magic pill. There is, however, hard work, good people to collaborate with and a bit of luck. The market is very competitive today, so emerging artists should be ready to offer more, to be prepared to become not only singers, but also bloggers, designers, video content creators, etc. Staying in touch with fans is also very important; this is how you build your “super fans”, the most loyal part of the audience who will come to all your gigs, buy your merch etc.
And the last thing, newcomers should build their network with other artists and seek collaborations with photographers, bloggers, and other professionals. Building your “crew” will be mutually beneficial for everyone involved.