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News from our Digital Cross Over partner IMZ

In our second interview with the IMZ International Music + Media Centre, we talked with Sophie Schneider about her role as project manager of the EU project Digital Cross Over and the upcoming Avant Première Music + Media Market which will take place digitally from 15 - 18 February 2021. This format is known as one of the largest international trade fairs for cultural TV content and presents latest film productions for worldwide transmission.

The IMZ International Music + Media Centre is the project lead of Digital Cross Over which is implemented in cooperation with Ars Electronica, Börsenverein Group, Centrica and Izneo in the framework of the Creative Europe funding programme of the European Commission. It aims to demonstrate and explore the current challenges facing the creative and cultural industries: Who pays for the content created by cultural and creative professionals? How do I reach my target group in the digital age and how can I learn from players from other industries who are or have been facing similar challenges?

Digital Cross Over at Avant Première

© IMZ International Music + Media Centre

Dear Sophie, could you please describe your job and your connection to Frankfurter Buchmesse?

I am project manager for various projects at the IMZ – International Music + Media Centre in Vienna. My activities here range from designing the conference programme of Avant Première, the largest international trade fair for cultural TV content, to the planning + organisation of the IMZ Academy initiative, a master class-series for young and established professionals in the area of audiovisual music + dance production.    

Another, not less exciting project among my responsibilities of course is the European initiative Digital Cross Over, a cross-sector project between the content + creative industries, which aims at bridging culture + audiovisual content through digital technologies.    
Within this project, the Frankfurter Buchmesse – with its ARTS+ programme, is one of our consortium partners, bringing into the initiative not only to the publishing world but also the international creative industry.


Berlin is the usual location of Avant Première. In 2021, Avant Première will take place online due to the pandemic situation. What are the challenges and opportunities of the first digital Avant Première Music + Media Market?

Let’s start with the opportunities! What is great is to be able to reach out to participants all over the place – this year, long distances and travelling are no longer obstacles, so this edition makes participation much easier. As for all virtual trade fairs being online allows us + our participants an effortless and thorough follow-up, even once the event is completed.     

But indeed, we have to cope with challenges as well. One would be to ensure everyone in the network a safe + valuable event in real-time. But by using the Event Tool b2match, we found a way to offer all participants a seamless digital experience. It’s a challenging mission to provide our community the feeling of being connected now more than ever – and to replicate the unique Avant Première experience although we meet online. That’s all new for us, and we give our best, to make something great possible!


Avant Première Music + Media Market Berlin 2020 brought up a lot of burning questions and lively debates on the future of cultural TV content and performing arts in audiovisual media. Which topics will set the tone in performing arts and the audiovisual industry in 2021?

Since Avant Première 2020 we had to face the COVID-19 crisis– which had and still has a big impact on the world of the performing arts. Cancelled events and film projects coming to halt due to the lockdown showed, even more, the urgency of the audiovisual industry for the performing arts!

With closed concert halls and opera houses, the highest duty of the IMZ was and still is more meaningful than ever: to make performing arts accessible through audiovisual media. You know, with performing arts films our members bring music + dance to homes of culture lovers – under any circumstances.

In our eyes, business opportunities are what’s needed most in the industry right now. And that’s what we wanted to ensure, although physical meetings are not possible. Those who are active at the intersection of performing arts + audiovisual media should meet, network and do business! Therefore, we kept our commitment to make Avant Première 2021 happen and, considering the situation, provide an online-exclusive event from 15-18 February 2021 

But the crisis also has emerged the great relevance of digitisation in the field. That’s why we are developing IMZ Online Services, a digital search engine + B2B marketplace for film licence trading. The specificity about it is that it’s designed with and for IMZ members and is thus precisely geared to the needs of the industry. This offers services from searching productions through a huge catalogue, to making custom selling propositions and closing deals. Everything can be done on IMZ Online Services, launching this summer. This will definitely set the tone in the performing arts + audiovisual industry from 2021 on!


What could be the main challenges for the Audiovisual (AV) /Performing Arts sector in the next 3 years?

That’s a really good question. As for now, the biggest challenge still is to face the post-Covid period and the need to be very sensitive about finding the right balance between linear and non-linear programmes. Furthermore, we have to think about implementing new distribution strategies involving broadcasters + online platforms and take an eye on the growth of new platforms of distribution with embedded VR/AR and/or gaming for AV performing arts. 

As the online platforms grow, new production models must evolve, that fit stronger and faster online distribution – we have to keep that in mind. Another big question accompanying us the next years is clearly which technology will impose itself for the AV production of performing arts and if game engines will be used! Also, the industry will change by the impact of the end of "country by country" distribution and the increase of "all rights" deals. And last but not least the question around future co-financiers of these programmes arise. You see, there are so many things to explore ahead of us - and it’s super exciting to be part of it! 


Why should visitors and exhibitors join Avant Première Music + Media Market Vienna 2021 – and how would you attract people interested in the Digital Cross Over project?

I‘d recommend everyone to attend as it’s a space for organisations, companies, and creatives to meet and explore cooperation in times where this is needed - and so is the need to showcase inspirational new projects and success stories of innovation! Therefore, the Innovation Focus at Avant Première 2021 places a special emphasis on new technologies for the arts, inviting technology experts to share their exclusive insights into the latest developments with stakeholders in the cultural film sector. And this is quite amazing! Our Digital Cross Over partner Centrica will present the current state of creating immersive + interactive exhibitions, and Ars Electronica will be represented with its own booth. By attending the programmeyou can stay at the forefront of future developments in the performing arts film sector – so come on and join us online when expert speakers share their unique insights from encompassing perspectives!  

Thank you very much for the interview, Sophie!


PS: Interested in learning more about IMZ and its role within the EU project Digital Cross Over and further cross sector activities? Then we kindly recommend you our first interview with Katharina Jeschke, Secretary General, IMZ, in October 2020.

Digital Cross Over Team

More about Digital Cross Over

Find out more about upcoming events, project partners and past highlights on our website!

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