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Festival Focus: Anna Sjölund, Live Nation Sweden

In addition to her new role as SVP touring international for Live Nation, Anna Sjölund continues her festival work in Sweden overseeing Summerburst and serving on the board of Sweden Rock Festival. She brought Lollapalooza to Stockholm in 2019, which had a highly successful debut and then the pandemic hit. Here she tells us what it took to get through and looks ahead to the future.

How did you and the team get through the pandemic?
The first Lollapalooza Stockholm was fantastic. We had a great bill ready for the second year and then the pandemic struck. It was really tough for us mentally. In 2021, there was a window where it looked like we could have festivals, so we announced, but then everything closed down again. That was particularly challenging. I spent my pandemic time – apart from cancelling and moving shows – being one of the leaders of the industry movement that worked with authorities and politicians here. We’re a commercial company and never relied on government funding before. When the pandemic hit, we realised the people that held the crisis funds didn’t even know what the music business was, let alone festivals. So, we came together as an industry and spent time educating politicians about the value of our industry.

We got great support from [tourism organisation] Visit Stockholm. They see the value in Lollapalooza, especially considering that as a first-year festival 15% of our visitors came from outside Sweden (and this year, that increased to almost 19%). Those numbers are important for a city like Stockholm. So, we got funding – not enough to cover our losses but it meant we kept the majority of our team intact, thankfully.

When we finally got to have the festival this year, it was fantastic. We’re so happy that we got support from many of the acts who stayed on the bill and from everyone who came. It was just amazing to come back and do the festival again.

“I think that the ‘experience’ will be increasingly important”

What trends do you think we will see play out in the next few years at festivals?
Rock music seems to be coming back at the moment, which I love. I also think that the ‘experience’ will be increasingly important. A festival is something you attend all day, and we want people to have a great time from early until late. People expect more every year because the ticket prices go up, but we can offer a great experience for everyone. We have high-end stuff for the people that want that, which means we also can deliver a great product for the kids that saved up their money to come.

Local artists are going to be very important in the coming years because touring costs are up, and the dollar exchange rate is challenging. Having strong local talent that attracts a local audience means you don’t have to programme only the very expensive international talent. We’re in a great position for that because we have very strong local talent in Sweden.

What challenges does the festival industry face?
Staffing, production costs, and the dollar exchange rate. We’re aiming to improve the staffing issue by launching a trainee programme, which will see people working on our festivals on six- to 12-month contracts; we’ll train and pay them. We’re focusing the recruitment outside our standard channels because we want new people. They aren’t obliged to stay with us after the programme, but I hope they will.

“Now more than ever, we need places where we gather and enjoy things together, no matter our background or political views”

Together with Spotify we are the main partners to IFPI on You+ Music, an initiative for youth from urban areas of Sweden. The aim is to open the door and inspire young people with a love of music to work with it – they’ve heard you can be an artist, producer, promoter, or manager – we’re showing them how to get there.

Why are festivals important, and what role do they play in our cultural landscape?
Festivals have a huge role in people’s lives. Live music is very important for many reasons, but festivals in particular, because now more than ever, we need places where we gather and enjoy things together, no matter our background or our political views.

With Lollapalooza, we have people travelling from all over the world to come to Stockholm, and we’re showing the best we have here, so festivals are a great way to showcase your culture.
Finally, festivals employ so many people, from cleaning squads to food sellers, and that’s really important. You’re putting together teams of people who don’t know each other. And it’s a great way to integrate and find communities together.


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Arthur Awards 2018: All the winners

For more than two decades, the Arthur Awards, the live music industry’s Oscar equivalents, have been handed out during ILMC – and last week’s ‘Close Encounters of the 30th Kind’ anniversary event was no exception, with the brightest stars of the concert business taking a host of UFOs (unidentified f—ing objects) back to their own galaxies.

Taking place for the second year in the sumptuous surroundings of 8Northumberland, the Gala-ctic Dinner & Arthur Awards saw 350 interstellar travellers don their best spacesuits and set a course for an evening of mirth, merriment and glittering gongs.

On entertainment duties were host Emma Banks, who returned to captain the USS ILMC, and Whitney Houston tribute act Belinda Davids, who gave stirring renditions of ‘I Will Always Love You’ and ‘One Moment in Time’.

Also returning to the stage was Rock Werchter founder and 2017 Bottle Award winner Herman Schueremans, who presented the Bottle Award 2018 to ILMC’s founder, Martin Hopewell. Hopewell – who believed he would be, as usual, presenting the Bottle Award – was instead its recipient, and received a standing ovation from the audience (after tearing up the now-useless speech he’d prepared for the ‘winner’).

An emotional Hopewell closed the ceremony by paying tribute to ILMC’s former producer, Alia Dann Swift, and Dave Chumbley of Primary Talent, both of whom passed away in 2018.

Notably, all Arthurs for individuals – the awards for best assistant, professional services, new talent, agent and promoter – were won by women. The ceremony, on Thursday 8 March, coincided with International Women’s Day.

To view a photo gallery of the evening, visit

A full list of Arthur Awards 2018 winners is below.


Venue (First venue to come into your head)
The O2, London (UK)

Production services (Services above and beyond)

Professional services (Most professional professional)
Gillian Park, MGR Touring

Festival (Liggers’ favourite festival)
Glastonbury (UK)

Ticketing (The golden ticket)

Assistant (The people’s assistant)
Eliza-Jane Oliver, AEG Presents

New business talent (Tomorrow’s new boss)
Anna-Sophie Mertens, Live Nation

Agent (Second least offensive agent)
Natasha Bent, Coda

Promoter (The promoters’ promoter)
Anna Sjölund, Live Nation Sweden

Bottle Award
Martin Hopewell


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Live Nation Sweden appoints new joint MDs

Live Nation Sweden has announced the promotion of its head promoter, Anna Sjölund, and director of marketing and Nordic partnerships, Therése Liljedahl, as joint managing directors.

Both Sjölund and Liljedahl, who commence their new positions immediately, will retain elements of their previous roles: Sjölund remains head promoter, overseeing Live Nation Sweden’s agency, touring and festivals, while Liljedahl will retain responsibility for commercial partnerships in the Nordics while also managing Live Nation Sweden’s marketing, partnership, finance, administration and HR functions.

John Reid, president of concerts for Live Nation Europe, says: “The combined and complementary skill set that Anna and Therése will bring to their roles as managing directors is unparallelled. Together they will continue to grow the business that Thomas [Johansson] and Carl [Pernow] have built and take Live Nation Sweden into the future.”

Carl Pernow, now Live Nation’s president of Nordics, adds: “I am pleased to hand over the leadership of Live Nation Sweden to two exemplary leaders within their respective areas. I look forward to further developing the Nordic business with Anna, Therése and our Nordic colleagues.”

“I am pleased to hand over leadership to two exemplary leaders within their respective areas”

The appointments follow a bumper 2017 for LN Sweden, with concert successes including Guns N’ Roses, Coldplay, Metallica, Depeche Mode and the Rolling Stones. The Stockholm-based company also owns and operates festivals Summerburst, Way Out West (through subsidiary Luger) and Sweden Rock, which it bought last November.

Sjölund comments: “I have spent the majority of my career at Live Nation and had the opportunity to grow together with the business. I am excited to be able to continue my journey in this new role and look forward to what is ahead.”

“I’m honoured to have been given this opportunity,” adds Liljedahl. “I look forward to taking the next step at Live Nation Sweden together with Anna and my fantastic colleagues.”


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