Let’s Dansk: Denmark market report
A pandemic has many unpredictable consequences, but no one could have foreseen that this one would catapult a 6’7” Kurdish-Danish pop singer to local stardom so dramatically that it made the New York Times predict an international breakthrough for Danish-language pop.
Last year, however, songs from Aarhus-born Tobias Rahim’s second album, Når Sjælen Kaster Op (When the Soul Vomits), topped Denmark’s singles charts for nearly 40 weeks, and in 2023, he capitalised with a headline show at Copenhagen’s 17,000-cap Royal Arena and prominent slots at key Danish festivals Tinderbox, NorthSide, and Roskilde.
“That’s kind of an Ed Sheeran-type story,” says Rahim’s promoter Brian Nielsen, CEO of DTD Group. “As a new artist, he went straight to arenas from airplay. With the way the audience is finding new music, primarily via streaming, the movement is so much faster. We’ve seen a big change with Danish acts playing bigger venues than they used to, and Tobias is a really strong example.”
Denmark, with a population of around six million, assumes a natural slot between Germany and Sweden on the European tour route. But when Covid forced the Danes to do without international imports for a while, domestic artists rose to fill the gap, and the signs are that they are sticking around.
Rahim is far from the only focus of a fresh wave of Danish talent that includes artists such as masked musician D1MA, singer-songwriter Andreas Odbjerg, Danish-Welsh star Drew Sycamore, funky pop foursome Blæst, and big-hitting homegrown rappers including Gobs, TopGunn, and Lamin.
“It’s golden days for Danish artists coming up. I don’t know if that hailed out of Covid, but the local scene is stronger than ever”
“It’s golden days for Danish artists coming up,” says smash!bang!pow! senior promoter Xenia Grigat. “I don’t know if that hailed out of Covid, but the local scene is stronger than ever. It doesn’t mean there isn’t room for international artists, but if you look at the top 20 tracks on radio or in the charts, it will probably be 80% Danish artists. And, of course, there is a high demand from festivals for those artists, but it also means that for [up and coming] Danish acts, there is a huge focus on trying to find the next big thing.”
In the increasingly standardised world of live music, such local colour is a welcome thing, especially when, in other respects, the story of the business varies so little from one market to the next. In Denmark, the other themes are familiar ones: high costs, big demand for the top-level stuff, soft in the middle and lower down.
“Live music ticket sales in total have bounced back in 2023,” says Kasper Busch Lund, CEO of Copenhagen’s 4,600-cap K.B. Hallen. “However, there are significant differences below this top line. Festivals, stadiums, and big events might be selling out, but small and medium-sized indoor venues are still affected throughout 2023 by fewer shows on tour, combined with unimpressive ticket sales – which of course is the result of the increased production costs, combined with tight private finances.”
Anderz Nielsen of the independent Gearbox Agency, who has booked Chuck Prophet and Steve Wynn and others on Danish tours in recent months, believes the market will take patient rebuilding at its lower levels.
“With the pandemic, you kind of lost that connection that should be the next live-going generation,” he says. “But hopefully it will catch up again, and they will start [to see] going to live shows as a thing to do. But I guess it just takes a bit of time to get the youth and the audience that did go to the smaller shows, used to going back to them. A lot of people changed their habits when they couldn’t go to shows and that hopefully will change again.”
“Based on recent studies, looking at our own business and the Danish market in general, I have high hopes for the future”
Meanwhile, as with virtually every nation undergoing a post-Covid bounce, the most recent figures for the Danish business do only partial justice to the scale of the recovery at the top of the market.
Live music revenues for 2021 were DKK3,172m [source: Dansk Musikomsætning 2021], of which ticket revenue amounted to DKK1,202m (up 38% year-on-year), while subsidiary revenues including F&B came to DKK1,467m and sponsorship totalled DKK111m.
The overall business has evidently bounced back further since, in spite of ongoing cost issues, but time will tell whether it is yet approaching the 2017 and 2019 totals of DKK6,294m and DKK6,217m, respectively.
“I only see the live market going up from here,” says Pernille Møller Pedersen, CEO and partner of All Things Live Denmark, whose 2023 highlights included 90,000 tickets sold across two Rammstein shows in Odense. “Our business has faced serious challenges over the past years, but based on recent studies, looking at our own business and the Danish market in general, I have high hopes for the future.”
Given Denmark’s compact size, its promoting business also assumes a finite scale, with the leading international promoters including Live Nation, All Things Live, DTD (formerly Beatbox Entertainment), and smash!bang!pow!, in which FKP Scorpio holds a minority stake.
“There are so many local acts that can suddenly play arenas – and stadiums – and that is a real positive”
At the time of writing, Live Nation was dealing with an October schedule that included megastars such as Diana Ross and Madonna and country breakthrough Luke Combs, all at the Royal Arena. Louis Tomlinson, Blink-182, the Jonas Brothers, Depeche Mode, Harry Style, Peter Gabriel and Copenhell are among its earlier 2023 successes and Olivia Rodrigo, Dave Matthews Band, Metallica (two 50,000-cap Parken Stadium shows) and others are lined up for 2024.
Overall, Live Nation Denmark managing director Jesper Christensen doesn’t anticipate any slowdown in the near future, for either domestic or international shows. “It’s been crazy,” he says. “All sold out and it’s been really great. Next year is really exactly the same.”
While best known for its strength in international artists, Live Nation Denmark has steadily increased its focus on local Danish acts, not least with its acquisition in 2019 of Danish booking agency and artist management company, PDH Music. The local trend is only accelerating, notes Christensen. “The new part, the last few years, is all the local acts playing bigger shows,” he says. “There are so many local acts that can suddenly play arenas – and stadiums – and that is a real positive.”
Looming large on the 2024 schedule are three Parken shows for returning local heroes The Minds of 99, who have established themselves in recent years as genuine Danish superstars.
“Impressive is an understatement really,” says the band’s promoter, Live Nation’s Ulrik Ørum-Petersen. “The band seems to break every record here. Never before had a Danish language artist sold out the Parken Stadium as they did in 2021, and to do it three nights in a row with a total of 150,000 tickets sold just underlines the fact that The Minds Of 99 is the biggest live act we’ve ever had in Denmark.
“When we went up with the 2024 shows we believed we had two shows that likely would sell out, but when all 100,000 tickets were gone in a matter of minutes we had to do a third show to meet the demand.”
“Promoters in Denmark are facing the same problems as the rest of the world – recession, increased touring costs, the aftermath from Covid”
All Things Live Denmark, once ICO Concerts/ICO Management and Touring, is an original member of the increasingly ambitious, Waterland Private Equity-backed, pan-European independent group founded in 2018, which operates across Scandinavia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, and the Middle East.
“Over recent years, we have seen that almost all promoters working with international artists have joined a bigger set-up,” says Pedersen. “That makes it a very competitive market, but I think we have healthy competition here in Denmark, and we enjoy the competition.”
As well as its Rammstein shows in Odense, All Things Live has had sold-out shows with Jo Koy, Sam Smith, Blackpink, Zack Bryan, Jim Jefferies, and Pusha T this year, with Michael McIntyre and Iliza Schlesinger among those due in the run-up to Christmas.
“In the 18 years I have worked in promoting, Denmark has been a strong live market,” says Pedersen. “I think promoters in Denmark are facing the same problems as the rest of the world – recession, increased touring costs, the aftermath from Covid – but I don’t like to call them problems: these are challenges we have to deal with and adapt to accordingly.”
DTD Group (formerly Beatbox Entertainment) is Denmark’s second-biggest promoter after Live Nation and its biggest festival operator, with two of the country’s largest festivals, NorthSide and Tinderbox, as well as new acquisition Fyrfest. It stages between 50 and 70 bigger shows a year – plus occasional one-offs such as Lukas Graham’s six Danish outdoor shows last year, which drew more than 80,000 and ran entirely on green battery power. Since 2019, DTD has operated an investment and partnership agreement with Superstruct Entertainment.
“We’ve seen some incredible increases in costs. And obviously that infects the entire environment – it’s not getting any cheaper to produce a festival”
Operating across festivals and shows, Nielsen is mulling a variety of challenges on the road ahead. “In my opinion, it is still a bit post-Corona,” he says. “There’s still a number of the bigger acts we need to see on the road, who have stayed away so far. And we’ve seen some incredible increases in costs. And obviously that infects the entire environment – it’s not getting any cheaper to produce a festival, and it’s not getting any cheaper to produce a show. And that goes for the artist and that goes for the promoter. So, ultimately, there are some challenges lying ahead.”
Smash!bang!pow! had perhaps the biggest single smash hit of 2022 when it sold 100,000 tickets to Ed Sheeran’s four Copenhagen shows in around 100 minutes, with the remaining 60,000 disappearing in another 48 hours, breaking the Danish ticket record in the process. This year has seen Royal Arena shows for Danish veteran star Thomas Helmig, Eros Ramazzotti, and Snoop Dogg, as well as the second edition of the Syd for Solen festival in Søndermarken.
And while costs are one challenge, says Grigat, another is creating traction for events in a world where the old ways of spreading a message no longer hold fast.
“Social media dominates a lot because we don’t have that much of the classic media left. There are a few magazines, and we do have radio of course, but it’s not the same as ten or 15 years ago, so we try to use our own channels – our smash!bang!pow! Instagram and our newsletter – as media backup. It may not have the biggest reach but it’s the right reach.”
Another busy promoter and producer is CSB Island Entertainment, founded in 1994 and 75%-owned by DEAG since 2021, with founder and CEO Carsten Svoldgaard and son and COO Kenneth remaining at the helm and as shareholders.
“We are so busy with both festivals and indoor concerts that we simply lack artists for the Scandinavian venues”
Operating from the island of Fanø in the North Sea off Denmark’s southwest coast, CSB holds worldwide rights to productions including The Show – A Tribute to Abba, Queen Machine Symphonic and Disco Tango Eurovision Show, and supplied major international artists and bands to up to 100 festivals and open-airs in Denmark this summer, ranging from 5,000 in capacity up to 20-30,000-cap festivals.
“That is more festivals and open-airs than ever, and at the same time, our collaboration with indoor concert halls has increased and increased,” says Carsten Svoldgaard, who says the main challenge in Denmark is not one of consumer demand but of securing a sufficient supply of talent to satisfy it all.
“We are so busy with both festivals and indoor concerts that we simply lack artists for the Scandinavian venues,” says Svoldgaard. “In Denmark alone, there are over 200 festivals and open-airs in the summer, and we have artists at most of these, but we simply need more. It may sound like a positive problem, that it’s all just running smoothly, but of course we want to do as many concerts as possible – therefore, we could use many more international bands and artists.”
Undeniably the king of Danish festivals is Roskilde, with its eight stages, 205 acts, 50,000 tents, and 130,000 daily participants (including 30,000 volunteers and 100,000 audience members), which mean that, for a week at the end of June, the festival effectively ranks as Den- mark’s fourth largest “city” in terms of population – a little smaller than Odense, rather bigger than Aalborg.
This year’s lineup encompassed Kendrick Lamar, Caroline Polachek, Lil Nas X, Rosalía, Burna Boy, Christine and the Queens, Blur, and Queens of the Stone Age, plus nearly 200 others.
“We want to be a place that can help inspire and strengthen the ability to envision, and hence create, a better future”
2023 was the first year under new head of booking Thomas Jepsen, who succeeded Anders Wahrén in 2022. “I have been a part of the booking team since 2011, but this was my first year as head of music,” says Jepsen. “We achieved a lot of goals with Roskilde Festival 2023. The programme was diverse, presenting a broad range of genres and nationalities, huge stars, raw talents, and a lot of progressive and young artists.
“Just to mention a few, Rosalia’s show in Spanish at Arena Stage was a huge success, as was Burna Boy, who mixes two Nigerian dialects with English in his lyrics, playing on our main stage, Orange Stage. At Apollo Stage the American rap talent 070 Shake almost made the walls vibrate, while the Brooklyn based indie-folk band Florist gave a dreamy and ambient concert at Gloria Stage.”
Gender balance and other forms of diversity and inclusion remain a priority. This year, Roskilde introduced two brand new stages, Eos and Gaia – highlights of the former included the transgendered rapper Villano Antillano from Puerto Rico – while also introducing its new Utopia theme.
“We want to be a place that can help inspire and strengthen the ability to envision, and hence create, a better future,” says Jepsen. “It characterises everything we do related to the festival, and also the way we curate the programme.”
Situated in a beech forest just outside of the town of Skanderborg in Jutland, the 43-year-old Smukfest (meaning ‘beautiful festival’) was once again back in force this year, its eight days of music representing a comprehensive A-Z of contemporary Danish pop talent, spiced with diverse international names from Imagine Dragons and Megadeth to Christina Aguilera and Jason Derulo.
“I think the Danish part of the market is very healthy. The international part of the market is healthy, too, but I foresee some structural problems in the future”
Denmark’s second-largest festival (cap. 66,000) was born out of a non-profit association and launched in 1980. Its Skanderborg Festival Club has since gained over 20,000 members, who all have voting rights, and three-quarters of whom volunteer at Smukfest each summer.
“I think it’s quite a unique Danish model to have a festival based on this, and we’re very proud of that,” Smukfest director Søren Eskildsen told IQ last year. “We would do anything in our power to maintain this model.”
The strength of Denmark’s homegrown talent at such festivals is clearly healthy but also increasingly necessary, as European festivals contend with the punishing cost – and limited availability – of international talent. Increasingly, notes Nielsen, hot international artists are leapfrogging the festival-headlining part of their trajectory and going it alone.
“I think, generally, the market is healthy,” he says. “I think the Danish part of the market is very healthy. The international part of the market is healthy, too, but I foresee some structural problems in the future because it’s becoming more difficult for festivals to get the international headliners. There’s been a change post-Corona where we’ve seen a number of international newcomers going straight to stadium level. We didn’t see that in the earlier years pre-Corona, and that’s something that obviously the festivals will need to adapt to.”
This year’s NorthSide bill, in early June, brought Muse, The 1975, The Chemical Brothers, Little Simz, Lukas Graham, First Aid Kit, and Sam Fender to second city Aarhus, while Tinderbox had the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Maroon 5, Black Eyed Peas, Tobias Rahim, and Armin van Buuren for this year’s edition, in Denmark’s third-largest city, Odense.
“We more than doubled the ticket sales from the first year, so it’s definitely going in the right direction”
Fyrfest in Viborg, central Jutland, acquired this summer, further enhances the DTD portfolio. “It’s a 20,000-cap, and traditionally, the programming is all the major Danish acts,” says Nielsen. “So, it’s a very traditional local festival but a pretty big one. For next year, we had a three-day, early-bird sale and we have done 95% of the tickets without announcing acts.”
Among Denmark’s other notable festivals are Live Nation’s Copenhagen metal fest Copenhell; electronic music festival Stella Polaris in Aarhus and Frederiksberg; the massive Copenhagen street-party Distortion, which culminates with the two-day Distortion Ø event on a former industrial island in the Copenhagen harbour; the SPOT Festival of Nordic talent in Aarhus; and the travelling Grøn Koncert, sponsored by Tuborg, which this year celebrated its 40th anniversary, stopping in Aarhus, Aalborg, Esbjerg, Kolding, Næstved, Odense, Tårnby, and Valby through late July.
Meanwhile, smash!bang!pow!’s new Syd for Solen festival in Søndermarken featured Bon Iver, Iggy Pop, The War on Drugs, Aphex Twin, and others. “That was the second year, and we more than doubled the ticket sales from the first year, so it’s definitely going in the right direction,” says Grigat. “We’ve found a concept that really works and that people are into, where we curate day by day.”
Copenhagen is replete with busy venues, from the 17,000-capacity, Live Nation/Danish Venue Enterprise-operated Royal Arena, which opened in 2017, to Vesterbro’s VEGA complex, which hosts around 250 concerts a year, between the bustling Store VEGA (standing capacity 1,500, seated 800) and its smaller counterparts Lille VEGA (standing 500) and Ideal Bar.
Other key elements of the capital’s venue scene include Pumpehuset, near to the City Hall Square, with rooms for 600 and 400; the 400-cap Loppen, housed in an old army hall in Freetown Christiania; the atmospheric, 350-capacity Hotel Cecil, open since 2018; and multi-purpose arena K.B. Hallen, built in 1938 by the King of Denmark, burnt to the ground in a devastating fire in 2011, rebuilt and reopened in 2019.
“In 2024, concertgoers will be back in larger numbers, mingling with the core fans for the intimacy and intensity of the indoor venue concerts”
“For K.B. Hallen, which is a 4,600-capacity venue, the real bounce back will be 2024, both in terms of the number of shows and ticket sales,” says Kasper Busch Lund. “Throughout 2022 and 2023, audiences have been prioritising the major must-see artists, as well as festivals, to be social again around music. In 2024, concertgoers will be back in larger numbers, mingling with the core fans for the intimacy and intensity of the indoor venue concerts.”
The 1975 and Idles are among those who will be playing at K.B. Hallen in 2024, while the shows rounding out this year include Melanie Martinez, Jungle, Lil Yachty, and Jack Whitehall.
The Danish live market enjoys government subsidies that have endowed the country with a network of regional venues that have a responsibility to develop audiences and provide opportunities for smaller acts to play professional shows. There is also an industry-wide agreement on artists’ fees.
“Luckily, here we have government support for most of the venues,” says Anderz Nielsen. “We do have some private venues, but it’s not that many – most people get government support via the local council. It’s been rough years for all of them, I would say. But I don’t know if any of the smaller venues have closed down here in Denmark.”
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Smash!Bang!Pow! festival upscales to new home
Organisers of Denmark’s Syd for Solen have revealed the festival is relocating to Copenhagen’s largest park.
Promoted by Smash!Bang!Pow!, the event has been staged in Søndermarken since launching in 2022 but will switch to Valbyparken for 2024.
Syd for Solen is billed as a “three-day urban festival experience”, with each day featuring “its own musical flavour”. It will take place from 8-10 August with headliners Fred Again.. and Queens of The Stone Age, with other acts still to be announced.
“Our vision, right from the beginning, has been to create a dream festival that brings international music excellence to Copenhagen, a capital that truly deserves it,” says Smash!Bang!Pow! CEO Nikolaj Thorenfeldt. “Our journey in Søndermarken has been incredible, but to elevate the overall festival experience, a new, lush, and green setting is essential.
“Valbyparken provides the perfect canvas, allowing us to enhance our offerings while retaining the intimacy and warmth that both our audience and we associate with Syd for Solen. We’re merely providing better logistical facilities.”
“The festival-in-a-day concept has been enthusiastically embraced by Copenhageners, and the change in location enables us to enhance the concept further”
The festival is being pushed back from early June to August as part of its aim to be the year’s “last summer celebration before everyday life takes over”, and “to become a beacon of anticipation” for locals returning from their summer holidays and reuniting with friends.
“Syd for Solen is designed to be a summer tradition in the capital,” adds Thorenfeldt. “The festival-in-a-day concept has been enthusiastically embraced by Copenhageners, and the change in location enables us to enhance the concept further. We aim to set the musical backdrop for the city’s internationally recognised design, fashion, food, and culture.”
Former headliners include Aphex Twin, Bon Iver, Peggy Gou, Liam Gallagher, The War On Drugs, Jungle, The National and Iggy Pop.
“We brand ourselves as ‘Music to Copenhagen’ to fill the void of a city-based music festival, aligning with Copenhagen’s international image as a place of curiosity, open-mindedness, and a strong entrepreneurial spirit in the entertainment and experience industry,” adds head of festival programming Xenia Grigat.
FKP Scorpio became an international partner to Smash!Bang!Pow! after acquiring a 25% stake in late 2018.
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Strong bounceback for Danish concert business
The Danish concert business has bounced back to near pre-pandemic attendance levels according to newly released figures, but several venues say they have suffered a drop in ticket sales.
The latest publication by Statistics Denmark reveals the number of concertgoers reached 7.4 million in 2022 – close to the 7.5m and 8.2m reported in 2018 and 2019, respectively. The total had dipped to 2.8m in the Covid-ravaged years of 2020 and 2021, according to data registered with national collection society KODA.
While trade body Dansk Live welcomes the positive momentum, it notes that several of its members have reported a downturn in ticket sales, with the situation remaining unchanged as of spring 2023.
“It bodes very well for the future in the live sector and shows that we have come back well after a few years which hit the organisers hard”
“It is very good news that the figures for 2022 are so positive,” says Dansk Live director Esben Marcher. “It bodes very well for the future in the live sector and shows that we have come back well after a few years which hit the organisers hard. However, we must not forget that there are still venues that experienced challenges in ticket sales as recently as spring 2023.”
In 2019, Denmark’s regional venues had 700,000 fans for 4,600 concerts, compared to 530,000 guests at 3,900 gigs last year. The same trend applied to the country’s other venues, where there were 850,000 concertgoers at 6,900 shows in 2019, which fell to 630,000 guests at 4,400 concerts in 2022.
The country’s music festivals fared better, however, attracting 1.3m guests in 2022, up slightly from 1.2m in the last pre-pandemic year.
“We hope that the concertgoers really return to the places that have experienced the number of visitors as sluggish”
“We hope that the concertgoers really return to the places that have experienced the number of visitors as sluggish, and that they too can again reach the same level as before corona,” adds Marcher. “In any case, we will follow developments closely.”
A previous Statistics Denmark study indicated the number of young people attending concerts in the country has increased significantly on pre-pandemic levels. The Culture Habit Survey showed that one in four of the population attended a gig in the second quarter of 2022, with 38% coming from the youngest age group (16-24 years) – up from 25% in 2019.
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Denmark’s Stagebox closes down after two years
A Danish music venue that opened less than two years ago has closed down with owners blaming a “contractual conflict” with its landlord.
The 2,500-cap Stagebox launched in Refshaleøen, a former industrial site in the harbour of Copenhagen, in late 2021, but was reported by Kulturmonitor to have run into financial difficulties.
The venue was located at Refshalevej 189 – an old and historical construction hall in the post-industrial shipyard.
However, Celebrity Access reports that Refshaleøen’s owner terminated its lease agreement with Stagebox founder and CEO Stefan Petersen earlier this year following a bankruptcy filing against Petersen’s Panelværkstedet subsidiary.
Stagebox founder and CEO Stefan Petersen denies the venue has gone bankrupt but says that since it now has no leasing contract, it will soon file a self-petition with the Danish Maritime and Commercial Court.
“We were on the right path until this contractual conflict hit us and tied us up for four months in something that has turned into a nightmare”
“We have made many mistakes in the process, and the project has at times grown beyond our capabilities – but we were on the right path until this contractual conflict hit us and tied us up for four months in something that has turned into a nightmare,” he says.
Petersen acknowledges that Stagebox’s “timing was terrible” in opening in the midst of the pandemic, and had to shut down due to a nationwide lockdown three weeks after its launch. A process will now begin to sell off the company’s assets “in order to best serve the creditors”.
“I am incredibly saddened,” he adds. “It was never the intention to end up here, even though I know we embarked on something that no one has ever done before in Copenhagen. I can accept going personally bankrupt – it’s part of the game when you believe so much in a project like we do – and have personally invested to the extent we have. But leaving a trail of relationships and creditors behind without a penny, that’s hard for me to accept – when this could easily have been resolved.”
Some concerts scheduled for Stagebox will be relocated to other venues in the Danish capital, while others will be cancelled.
LGBTIQ+ List 2023: Frederik Diness Ove, Queer Music Agency
The LGBTIQ+ List 2023 – IQ Magazine’s third annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – has been revealed.
The ever-popular list is the centrepiece of IQ’s third Pride edition, sponsored by Ticketmaster, which is now available to read online and in print for subscribers.
To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, we interviewed each of them on the development of the industry, the challenges that are keeping them up at night and more.
Throughout the next month, IQ will publish a new interview each day. Check out yesterday’s profile with Dev Mistry, global internal comms manager at DICE in London, UK.
The series continues with Frederik Diness Ove (he/him/his), founder of Queer Music Agency in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Frederik Diness Ove is the founder of Queer Music Agency, which is an agency that aims to create more diversity in the music industry by representing queer artists and DJs whilst also fostering a strong community for queers and creating a safer space for minority groups.
Frederik studied marketing management and has had several C-level positions within different industries. In 2019, he established an association called Diversity Pop-Up, which organises events with the aim of creating more safe spaces and diversity and this led to him starting Queer Music Agency at the end of 2021.
Tell us about the professional feat you’re most PROUD of in 2023 so far.
When I established Queer Music Agency (QMA) in 2021, the aim was to be a global company in the future, but of course, you need to start in one place. Since I live in Copenhagen, Denmark was the home market we started to focus on, which resulted in more than 150 gigs in Denmark during 2022. At the end of 2022, QMA got an intern based in London with the goal to organise our first concert abroad, and in March 2023, we held a queer concert there with great success. We were so grateful for all the support we received, and it showed us that there is a need for what we are doing worldwide, and now we are planning to organise a queer concert in Berlin, and more cities will follow.
Name one queer act you’re itching to see live this year.
I am attending Roskilde Festival soon, and I am itching to see Lil Nas X live for the first time. I think and hope it is going to be an amazing queer concert, and it is so important to have big queer stars who can be an idol for the all the upcoming queer artists out there. I just wish for the future that queer artists will be able to become big stars as queer artists, instead of waiting to announce they are queer until after they have become stars.
What advice could you give to young queer professionals?
Fight for queer artists and queer music, because we still need to put in a lot of effort to change the status quo with the lack of diversity in the music industry. Maybe it is not the most mainstream music at the moment, but I think queer music and artists will become more mainstream in the future, so keep fighting for what you like even though it is a niche now, but who knows maybe you will end up with the queer lottery coupon one day.
“Fight for queer acts… we still need to put in a lot of effort to change the status quo with the lack of diversity in the industry”
What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?
Not to make a business plan when I started QMA. I studied marketing management and wrote a thesis about business planning and development, and I am quite sure that my conclusion would have been: do not start Queer Music Agency because in general the music industry is very tough and competitive. But sometimes you just have to follow your heart and passion and don’t think return on investment or how rich you can get. I have definitely not done this for the sake of money but because I want to create positive changes in the world, even though it means less travel, restaurant visits etc. Most important is that I am proud of what I am doing.
In terms of challenges in the industry, what’s currently keeping you up at night?
When we have events that need to sell tickets because the live industry is such a competitive market, which often makes it very difficult to sell tickets, especially when you are representing upcoming artists and DJs with a very small fan base. You know it demands a great effort, and you learn not to stress about it because you need to accept the fact that you are always in a quite uncertain field where a lot of factors can affect sales. Maybe you could do more, but it is already not a lucrative business working with many upcoming artists, so don’t calculate your salary per hour. It also means that at some point you need to stop doing more, because you have other things to do as well.
How do you see the live music business developing in the next few years?
I think we will see a tendency for festivals etc to become more specific in relation to their target group in terms of branding and programme. We see festivals with more than 30 years of experience shutting down and new festivals with a better concept, branding, and promotion [are becoming] popular instead. As an organiser, you really need to be able to offer a great overall experience, so everything from the programme, location, logistics, food, atmosphere etc need to be something people would like to spend their time and money on or else they will just choose another festival instead.
“I think we will see festivals become more specific in relation to their target group in terms of branding and programme”
Name one thing you’d like to see the live music business change.
I would love if more festivals had a greater variety in their programme; way too many festivals are booking the same mainstream artists. Of course, it is okay to book popular artists that people like to listen to, and it sells tickets, but in my eyes, festivals are also about experiencing new music, and I think festivals could better help upcoming artists. There could, for example, more often be a smaller stage close to a big stage, where upcoming artists could play. Also, radio and media could also be better at introducing “niche” music to people instead of the intense focus on mainstream music, and I think it would be very appreciated. We need more influential people with power in the industry to make some choices and try to change the music industry in a more diverse direction.
Name one thing the industry could do to be a more equitable place.
Just STOP DISCRIMINATION, please! It should be so simple, and it would make the music industry a more equitable place to be and invite more people to be a part of it. Analyses made by the association Another Life is unfortunately showing that approximately 50% of all queers in the industry have experienced discrimination and that number is way too high in 2023. In the industry, I hope that more people that are privileged will make an effort to help make changes, because we still really need them, and you need to make an active effort to make it happen.
Let me mention an example from Denmark where an association for music practice rooms some years ago discovered that 98% of their members were white cis males, which is so crazy. Luckily, they thought so as well, and they started to make an effort to change their membership composition, which over some years has become more diverse. Every aspect of the industry needs to make an effort, but also schools, which contain the musicians of the future. The right support and influence for minority groups and also women, in general, can change who wants to follow a path of music, so it will be easier in the future for festivals etc to create more diverse programmes.
“In the industry, I hope that more people that are privileged will make an effort to help make changes”
Shout out to your biggest ally in the live music industry.
It must be my very dear friend Camilla Trodyb who is head of PR and marketing at All Things Live. She was the first one I pitched my idea about Queer Music Agency, and she has been a fan and very supportive from the beginning and made me believe that I should definitely give it a go. In this matter, she was a much better support than a business plan will ever be. Before Queer Music Agency, I was not a part of the music industry, so it was very important for me to have an ally in her who believed in my project and who could help me open some doors, especially in the beginning.
Do you support any LGBTIQ+ causes?
Our main cause is to support as many queer artists as possible, so we struggle each day for that matter, and we hope that many more queer artists all over the world in the future will be able to make music a way of living. And believe me it is a struggle, so we ourselves need more support from funds etc to help us realise more of our projects. As a booker or a company or even as a private person, the best way to support upcoming queer artists is to book them and pay them a nice well-earned salary, so always feel free to reach me at [email protected] or +45 53531087 if you want to book a talented queer artist or DJ.
LGBTIQ+ List 2023: Meet this year’s queer pioneers
IQ Magazine has revealed the LGBTIQ+ List 2023 – the third annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business.
The ever-popular list is the centrepiece of IQ’s third Pride edition, sponsored by Ticketmaster, which is now available to read online and in print for subscribers.
The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2023 – as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee – are individuals that have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.
The third instalment comprises agents, promoters, tour managers, marketing executives, consultants, founders and more – all of whom identify as LGBTIQ+ and, in the face of adversity, have made enormous contributions to their respective sectors.
In alphabetical order, the LGBTIQ+ List 2023 is:
Christina Austin, music agent, United Talent Agency (UK)
Hila Aviran, director of entertainment & tours, PixMob (US)
Johanna Beckman, senior creative curator and promoter, FKP Scorpio Sweden (SE)
Amy Greig, booking agent, Runway Artists (UK)
Adem Holness, head of contemporary music, Southbank Centre (UK)
Kane Kete, client development manager, Ticketmaster (AU)
Ippei Kimura, booking/marketing/tour manager, Creativeman Productions (JP)
Katherine Koranteng, marketing & campaigns manager, Festival Republic (UK)
Stefan Lehmkuhl, freelance curator & live entertainment consultant, BMG/Ruined My Rainbow (DE)
Lucy Mackenzie McNae, tour manager (Josef, Twin Atlantic), Two and a Half TMs (UK)
Saskhia Menendez, innovator at Keychange, board of directors at F-List Music (UK)
Dev Mistry, global internal comms manager, DICE (UK)
Frederik Diness Ove, founder, Queer Music Agency (DK)
Boyan Pinter (Boiadjiev), founder/director, SPIKE Bulgarian Music Showcase (BG)
Scott Robson, event manager, ASM Global (UK)
Roman Samotný, director, Queer Slovakia (SK)
Marie-Christine Scheffold, senior booking agent manager, Selective Artists (DE)
Karim Siddiqui, senior booking manager, Live Nation (US)
Areti Tziorta, marketing manager, TEG Europe (UK)
João Pedro Viana, music agent, WME (UK)
Throughout the next month, IQ will be publishing full-length interviews with each person on the LGBTIQ+ List 2023.
Increase in spiking reported at Danish festival
Danish heavy metal festival Copenhell says it is “deeply saddened” by a worrying increase in drug spiking at this year’s event.
VIP Booking reports that organisers were made aware of up to 10 people who unknowingly had substances slipped into their drinks in the festival’s large party tent ‘Biergarten’, adding the trend has also been detected across the wider nightlife scene.
Festival booker and director Jeppe Nissen tells Kulturmonitor the event will “take measures to combat” the development moving forward.
“We are deeply saddened by this and urge everyone to contact us directly if they have had any experiences with drugging or possess any information that can help identify the perpetrators,” says Nissen.
The 35,000-cap Copenhell took place in Copenhagen from 14-17 June and featured acts such as Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Pantera and Slipknot.
“We have not previously recorded any incidents of drugging at Copenhell, and it has not been a problem that we specifically addressed or warned our audience about,” adds Nissen. “But when we see seven to 10 cases, unfortunately, we cannot say that we have done enough in terms of prevention. It is definitely a problem we will address and take measures to combat.”
“We’re delighted to join forces on our mission to stamp out spiking with the Association of Independent Festivals”
Other Danish festivals such as Smukfest are calling for further dialogue on the subject, while trade body Dansk Live has vowed to address the issue.
Elsewhere, the UK’s Association of Independent Festival (AIF) has announced a partnership with LGBT+ anti-abuse charity Galop and anti-spiking charity Stamp Out Spiking to bolster its Safer Spaces Charter.
Stamp Out Spiking was established to tackle increasing incidents of spiking across the UK and worldwide. The charity exists to highlight the dangers of spiking, and offer effective and practical solutions to keep people safe in pubs, clubs, house parties, festivals and beyond.
“We’re delighted to join forces on our mission to stamp out spiking with the Association of Independent Festivals,” says Dawn Dines, CEO and founder of Stamp Out Spiking. “Working together will make such a difference in safeguarding men and women at festivals across the UK. Highlighting how these cowardly crimes are taking place, sharing key information on the typical signs and symptoms, will make it so much more difficult for perpetrators and ultimately safeguard festival goers.”
The partnerships have contributed to new Safer Spaces resources that directly addresses the needs of LGBT+ survivors of abuse, and the broader issue of spiking.
“It’s important for AIF to work towards creating safer and more inclusive spaces for everyone, and work with those who provide specialised support,” says AIF membership & operations coordinator Phoebe Rodwell-Carson. “We hope to build on this with as many festival organisers as possible, supporting them in upholding their duty of care towards music fans and festival staff, whilst ensuring we remain inclusive and open to all.”
Longstanding Danish festival goes bankrupt
Langelandsfestival, one of Denmark’s largest and longest-standing festivals, has filed for bankruptcy after wracking up debt in the millions.
Launched in 1991, the annual event typically takes place over four days in late July on Langeland island in south Denmark, with 35,000 people.
Earth, Wind and Fire, Santana, The Corrs, Boyzone, The Doors, East 17, Thin Lizzy, Craig David, Sugarbabes and Rick Astley are among the artists that have performed at the festival over the years.
In December 2022, it was announced that Langelandsfestival would not take place in 2023 due to a financial hangover from that year’s 30th-anniversary edition.
In a statement, organisers explained that they made a more significant investment in talent for the landmark 2022 edition, despite the festival reeling financially from the Covid-19 pandemic and the state of the economy.
“After all the bills for 2022 are paid, the result is a large deficit in the millions”
On top of that, the festival was unable to “sell the number of festival tickets that was crucial to ensure an acceptable festival economy” for that edition.
“After all the bills for 2022 are paid, the result is a large deficit in the millions,” read a statement. “Therefore, the conclusion is now that Langelandsfestival will not take place in 2023 under the auspices of AKP Group.”
AKP Group’s Allan K. Pedersen, who has owned the festival since 2006, said at the time: “It has always been a great joy for me to do the Langelands Festival, and even though the economy has fluctuated, I have always believed in the concept. However, the challenges of recent years, the market and future prospects as such have challenged me in that way of thinking.”
The company officially closed on 14 June “after an extensive search of the market for alternative solutions and several meetings with potential partners and stakeholders”.
The company says that there are no eligible invoices that are unpaid at this time.
“Although Langelandsfestival closes down, the memories and moments from the festival will always be part of our shared history,” read a recent statement. “Thank you for 30 years – we hope you will all support other festivals and cultural events in the future.”
Denmark’s NorthSide settles in at new home
Denmark’s NorthSide has enjoyed a successful second edition at its new site after experiencing teething problems at its debut in Eskelunden last year.
The 40,000-cap festival hosted artists such as Muse, The 1975, the Chemical Brothers, Little Simz, Lukas Graham, Pusha T and First Aid Kit from 1-3 June.
Promoted by Down the Drain, the event relocated to Eskelund park, Aarhus – a greenfield more than twice the size of its previous Ådalen home – in 2022, but issues were reported at the new site, particularly relating to the entrances and exits. However, 70% of this year’s festival-goers surveyed considered the event to be superior to 12 months ago, awarding it an average customer satisfaction rating of 8.7/10.
“We have taken the criticism we received quite rightly last year to heart, optimised the space and ensured better access conditions, and it seems as if we have succeeded this year in creating a festival in much better harmony to the delight of our guests,” says head of development Jacob Bartholin.
“Our goal is to be one of the most important focal points for cultural life in Aarhus”
Since launching in 2010, Northside has grown from a one-day event with domestic artists into a major three-day international festival and earned the A Greener Festival Award in 2014 and 2016.
Last year, it switched to offering only plant-based and 100% organic food and attracted 6,500 volunteers this summer, leading to shorter queues and ensuring “a clean and beautiful festival”, according to Bartholin.
A particular source of satisfaction, he notes, was the number of local entrepreneurs represented at NorthSide ’23, which highlights the festival’s strong local roots.
“Our goal is to be one of the most important focal points for cultural life in Aarhus,” he adds. “And we are delighted that it has succeeded again this year. In addition, it is our ambition, together with local companies, restaurateurs and entrepreneurs, to continue to develop and support new exciting drinking and food experiences from Aarhus and the surrounding area.”
Iconic Danish venue files for bankruptcy
One of Denmark’s largest indoor music venues, Tobakken, has filed for bankruptcy after a turbulent few years.
The former tobacco factory in Esbjerg, southwest Denmark, began hosting concerts in 1993 for up to 1,200 visitors.
It was announced on Monday (27 March) that the Tobakken board filed for bankruptcy as the Esbjerg Municipality decided not to grant the historic venue an additional DKK 5.8 million (€778,606) requested to make it through 2023.
Esbjerg mayor Jesper Frost Rasmussen stated in a press release: “We had all hoped that Tobakken would overcome its challenges, but now we have reached a turning point where we, from a political standpoint, agree that the best solution is not to provide Tobakken with more money. It hurts us to make this decision, as we believe in a future for a rhythmic music venue in Esbjerg, but it must be in an economically sustainable model, and it opens up a new and fresh start.”
“The losses have simply been too great to financially and morally sustain Tobakken”
Chairman of the culture and leisure committee Jakob Lose added: “We still have great confidence in the music scene in Esbjerg, and of course, we must also have a strong rhythmic music venue in the future, which will host both established artists and the entire growth layer. The way forward is to create a new strong organisation that can safely lead a new rhythmic music venue into the future. We now need to take the time to figure out how to do this best.”
Peter Amstrup, chairman of the board for Tobakken, said he understands why the municipality has pulled the plug: “It is a sad day, and one could hope that someone would see the potential in Tobakken and start a new music venue. But now it is the trustee who takes over. The losses have simply been too great to financially and morally sustain Tobakken.”
Tobakken has had negative equity since 2016 and negative annual results in five out of the past six years, according to a statement on the venue’s website.
The statement goes on to say that “costs had been cut significantly over the past six months by reducing the number of employees and focusing intensively on optimising operations, it has unfortunately not been enough to offset the extensive deficit that has been accrued… Tobakken’s debt is primarily to the bank, the municipality and a few major suppliers.”
The venue closed immediately but the appointed curator will decide whether an attempt will be made to carry out some of the upcoming concerts and events.