France Did It, Can Greece? Proposed Music Quotas Aim to Revamp Nation's Soundtrack

Greek folk musicians

ATHENS, GREECE - Greece's culture ministry is proposing a law that could transform the soundtrack of your next vacation. Under the draft legislation, tourists might soon be greeted by a constant stream of Greek music in hotels, shops, and even airport lounges.

The plan, championed by Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, mandates that at least 45% of music played in public spaces be of Greek origin. The stated aim is to combat the dominance of English-language music and promote Greek culture.

Incentives and Ire:

Mendoni argues globalization has unfairly sidelined Greek music, with statistics showing it currently makes up only 30% of what's played publicly. To sweeten the deal for radio stations, the law offers them more commercial airtime in exchange for featuring more Greek tunes.

This prospect has been welcome news for many Greek artists and music industry figures who were hard-hit by the pandemic. They see the quota as a much-needed financial lifeline.

However, the proposal has also sparked outrage from other sectors. Hoteliers fear being forced to subject guests to a relentless loop of stereotypical Greek music like the "Zorba the Greek" theme. Denouncing the move, the hotel federation warned they might simply remove music from public areas altogether.

Echoes of Censorship?

Private radio stations have joined the chorus of disapproval, objecting to the forced increase in commercials. The leftist opposition party has gone even further, likening the measure to the tactics of the right-wing dictatorship that banned the Beatles and miniskirts in the 1960s.

The film industry, currently basking in the international acclaim of Yorgos Lanthimos' Oscar-winning film "Poor Things," also slammed the bill as a curb on artistic freedom and potential censorship.

Beyond the Bouzouki:

Critics also highlight the exclusion of certain genres and artists. The law seemingly overlooks composers of purely instrumental music, younger songwriters who favour English lyrics, and performers focused on jazz, rock, and alternative music.

Learning from France?

Despite the backlash, Mendoni has her supporters. They point to France, which implemented similar quotas decades ago, as a successful model. Louka Katseli, a former economy minister, argues that unless Greece protects its musical heritage, it risks losing it entirely in the face of globalization and the dominance of international music platforms.

Open to Revision?

The government appears willing to consider public feedback. Mendoni has promised to listen to "comments and public debate" before finalizing the legislation. Whether the final law becomes a harmonious blend of local pride and artistic freedom or a cacophony of discontent remains to be seen.

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024