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Stockholm’s Ericsson Globe becomes Avicii Arena

Stockholm Live, the ASM Global-owned operator of Stockholm’s five major event venues, has announced the renaming of its 15,000-capacity Ericsson Globe arena to Avicii Arena in memory of the late DJ.

The company, along with local sponsors Trygg-Hansa and Bauhaus, has partnered with the Tim Bergling Foundation – set up by Bergling (Avicii)’s family in 2019 after the artist took his own life – to transform the Ericsson Globe into a “global symbol for mental illness prevention”, according to ASM Global.

“With our worldwide reach, ASM Global takes tremendous pride in not only presenting unparallelled entertainment experiences but also in playing a positive role in the lives of our millions of guests in countries throughout the world,” says the venue giant’s president and CEO, Ron Bension. “We’re honoured to participate in this collaboration to help prevent mental illness.”

The area, which opened in 1989, will become “a hub for sharing ideas and hosting activities with the focus on young people’s mental health,” comments Klas Bergling, the father of Tim. “It was a significant milestone in Tim’s career when he played here nine years ago, and he would be extremely proud that this iconic building from today will bear his name.”

“Being able to use one of Sweden’s most famous buildings … in the way we are now feels fantastic”

In celebration of the venue’s new name, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra has recorded a new interpretation of the Avicii song ‘For a Better Day’, sung by 14-year-old Ella Tiritiello from Kristianstadm.

“Being able to use one of Sweden’s most famous and visited buildings as a symbol and meeting place for one of the most important societal issues of our time in the way we now do together with our partners feels fantastic,” says Stockholm Live CEO Andreas Sand.

“When we hosted the Avicii tribute concert in December 2019 at Friends Arena we got the idea to create a place that could spread the same understanding and community that we had that evening, with a focus on making a difference.”

Other venues run by Stockholm Live include Tele2 Arena (40,000-cap.), Hovet (9,000-cap) and Annexet (3,400-cap.).


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Avicii tribute raises funds for mental health charity

Artists including David Guetta, Kygo, Rita Ora and Adam Lambert will participate in an Avicii tribute concert in the artist’s hometown of Stockholm, Sweden on 5 December.

The concert is taking place at the 50,000-seat Friends Arena and will feature music from Avicii’s (real name Tim Bergling) posthumously released album ‘Tim’, performed for the first time.

The event will feature 19 of the singers who appear on Avicii’s songs, performing alongside a 30-piece band. Sets from fellow DJs including Guetta, Kygo, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike and Nicky Romero will open the concert.

Proceeds from the Avicii Tribute Concert for Mental Health Awareness will go towards the Tim Bergling Foundation, a charity set up by Bergling’s family to raise money for mental health-related issues and suicide prevention.

“Tim had plans for his music to be performed together with a large live band, and now we are realising his dream and giving fans a chance to experience his music in this unique way”

Bergling died of an apparent suicide in 2018, at the age of 28. The DJ had retired from touring two years previously, stating he had “too little time left for the life of the real person behind the artist” to continue.

“Tim had plans for his music to be performed together with a large live band, and now we are realising his dream and giving fans a chance to experience his music in this unique way,” says the DJ’s father, Klas Bergling.

“We are grateful that his friends, producers, artists and colleagues are coming to Stockholm to help,” adds Bergling.

“They have all expressed a sincere interest and desire to engage in efforts to stem the tide of mental illness and lend their support to our work with the Tim Bergling Foundation. We are very much looking forward to this evening, which will be a starting point for the foundation’s work going forward.”

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. CET. More information can be found here.


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A High Cost: How the biz is fighting back against mental illness

People in every profession and walk of life struggle with maintaining a healthy mind, and in an increasingly fast-paced and over-stimulated world, problems including anxiety, depression, insomnia, addiction and burn-out affect all corners of society.

According to the World Health Organisation, one in four people will be affected by mental illness at some point in their lives. Tragically, almost 800,000 lives are lost to suicide each year, equating to one death every 40 seconds. Mental health-related issues, then, are certainly not unique to the live music industry. However, many of the factors that contribute to problems – such as intense stimulation, irregular sleeping patterns, substance abuse, high pressure and loneliness – are often encountered by those within it.

The “competitive, turbulent and stressful” nature of the live entertainment industry, as well as “long working hours, poor boundaries between social and work life, and easy access to drink and drugs” pose many challenges to those working within it, says agent-turned-psychotherapist Tamsin Embleton.

The pressure to gain and maintain success at one end, and job precarity and financial pressures for those starting out in the industry, or working in low-level backstage positions, at the other, can also increase the risk of harmful behaviours.

The specific demands and pressures thrown up by touring present further challenges to those working at all levels and in all sectors of the industry. “Live performers often have issues with loneliness,” states Association for Electronic Music (AFEM) regional manager Tristan Hunt, referencing the abrupt emotional comedown experienced after performing to a fan-filled venue.

“Acts can also struggle with the demands of performing multiple times in a short period, or experience things like performance anxiety,” continues Hunt. “This is combined with access to substances to alleviate those pressures.”

A recent study into musicians’ mental health, carried out by Swedish digital music distributor Record Union, revealed that 73% of artists surveyed had suffered from mental health issues. Those working behind the scenes face similar issues, too. “Artists normally have management and a support network, but the people around them are under immense strain, too,” Andy Franks, co-founder of mental health charity Music Support, tells IQ.

“The doors always have to open, and the show always has to go on. There’s an incredible amount of pressure and euphoria, and when it’s over there’s quite a void in your life,” says Franks.

“Once shared, the problem gets smaller”

A rising awareness
Conversations surrounding wellbeing within the industry have cropped up more and more in recent years. The tragic, high-profile suicide of Avicii, real name Tim Bergling, in 2018, and the death of Prodigy frontman Keith Flint earlier this year, shocked and saddened many and thrust mental wellbeing into the spotlight.

Backstage, professionals attending the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) in March spoke of the “sad reality” of losing friends and colleagues to suicide, discussing ways in which working conditions could be altered to prioritise the welfare of staff.

Support has sprung up in a variety of forms, from documents detailing modes of best practice, to scientific study into the mechanisms of a healthy mind, and music industry specific helplines to offer a friendly and knowledgeable voice to those in need.

Lina Ugrinovska, international booker at Macedonia-based Password Production, was public about a 2016 burn out. “When I shared my own story, and every step of the way afterwards, I realised that talking about it really does makes a big difference,” she says, “I’m really pleased to see that many initiatives and support centres have been built, and personal stories have been shared.”

Perceived stigma around mental health can often prevent individuals from speaking out, accentuating feelings of isolation and exacerbating the severity of issues. “Once shared, the problem gets smaller,” says Ugrinovska, who began her own initiative, Mental Health Care in the Music Industry, last year. Since then, she has been an advocate for mental health at international conferences across Europe and also formed part of the first decentralised Ni9ht H3lps workshop in Prague.

However, in Ugrinovska’s native Macedonia, as well as the rest of the Balkan region, she says there is “nothing” to support music industry professionals struggling with mental health issues. “The market here is really small and so is the number of people involved in the industry, but we are also facing the same struggles and people do not know who they can turn to,” says Ugrinovska.

The focus on mental health in panel discussions, expert talks and workshops at major industry conferences and events is a good step towards disseminating information about available services, as well as normalising and destigmatising the taboo. “People are hungry for information [about mental health and wellbeing], and they are also keen to find out about it in a slightly more dynamic way,” says Jenni Cochrane, co-founder of Getahead, a 24-hour “festival of the head.”

Fusing education and entertainment, Get Ahead shines the spotlight on employee wellbeing, informs people of where to get help, and celebrates life, according to Cochrane. “There’s no real understanding of the damage mental health issues are having on musicians and other staff, too,” she states, “but collectively, we are all becoming more in tune with it.”

“Peer support is an incredible thing”

Raising awareness and stimulating conversation is one way of removing stigma and encouraging people to voice their struggles. However, complex specificities continue to govern the culture of silence in many parts of the industry, as Lori Rubinstein, executive director of US-based Behind the Scenes Foundation, explains.

“People who are used to being on tour are not used to speaking out – they are the ones who solve the problems,” states Rubinstein, whose foundation provides grants to production workers unable to work due to illness or injury. Being on the road, says the Behind the Scenes executive, means individuals are away from family and friends and often working in a temporary team of colleagues who are unlikely to pick up on changes in behaviour.

The transitory and highly specific nature of touring also complicates the establishment of a relationship with a regular therapist, or other medical professional, who may be sensitive to the situation at hand. To combat these issues, some music industry professionals have taken matters into their own hands.

Music Support came about from the desire to create a service that was “fine-tuned” to the needs of those in the music business, says co-founder Franks. Having suffered personally from addiction issues and finding himself “at a loss” as to how to tackle it, he wanted to prevent others from having the same experience.

The 24/7 helpline offers industry-specific advice and guidance for music industry professionals struggling with mental illness and points them in the direction of appropriate medical help. The initiative has set up backstage areas known as “safe tents” at major music festivals across the UK, including Download, Reading and Leeds Festivals and British Summer Time in Hyde Park, to offer people an “escape” and a space to get some respite and information.

The spaces also host Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings for those struggling with addiction on the road.

“Peer support is an incredible thing,” says Franks. “We don’t necessarily have all the solutions but we can let people know that this is not something they have to suffer alone.”

Offering a clinical perspective is the Music Industry Therapist Collective, a group of psychotherapists and counsellors with a background in the industry. The collective, based in London and Los Angeles, works in person and online with individuals and bands, as well as offering workshops and group therapy. The collective is also working on a best practice guide, the Touring and Mental Health manual, to tackle issues including performance anxiety; relationship difficulties; addiction; stress and burn-out; trauma; and post-tour depression.


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 84, or subscribe to the magazine here


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Avicii’s family launches mental health foundation

The family of Swedish DJ and producer Avicii, real name Tim Bergling, has set up the Tim Bergling Foundation in his honour, raising money and awareness for mental health-related issues and suicide prevention.

The new foundation will focus predominantly on mental health and suicide prevention. It also hopes to address issues such as climate change, development assistance and conservation.

“Tim wanted to make a difference,” states Bergling’s family. “Starting a foundation in his name is our way to honour his memory and continue to act in his spirit.”

Avicii died of an apparent suicide in 2018, at the age of 28. The DJ had retired from touring two years previously, stating he had “too little time left for the life of the real person behind the artist” to continue.

Following his death, Avicii’s family described the dance music superstar as “an over-achieving perfectionist who travelled and worked hard at a pace that led to extreme stress.”

“Tim wanted to make a difference. Starting a foundation in his name is our way to honour his memory and continue to act in his spirit”

Family members referenced the DJ’s ongoing “struggles with thoughts about meaning, life, happiness”, saying “he could go on no longer.”

Discussing mental health at Futures Forum in March, Tristan Hunt from the Association for Electronic Music (AFEM), referenced the deaths of Bergling and of Prodigy frontman Keith Flint, who took his own life on 4 March. Hunt said the deaths were an indication of an industry- and society-wide problem.

“Across the industry, the majority of the deaths have been male – they have been high profile but also very representative,” said Hunt. “This is a serious and complex issue that we need to figure out going forward.”

Bergling was a dominant figure in the electronic dance music (EDM) scene, bringing dance music to arenas, breaking attendance records around the world and becoming the sixth-highest paid DJ in the world in 2015.

In 2012, Avicii donated the proceeds of a 27-date tour to the charity Feeding America. He also supported the Swedish aid organisation Radiojälpen and campaigns against human trafficking and gang violence.


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Avicii plays “final gig ever” at Ushuaïa [video]

Avicii, the 26-year-old EDM superstar who earlier this year announced his retirement from touring, played his final show on Sunday, bringing to a close an impressive live career that has seen him break attendance records at clubs and festivals across the globe and contributed to an estimated fortune of US$85 million.

The Swedish DJ’s swansong performance was at the Ushuaïa Beach Hotel in Ibiza (5,000-cap.) – voted the eighth-best club in the world earlier this year – on Sunday 28 August, with support from KSHMR, Seeb, Albin Myers and Mambo Brothers. Footage from the historic show can be seen in the user-shot videos below:


Following the announcement of his intention to retire from live performance, IQ wrote in March that Avicii – real name Tim Bergling – has been a “key figure in the transformation of plain ol’ dance music to the global, arena-filling mainstream phenomenon that is ‘EDM’ [electronic dance music] and his retirement will surely be keenly felt by dance promoters and venue and festival owners across the world”. Highlights from Bergling’s live career include breaking a number of attendance records (including at XS in Las Vegas and Mawazine Festival in Rabat) and shifting the most-ever tickets for a tour by a solo DJ, on his debut headline tour of Australia.

In an open letter announcing his retirement, the DJ said he will “never let go of music”, opening the door for a continued recording career, but has made it clear the Ushuaïa show was his “final gig ever”.


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Cancel-happy Avicii dooms Flying Dutch spin-off

Alda Events has announced the cancellation of July’s The Flying Dutch – Swedish Journey festival over concerns as to whether headliner Avicii would turn up.

In a statement posted on its website, the SFX-owned promoter writes that the event “is now cancelled because Avicii’s management can’t vouch for the presence of the superstar”.

“These past weeks we experienced [a lot of] uncertainty because Avicii was cancelling a lot of shows all over the world,” says event organiser John Ewbank. (The Swedish DJ most recently pulled out of his Las Vegas residency, citing “personal reasons”.) “Our request to Avicii and his management to provide a guarantee of his attendance at our event [was] to no avail. They can’t vouch for his presence.

“This uncertainty is unacceptable. We can’t do that to our audience.”

“Our request to Avicii and his management to provide a guarantee of his attendance at our event was to no avail. They can’t vouch for his presence”

Alda’s Allan Hardenberg adds: “We regret this very much, also because these would be his final shows in our country. We understand that the fans will be disappointed, especially because everyone realises how unique this event would have been. Everyone who had already bought a ticket will of course receive a refund. They will be informed by us personally and our website will also contain information about how to get your money back.”

Avicii (pictured) – the sixth-highest-paid DJ in the world and “a key figure in the transformation of dance music to the global, arena-filling mainstream phenomenon that is ‘EDM'”, wrote IQ in March – announced his retirement from music earlier this year.

Swedish Journey was to have been a showcase of Swedish DJs spinning off the from the main The Flying Dutch event, which took place in Amsterdam, Eindhoven and Rotterdam last weekend.


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