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Norway festivals cancelled, but small events to return

While the likes of Øya Festival and Bergenfest are postponed a year, events of up to 50 people will return this week – with 200-cap. concerts likely allowed from mid-June

By IQ on 04 May 2020

The Norwegian live music market was worth 1.8 billion krone ($203m) in 2014, a 20 per cent increase on 2012, according to a new report by Arts Council Norway. Music in Numbers 2014 (Musikk i tall 2014) also reveals that the export of Norwegian music – that's live music, recorded music and licensing – generated a total revenue of 223m krone (kr), or $25.2m, in 2014, an increase of kr5m on 2013. The industry as a whole had a turnover of $395m in 2014 – down two per cent on 2013, but up seven per cent compared to 2012 – meaning that, as Norway transitions to "a streaming-based economy", live concerts generated over 51 per cent of its total musical revenue. "The numbers confirm a tendency we have been seeing the last few years: that there is an increasing demand for Norwegian music internationally," says Music Norway director Kathrine Synnes Finnskog.

Tons of Rock 2020, with Iron Maiden, Faith No More and Deep Purple, is no more

image © Håvard Nesbø/Tons of Rock

Concerts of up to 200 people will likely once again be permitted in Norway as of Friday 15 June, as the country’s live music sector begins its slow return to normality.

The first live events will return this week, with shows for up to 50 people permitted from this Thursday (7 May), providing a one-metre (3’3”) distance is kept between attendees. From 15 June, the government will also consider allowing events for up to 200 people should infection rates be kept under control, said health minister Bent Høie last week.

The concrete timetable for the lifting of restrictions on concerts – which follows a similar, much-talked-about announcement by Spanish authorities, where events of 30 people (in venues with over 90 capacity) may return from 11 May – welcomed tentatively by promoters’ association NKA, nevertheless comes too late for Norway’s large live events, with the country’s largest and best-known music festivals finally called off last week.

Bergenfest (scheduled for 10–13 June) and Tons of Rock (25–27 June), both owned by Live Nation, and Øya Festival, part of the Superstruct stable, will no longer take place in 2020, after the Norwegian government extended its ban on major live events until 1 September.

“For the larger industry players, events of up to 200 people will not even be close to being financially viable”

Large-scale live events are banned in most of continental Europe this summer to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Going further than Norway, the Netherlands has prohibited all festivals, concerts and club nights until 1 September, while in SwitzerlandIrelandGermanyBelgium and Denmark a ban is in place until 31 August. Hungary has banned mass gatherings until at least 15 August, and Luxembourg and Finland until 31 July. France, meanwhile, has given mid-July as the earliest date when events could go ahead, while Austria has identified the end of June.

“While it is positive that there are now clear signs that society can gradually be reopened, at the same time it will be a long time until we can be together as normal,” comments Norwegian Live Music Association (NKA) head Tone Østerdal. “Our industry was among the very first to be shut down, and will most likely be among the very last to open completely. In the meantime, the focus must be to keep concert organisers and the rest of the players in the music industry afloat.

“For some of the smallest, allowing events for up to 200 people could represent such an opportunity, and I think we will see many positive initiatives going forward. At the same time, we should not underestimate what maintaining the infection prevention rules will require of promoters – and for the larger industry players, events of up to 200 people will not even be close to being financially viable.”


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