In each country Sónar, deemed the International Festival of Advanced Music and New Media Art, is teaming with a promoter with a successful track record around international events. The three are known for breaking ground in their respective music scenes by presenting big-name global acts, promoting local indie artists, attracting young audiences, and creating new business models in an environment wrought with unique economic and cultural challenges.
The young team at Lotus Producciones in Santiago has made a success of Lollapalooza, the first large-scale international festival to be staged in that city. PopArt is a recognized leader in Buenos Aires, producing shows for international stars, putting on festivals and working innovatively with brands. Bogotá's T310 are behind the massive Estéreo Picnic, a milestone for music festivals in Colombia.
Similar to Lollapalooza, which has created a touring circuit for artists traveling to South America with three festivals in Santiago, Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo, Sónar is setting up an infrastructure through which its South American festivals can share headliners, as well as showcase local artists.
"Making sure that the local community is involved is part of our philosophy at Sónar," says Barba, who describes the festivals as presenting "a combination of artists shows who use music, technology and audiovisual techniques in very unique ways."
"I think the South American audience is more open to this kind of music," he adds. "And there is emerging creative talent working in that area."
Sónar tested the waters in Buenos Aires in 2006 with a Sounds of Sónar festival; Barba concedes that effort was perhaps before its time.
"I think the key to succes is choosing the right market and right partner in that market," he says.
Sónar, which is a privately held Spanish company, has steadily mapped its expansion, experimenting in recent years with events in countries including the United States, where the festival will not have a presence this year. Most recently Sónar has followed up its festivals in Reykiavik and Stockholm with the launch of Sónar Copenhagen, to be held on March 13 and 14.