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Finland’s Sideways Festival comes to an end

Finland’s Fullsteam Agency has announced that Sideways Festival will not take place in its current form after 2024.

The festival, which launched in 2018, will take place at Helsinki Ice Hall (also known as Nordis) for the last time between 13 and 15 June.

Bat For Lashes, Jungle and Peggy Gou are due to headline the final edition, with acts including Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Fontaines DC and Ladytron filling out the bill.

In a statement released today (28 May), organisers said that “making a festival that is ambitious in terms of content and service offering and larger in size is rewarding but challenging”.

“In particular, the general economic situation of recent years and the rise in cost levels have significantly affected the possibilities of making the organisation of the event in its current form profitable,” it reads.

“We have decided that now is the right time to turn the page and look to the future with an open mind”

The statement continues: “In addition, the long-term planning of the event has been complicated by various uncertainty factors, such as the giant Garden arena, which has been planned for years on the site of the Sideways festival area. Other development projects in the vicinity of Nordis, surrounding construction sites and other events organized in and around the ice rink have also made the development of Sideways challenging in the long term. For example, multi-year lease agreements for the event area, which are typical for the industry, have not been possible for us, which has made planning the continuity of the festival significantly more difficult.

“From the beginning, Sideways’ ideology has included innovation, pioneering, surprise and continuous development. So that there is no need to compromise on these values, we have decided that now is the right time to turn the page and look to the future with an open mind. So we don’t yet know what Sideways will look like in the future or where and when we will gather in the coming years. We will ask our customers for their wishes and thoughts about the future, because the warm and communal atmosphere fostered at the heart of Sideways is thanks to them. We are grateful for the kind of summer weekends we have experienced first at Teurastamo and now during the last seven years at Nordis.”

Fullsteam Agency represents around a hundred domestic acts such as JVG, KUUMAA, Joalin and Stam1na, and organises festivals including Provinssi and Knotfest Finland. Since 2015, the firm has been part of FKP Scorpio.

Fullsteam founder Rauha Kyyrö was recently appointed to FKP’s international board as president touring & artist development.

 


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LGBTIQ+ List 2024: This year’s queer pioneers unveiled

IQ Magazine has revealed the LGBTIQ+ List 2024 – the fourth annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business.

The list is once again the centrepiece of IQ’s annual Pride edition, sponsored by Ticketmaster, which is now available to read online and in print for subscribers.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2024 – 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 fourth instalment comprises agents, promoters, venue directors, bookers, consultants, sustainability experts, talent buyers, managers and sound engineers from across the world.

In alphabetical order, the LGBTIQ+ List 2024 is:

Anna Sjölund, EU programming director, ASM Global (SE)
Ary Maudit, sound engineer/producer, RAK Studios/Strongroom/Saffron Records (UK)
Buğra Davaslıgıl, senior talent buyer, Charmenko (TR)
Caterina Conti, operations manager, 432 Presents (UK)
Chris May, general manager, BC Place Stadium (CA)
Dustin Turner, music marketing agent, music touring, CAA (US)
Emma Davis, general manager/agent, One Fiinix Live (UK)
Gwen Iffland, senior marketing & PR manager, Wizard Live (DE)
Jason Brotman, founder, Five Senses Reeling (US)
Joona Juutilainen, Booking Assistant, Fullsteam Agency (FI)
Luke Mulligan, director, Circa 41 (AU)
Paul Lomas, booker, WME (UK)
Pembe Tokluhan, production/founder/diversity consultant, Petok Productions (UK)
Priscilla Nagashima, VP of engineering, DICE (UK)
Rhys France, corporate & private events booker, CAA (UK)
Rivca Burns, acting head of music, Factory International (UK)
Ross Patel, green impact consultant & board member, LIVE/MMF (UK)
Sam Oldham, venue director, The O2 (UK)
Sam Booth, director of sustainability, AEG Europe (UK)
Zoe Maras, founder & artist services, Joyride Agency (NZ)

Throughout Pride Month (June), IQ will be publishing full-length interviews with each person on the LGBTIQ+ List 2024.

However, subscribers can read the full Pride edition now. Click here to subscribe to IQ from just £8 a month – or see what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below.

Check out previous Pride lists from 2023, 2022 and 2021.

 


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City of Helsinki set to buy former Hartwall Arena

The two-year saga over the future of Finland’s largest arena could finally be nearing its conclusion after the City of Helsinki signalled its intention to acquire the venue from its Russian owners.

The 15,500-cap Helsinki Halli, formerly the Hartwall Arena, has been owned by Arena Events Oy (AEO) – a company co-founded by oligarchs Gennady Timchenko and Roman Rotenberg – since 2013, but shuttered in early 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. All of Timchenko’s holdings in the EU have been frozen, while Rotenberg’s family is the target of US sanctions for their ties with Vladimir Putin.

“The city will take measures to buy the required shares or arena property by sale,” the City of Helsinki tells Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat (HS).

According to YLE, the city is seeking a voluntary deal with the current owners, with a process to expropriate the venue to be launched by early June if an agreement cannot be reached.

“This is an important step towards making the arena operational,” says Helsinki deputy mayor Paavo Arhinmäki. “The events industry in particular has lost a huge number of concerts while the arena has been out of use.”

The publication notes that the foundation operating the arena has already been instructed that it must be prepared to reopen as soon as possible if ownership is transferred to the city.

“At this point, it is not relevant who will own the arena later”

Head of office Jukka-Pekka Ujula tells HS there are no estimates on how much the acquisition would cost the city, which is reportedly losing more than €100 million per year due to the closure. In the meantime, Tampere’s 15,000-cap Nokia Arena has filled the breach as the country’s leading events venue.

Several private parties have failed in bids to buy the arena over the past 18 months, and Arhinmäki indicates the city’s ownership could just be a temporary measure to get the venue back in use.

“At this point, it is not relevant who will own the arena later,” adds Arhinmäki.

YLE previously noted that Rotenberg and Timchenko own a combined 44% of the arena’s holding company, Helsinki Halli Oy, but their combined voting power in the firm accounts for 93.9%.

Beverage giant Hartwall ended its 25-year association with the building due to the arena’s Russian ownership shortly after the war began in 2022. Finland’s Flow Festival also ended its brand partnership with Heineken Silver last year due to the lager firm’s operations in Russia.

 


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FKP Scorpio promotes duo to international board

FKP Scorpio has bolstered its international operations with the appointments of Rauha Kyyrö and Rense van Kessel as presidents touring & artist development.

Founders of Finland’s Fullsteam and the Netherlands’ Friendly Fire, respectively, Kyyrö and Van Kessel have worked with more than 3,000 artists combined since entering the business in the early 2000s.

The duo have been appointed to FKP’s international board and will be in charge of developing the group’s artist booking and promoter activities across Europe.

“Rauha and Rense’s work has been a vital part of our success for several years now”, says FKP boss Folkert Koopmans and CEO Stephan Thanscheidt. “Their new roles as presidents touring & artist development are the next step in strengthening our natural growth and diverse portfolio, with the aim of being the best partner for artists and music fans alike.”

In addition, the firm has recently appointed new directors in Finland (Aino-Maria Paasivirta, head promoter, Fullsteam Agency), Netherlands (Lauri van Ommen, head of promoted shows and Age Versluis, head of touring, Friendly Fire) and Germany (Inga Esseling and Ben Rodenberg, directors touring, FKP Scorpio).

Founded by Koopmans in 1990, Germany-headquartered FKP is part of the global CTS Eventim Group and works with acts such as Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, The Rolling Stones, Noah Kahan, Foo Fighters, Sam Fender, Kraftwerk, Phoebe Bridgers, James Blunt, George Ezra and Mumford & Sons.

FKP is also expanding its collaboration with DreamHaus to co-promote the Rock am Ring/Rock im Park and Hurricane/Southside festivals

Its domestic festival portfolio includes festivals such as Hurricane, Southside, Highfield, M’era Luna, Elbjazz and Deichbrand Festival, while international brands include Greenfield (CH), Syd For Solen (DK) , Best Kept Secret (NL), Lido Sounds (AT), Rosendal Garden Party (SE), Live Is Live (BE), Provinssi and Sideways (FI).

In other news, FKP will expand its collaboration with CTS stablemate DreamHaus by forming a strategic partnership to co-promote the Rock am Ring/Rock im Park and Hurricane/Southside festivals together in the future. Previously, DreamHaus and FKP Scorpio had already jointly organised the Tempelhof Sounds Festival in Berlin in 2022.

“We have always valued FKP Scorpio as a partner and are very much looking forward to further expanding our trusting cooperation,” says DreamHaus CEO Matt Schwarz.

The operational planning and implementation of the respective twin festivals will remain unchanged. FKP Scorpio will continue to act as head promoter and main contact at Hurricane/Southside and DreamHaus in cooperation with eventimpresents and Argo Konzerte at Rock am Ring/Rock im Park.

“We have worked closely with DreamHaus as equals from the very beginning,” adds Koopmans. “We face similar challenges at the festivals, and it is only logical that we use synergies to position ourselves even better on the market.”

 


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All Things Live Finland hires Zachris Sundell

All Things Live has hired Zachris Sundell as senior promoter of its Finnish operation, effective 1 March.

Sundell’s previous roles include head promoter of Live Nation Finland and senior promoter at Warner Music Live Finland.

The appointment comes after All Things Live Finland named Jan Streng development director at the beginning of November.

Streng previously worked as executive vice president of the Finnish Comedy Theatre and in various management positions at Sony Music record label.

“I am very happy to have solid and experienced professionals in my team,” says Toni Peiju, CEO of All Things Live Finland. “The addition of Zachris and Jan will really help and gain an even larger market share in Finland.”

“The addition of Zachris and Jan will really help and gain an even larger market share in Finland”

Sundell adds: “It’s great to start as a senior promoter in a growing international company. I am eager to join in growing and strengthening All Things Live’s business.”

All Things Live Group was founded in 2019 by six Scandinavian companies, which represent more than 500 artists and produce more than 8,000 events annually.

In addition to Helsinki, the group currently has offices in Oslo, Stockholm, Malmö, Brussels, Milan, Dubai, Antwerp, Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

In addition to promoting international artists such as Katy Perry, The Rolling Stones and Rammstein, All Things Live Finland specialises in rock and metal, working with acts including Nightwish, Beast In Black, Sonata Arctica and this year’s Emma-nominated Bloodred.

 


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Finnish biz slams proposed VAT increase on tickets

Finland’s live music associations are sounding the alarm over a proposed increase in VAT on concert tickets.

Under the government’s new budget proposal, value-added tax on tickets for cultural and sports events will rise from 10% to 14% from 1 January 2025.

Trade bodies have called the hike “unreasonable” and have warned that the proposal should not be implemented under any circumstances.

Jenna Lahtinen, executive director of the live music benefit organisation LiveFIN, points out that the industry is still recovering from the losses sustained during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Festivals, concert venues and the entire event industry have just completed their first full year of operation,” she says. “The industry does not need any decisions that weaken growth and profitability right now. An increase in the VAT on entrance tickets would be a hard blow to the industry.”

“The festival sector simply cannot stand it”

Laura Haarala, executive director of the Association of Finnish Program Agencies and Agents, adds: “The increase in the costs of the events industry has been very strong since the coronavirus. Costs have risen considerably higher than the general level of inflation. This has already affected the profitability of the companies in the industry, despite moderate ticket price increases. The increase in value added tax will increase the pressure on price increases or weaken the profitability of program sales.”

Sami Kerman, CEO of the Event Industry Association, says the proposed increase will “inevitably affect demand for events”.

“When Finland is already in recession and the uncertain situation of companies is reflected in the cyclically sensitive event industry, especially corporate events, it would be especially important to take care of the demand for consumer events,” says Kerman. “If we are going to stick to the VAT increase, decisions are needed to stimulate demand accordingly.”

While Kai Amberla, executive director of Finland Festivals, has warned that the festival sector industry “simply cannot stand” the hike.

“The Corona era showed how important festivals and other cultural events are for people,” says Amerblia. “After the pandemic, the economy of art and culture festivals has been faced with huge challenges, but with strict financial management and very moderate ticket price increases, we have been able to get back on the path to growth. It is completely irresponsible that at the same time cultural policy subsidies are being cut with a heavy hand, there is a proposed to increase the value added tax on admission tickets.”

The associations are hoping the government will revoke the decision in the framework rush of spring 2024.

 


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CTS Eventim’s Lippupiste announces new CEO

Finland’s largest ticketing provider, Lippupiste, has named Juhana Stenbäck as CEO.

Stenbäck will report to Alexander Ruoff, COO on the CTS Eventim management board.

His predecessor, Ari Palhamo, will step down as CEO on 31 January but will remain a member of Lippupiste’s board of directors.

Palhamo became CEO of Lippupiste in 2005. Under his leadership, the company grew to become the leader in Finland’s ticketing market. Palhamo also oversaw the 2008 acquisition of Lippupiste by CTS Eventim and remained at the head of the company for another 16 years.

Stenbäck has been part of the Lippupiste management as COO since 2020. An accomplished manager and financial expert with 14 years of experience in the ticketing business, his previous positions included roles at L’Oreal Finland and Deloitte & Touche.

Alexander Ruoff, COO, CTS Eventim says: “I’d like to thank Ari for his exceptional collaboration over the past 16 years and for our many shared successes. I’m delighted that he will be staying with us as a member of the Board of Directors. To Juhana, I say congratulations on the promotion. I’m certain that his experience and skills will allow him to successfully continue Ari’s work while also putting his own stamp on the company. I’m looking forward to continuing our collaboration and wish Juhana and his team all the very best.”

“Over the past 18 years, we have grown into a market leader in Finland”

Ari Palhamo, CEO, Lippupiste adds: “We started as an independent company, Lippupiste, in 2005. That’s when we separated from Elisa Finland. Today, we have Lippupiste employees working in four locations: Tampere, Helsinki, Turku and Lahti. Over the past 18 years, we have grown into a market leader in Finland, as a ticketing partner for cultural, sports and live entertainment events, as well as a partner for venues and arenas.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without the unwavering trust shown to us by event organisers and consumers. I’m extremely grateful for this trust. I can’t think of a better time to hand over the responsibility of Lippupiste to Juhana. He is motivated, energetic and very experienced in our industry. I have full confidence that the company will become even stronger from now on.”

Juhana Stenbäck, CEO-elect, Lippupiste: “I want to thank Ari, who has managed Lippupiste successfully for all these years. His leadership has played a significant role in shaping our company into what it is today. I’m grateful and excited for the opportunity to lead Lippupiste. Our outlook for the future is bright, and I look forward to working with our talented teams as we continue to develop and deliver innovative solutions to our promoter clients and customers.”

CTS Eventim-owned Lippupiste is Finland’s largest ticketing company. Promoters, venues and fans use its services across more than 30,000 events each year. The web platform lippu.fi is Finland’s most successful ticketing shop with over 20 million visits per year.

 


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Finland’s live industry body elects new chair, board

Finland’s live music association has unveiled a new chair, board and strategy for the years 2024 to 2026.

The Event Industry Association (Tapahtumateollisuus) was launched during the pandemic and incorporated many major Finnish concert businesses, including Fullsteam Agency, Live Nation Finland, Warner Music Live and CTS Eventim’s Lippupiste.

It was announced last week that the new chairman of the association is Olli-Poika Parviainen, mayor of Hämeenlinna, a city in southern Finland.

Kalle Marttinen, who is on leave from the Finnish Football Federation, will continue as vice president of the event industry.

The new board includes Mirkka Rautala (Live Nation Finland), Tuomo Tähtinen (Fullsteam Agency), Jenna Lahtinen (LiveFIN), Jarno Uusitalo (Creative Technology Finland), Janne Auvinen (Hämeenlinna Verkatehdas) and Teemu Balk (Securitas Events).

“I recognise the strong common interests of cities and the industry and the broad societal importance of event ecosystems”

Plus, Juho Hiidenmaa (Management Event Studios), Anu Kauppi (Olympic Committee), Terttu Keskinen-Rönkkö (Stop Tents), Mirva Merimaa (Ticket), Sari Mikkonen-Mannila (Omnipress), Marja Pekkanen (Turu Exhibition Center) and Perttu Pesä (City of Tampere).

The Event Industry Association also announced a new strategy for the years 2024-26, which is centred on bringing together industry players, representing event industry players and increasing the number of members.

The body also wants to continue dialogue with decision-makers, authorities and other players so that legislation, regulation and their interpretations are appropriate from the point of view of organising events.

“It’s great to be able to support the development of a wonderful growth industry and to continue the important work of taking the industry into account in decision-making,” says chairman Olli-Poika Parviainen. “As the mayor of Hämeenlinna and through my previous work history, I recognise the strong common interests of cities and the industry and the broad societal importance of event ecosystems. The event industry and cities have many places where we can further strengthen cooperation.”


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Anna Sjölund trades Live Nation for ASM Global

ASM Global has appointed Anna Sjölund as European programming director, with a focus on the growth of the business in the Nordics region.

The industry stalwart joins the venue management giant from Live Nation Sweden, where she has risen through the ranks over 24 years.

In her new role, Sjölund will be based out of ASM’s Stockholm office and tasked with curating content at venues including Friends Arena, Tele2 Arena, Avicii Arena, Södra Teatern and Kulttuuritalo, as well as offering support in the rest of Europe.

While leading the Swedish programming team, she will support the individual venues and regional content teams to deliver and develop “a truly world-class and unrivalled calendar of unmissable live entertainment content”.

Marie Lindqvist, senior vice president of operations in Europe for ASM Global, says: “We are incredibly excited to welcome Anna to the ASM Global team. Anna is highly experienced, widely respected, and comes with a vast network within the industry, especially in the Nordics. I have worked with Anna in various capacities for more than 15 years, so I can confidently say she shares the same passion for growing the footprint of amazing live events in Sweden, and the rest of the Nordic region. Anna is a brilliant new addition to our best-in-class team and I look forward to working with her as we look to a bright future in Sweden and the Nordics.”

“Knowing that Anna was the promoter of your show meant total confidence that every possible aspect of the event was fully covered”

Brian Celler, senior vice president content and programming for UK & Europe at ASM Global, adds: “Let’s be entirely honest, Anna joining the ASM Global European programming team is nothing short of seismic. She is a world-class executive, held in the highest esteem by her colleagues, agents, managers, and artists globally. Knowing that Anna was the promoter of your show meant total confidence that every possible aspect of the event was fully covered. We are beyond thrilled to be part of Anna’s next progression in her career and her integral role in the expanding ASM Global venue portfolio in Europe.”

Sjölund joined Thomas Johansson’s EMA Telstar (now Live Nation Sweden) as a production assistant in 2000, and rapidly rose through the ranks. She has served as VP operations, Live Nation Central and Eastern Europe 2010-2013, and led the touring and festival business at Live Nation Sweden for more than 10 years. Most recently, she served in a global role as SVP Touring International.

Sjölund has established herself as one of Europe’s premier promoters with an unrivalled network in Sweden and the Nordics, promoting hundreds of arena and stadium shows in the region with world-class acts, as well as bringing international festival Lollapalooza to Stockholm in 2019, 2022, and 2023.

She is a longstanding promoter of the NHL Global Series in Sweden, Finland, Czech Rep and Germany – successfully filling Stockholm with 52,000 hockey fans from all over the world this season alone. As a result, Stockholm has had 16 regular season NHL games since 2008 – more than twice as many as any other city outside of North America.

Sjölund says: “During my 24 years with the great Thomas Johansson and the team at Live Nation Sweden I have worked incredibly close with the ASM Global venues here, and have had the fortune to be a part of hundreds of incredible events there – to now continue to develop and expand that business in the European region is something I’m really looking forward to. I joined forces with Marie Lindqvist to gather the Swedish event industry during the pandemic years, and have tremendous respect for her leadership and strategic work, and am excited to continue that partnership and our shared passion for live entertainment on a daily basis.”

 


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Finnish arena could be seized under new sanctions

A new package of EU sanctions on Moscow could pave the way for the Finnish authorities to seize the Russian-owned former Hartwall Arena in Helsinki.

The 15,500-cap venue has been owned by Arena Events Oy (AEO) – a company co-founded by oligarchs Gennady Timchenko and Roman Rotenberg – since 2013, but shuttered in early 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

All of Timchenko’s holdings in the European Union (EU) have been frozen, while Rotenberg’s family is the target of US sanctions for their close ties with Vladimir Putin.

The 12th package of EU sanctions will be decided in December. According to a new report by Finnish News Agency STT, via The Insider, individuals who are subject to sanctions could be given the opportunity to sell their frozen assets, although the proceeds of the sale would remain frozen. The assets would be confiscated if they refuse to sell.

STT reports that property can be expropriated in cases of “public need”, with the owner of the property receiving compensation. Although, again, the funds would be frozen in the case of the arena.

“At the moment, the interests of the owners are to promote trade. And there are plenty of buyers”

In September this year, Timchenko’s Finnish case manager Kai Paananen told Helsingin Sanomat that the sale of the venue was being negotiated.

“During the past year, there have certainly been moments when the negotiations for the sale of the arena have not progressed, but now the situation is different,” said Paananen. “Of course, the current owners of the arena ultimately decide whether they will sell their shares or not. There is currently no certainty about this, but as said, at the moment, the interests of the owners are to promote trade. And there are plenty of buyers.”

Beverage giant Hartwall ended its 25-year association with the building – since renamed Helsinki Halli – last year due to its Russian ownership.

Finnish publication Ilta Sanomat notes that the city of Helsinki is losing more than €100 million per year due to the closure, with Tampere’s 15,000-cap Nokia Arena taking over as the country’s leading events venue.

Earlier this year, Finland’s Flow Festival also ended its brand partnership with Heineken Silver due to the lager firm’s operations in Russia.

 


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