Nordic music biz reveals Top 20 under 30 list for 2021
The fourth annual Nordic Music Biz Top 20 under 30 list has been revealed, honouring the ‘young forces driving the Nordic music industry forward’.
According to organsiers Nomex (Nordic Music Export), the winners were chosen by a panel of 15 judges from the Nordic music industry, based on “company growth, career path, recognition in the industry, influence in the industry in 2020, artistic development, innovation, concert revenues, sales, streaming, campaigns, radio and television publicity”.
This year’s Nordic Music Biz Top 20 under 30 list comprises:
- Timothy Collins & Hugo LePrince, co-founders & co-CEO, Creed Media, Sweden
- Lina Pettersson, head of agency, Live Nation, Sweden
- Anton Madock, A&R and marketing manager, Amuse, Sweden
- Sara Faraj, label manager, Asylum/Warner Music Sweden AB
- Amanda Kiflay, A&R, Sony Music Publishing Scandinavia, Sweden
- Erlend Buflaten, CEO and co-founder Propeller Management, Norway
- Ziwer Teli, artist manager, GR:OW, Sweden
- Johanna Alem, head of event & promotion, Universal Music Norway
- Julie Rogstad Sandberg, A&R, Sony Music Norway
- Renate Eggan, project and communication manager, Tempo, Norway
- Nikolaj Stavnstrup, manager & A&R, Echo (Label/Management, Denmark
- Thea Moe, partner & co-manager, Glass Management, Denmark
- Jakob Løkkegaard-Friese, MD & co-founder, Was Entertainment, Denmark
- Maria Borg, A&R, Discowax, Denmark
- Katarina Julie Madsen, creative manager, Edition Wilhelm Hansen, Denmark
- Teea Kasurinen, marketing manager international, Universal Music Finland
- Hannes Andersson, creative director, Mantik Music Group & CMO, oeksound Ltd., Finland
- Saara Everi, head of marketing & artist manager, PME Records, Finland
- Ægir Sindri Bjarnason, founder of R6013 venue in Reykjavik and Why Not? Records, Iceland
- Bergþór Másson, ClubDub, Iceland
Nina Finnerud, head of UK at Music Norway, commented on the list: “With the Covid-19 pandemic, we have seen that the recruitment of young people into the music industry is more important than ever.
“It’s crucial to show the new generation of managers, labels, agents, festivals etc that it is a safe and rewarding industry to work in and choose as a career. It is also vital to make sure the artists have talented people to work with them and look out for their best interest in the future.”
This year’s Nordic Music Biz Top 20 under 30 will be honoured with a ceremony during by:Larm festival in Olso, Norway, on the 30 September.
Nomex was set up to facilitate growth and development in the Nordic music sector, and is a collaborative organisation set up by Export Music Sweden, Music Export Denmark, Music Finland, Iceland Music Export and Music Norway.
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The LGBTIQ+ List 2021: Rauha Kyyrö, Fullsteam Agency
The LGBTIQ+ List 2021 – IQ’s first annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – was published in the inaugural Pride edition (issue 101) this month.
The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2021, as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee, have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.
To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, IQ asked each individual to share their challenges, triumphs, advice and more. Each day this month, we’ll publish a new interview with an individual on the LGBTIQ+ List 2021. Catch up on the previous interview with Daniel Brown, event producer/programmer at Birmingham Pride, UK here.
Head promoter, Fullsteam Agency
Tell us about a personal triumph in your career.
I definitely can’t take the credit for any of the production work required to make it happen, but in 2018 we built a 60-metre stage and a 30-truck production for the most popular Finnish artist, Cheek, on top of a lido located basically in a deep pit at the bottom of a ski-jumping stadium, and let’s just say that it was not uncomplicated. But the artist got what he wanted, and we sold out 60,000 tickets.
What advice could you give for young queer professionals?
When you notice a problem in your workplace, whether it is racism, discrimination or inequality of any kind, cis/heteronormativity, assumed monogamy, or anything that you are not comfortable with, speak up and ask for change. And if they don’t want to listen to you, start your own company – or come work for us!
“Hearing ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ these days makes me almost as sick as ‘Dear Sirs’…”
Tell us about a professional challenge you often come across as a queer person.
I think people often have challenges with what they don’t understand. For example, they might judge you for your life choices and therefore not treat you with respect or give you what you deserve even if what you are doing has nothing to do with your work. When someone takes the risk to be open about their gender identity, sexuality or number of partners, etc., in an environment with so many fucked-up norms, it is usually not a phase.
What one thing could the industry do to be more inclusive?
To start with, we could easily stop using binary and cisnormative language in all our communication. Hearing ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ these days makes me almost as sick as ‘Dear Sirs’. And what’s the deal with binary toilets still around at festivals and venues? Just make all the toilets unisex, that’s the easiest thing you can do to be more inclusive to trans people, and it helps with queues too!
“Make all the toilets unisex, that’s the easiest thing you can do to be more inclusive to trans people, and it helps with queues too!”
A cause you support.
What does the near future of the industry look like?
How could the industry build back better, post-pandemic?
In my experience, people in the live music industry have been nicer, more understanding and more patient during the pandemic. Let’s keep that up. Nobody should have to be intimidated because of a gig.
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#PunksToo: #MeToo moment for Finnish industry
Finland’s major live music companies have condemned all forms of harassment and discrimination following a series of allegations posted on the Instagram account @punkstoo.
The #MeToo-inspired account, which has amassed more than 25,000 followers over the past week, collects anonymous accounts of alleged hate speech, violence and sexual harassment/assault in Finnish punk and rock circles.
Among those to confirm they have contributed their own experiences to the page are Anni Lötjönen from the band Huora, who has spoken of being subjected to violence in the industry, while the band Pää Kii, whose frontman has been linked to some of the allegations, have had a number of festival appearances cancelled.
In a statement, Fullsteam, the leading promoter, management company and record label, thanks those who shared their experiences and linked to a number of resources for those affected by the issues raised.
“The music industry still has a long road to take to eradicate all kinds of discrimination, harassment and violence. It’s overwhelming, but it’s also extremely important to hear how terrible things have been done in our field and how such activities have been repeatedly and constantly made possible,” says the company.
“Thank you to everyone who shared their experience. We hear, see and believe you,” the statement adds. “The problem is deep-rooted and we are not beyond it. We apologise to everyone who has ever been mistreated at our events or otherwise by us, our staff, our audiences, our partners or our artists, and we support every victim.
“Every person must be safe regardless of the situation and the situation, and that’s what each of us must work for. We will be doing everything we can in collaboration with other music industry players to make this happen.”
The company has also provided a link to a Google Form via which people can give anonymous feedback on Fullsteam’s “activities, artists and events”.
The country’s other major live music player, Live Nation Finland, also released a statement in response to the #PunkToo revelations, along with a similar call for feedback: “We would like to thank everyone who participated in the recent discussion and shared their experiences for your courage and openness. [I]t’s time for all of us to act so that nothing like this will happen again in the future.
“We take all harassment cases extremely seriously and will be doing things even better in the future so that everyone can be themselves and enjoy themselves safely at our events.
“It’s obvious that sexual harassment, violence, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia and any other harassment is not acceptable under any circumstances. It’s not part of our events, nor our work environment.
“We are currently working on the prevention of harassment and creating an action model we will introduce in our upcoming events.”
“As a company, we commit ourselves to developing our own understanding and activities, so that we can be a part of a more tolerant and safe future for everyone,” the company adds. “You can leave us anonymously feedback regarding our events or the artists we represent. We will use the feedback we received to improve our activities and raise awareness: https://bit.ly/Avoinpalaute.”
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150,000 buy tickets for virtual Nightwish show
Finnish metal band Nightwish were joined by more than 150,000 fans from 108 countries for their recent virtual concert experience, An Evening With Nightwish in a Virtual World, which streamed on Friday 28 and Saturday 29 May.
Six months in the making, the show – a co-production of promoter Fullsteam Agency, VR studio Zoan and the band’s management company, Till Dawn They Count – follows Fullsteam and Zoan’s previous collaboration with the city of Helsinki, which attracted 1.4 million fans to a free virtual show by rap group JVG last May.
An Evening with Nightwish welcomed fans of Nightwish, Finland’s most successful musical export, to a 3D virtual world designed in partnership with the band, where they could watch the concert while also moving around and interacting with other concertgoers. Tickets for the show were priced between €25 and €109.
According to Fullsteam, that translates to ticket income in the seven figures (more than €1m), equivalent to a “large stadium-sized concert”.
“The key is to understand that we are not trying to replicate a live show here – it is a completely different thing”
“We all knew that there would be a lot of demand for this show, but honestly I was blown away by how great it turned out and how many tickets we sold,” says Fullsteam’s Rauha Kyyrö. “I think there is a huge potential for virtual shows that can be very unique experiences for fans.
“I think the key is to understand that we are not trying to replicate a live show here – it is a completely different thing and has to be designed to be enjoyed at home and on your portable devices. And I personally don’t think anything will ever replace the live experience anyway.”
A 30-person team – half of them Nightwish fans – from technical producer Zoan was responsible for creating the virtual world, which included a virtual tavern, The Islanders’ Arms. Zoan used a combination of high-end technology, such as photorealistic scans, and the latest Unreal game engine to produce the experience.
“It feels amazing to have cracked the code on how to provide virtual live entertainment directly to the fans,” says Zoan CEO Miikka Rosendahl. “This is the beginning of an entire new segment in the music industry.”
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.
ATL acquires Finland’s Till Dawn They Count
Till Dawn They Count, the Finnish artist management company which represents symphonic metal icons Nightwish, has joined Nordic live entertainment group All Things Live.
Till Dawn They Count joins Weekend Festival to become the second Finnish member of All Things Live (ATL), a network of mainly Scandinavian live music businesses backed by private-equity firm Waterland. It is also the first management company to join the group.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though ATL notes that “the acquisition does not entail changes for artists, partners, customers or employees, as proximity and familiarity is a key area of focus for the All Things Live partnership”.
In addition to Nightwish, Till Dawn They Count (TDTC) looks after leading Finnish metal stars, including Sonata Arctica, Beast in Black and Marko Hietala.
“I am very excited about the prospect of Till Dawn They Count becoming a member of the All Things Live family, who shares our ambition to help realise the vision and potential of both established and emerging artists,” says Toni Peiju, who founded TDTC with Ewo Pohjola in 2014.
“We see great prospects in the dedicated Till Dawn They Count team … and the expansion into artist management
“We maintain our independence and strong dedication to our bands, with the All Things Live partnership broadening our network and providing us with a strong and supporting organisation that further strengthens our ability to help develop established and emerging artists alike. Meanwhile, we are looking forward to contributing to the partnership with our knowhow and network.”
“We are very excited about Till Dawn They Count joining the All Things Live partnership, as we now establish a strong entry into the artist management activities of live entertainment,” says Kim Worsøe, CEO of All Things Live.
“We see great prospects in the dedicated Till Dawn They Count team, the many talented artists and the expansion into artist management. Together we establish an even stronger platform and ability to grow artists.”
In addition to Weekend Festival and TDTC, All Things Live’s other businesses include ICO Concerts and ICO Management & Touring (Denmark), Friction, Atomic Soul Booking and Stand Up Norge (Norway), and Maloney Concerts, Monkfish, Big Slap and ROA (Sweden). It also recently made its first investment outside the Nordic countries, in Belgian agency Busker.
Finland’s festival season dramatically reduces
Finland’s 2021 festival season has dramatically shrunk with the cancellations of major festivals such as Ruisrock, Ilosaarirock, Provinssi and Sideways.
Though event cancellation insurance for organisers may be on the horizon, according to the Finish government’s newly unveiled exit strategy, restrictions on public events will be the last to ease.
A lack of certainty about the forthcoming festival summer is the primary cause for the second consecutive cancellation of Ruisrock (9–11 July 2021), the oldest festival in Finland and the second-oldest in Europe.
In a statement on the festival’s website, the organiser writes: “Our biggest wish this past year has been that we could organise Ruisrock again. The longing for the audience, performers and all of us for the festival has been hand touching and we did everything we could to have organised a party in Ruissalo after a hard year.
“There are no conditions for [gathering people] in the current uncertain situation”
“Ruisrock has gathered people together for over 50 years to experience unforgettable experiences. However, there are no conditions for this in the current uncertain situation, so it is with a broken heart that we have to cancel the summer festival.”
Martin Garrix, Major Lazer, Zara Larsson, Blackbear and Alan Walker were among the artists who would’ve played Ruisrock 2021. The festival will return between 8–10 July 2022 in Ruissalo, Turku.
The 50th-anniversary edition of Ilosaarirock – the second longest-running festival in Finland – has also been cancelled due to ‘the rapidly changing and largely uncertain situation with Covid-19’.
“We believe that Ilosaarirock deserves to be celebrated at full throttle and a scaled-down version of it just will not do,” reads a statement on the festival’s website. “Since the current situation is so unpredictable, it is simply not possible to go ahead and organise an event of this size and scale.”
Organisers have said that by cancelling this year’s festival they are able to secure the future of Ilosaarirock.
“It is simply not possible to go ahead and organise an event of this size and scale”
Liam Gallagher, Yungblud and Sam Feldt were due to play the 2021 edition. The 2022 edition of Ilosaarirock Festival is slated for 15–17 July in Joensuu.
In similar statements, the organisers say they are ‘focusing our energy on next year’s festival’.
Sideways, which would have hosted artists including Kelis, Jarvis Cocker and Belle & Sebastian, will return between 16–18 June, 2022.
Povinssi, which would have been headlined by Korn, Pendulum Trinity and The Offspring, will be held between 30 June–2 July next year.
Finland’s guarantee fund ‘doesn’t meet industry’s needs’
The Finnish government has proposed an event guarantee fund that would “put players in the sector in a highly unequal position”, according to the Event Industry Association (Tapahtumateollisuus).
The proposal, prepared by the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy and submitted for comments on Monday (29 March), has been designed to reimburse a portion of the production costs for large-scale events and festivals should they be cancelled or restricted due to official regulations.
However, the association says the proposed guarantee scheme “unjustifiably” excludes a large part of the event industry, such as year-round events, professional sports and theatre.
In addition, the proposed guarantee support would only cover events during the summer season, up until 30 September. The association says the time limit does not take into account the time span of planning provisions in the event industry, nor would it cover “one of the most active operating periods in the industry”.
“In the proposed form, guarantee support would completely exclude a large part of the events industry”
The association adds that summer events have a “rather narrow employment impact on the industry as a whole”.
“It is good that the need for transaction support has finally been identified. However, it must also act on its purpose. Therefore, the support model must be corrected before the decision of parliament, because in the proposed form, guarantee support would completely exclude a large part of the events industry,” says Pekka Timonen, chairman of the Event Industry Association.
“A guarantee covering only the summer should have been provided for in January at the latest. We also require security from the guarantee to secure the events of the autumn season. Many trade fairs and corporate events as well as entertainment and seminar events are held in the autumn and early winter. They must be covered by comprehensive guarantee support,” adds Timonen.
In the northern hemisphere, other insurance schemes have been announced in Germany (€2.5bn), Austria (€300m), the Netherlands (€300m), Belgium (€60m), Norway (€34m) Denmark (DKK 500m) and Estonia (€6m).
Multimillion-euro ice show to debut at Uros Live Tampere
To serve indoor arenas starved starving for exciting, European family-friendly content, an international group of creators and promoters have used the Covid-19 shutdown to create a new, multimillion-euro Nordic ice-show brand bringing together figure skating, ice hockey and performing arts.
The Snow Queen, based on the Hans Christian Andersen story of the same name, presents a modernised take on the classic fairytale with a new, originally composed score. It will premiere at the new Uros Live arena in Tampere, Finland, on new year’s day 2022, with a further two performances on 2 and 3 January.
This production, which features the mythology of Lapland, creates a new form of European art that combines sports and arts, say creators, who worked with Canadian scriptwriter Melissa A. Thompson on the project.
“The Snow Queen offers the audience something that has never been seen in Finland or the Nordic countries before,” says Paulina Ahokas, managing director of Tampere Hall and main producer of the show. “There is clearly a great demand for ice ballet productions on the market. In Finland, we have a high-level expertise in the field of ice arts, and it gives us a great foundation to produce a show like his. With these performers, artists and partners it has become reality.”
The performers for the tour will be chosen via international auditions. The concept has certain roles which will be played by each target market’s most beloved figure-skating and ice hockey stars.
“The Snow Queen offers the audience something that has never been seen in Finland or the Nordic countries before”
The Finnish production brings together the brightest stars of the skating world, including major competition winners ranging from figure skating and synchronised skating all the way to ice hockey. They include Kiira Korpi, five-time Finnish champion and three-time European medalist; Laura Lepistö, the most successful solo Finnish figure skater of all time; European champions, European and world-class ice dancing multi-medalists Susanna Rahkamo and Petri Kokko; and figure skater Mila Kajas.
The strong core of the show will be formed by the most successful Finnish synchronised skating team, Marigold IceUnity, with their spectacular achievement of 13 world champion medals, out of which five are gold. The Finnish ice hockey scene is represented by the captains of Finland’s both national teams, Marko Anttila and Jenni Hiirikoski, NHL legend Niklas Hagman and ice hockey star Pekka Saravo, also known as a hockey commentator on television.
The producers, event organiser Tampere Hall and Kantelinen Company, have also recruited internationally acclaimed professionals in lighting design, direction, scriptwriting and costume design. The classic fairytale of The Snow Queen will be given a new arrangement on ice, composed by Tuomas Kantelinen, who is internationally famous for the compositions of two ballet productions, as well as operas and 98 film and television projects.
The show’s visual and lighting design will be conducted by Mikki Kunttu, famous for his work in some of the world’s greatest arenas and productions, including Cirque du Soleil. The show is directed by Reija Wäre, known for her significant musical and arena productions and ice choreographies, while Erika Turunen, Finland’s internationally most renowned costume designer, is in charge of the costume design. The ensemble choreographies are arranged by Anu ‘Jääskis’ Oksanen, known as the trainer and main choreographer of Marigold IceUnity.
“The Snow Queen is a magical theatrical story, and it fits perfectly into the arena environment. The combination of skating art and ice sports, together with music, lights, stage settings and video technology, offers something for everyone – from the smallest hockey kids to their grandparents,” says Kunttu. “The Snow Queen brings the visual elegance and dynamics of dance and ballet to the arena, not to mention the immersive fire-soul energy.”
“The combination of skating art and ice sports, together with music, lights, stage settings and video technology, offers something for everyone”
Marko Hurme, managing director of Uros Live, comments: “The Uros Live arena is a venue for experiences of international interest. It is fantastic to have The Snow Queen as a show during our arena’s opening season. It complements the targets set for the wide audience groups that the Tampere-based arena will attract. The show is interesting for the whole family, and it offers an opportunity to come and see the arena is all its glory.”
The opening of the arena will take place at the end of 2021, and it will be an important landmark even on a European level. The Snow Queen ice show will be included in the culture strategy of the city of Tampere when it is applying for the position of European Capital of Culture in 2026.
“In this show, arts and sports will be combined with great expertise,” says Perttu Pesä, leader of the Capital of Culture application project. “We are excited to contribute to enabling this production, both in terms of applying for the European Capital of Culture in 2026 and for Tampere being a city of great events. What we have here is an international grand show.”
The Tampere Hall team will present an exclusive first see of The Snow Queen at ILMC 33 on Thursday 4 March. To register for ILMC, click here.
Finland’s live events sector ‘on brink of collapse’
Up to 2,300 companies in Finland’s live sector expect to permanently close in the next six months if financial support isn’t quickly provided, according to a survey conducted last week by Event Industries Finland.
The association – which incorporates all major Finnish concert businesses, including Fullsteam Agency, Live Nation Finland, Warner Music Live and CTS Eventim’s Lippupiste – also found that almost 300 events are under immediate threat.
According to the association, there are around 3,200 companies involved in organising live events in Finland, with the total value of the industry estimated at €2.35 billion. The sector employs 20,000 full-time, and 175,000 temporary, workers.
The study found these have received approximately €85m in financial support, which counts for around 4.5% of the estimated €1.9bn financial loss the sector suffered during 2020.
According to Event Industries Finland (Tapahtumateollisuus), the latest event closure in the industry, which lasted more than two months, and the lack of an exit strategy “threaten the realisation of several major events this year and the future of the entire industry in Finland”.
“We are no longer talking about whether the companies in our industry will collapse, but about how large the damage is”
The association is now calling for a roadmap for Finland’s return to live music, as well as financial security for the event industry – namely a government-backed guarantee fund which would give organisers the ability to plan for the future.
“We understand that a timetable for lifting restrictions cannot be promised, but defining and publishing criteria is essential. The industry will not be able to function without a future perspective. We are no longer talking about whether the companies in our industry will collapse, but about how large and long-lasting damage we will have to repair,” says Kati Kuusisto, director of Event Industry Association.
“Event guarantee services would strengthen the courage and ability of companies in our industry to plan for the future. The decision on support must be obtained quickly and effective support must take into account the entire business network in the sector. Several European countries have already announced similar subsidies.
“Audiences are also waiting for the return of events, and the return of tickets already sold for events carried over from last summer to this year has been very low. The state should strengthen the possibilities for starting the event industry for several reasons,” Kuusisto emphasises.
New associations find common ground in 2020
Way back in April, Stuart Galbraith, CEO of UK promoter Kilimanjaro Live, told IQ that one of the small silver linings to come out of the giant corona-cloud that is 2020 was the spirit of increased cooperation among those who had just a month earlier been bitter rivals. “What has been very pleasant is that, with one or two exceptions, everyone’s been mucking in,” explained Galbraith, who is also vice-chairman of the UK’s Concert Promoters Association (CPA).
Another key takeaway from the then still-young coronavirus crisis, he said, was the importance of industry associations: “Government don’t want to talk to individual commercial organisations,” Galbraith explained, but officialdom will deal with representative bodies.
While there are no shortage of those in the UK, representing all aspects of the business – including new umbrella group LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment), whose members include the CPA, Entertainment Agents Association and Association of Independent Festivals, as well as One Industry One Voice, a similar body representing the broader events sector – elsewhere the Covid-19 pandemic has spawned the creation of a number of new associations, as industry professionals pool resources to ensure the business is properly represented in its discussions with the powers that be.
In Finland, Kati Kuusisto and Maria Sahlstedt have managed to unite not only the concert business, but the wider events sector, with Events Industries of Finland (Tapahtumateollisuus) – an achievement it took the coronavirus crisis to make possible, says director Kuusisto.
“We’d been thinking about setting up an association for the past two years, but it wasn’t until April 2020, when I saw an industry person on LinkedIn asking if anyone was interested in launching a union for the event industry, that it became reality,” she explains.
“It was important to start talking to each other, because the industry doesn’t exist in the eyes of the government otherwise”
“We started to call around all the different entities in the sector, and within two days we’d set up meetings with 60 different organisations, from sports clubs to concert organisers, theatres, venues, festivals, religious institutions, subcontractors, technical staff and more.”
What unites the diverse members of Event Industries of Finland is that they have fundamentally the same business model, despite differences in the content of what they organise, adds Kuusisto. “We have different formats, different content, but we are all fundamentally running business with same kind of problems and solutions.”
Quoting figures that will be familiar to event organisers across the world, Sahlstedt, the association’s director of communications, says those in government were surprised to learn of the extent of the event business’s losses, which are around 90% compared to 2020, according to Event Industries of Finland research.
“The chamber of commerce told us that restaurants and travel agents have suffered the worst [of any industry] this year because their losses are around 30%!” she comments. “So that was a moment of black humour for us…”
Over the border in Russia, Nadia Solovieva of SAV Entertainment, the country’s leading concert promoter, is the driving force behind the new Association of Concert, Theatre and Ticket Organisations (KTiBO), which largely picks up where the now-defunct Soyuz Concert left off in providing a representative association for the Russian live business.
“When the pandemic started, people started to realise that, believe it or not, we all have common interests,” explains Solovieva, “and there is a need to think about how we can help ourselves and the industry in general.”
“Within two days we’d set up meetings with 60 different organisations”
Unlike state-funded theatres and operate houses, which receive subsidies of up to 100%, private concert businesses have largely been left out in the cold when it comes to state support, Solovieva says, with payments worth employees’ minimum wage in May and June the extent of the help extended to SAV and businesses like it this year.
“It was important to start talking to each other, because the industry doesn’t exist in the eyes of the government otherwise, which is why it was so important to form some kind of organisation,” she continues. “I was the one going to all these government officials and asking for help, but it’s difficult when you don’t have an association – and you want to represent the whole industry, not just yourself and your friends.”
“It’s partly our fault, too,” she adds, “because we’ve tried to stay away from officials as much as possible, which means they don’t have any idea what we do – the economics, and how we survive. But in times like this, we need to be speaking to them and we need their help.”
In Portugal, a new association, Circuito, is fighting for grassroots venues, which have been particularly hard hit by the on-off lockdowns, curfews and states of emergency imposed since March.
The brainchild of three clubs, Lisbon’s Musicbox and LuxFrágil and Oporto’s Maus Hábitos, the association was formed earlier this year to address an “urgent need to secure the survival of grassroots music venues”, says Circuito director Gonçalo Riscado, by calling for “support measures and fight[ing] for the recognition of the circuit” by the Portuguese authorities.
“The timings and the conditions to do it never seemed right before”
“Even though the idea of creating a Portuguese network of music venues was envisaged previously, the timings and the conditions to do it never seemed right,” explains Riscado.
The new association recently organised its first major campaign, #AoVivoOuMorto (#LiveOrDead), to raise awareness of the difficulties facing venues and to encourage government to engage with the embattled grassroots sector.
Riscado describes 17 October’s #AoVivoOuMorto –which saw demonstrators queue outside shuttered venues in four Portuguese cities, forming lines up to five miles long – as a “a fruitful campaign” which led to important talks between Circuito and the government regarding a plan to protect small music venues.
“Being our first public demonstration, it was very important to build the foundations for our current and future work,” continues Riscado. “We had two simultaneous goals with it: to raise awareness for the importance and the value of grassroots music venues, and call for immediate support measures. With that in mind, placing the grassroots venues circuit within the cultural map and highlighting its importance is the first visible result of this campaign.
“The way artists, the general audience and the media understood, adhered to and enhanced our position was fundamental for us to achieve this goal. In this sense, the ability to overcome this first stage in months, when usually it takes years, is definitely our first big achievement and is an effect of #AoVivoOuMorto.
“Furthermore, after the demonstration, Circuito had several meetings with the central government and city halls and important negotiations were started.”
“I’m glad that people understand that we have common interests”
Sahlstedt says she hopes the spirit of pan-industry cooperation in Finland can continue after the Covid-19 crisis passes, noting that – largely as a result of the work put in by Event Industries of Finland – the events sector is on its way to being officially recognised as an industry in its own right by the Finnish statistical office.
“It’s been a case of repeating the same thing over and over and people finally starting to hear us,” adds Kuusisto. “The whole idea of live events as an industry is totally new and will take some time to understand, but I have a feeling that we’ve finally started to find a framework for the future.”
“I’m glad that people understand that we have common interests,” adds Solovieva, who also says she “absolutely” hopes KTiBO will outlive coronavirus. “The industry needs representation, full stop,” she says. “It’s like a trade union – even in normal times, we need an organisation which can speak on behalf of the industry.”
Circuito, says Riscado, is a “real-life example of the visible strengthening of collaborative networks in the music industry” in 2020. “The sense of collectiveness and association gained renewed importance during the pandemic, given that there is a common need, goal and threat.”
“Keeping it alive when this is all over will be the main challenge,” he adds. “However, we believe many of these ties will not be lost after the pandemic.”