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PE-backed Nordic powerhouse All Things Live launches

Waterland Private Equity, a Netherlands-based multinational investment firm, has acquired six leading Scandinavian promoters and agencies, bringing them together under a new company described as “the new independent market leader in Nordic live entertainment”.

All Things Live – comprising ICO Concerts and ICO Management and Touring (Denmark), Friction and Atomic Soul Booking (Norway) and Blixten & Co and Maloney Concerts (Sweden) – has a combined annual revenue of €85 million and around 70 employees across the three countries, according to Waterland, which is the majority shareholder.

In total, All Things Live will represent 140 Nordic artists on exclusive contracts and promote almost 3,000 local and international events, selling more than a million tickets a year.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although the companies say in a joint statement the acquisition will “not entail changes for customers, partners, day-to-day management or employees”.

“Together with our great Norwegian and Swedish colleagues, we have created a series of memorable live experiences in recent years, and we are excited to join forces in All Things Live to strengthen our collaboration with a view to providing an even better offering to artists and fans across the Nordics,” says Pernille Møller Pedersen, co-owner of ICO Concerts/Management and Touring.

“We look forward to leveraging Waterland’s experience from other growth cases”

Fellow co-owner Kim Worsøe adds: “Waterland has played a key role in the formation of this collaboration, and we look forward to leveraging their experience from other growth cases and capturing the opportunities in our markets in the coming years.”

Waterland – which has offices in Bussum (Netherlands), Antwerp, Hamburg, Munich, Warsaw, Manchester, Zurich and Copenhagen – has a broad range of investments across the energy, healthcare, leisure and gambling sectors, among others.

It is the latest deep-pocked private-equity firm to buy into the live entertainment industry, joining investors including the Blackstone Group (NEC Group), Onex Corporation (SMG), Providence Equity Partners (Superstruct Entertainment), the Yucaipa Companies (Primavera Sound) and Investcorp (United Talent Agency).

“We look forward to intensifying the collaboration among these great companies and strengthening our financial capabilities as part of the new partnership, which will drive value for audiences and artists on the Nordic scene,” comments David Maloney, founder of Maloney Concerts.

“We see an exciting future ahead of us in this strong partnership, which will be key player on the Nordic live entertainment scene going forward,” adds Mark Vaughan, the co-owner of Friction.

“We see great prospects in these entrepreneurial companies”

“Our dedicated employees will maintain their attention to detail and continue to attract local acts and international shows as part of the new set-up.”

Peer Osmundsvaag, founder of Friction and Atomic Soul Booking, comments: “This is a natural next step for our businesses, as we have always had a shared vision of creating great events based on our independence and deep local expertise. In All Things Live, we will be able to build significant scale, reach more people and attract more great artists going forward.”

Kaspar Kristiansen, managing director of Waterland Nordic, says the creation of All Things Live marks an expansion of its business in the region. “This investment in these six companies is our second in the Nordic region after our office opening in Copenhagen in 2017, underlining our focus on expanding Waterland’s activities in the region,” he explains.

“We see great prospects in these entrepreneurial companies, their management teams and employees as well as in the attractive live entertainment market.

“We are entering into this partnership, and the formation of All Things Live, to drive organic growth and further consolidation of the industry, and we will contribute to the development of the business with our strategic toolbox and extensive practical experience.”

 


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Eminem at Oslo Sommertid is Norway’s biggest-ever show

Hip-hop superstar Eminem smashed Norway’s record books with the biggest concert the country has ever hosted, when Atomic Soul sold out all 55,000 tickets in just six minutes for his 30 June Oslo Sommertid festival show, alongside Pusha T, Royce da 5’9”, OnkiP and Klovner I Kamp.

The promoter used the opportunity to carry out a ‘consequence analysis’ of the event, the results of which should help them, and other event organisers, with licensing applications in the years ahead.

“As part of our daily chores, we have to navigate the political landscape for licensing, park rental and other council-based activities, so we wanted to get an independent analysis done on what a concert actually generates for the city in tourism income,” explains Atomic Soul founder, Peer Osmundsvaag.

“We are extremely proud to have put on the largest event in Norwegian history”

That report, carried out by renowned economist Samfundsøkonomisk analyse, reveals that Eminem’s visit to the capital city generated additional tourism income of 80million kr (€8.2m), through the likes of hotel-room bookings, restaurant business and local transportation, and supported the equivalent of 100 full-time annual jobs.

“We were really surprised by the results of the analysis, but hopefully we can use this report as a tool when it comes to convincing the local authorities about the benefits that live music events can have to the economy and local businesses,” continues Osmundsvaag.

“We are extremely proud to have put on the largest event in Norwegian history and we’re looking forward to doing an even better job in 2019.”

 


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Market report: Norway

If money doesn’t make us happy, then how do we explain Norway, which is both the world’s happiest country and, thanks to its oil wealth, Europe’s second richest?

Maybe money isn’t such a curse after all. Or maybe Norway’s diverting live scene keeps those rich kid blues at bay. The smallest Scandinavian nation by population, with the fiddliest coastline, it houses a disproportionately deluxe live market, with all the international shows and domestic touring talent a nation of 5.2m people could reasonably expect, and a festival scene that is thoroughly embedded in its culture.

“Festivals have taken over Norwegian social life now,” says Torbjørn Heitmann Valum, CEO of Norske Konsertarrangører, the country’s live business trade body. “That’s all people do in the summer: they go to a festival, meet up with friends and see bands.” Events such as Norwegian Wood, Øya, Findings, Picnic in the Park and OverOslo, which all take place in the capital, are among the prominent evidence of this, but in the summer, Norway is swarming with festivals from top to bottom – not just national ones, but regional and local ones, too, in virtually every town.

“That’s all people do in the summer: they go to a festival, meet up with friends and see bands”

Likewise, Oslo is the prime destination for most international artists, but second and third cities Bergen and Trondheim have their moments too, and Norwegian music is strong and varied enough that the country’s live business could, if pushed, run on little else. Once famous solely for A-ha, Norway’s talent machine these days produces a far broader range of artists than before.

“Yes, it’s a really good time,” says Atomic Soul’s Peer Osmundsvaag. “I remember growing up thinking Norway was probably the most rubbish country in the world, with only A-ha…”

These days, artists are breaking out of Norway all over the place. Notable names include hit-making DJ Kygo, pop twins Marcus & Martinus and X Factor offshoot Astrid S; diverse singer-songwriters such as Susanne Sundfør, Maria Mena, Anna of the North and Aurora; and indie-rockers Kakkmaddafakka – part of the so-called New Bergen Wave, which follows the original wave in the 1990s that produced Röyksopp, Kings of Convenience and Annie. Norwegian artists even occasionally manage to get noticed in Sweden, which would once have been unheard of.

 


Read the rest of this feature in the digital edition of IQ 73:

 


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Bright future for Oslo Sommertid

Launching a new festival on a new site is always a nerve-wracking time for a promoter, but Oslo Sommertid went off without a hitch.

The event, which means summertime, also provided valuable lessons on the best ways of translating Youtuber content for a live audience.

The sold-out festival (cap. 35,000) was headlined by Marcus and Martinus, with other performances from Lisa and Lena and Youtubers such as Amalie Olsen and Jennie Sofie. As well as the live shows there were meet and greet opportunities, plus the final of a Playstation Fifa tournament.

“The chief of police called me to congratulate me on how smoothly it went.”

“It was the first time we’ve used the Voldslokka site, so I was a little nervous, but everything ran really smoothly. In fact the chief of police called to congratulate me on how smoothly it went,” says promoter Peer Osmundsvag of Atomic Soul. “The only problem we had was a long queue for popcorn.

“The flexibility of the site means we can expand capacity if we need to, and the format of the festival means we tailor each day around the headliner. Provided the artists are available next year we’ll go to two days, one for younger audiences like this and the other for an older crowd.

“We learned what’s really important for the influencer community, what the fans want, and how to come up with creative ways to translate Youtube content into a live show.”

 


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