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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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Iceland Airwaves 2021 cancelled due to new restrictions

Iceland Airwaves has been cancelled for a second consecutive year due to “new and ongoing Covid-19 measures imposed by the government”.

The festival was expected to return to Reykjavík in November this year after being cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic but organisers say the current restrictions “render a multi-venue, multi-capacity, standing event, such as Iceland Airwaves impossible to produce”.

The new measures, just delivered by the local authorities, will see venues capped at 500 people per section, all of whom must be assigned a seat as guests are not allowed to face each other.

The government is also introducing mandatory rapid tests, which must be taken within 48 hours of the event, for everyone attending an event.

Events that do not require attendees to be seated or to take a test cannot have more than 200 people in each section.

The news comes months after the Icelandic government abolished all temporary regulations relating to the coronavirus, as the country was reaching a vaccination rate of 90% in adults.

“It seems these new measures are here for the indefinite future”

“Despite Iceland approaching a vaccination rate of over 90%, the Icelandic government has, to date, not laid out any plan to get large-scale music events started again,” reads a statement from the organisers.

It continues: “It seems these new measures are here for the indefinite future and everything regarding the execution of, and access to the obligatory rapid tests is still unclear. This means that for the time being, planning any all large-scale events in Iceland is not possible.

“Even though it is our belief that events like Iceland Airwaves can now be executed in a safe and responsible manner, using all available safety measures, the authorities apparently disagree. It goes without saying, the team at Airwaves is devastated to have to move the festival for yet another year.”

According to the Reuters Covid-19 tracker, infections are actually decreasing in Iceland, with 73 new infections reported on average each day. That’s 62% of the peak — the highest daily average reported on August 5.

Arlo Parks, Sad Night Dynamite, Eydís Evensen, Bartees Strange, Daði Freyr, Daughters of Reykjavík, Metronomy, Mammút, Squid, Dry Cleaning, Porridge Radio, Black Pumas and more were due to perform at Iceland Airwaves 2021.

The festival will return to Reykjavïk from 2-5 November 2022. Visit icelandairwaves.is for more information.

 


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The LGBTIQ+ List 2021: Will Larnach-Jones, Iceland Airwaves

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 Laura Nagtegaal, guitar technician and tour manager at MsGyver, here.


Will Larnach-Jones
him/he/his
Managing director and head of bookings, Iceland Airwaves
London, UK/Reykjavík, Iceland
will@icelandairwaves.is

Tell us about a personal triumph in your career.
I felt quite fearless with The Presets and the campaign around their 2008 album Apocalypso. It was a zeitgeist moment for the band in Australia, and some other markets. I was galvanised in my belief in the band’s music and its potential, and my conviction could not be broken.

We cracked commercial radio when no one said we would, and the album entered the charts at #1, hit triple platinum, sold more than 150,000 tickets in Australia across two tours, did all the major festivals around the world, ARIA Album of the Year, J Awards album of the Year, APRA Songwriter of the Year and so on.

I walked over fire and ice with that band. It was luck, timing and amazingly talented guys to work with, and while it was a real rollercoaster, it’s a time I now look back on with real pride.

 

“Your life journey as a queer person has equipped you with more problem solving, truth-seeking, empathy and lateral thinking”

Tell us about a professional challenge you often come across as a queer person.
I often hear of deals in the straight world being struck on the golf course, or over long boozy lunches. This is a world I’ve never been a part of. You won’t find me out boozing with the lads. At the end of the day, I guess I’d rather let my work and my passion speak for themselves.

What advice could you give for young queer professionals?
Your life journey as a queer person has equipped you with more problem solving, truth-seeking, empathy and lateral thinking than many other people. You see cultural connections and musical threads where others may not. Trust and follow your instincts and passions.

What one thing could the industry do to be more inclusive?
More visibility of queer and under-represented professionals at an executive level. I really struggled to find queer mentors and individuals to look up to as I fumbled my way through my early years in the industry.

“The generation of execs who have led out of fear, favouritism and deplorable morals is coming to the end of the road”

A cause you support.
I’ve invested a lot of energy in working with PRS’s Keychange programme over the past four years, striving for better representation of the gender spectrum in the music industry.

I’m pleased that with the campaign in Iceland, the number of signatories has grown hugely in the last six months. Again, as a festival we like to show, not tell. We are always pushing ourselves to be more representational, and with so much talent out there, it’s not hard.

What does the near future of the industry look like?
Without bullies and dinosaurs. The generation of execs who have led out of fear, favouritism and deplorable morals is coming to the end of the road.

I remember sitting in meetings with phones thrown against walls, promoters calling me to tell me “you are nothing,” having strips torn off me about an artist’s physical appearance. I won’t tolerate any of this shit anymore, and I think the rest of the industry is finally seeing that you can be good at your job and still be a kind person.

How would you like to see the industry build back better, post-pandemic?
It’s been humanising for all of us, in a good way. The highs and lows of the last twelve months have given us insight into each other’s lives like never before – Zoom calls with people’s bookshelves, dogs, sweaty post workouts, kids etc. It’s forced us all to prioritise better, and I hope we don’t forget this as we head back to ‘normalcy’.

 


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90%-vaccinated Iceland lifts all restrictions

The government of Iceland has abolished all temporary regulations relating to the coronavirus, including restrictions on mass gatherings and the requirement to wear masks and socially distance, as the pandemic effectively comes to an end in the Scandinavian country.

In contrast to the likes of Denmark and Sweden, which are crawling towards a return to normal activity, Icelanders no longer have any restrictions on their freedom as of midnight on Friday 25/Saturday 26 June. Some 87% of adults in the country, which has a tiny population of less than 400,000, have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while 60% are fully vaccinated (having received both jabs).

With all adults now having been offered the vaccine, “government plans for the vaccination programme and the lifting of restrictions on gatherings have therefore been completed”, according to the Icelandic government.

“We are regaining the kind of society which we feel normal living in, and we have longed for ever since [emergency legislation] was activated because of the pandemic more than a year ago, on 16 March 2020,” says health minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir, who adds that decision to lift all restrictions is in line with recommendations of Iceland’s chief epidemiologist.

At press time, Iceland had only 23 active cases of Covid-19, with just one person in a serious or critical condition.

“We are confident our contact-tracing capabilities will prove sufficient to handle any new outbreaks”

Víðir Reynisson, Iceland’s head of civil protection, says that while “small clusters of infection may [re]appear in future], he is “confident that our contact-tracing capabilities, with the public’s willingness to abide by both quarantine and isolation requirements, will prove sufficient to handle any new outbreaks.”

As of Friday, there were 12 people in isolation due to testing positive for Covid-19. Currently, the dominant domestic strain of the disease, which has just killed just one person this year, is the Alpha (‘Kent’/‘British’) variant.

“The contact tracing and quarantine efforts here in Iceland seem to have contained its transmission to a similar level as the original variant, with slightly more than 5% of quarantined individuals turning out to have been infected, regardless of which sub-type of the virus we have been dealing with,” comments chief epidemiologist Thorolfur Gudnason.

From 1 July, new rules on border screening come into force, exempting travellers from testing if they can produce a certificate of full vaccination.

This means it’s full steam ahead for Iceland’s remaining festivals, even those which welcome a large number of international visitors, such as Iceland Airwaves. (Iceland’s other main international festival, Secret Solstice, has already postponed to 2022.)

From 1 July travellers are exempt from border testing if they can produce certificate of full vaccination

Airwaves, taking place 3–6 November, will feature performances by the likes of Arlo Parks, Metronomy, Black Pumas, Sad Night Dynamite, Bartees Strange, Sin Fang, Vök, Daughters of Reykjavik and Mammút, marking a welcome return to a physical festival after last year’s Live from Reykjavik livestreaming event.

The popular festival has also announced a new partnership with Japanese ticketing technology firm Zaiko that sees a digital festival offering, Iceland Airwaves Japan, launch with 15 on-demand live performances available to fans in Japan.

Iceland Airwaves Japan will stream content throughout the year, culminating in giving fans the opportunity to go to the festival in person or online. After the event, they can relive their favourite moments through video content, access exclusive after-parties and check out performances they missed.

Zaiko’s founder and CEO, Malek Nasser, says: “As someone who has enjoyed music festivals for over ten years, not to mention worked for many of Japan’s best festivals, I am excited to come together with Iceland Airwaves to bring the festival format into the digital event world. I believe this collaboration will become a model for the entire industry on how festivals can connect with fans year-round.”

 


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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Iceland Airwaves releases volcano-watching soundtrack

Iceland Airwaves has put together a Spotify playlist to soundtrack the spectacular eruption of a volcano at Geldingadalur, on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula, which started on 19 March and at press time is still ongoing.

Featuring the likes of the B-52s’ ‘Lava’, John Grant’s ‘Magma Arrives’, Carole King’s ‘I Feel the Earth Move’ and Björk’s paean to Iceland, ‘Jóga’, the playlist – billed as ‘some cool tunes to enjoy while Iceland heats up’ – is intended to accompany visuals of the eruption, which is being livestreamed by Iceland’s state broadcaster, RÚV, and can be watched in real time above.

“If you don’t know what soundtrack best suits a volcanic eruption, we have you covered,” says the showcase festival, which returns to Reyjkavik from 3 to 6 November 2021. Four-day festivals passes for Iceland Airwaves 2021 are on sale now, priced from 17,990 kr. (€120).

While the eruption at Geldingadalur could, according to geologists, continue for weeks, months or even years, volcanoes in south-west Iceland do not typically produce much ash, meaning it is not expected to affect air travel – unlike in 2010, when the ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption ruined a number of international tours.

Listen to Iceland Airwaves’ volcano-watching playlist below:


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Major markets set out plans for Covid-19 passports

Australia and Iceland have joined a number of other markets across the globe in announcing plans for digital health passports which will show citizens’ Covid-19 vaccination and test status.

Iceland recently became the first European country to issue and recognise Covid-19 vaccination certificates to enable international travel for those inoculated against Covid-19.

Since early in the pandemic, the country has required a minimum five-day quarantine for international arrivals and now those with documentation showing they have received a full course of Covid-19 vaccines will be able to skip quarantine.

“You Check’s identity first [digital health passport] has a lot of potential to help venues and promoters manage risk”

In Australia, ahead of the nationwide rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine, the government has announced that all vaccinations will be recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register, and certificates would then be available digitally via the Express Plus Medicare app or in hard copy through the vaccination provider or Services Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told ABC National Radio it is “highly likely” that such documentation will be needed for international travel into the country.

Meanwhile, UK music venues are set to trial a health passport pioneered by London-based start-up You Check to accelerate the nation’s return to live.

The trials – which have been set-up in conjunction with Music Venue Trust (MVT) – are scheduled to take place at London’s 100 Club (cap. 350) and Bristol’s Exchange (cap. 250) in March.

The digital health passport will allow venue door staff and ingress operations to verify an attendee’s name, age, ticket and test result in one place and “facilitate communication between promoters and their full audiences, beyond the primary ticket buyer”.

[This] digital health passport will allow venue door staff and ingress operations to verify an attendee’s name, age, ticket and test result

“You Check’s identity first solution has a lot of potential to help venues and promoters manage risk,” says MVT CEO, Mark Davyd.

“It has a fast and thorough authentication process which enables health information to be stored against portable digital identity and MVT is pleased to be working with You Check to explore how this technology might form part of a comprehensive process which enables us to reopen every venue safely and revive live.”

Other nations that have revealed plans to launch a digital coronavirus passport include Sweden (by the summer) and Denmark (in three to four months), while Poland has already started issuing the digital pass to its citizens.

Elsewhere in Europe, Spain’s foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez has said “vaccine certification is something we are going towards inevitably”; Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has called upon the European Commission to introduce a standardized coronavirus vaccination certificate to facilitate travel within the European Union bloc, and Portugal’s interior minister Eduardo Cabrita has said that a vaccine certification would be easier to manage than the current Covid-19 requirements.

 


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Live from Reykjavik: A Rey of light

After a strict lockdown in March, and a huge effort to contain Covid with track-and-trace measures and widespread testing, it felt like Iceland and its live music scene was gearing up to return to normal for the second half of 2020.

Then the second wave hit, bringing in measures that rendered live shows next to impossible – strict curfews, distancing rules, and significant reductions on gatherings. While Iceland Airwaves, which was scheduled for 4 to 7 November, had been optimistic about going ahead in real life, we were forced to pivot quickly.

Thus, Live from Reykjavik was developed – a two-day virtual Iceland Airwaves. For this edition, the decision was to focus entirely on local talent and to use the moment to showcase Icelandic music to the world.

Given the situation this year, there was an unprecedented number of Icelandic acts “at home”. It was important for us to give this special edition a real Icelandic focus. The idea for the stream event was to combine some better-known names with some newer artists, or artists who had yet to enjoy significant exposure outside of Iceland. We’re spoilt for choice in Iceland; the musical talent in this country and the creative output is oversized in comparison to its population.

Iceland Airwaves has, for many years, worked to balance gender in its programming. Reaching the pledge in 2018 (and having worked to this brief before Keychange’s inception) meant that it felt entirely natural to bring the same approach to the digital space.

When it came to finding gender parity in the stream, it felt like an easy choice for us. The remit for Iceland Airwaves has always been talent first, not meeting quotas. We choose who we believe to be the best talent out there, and we believe as a festival there’s more than enough talent across the gender spectrum for us to make balanced choices.

Nanna from Of Monsters and Men and Emilíana Torrini have been some of Iceland’s biggest success stories. For bands working hard to break through internationally, we had so much strong and diverse talent to choose from: the dark synthwave of all-female trio Kælan Mikla, the jazz-nflected cool soul of GDRN, longtime Airwaves rockers Mammút, the sucker-punch delivery of rapper Cell7, and Bríet, who’s currently Iceland’s most popular radio artist.

The response from viewers to the performances and how they were captured was phenomenal

Many of these artists are award-winning performers at home, and leaders in their respective genres and on top of their game, so it’s no surprise that many of them are part of the Keychange programme.

The four core team members were also split evenly, gender wise. Over 50% of the team leaders from our stakeholders and sponsors were female. While the production and film crew was predominantly male, the chief producer/director on the film side was female.

As with any other year of our festival, gender equality is part of our identity and the Keychange gender pledge is an important marker of success for us. I would encourage all music organisations to get involved and to keep monitoring representation, so we’re all, as an industry, working towards wider progress and sustainability together – whatever your genre, sector or location.

For Live from Reykjavik, it was was important to select performers who had honed their live shows and that were willing to embark on this adventure with us, stepping up to the challenge of performing with no audience and being filmed in such an intimate way.

The artists were filmed in some of the venues and spaces we normally use for Iceland Airwaves, such as Gamla Bío, Iðnó and the Reykjavík Art Museum. We also went further afield with Bæjarbíó in Hafnarfjörður, and to a couple of recording studios. We had around 90,000 viewers, including around 12,000 from outside of Iceland.

As a boutique festival, Iceland Airwaves typically enjoys 4,000–5,000 international visitors per year, so we were very happy with this as a first step into streaming/broadcast. The response from viewers to the performances and how they were captured was phenomenal – we’ve learned so much from the event.

We know that while not everyone can attend Iceland Airwaves each year, many people are keen to stay in touch with the festival and the Icelandic music scene, and giving some people the option to view online creates more opportunities and excitement for all.

 


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The Associates: EAA, FAC, Iceland Music

Covid-19 has impacted every business sector around the world, but with live entertainment likely to be one of the last industries to return, given social distancing regulations, the associations that represent its millions of employees have never been more important.

As restrictions in many countries enter yet another month, for issue 91 IQ found out more about some of our association partners and discovered just what they are doing to help their members navigate and survive.

Following the last instalment with the BPI, CLMA and Dansk Live, this time we check in with the European Arenas Association, the UK’s Featured Artists Coalition and Iceland Music.


European Arenas Association
Representing 33 arenas across 20 countries, the aim of the European Arenas Association (EAA) is to provide consistency, support, best practice and networking opportunities for its members, to allow and encourage them to share experiences and common ground. Membership usually costs €4,000 per year.

The arena industry has been hit particularly hard in the pandemic, so support for the EEA membership during these challenging times has included:

The EAA cancelled its 2020 membership fees to alleviate financial pressure

Featured Artists Coalition (UK)
The Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) is the UK trade body representing the specific rights and interests of music artists. It is a not-for-profit organisation, serving a diverse, global membership of creators at all stages of their careers. The FAC was formed by artists, for artists, and places this ethos at the centre of all it does. It advocates, educates, collaborates and researches on behalf of artists, coming together to provide a strong collective voice within the industry and to governments domestically and abroad.

Formed in 2009, by seminal artists including Billy Bragg and Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, the FAC’s board still represents some of the most recognised names in the music world, with current artists in residence that include Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien, Imogen Heap, Katie Melua, Sandie Shaw, Howard Jones, Fran Healy (Travis) and Blur’s David Rowntree. There are around 3,500 FAC members, whose fees are £5 (€5.60) monthly or £50 (€56) per year.

During the pandemic, the FAC has focused on different areas at different times (as is the nature of the impact). It moved quickly to survey members to assess the immediate impact of the lockdown. That data hugely supported its lobbying efforts both within the industry and to government. FAC’s Covid-19 directory has been keeping members up to date, while the organisation’s events have moved online to boost the community aspects of their work.

Iceland Music has been lobbying government to get funds into the system to assist with the drop in revenue for musicians and promoters

Iceland Music
Iceland Music is an information agency and music export office. It does not have a membership system, but provides all sorts of information and support to the music community in Iceland, and promotes Icelandic music abroad.

The organisation runs IcelandMusic.is (in English) which offers a portal into the country’s diverse music scene, and Uton.is (in Icelandic), which provides a large range of tools, news and information for the local music community.

Iceland Music also administers the Music Export Fund, which distributes travel grants monthly and marketing grants quarterly. It also runs projects like Record in Iceland, which is a programme offering a 25% refund for projects that are recorded in Icelandic studios, and Firestarter Accelerator, which provides support for small businesses within the music community.

During the pandemic, the organisation has been lobbying government to get funds into the system to assist with the drop in revenue for musicians and promoters, venues, record stores and related operators.

Iceland Music has also been updating its educational materials, creating webinars, podcasts and educational videos that enable those working in the industry to learn more about the business.

 


View the full Associates list in the digital edition of IQ 91. To keep on top of the latest live music industry news, features and insights, subscribe to IQ now


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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Icelandic music business calls for more support

A new report put together by the Icelandic music industry has highlighted the measures needed to be taken by the government to help the business through the current crisis.

The ‘Impact of Covid-19 on the Icelandic music industry report’ has been compiled by the Icelandic Musicians Union (FIH), Icelandic National Group for IFPI (FHF), Collecting society for performers and phonogram producers (SFH), the Performing Rights Association of Iceland (STEF), Reykjavík Music City and Iceland Music (ÚTÓN).

The report states that, although a number of measures have been taken to address the loss of income of musicians, many schemes such as the partial compensation scheme for cancelled events and closure subsidies for companies forced to halt their operations for public health reasons, “have benefitted members of the music industry in a very limited way”.

“Clearly, despite the good will and the prompt response from the government, we need to find more effective ways to respond to the impact that Covid-19 has had on the music industry in Iceland,” reads the report.

“Clearly, despite the good will and the prompt response from the government, we need to find more effective ways to respond to the impact that Covid-19 has had on the music industry in Iceland”

Existing measures include a ISK 244 million (€1.5m) artists’ salary fund; a ISK 86m (€540,870) fund for new music-related activities; the ISK 30m (€188,680) City of Reykjavík Culture Fund (Menningarpottur Reykjavíkurborgar); and the Summer City 2020 project, which promotes culture and creates job opportunites for musicians and venues in Reykjavík.

The music industry representatives present various counter measures, drawing from action taken in the countries of Denmark, Germany and Finland, to support the industry.

Suggestions include establishing “extensive support packages” for venues, promoters, festivals and agents; a reduction of real estate tax for venues; compensation for the operating costs and other fixed costs of businesses that have not closed down over the period; the creation of a small businesses fund; and government-led promotional campaigns for the music industry.

The report also makes some recommendations for actions to be taken by those in the industry itself, including the establishment of a “formal alliance” of Icelandic concert promoters and increased cooperation between music organisations, with the aim of creating an association to represent the industry as a whole.

The document cites measures taken in Denmark to support self-employed individuals and in Finland, where €700m has been put aside to assist small- and medium-sized businesses. The report also recommends the Icelandic government consider Germany, where €150m has been dedicated to supporting the live music industry.

An executive summary of the report can be found here.

 


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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Björk to perform to live audience in August

Björk is performing a series of shows across three consecutive weekends in August in her home country of Iceland, to celebrate the start of the country’s post-coronavirus reopening.

The shows, which are organised in conjunction with showcase festival Iceland Airwaves, will see the singer perform at Reykjavík’s 1,800-capacity Harpa Hall on 9, 15 and 23 August. The performances will be some of the first from a major artist in front of a live audience since the coronavirus shutdown.

“Dear friends, I would like to invite you to some concerts,” reads a statement from Björk. “We are going to celebrate that we are all healthily exiting quarantine together.”

Björk also states the concerts aim to honour “folks who got hit hardest [by] the coronavirus and the black lives matter movement”, as well as acting as a celebration of the Icelandic musicians that Björk has worked with over the years.

“We are going to celebrate that we are all healthily exiting quarantine together”

Each concert will showcase new instrumental arrangements of scores from Björk’s back catalogue. Björk will perform alongside the Hamrahlid Choir on 9 August and will be accompanied by the Icelandic symphony orchestra on the other two dates.

The concerts will also be streamed live online, where there will an option to donate to women’s shelter Kvennaathvarfid. For those attending in person, money raised from food and drink sales will go to the shelter.

Björk had been set to perform special orchestral shows at Moscow’s Crocus Music Hall and Helsinki’s Hartwall Arena this summer, as well as at festivals Waldbühne Open Air in Germany, Siene Musicale in France and Bluedot festival in the UK, before the pandemic put a halt on global touring.

Tickets for the Harpa Hall shows are available for pre-order on 2 July at 10 a.m. GMT, with general sale commencing on 3 July. Tickets will be priced in five tiers, starting at ISK4,990 (€32).

Iceland Airwaves is taking place from 4 to 7 November in Reykjavík, featuring acts including Metronomy, Courtney Barrett, Black Pumas, Squid and Iceland’s Daði Freyr.

 


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