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Court dismisses case against Blockfest founder

A money laundering charge against the founder of Finland’s Blockfest festival has been dismissed by the Helsinki District Court.

Kalle Kallonen was accused of transporting €10,000 in drug money from Finland to Spain in May 2021.

However, Iltalehti reports the charge was thrown out after the court ruled evidence pertaining to the case acquired by the FBI from encrypted messaging app Anom was inadmissible.

A similar charge against Kallonen’s co-accused – Finnish rap artist William, aka Ville Virtanen – was also dropped, with the court ordering the state to reimburse the pair’s legal costs of around €5,000 each.

Both Kallonen and Virtanen denied the allegations, which were part of a larger criminal case involving 10 people

The report adds that the case is likely to continue before the court of appeal.

Both Kallonen and Virtanen denied the allegations, which were part of a larger criminal case involving 10 people in total. Several other defendants have been jailed, mainly for aggravated drug offences.

Founded in 2008 in Tampere, Finland, Blockfest has grown to become one of the biggest hip-hop festivals in the Nordic countries. Taking place at the Tampere stadium, the two-day festival attracts some 75,000 festival-goers each year.

In 2019, Blockfest was acquired by Live Nation Finland following years of collaboration with the festival.

 


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Blockfest founder accused of money laundering

The founder and CEO of Finland’s Blockfest festival has gone on trial accused of money laundering.

Kalle Kallonen, who denies the charge, allegedly received cash earned from drug offences for €10,000 which he transported to Spain in May 2021.

The prosecutor is demanding a three-month suspended prison sentence for Kallonen, claiming – based on his assignment and the amount of money received – that he would likely have known or considered it came from criminal activity.

The allegation is part of a larger criminal case, first reported on by Seiska, that is being heard in the Helsinki District Court.

Kallonen has denied the charge and the description of the act in its entirety

A total of 10 people have been charged in relation to the case. According to the prosecutor, the main perpetrators were three men who formed an organised criminal group to commit drug offences from 2020 to June 2021.

Founded in 2008 in Tampere, Finland, Blockfest has grown to become one of the biggest hip-hop festivals in the Nordic countries. Taking place at the Tampere stadium, the two-day festival attracts some 75,000 festival-goers each year.

In 2019, Blockfest was acquired by Live Nation Finland following years of collaboration with the festival.

Rap artist William, aka Ville Virta, is accused of a similar crime to Kallonen. He is also alleged to have taken €10,000 to Spain, but “possibly” failed to hand over the money because the recipient had been apprehended by the police on suspicion of drug offences. He denies the charge.

The trial continues.

 


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Finland’s Tampere Deck to become Nokia Arena

Finland’s Tampere Deck Arena (cap. 15,000) is to become the Nokia Arena under a new naming-rights deal.

The Tampere Deck arena previously signed a ten-year naming rights agreement with technology firm Uros but the deal was terminated amid concerns about the company’s financial position.

The venue will now be named after Finnish telecommunications company Nokia, which has acquired the naming rights for five years, with an option to extend the partnership by another five.

Nokia Arena, which already has a ten-year ticketing deal with CTS Eventim-owned Lippupiste, will host 1 million visitors annually, and host a combination of musical and sporting events.

“Nokia Arena is not only a state-of-the-art venue for sport, music and business events, but also a Finnish landmark”

The venue will serve as the home rink of Tampere-based ice hockey teams Tappara and Ilves and as the main venue for the International Ice Hockey Federation’s 2022 world championship.

Tommi Uitto, president of mobile networks and country senior officer for Finland at Nokia, says: “Customer experience both in physical and virtual events is changing radically with the introduction of new digital platforms and technologies. Nokia Arena is not only a state-of-the-art venue for sport, music and business events, but also a Finnish landmark. Nokia was founded in Tampere 156 years ago and today Finland continues to be one of Nokia’s key R&D centres in 5G and beyond. This partnership further reinforces our commitment to Finland, and we look forward to seeing Nokia Arena as a pioneer in world-class stadium experience.”

Marko Hurme, CEO of the Nokia Arena, says: “This is an exciting time for the arena, and we are very proud to partner with such an iconic brand and technology leader like Nokia. When choosing our partner, we wanted to ensure that we united with a company that shares our vision and values for the arena, and understands the possibilities new technologies and connections enable in creating an engaging visitor experience. Nokia has a long history of building recognised technology clusters in Finland and in Tampere, so this is an ideal match.”

 


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Superstruct buys into Finnish metal festival Tuska

Superstruct Entertainment has signed an ‘investment and partnership agreement’ with Finnish Metal Events Oy, organiser of Tuska Open Air Metal Festival.

Launched in 1988, Tuska (Finnish for “pain”) takes place annually in Helsinki across three days and is one of the largest metal festivals in the Nordic countries.

In 2019, the festival set a new attendance record, welcoming 43,000 visitors over the course of the event.

The deal will see Providence Equity-backed Superstruct become a key shareholder of the Tuska festival. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“This is the next step for Tuska,” says festival director Eeka Mäkynen. “Focusing on boutique festivals, Superstruct will provide us with more muscles for development and more rivets in our belt.

“Superstruct will provide us with more muscles for development and more rivets in our belt”

“All shareholders and key personnel will continue to be involved, and the organisation will continue to run the festival independently. The mosh pit will keep spinning, only faster – in other words, the festival will remain its own unique rough self, as it has been until now.”

Jouni Markkanen, who has been the head promoter of the Tuska Festival since 1999, adds: “We had been thinking about expanding our ownership base for a long time. Now the pieces all fell into place and the time was right.

“We believe that the festival business will intensify after the corona crisis. International connections have always been close to our hearts when booking bands. The arrival of Superstruct opens up more opportunities to create even better programmes and festivals for Tuska’s loyal customers, our tribe.”

Superstruct’s portfolio includes more than 30 European festivals including Sziget, Elrow, Parookaville, Wacken Open Air, Boardmasters, Sonar, Zwarte Cross and Finnish event, Flow Festival.

The live entertainment powerhouse recently signed a partnership agreement with Dutch promoter ID&T which produces Mysteryland, Defqon.1, Awakenings, and Milkshake.

 


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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:

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.

 


Rauha Kyyrö
she/her/hers
Head promoter, Fullsteam Agency
Finland
[email protected]

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.
Questioning norms.

What does the near future of the industry look like?
Busy.

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.

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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.

 


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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.

Elsewhere, Finnish promoter Fullsteam has pulled the plug on Provinssi (1–3 July, Seinäjoki), which debuted in 1979, and Sideways (17–19 June, Helsinki).

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.

At the time of writing, Superstruct’s Flow Festival (13–15 August) and Live Nation Finland’s hip-hop event Blockfest (20–21 August), are still on.

 


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