Björk cancels Reykjavík Cornucopia shows
Björk’s three-night stand in her native Iceland has been cancelled due to production issues.
The singer was due to perform at Reykjavík’s Laugardals Palace on 7, 10 and 13 June as part of her Cornucopia European tour. Tickets were priced from 19,990-34,990 ISK (€132-232).
“We are sorry to have to announce that due to circumstances beyond our control, we have made the difficult decision to cancel Björk’s Cornucopia concert in Reykjavík in June,” says a statement from the 57-year-old’s management.
“There have been problems with the production of the concert which we do not expect to be able to resolve in time. We realise that this will disappoint ticket holders and apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.”
“We still hope to find a way to make the concert a reality next year”
The statement continues: “We are determined to do everything we can to prevent this from happening again and will review our work processes with that in mind.
“We still hope to find a way to make the concert a reality next year. However, as it may take some weeks or months to resolve all technical and logistical issues, we are forced at this point to cancel and refund.”
Directed by Argentine film-maker Lucrecia Martel, Cornucopia launched in 2019 and was described as Björk’s “most elaborate stage concert yet”. It is due to resume in Portugal at Lisbon’s Altice Arena on 1 September.
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Iceland Airwaves boss: ‘Our strategy is working’
Iceland Airwaves festival director Isleifur Thorhallsson has told IQ the decision to return the event to its roots has been vindicated by last year’s sellout comeback.
Its first event proper since the pandemic, the November 2022 edition featured 80 acts from more than 15 countries including Amyl & The Sniffers, Metronomy, Arlo Parks and a DJ set by Röyksopp, but its emphasis on emerging domestic talent – implemented following its acquisition by promoter Sena Live in 2018 – continued.
“Since we took over the festival five years ago, we have been working on a specific strategy that is mostly about taking the festival back to the roots, back to downtown Reykjavik, back to being about music discovery, and stopping chasing big bands,” says Sena Live MD Thorhallsson. “I look at last year’s edition as proof that the strategy is working.
“We could see other shows selling poorly after coming out of Covid, so we were understandably worried as the festival approached. But it was amazing to see the sales blow up in the week and it was pretty incredible to end up sold out for the first time in years. It shows that ticket buyers are making decisions closer to the event, probably because they have been disappointed by consistent cancellations and postponements.”
Iceland Airwaves, which held streaming event Live from Reykjavïk in 2020 and 2021 in lieu of the flagship festival, downsized from four days to three for its return and won Best Indoor Festival at last month’s European Festival Awards.
“We decided to simplify the festival, going down to three days and fewer bands and venues”
“We decided to simplify the festival, going down to three days and fewer bands and venues,” explains Thorhallsson. “However, it’s still an incredible amount of the best upcoming bands from around the world combined with the best Icelandic talent.
“We made a bet that no one would complain or that the guests would even enjoy the experience of more intimate festival, and that turned out to be correct. By making it more manageable for ourselves, it also became more accessible to the public, so we ended up selling more tickets than before, not less.”
Organisers will shortly unveil the line-up for Iceland Airwaves 2023, which is scheduled for 2-4 November.
“We want to build on the successes of the 2022 edition and all the goodwill and great feedback we are getting from guests, artists, agents and basically the entire industry,” says Thorhallsson. “So many exciting things are happening in the music scene locally and internationally, and we’re always looking to shine a light on new talent. We’re also talking with some breakout stars for headline slots, and are already working towards our first line-up announcement in the middle of February.
“We are excited that the festival is now in good shape. It seems that we now have a working formula for this complex project, so our time and effort can go into fine-tuning and making the festival even better. Our big lessons have not least been to learn what not to do, and to say no.”
“People need to realise the hardships the live industry has faced in the past few years are nowhere near over”
While the festival appears in rude health, Thorhallsson admits to harbouring concerns about the live music sector at large.
“People need to realise the hardships the live industry has faced in the past few years are nowhere near over,” he warns. “Despite small wins, we’re still rebuilding an industry that was left as a smoking ruin, and ticket buyers’ behaviour has changed a lot. It takes more effort to convince someone to go out there and see a show, costing more money. Live music is not a given, especially not for smaller festivals and artists.
“The more prominent players in the game will have an easier time returning to something similar to a pre-Covid situation. Still, smaller festivals and artists will need more time and more support. We’ve seen disastrous mental health effects and exhaustion across our industry. We need to support each other and not take live music and the ability to go to shows as a given.”
Where Iceland Airwaves is concerned, however, it is business as usual.
“We will keep going in the same direction, booking the best upcoming bands from Iceland and all over the world, playing in the same diverse venues in downtown Reykjavik,” he adds. “There is nothing like the Icelandic music scene, there is no downtown like Reykjavik, and when you are on top of that – in a position to pick all the most exciting new bands from around the world – it comes together and creates a very unique experience.”
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Iceland Airwaves returns with Live from Reykjavik
The team behind Iceland Airwaves has announced the return of streaming event Live from Reykjavïk in lieu of the brand’s flagship festival.
The festival was expected to take place in Iceland’s capital this November but was called off for a second consecutive year due to the pandemic.
Instead, organisers have announced the second edition of Live from Reykjavik which, this year, will be reduced from two days to one and will take place as a hybrid event.
Sixteen international and domestic acts including John Grant, Ásgeir, Laufey, GDRN and Daughters of Reykjavík will perform across four iconic Reykjavïk venues on Saturday 6 November.
Due to the current gathering and safety restrictions, fans can only purchase tickets to one venue
The venues – Iðnó, Gamla Bío, Gaukurinn and Frikirkjan – will host small live audiences but due to the current gathering and safety restrictions, fans can only purchase tickets to one location.
The global live stream, provided by NovaTV, will open at 20:00 GMT on the same day and remain open for 24 hours.
Tickets are available worldwide from Wednesday 20 October.
Iceland Airwaves will return to the capital from 2-5 November 2022.
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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:
- 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.
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.
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.
Managing director and head of bookings, Iceland Airwaves
London, UK/Reykjavík, Iceland
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’.
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.
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:
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.
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.