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Major Scandi festivals hail bumper comebacks

Last week saw some of Scandinavia’s best-known festivals welcome back record numbers of music fans.

Norway’s Øya Festival (Øyafestivalen) reported a total attendance of 88,000 over four days (or 22,000 per day) at this year’s sold-out edition, smashing its previous record of 80,000 in 2019.

The Superstruct-backed festival returned to Oslo’s Tøyen Park last week (9 and 13 August) with headliners Gorillaz, Florence + the Machine and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

“The festival was fantastic,” Jonas Prangerød, press manger for Øya, tells IQ. “Artists, staff, volunteers and, of course, the audience enjoyed Øya finally being back. People came very early to the festival area and there was a good crowd for every band and artist.

“Both new talent and the big, established favourites impressed. I think a lot of people have got a few new favourite acts now. The warm weather suited Øya’s comeback really well. The whole week was as good as we could hope for.”

Sweden’s Way Out West also broke its own attendance record, drawing 50,000 unique visitors over three days (11–13 August) to its 2022 edition.

The Luger-promoted festival once again took over Gothenburg’s Slottsskogen city park, offering performances from the likes of Tame Impala, Beabadoobee and Fontaines D.C.

“The whole week was as good as we could hope for”

“Way Out West 2022 could not have ended up better,” Filip Hiltmann, marketing and communications manager for Way out West, tells IQ.

“After two years of silence, it felt great to finally be back in Slottsskogen doing what we do best. The sun was out the whole weekend (a rare phenomenon in Gothenburg!) and we experienced first-class sets from the likes of Burna Boy, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, First Ait Kit, Fred again… and many more. We can’t wait to be back next year, mark down 10–12 August 2023 in your calendars.”

Elsewhere in Scandinavia, Finland’s Flow Festival celebrated an attendance record of 90,000 over two days (12–14 August) or 30,000 per day.

The Superstruct-backed festival took place in the Finnish capital of Helsinki this past weekend (12–14 August), with performances from more than 160 acts including Jamie xx, Princess Nokia, Bikini Kill, MØ and Fred Again.

Notably, Gorillaz’s performance at Flow was the band’s first-ever appearance in Finland.

Next year’s Flow dates have already been set for 11–13 August, 2023, and a limited number of Super Early Bird tickets went on sale yesterday (15 August).

Other festivals that took place over the weekend, elsewhere in Europe, include Superstruct’s Sziget (Hungary), Follow The Step’s Fest Festival (Poland) and Boomtown Fair (UK).


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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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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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Covid dogs sniff out virus in Helsinki

The professor behind a groundbreaking pilot scheme exploring whether dogs may be used to detect coronavirus in humans, currently underway in Finland, has said the testing method could become a cheap, quick way to detect the presence of Covid-19 in attendees to sporting and cultural events.

Trained scent-detection dogs have been deployed at Finland’s main international airport, Helsinki-Vantaa, as part of a state-financed trial led by the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.

The four-month trial, which began on Wednesday (23 September), hopes to prove researchers’ theory that having dogs sniff for coronavirus – the trained canines can apparently smell the presence of Covid-19 on a wipe passed over an infected person’s skin – is even more reliable than a PCR test, currently the most commonly used test for the disease.

“This will be a good screening method at many other places”

According to the university, dogs can detect the presence coronavirus from a “significantly lower” amount of virus than PCR tests, allowing them to identify Covid-19 in humans earlier than laboratory tests. Research has also found that, unlike lab tests, a dog’s nose can identify infection in asymptomatic people.

Anna Hielm-Björk­man, a professor of equine and small-animal medicine at the university, tells the Press Association that, should the trial be a success, “it will be a good screening method at many other places”, including cultural events, sports venues and old people’s homes.

The Finnish pilot is the first in Europe and the second in the world, after a similar scheme recently introduced in Dubai.

According to Timo Aronkyto, the deputy mayor of Vantaa, where the airport is located, the programme is costing just 300,000. This, he tells PA, is significantly less than than other methods of mass testing new arrivals.


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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Sell-out shows for LN Finland’s post-Covid concert series

Live Nation Finland has expanded the programme of its Suvilahti Summer concert series “due to high demand and sold-out shows”.

The series, which began on 11 June and runs until the end of the month at Helsinki’s Suvilahti energy field, was announced as the Finnish government lifted restrictions on events of up to 500 people.

Following on from sold-out shows from Finnish acts Maustetutöt, Anssi Kela and Knip, Live Nation has added additional dates from Olavi Uusivirta Duo and Jesse Marki, as well as introducing new content from the likes of the Ida Paul & Kalle Lindroth duo, rock singer Tuomari Nurmio and YouTubers Elisa Malik, Joona Hellman and Nelli Orelli.

The series of events is being carried out in accordance with current official guidelines. Tables and chairs are set for groups of two to six people, with individual parties separated from each other at a safe distance.

The full schedule of shows, along with ticketing information, can be found here.

Finland is one of a number of countries, including Denmark and the Czech Republic, to reintroduce shows of up to 500 people, with nations including Austria and Estonia allowing 500-capacity shows to return next month.


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700,000+ attend virtual May Day concert in Helsinki

At least 700,000 people – around 13% of the population of Finland – celebrated May Day (1 May) by watching a Fortnite-inspired virtual concert by Finnish rap duo JVG.

JVG, among the biggest hip-hop stars in Finland, were forced to cancel eight arena shows in April due to the impact of the coronavirus. The virtual concert – put together by the band’s promoter, Fullsteam Agency, virtual-reality studio Zoan and the city of Helsinki – was viewed by more than a million people simultaneously at its peak, while a further 225,000 people saw it online over the weekend, for a combined total audience of 1.4m.

“I have always thought that we are in the business of bringing people together, and it feels incredibly comforting to be able to do so in the middle of everything that is going on at the moment,” says Rauha Kyyrö, head promoter at Fullsteam, which has been forced to cancel or postpone over 500 shows this summer, including its festivals Provinssi and Sideways.

“It’s only love that gets you through, but it’s music that makes you move.”

“It feels incredibly comforting to be able to bring people together”

Utilising Zoan’s Burst Live and Virtual Helsinki platforms, the band performed against a green screen, while a virtual stage was set on Senate Square in Helsinki.

Inspired, says Zoan, by “the success of gigs in gaming platform Fortnite” (which also hosted a live performance, by Diplo, at the weekend), concertgoers were able to choose avatars and interact with the artist with different gestures and emojis. According to Google Analytics, the audience used the interaction features over 10m times during the one-hour show.

“The first of May is one of the most prominent public holidays in Finland. People have generations-long traditions of celebrating Vappu [Walpurgis Night] in large groups, outside, in restaurants and with picnics,” explains Jan Vapaavuori, the mayor of Helsinki.

“By combining Helsinki’s collaboration with Fullsteam, Zoan and our tradition for new technology experimentation we were able to create a virtual experience that brought together some of the traditional elements of Vappu to a new virtual reality.”


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Lippupiste partners with Helsinki Olympic Stadium

CTS Eventim-owned Lippupiste has signed a five-year ticketing and marketing agreement with Finland’s largest venue, the Helsinki Olympic Stadium.

The deal makes Lippupiste one of the main partners of the 36,000-capacity Olympic Stadium, which is due to re-open later this year following renovation works.

“We are in the process of creating a new type of event culture in Finland in which consumers come not only to attend a concert or watch a game but to enjoy a comprehensive experience,” says Lippupiste MD Ari Palhamo.

“The renovated Olympic Stadium will be a place for meetings throughout the year, and we are extremely glad about this cooperation. Together, we will have many opportunities to serve the public and offer new types of experiences.”

“We are in the process of creating a new type of event culture in Finland”

Ari Kuokkanen, MD of the Olympic Stadium adds that Lippupiste is “playing an important role as a service provider and partner for the new era” of the stadium.

Speaking to IQ for the International Ticketing Yearbook 2019, Lippupiste sales director Mari Hatakka commented on the potential in Finland for offering full-service partnerships to venues, due to “diminishing funds in the public cultural sector”.

Lippupiste is the leading ticketing provider in Finland, followed by Ticketmaster Finland and local brand Tiketti, selling around 18,000 tickets per year.

Last year, the company signed a ten-year ticketing rights deal with the 13,500-seat Tampere Deck Arena, due to be completed in late 2021. Fellow Helsinki venues Hartwall Arena (15,500-cap.) and the future Garden Helsinki (16,000-cap.) are serviced by Live Nation-owned Ticketmaster Finland.


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Live Nation Finland acquires Hög Agency

Live Nation Finland has acquired Helsinki-based booking agency and promoter Hög, in the latest of a series of moves by the live entertainment behemoth’s Finnish branch.

Founded in 2016 by Mikko Varjamo (pictured), Hög represents Finnish artists including Olavi Uusivirta (pictured), Adi L Hasla, Mouhous and Vilma Alina (pictured).

In addition to the acquisition, which aims to strengthen Live Nation Finland’s domestic roster, Live Nation Finland has also signed emerging Finnish acts, Kube and SONNY.

“After running my own agencies for over nine years, I felt it was time to move forward,” comments Hög founder and CEO Varjamo, who will stay on at Live Nation Finland as an agent. “This new union with Live Nation will enable the company to operate at a different level and will strengthen our position in Finland’s music scene. I’m extremely excited about this.”

“This new union with Live Nation will enable the company to operate at a different level and will strengthen our position in Finland’s music scene”

Live Nation Finland’s Tomi Saarinen (pictured), who took on the role of managing director in August, adds that, “our focus is on developing a strong domestic artist roster and the acquisition of Hög Agency & Promotion is a key part of this plan.

“We aim to be the best possible partner for our artists and enable them to develop and reach their full potential while offering fans memorable experiences. We welcome the Hög super team to the Live Nation family.”

In February, Live Nation Finland acquired urban music festival Blockfest, which, according to Live Nation Finland head promoter Zachris Sundell (pictured), this year sold out to its largest capacity crowd ever.

2019 has been a busy year for Live Nation, with IQ calculating 17 acquisitions or equivalent to date, following Singapore’s One Production in January, Canada’s Embrace Presents, Spain’s Planet Events, Tennessee’s Neste Event Marketing, Blockfest, Norway’s Tons of Rock and Australia’s Moshtix (through Ticketmaster) in February, Belgium’s Antwerps Sportpaleis and New England’s Levitate in April, Denmark’s PDH Music and Los Angeles-based Spaceland Presents in May, Poland’s Go Ahead and Superfly’s share of Bonnaroo in June, IMM’s stake in Rock in Rio in July and the UK’s Rewind Festival earlier this month.

The company is expected to finalise the taking of a majority stake Mexico’s Ocesa Entertainment – the largest promoter in Latin America – before the end of the year.


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Ed Sheeran plays Finland’s biggest-ever concert

Ed Sheeran has broken more records, with two shows promoted by Fullsteam Agency in Finland attracting more visitors than any other live music event in the country’s history.

The Helsinki shows combined constitute the biggest concert event to take place in the country, surpassing the record of 104,000 attendees set by two U2 concerts at Helsinki Olympic Stadium in 2010.

The two Ed Sheeran shows were also attended by more people than Finland’s three-day Ruisrock festival, which brings in around 105,000 visitors each year, according to Fullsteam.

Sheeran previously beat ticket sales records in South Africa, selling 230,000 tickets across four dates as part of his multi-record breaking ÷ tour, which ended 2018 as the highest-grossing tour of the last 30 years.

Originally intended as a one-date show, all 60,000 tickets for the concert were snapped up in 20 minutes, with a second date later added to meet demand.

“The event was extraordinarily well planned and executed”

The concerts, which took place on 23 and 24 July, were the first-ever large-scale entertainment events to take place at Helsinki’s Malmi Airport.

“The event was extraordinarily well planned and executed and, from the City of Helsinki’s point of view, the collaboration was seamless,” comments the city’s deputy mayor for urban environment, Anni Sinnemäki.

“We warmly welcome other productions to Malmi Airport in the future.”

Fullsteam, part of the FKP Scorpio group, reported a record-breaking summer last year, with a combined attendance of more than 100,000 for the promoter’s festivals, Provinssi and Sideways. Provinssi saw a slight drop in attendance this year, down to 73,000 visitors from the previous year’s 76,000.

German metal band Rammstein are set to play two Fullsteam-promoted shows at the 32,000-capacity Ratina Stadium in Tampere, Finland, on 9 and 10 August. Tickets for the earlier date are still available, priced at €99.


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Ticketmaster partners with Garden Helsinki arena

Ticketmaster Finland has announced an exclusive partnership with events arena Garden Helsinki.

Currently under city planning, Garden Helsinki will be completed in stages from 2020 to 2023. The arena will host sporting, music and cultural events, with a capacity of 16,000 seats and 120 boxes.

The partnership sees Ticketmaster become the official ticketing partner of the arena. In addition to providing ticketing services, the company will offer other services including creative marketing and access to ticketing technology.

“The live experience no longer begins when the fans sit down in their seats but from the moment they purchase their ticket,” says Timo Everi, chairman of the Garden Helsinki board. “With their market leading position in Finland and internationally, Ticketmaster is easily the best partner to fulfil our ambitions and help us to grow our business.”

Ticketmaster Finland managing director Jakob Lund says his team is “honoured to be a part of the Garden Helsinki project.”

“The live experience no longer begins when the fans sit down in their seats but from the moment they purchase their ticket”

“We have the world-class technology and experience required for a venue of this stature, and the marketing reach needed to fill it,” comments Lund. “With the live industry booming like never before, this is truly an exciting time for fans, clients and our team alike.

In 2016, the 15,500-capacity Hartwall arena in Helsinki – Finland’s largest venue – partnered with Ticketmaster Finland, ending a previous deal with CTS Eventim’s Lippupiste.

According to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2018 (ITY), Lippupiste had 53% of the market in 2016 prior to the Hartwell-Ticketmaster partnership, as opposed to Ticketmaster Finland’s 36%.

Lippupiste sales director of culture and live entertainment, Mari Hatakka, told ITY that “the fight over future venues is going to be tough – these are pretty much must-win cases for ticketing operators.”

Other future venues include Tampere Central Deck and Arena (11,000-cap.), which is set to open in 2021 and Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium (36,000-cap.), which will re-open later this year.


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