Many people might know Boban Milunović as the owner and promoter of the biggest festival in Slovenia, MetalDays, where he is in charge of the entire management and booking of the festival; but he actually runs 4 other festivals too: Punk Rock Holiday, Winter Days of Metal, MotörCity and the Overjam Reggae Festival. Boban has 25 years of experience in the music business and 15 years of festival organisation. He has spent pretty much his whole life in the music industry, from playing in various bands and being a tour manager, to owning a recording and mastering studio, where he handled mastering and production. Boban is also member of a Slovenian blues rock band called Stray Train.
Q: How did you start with the first festival?
In 2007, I was asked by one of the owners of Metalcamp to take the CEO position in the company that promoted the festival. The situation between the shareholders was complicated on a personal and professional level and the company was €400,000 in debt. It took me lot of effort to turn the page to the positive side, where we are now with MetalDays.
The first step was to cut all the unnecessary costs and investments in order to bring the company to a financially positive level. Beside that, it was imperative to establish the goal of where we wanted to go with the project, as the shareholders had no idea and could not even say why they had come that far.
Q: What were the biggest challenges?
The most challenging thing was to find the right balance between 5 shareholders that were not able to talk to each other. From 2007 to 2012, I lost a lot of energy on it, and although the company was in a much better position than the one I had found it in, it was clear that the whole thing had no future. You can’t run a business where personal differences are more important than the business itself. Therefore, I left my position as CEO in the company that promoted Metalcamp and I started MetalDays as my own festival in 2013.
In 2012, I was already the owner of the Punk Rock Holiday Festival, a project that had got off to a bad start in 2011. As it had lost a lot of money, it was offered to me and I loved the idea, so I took it over and turned it into our 2nd most successful festival, after MetalDays.
“Tolmin is a small place that during MetalDays becomes the 9th biggest city in Slovenia”
Q: How did the locals react to MetalDays?
The locals were mostly positive about all the festivals in Tolmin. The first festival there was a local one that still exists in a really small setup. The first bigger festival was the reggae festival River Splash that had a few great years but went bankrupt. We thought that a reggae festival made sense in Tolmin and therefore we took over the Overjam International Reggae festival in 2017 as our third festival.
Tolmin is a small place that during MetalDays becomes the 9th biggest city in Slovenia. We have even more visitors than Postojna has inhabitants. Having 3 times more people than the the town’s infrastructure is made for can be challenging, and this can be a problem for some of the Tolmin people. But the overall feeling is welcoming.
Q: You once said that for you event management is not a job, but rather a lifestyle. Do you actually plan to attract bands that you personally like? Do you ever take it as your personally curated concert?
Not really. I may book a band or two for myself but this is nothing I would try to build on. A festival is about the balance between personal taste, the budget that you have to work within, the real position on the market of the bands that you would like to book, and the availability of those bands.
Our Bluesland festival, that we hold at Ljubljana Castle, suits my musical taste best. I can say that I book artists for Bluesland that I personally like and would love to see performing at Bluesland.
Q: How have the audience numbers grown over the years? And what countries are they coming from?
MetalDays went from 6000 in 2013 to 12,000 in 2016 and this is our max … we don’t sell more than 12,000 tickets. In 2018, we had visitors from 80 different countries.
Q: Your events are known to be some of the most successful ones in Slovenia. But is there anything that still bothers you about your own events?
Not really. I think we make best festivals given the possibilities and situation. We went really far when it comes to the ecological aspect of the festivals. We won an A Greener Festival award in 2017 and 2018 in most ecological festival category. I can say that we are pioneers in festival ecology and years ahead of all other European festivals.
Q: This is a huge machine, it seems. How many people work on these projects?
We are a team of 11 people throughout the year, but at MetalDays itself we have 400 employees.
Q: What are you planning for the future?
The plan for the future is to make our festivals even better. We do not want to expand. We will concentrate even more on ecology in order to try and make zero-waste festivals out of our events.
Q: Is there a band that you haven’t yet managed to get, but you wish you could?
There are lots of them … but unfortunately all our festivals are too small to accommodate the bands that I would like to see in Tolmin.
Q: What has been, so far, your favourite moment at your festivals?
Probably the Judas Priest show at MetalDays 2018, ‘cos this is the biggest band we can host in Tolmin, and knowing that you have reached your maximum is a great feeling.
Q: If you had no budget restrictions, which band would you invite?
AC/DC, without a doubt.