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Norway’s 2021 festival season obliterated

Norway’s 2021 festival season has been effectively wiped out with the cancellation of Live Nation-owned festivals Bergenfest and Tons of Rock, Superstruct-backed Øya Festival, Over Oslo, Picnic in the Park, Stavernfetsivalen, Seljord Festival and Country Festival.

The cancellations come after the minister for culture last week (6 May) announced preliminary guidelines which would restrict festivals to 2,000 attendees until June, 5,000 attendees until August and 10,000 thereafter.

The restrictions come in spite of the government’s NOK 350m festival cancellation pot, which the minister said aims to “create predictability now, so that the industry can start planning different scenarios”.

“There is also uncertainty related to what the economic support schemes that include Bergenfest in practice”

Bergenfest, which would have take place between 15–19 June 2021 at Bergenhus Fortress in Bergen, was cancelled last night.

“With current restrictions on outdoor events in June, it is not possible to complete Bergenfest 2021 as we know the festival. There is also uncertainty related to what the economic support schemes that include Bergenfest in practice. It is therefore unfortunately time to confirm the inevitable – Bergenfest 2021 will not happen in June this year,” reads a statement on the festival’s website.

Bergenfest will return between 14–18 June 2022.

Øya Festival, which would have taken place between 10–14 August 2021 at Tøyenparken, Oslo, was cancelled the day after the proposed restrictions were revealed.

“It feels like a little nightmare to have to cancel Øya for the second year in a row”

“It feels like a little nightmare to have to cancel Øya for the second year in a row,” general manager Tonje Kaada wrote on the festival’s website. “Our big wish over the past year has been to gather artists, the audience, festival workers, volunteers and partners for a unique festival experience in Tøyenparken, but it will not be possible with the guidelines that the authorities presented this week.

“There is too much uncertainty associated with the existing framework, and even the best case scenario with 5,000 people, it’s not compatible with the audience experience Øya Festival wants to provide. We have no choice but to realize that it will not be happening in 2021. Even though we are sorry, it is a relief to be able to provide a clarification to everyone who has been waiting for it. We’ll roll up our sleeves and start over now.”

Øya will return between 10–13 August 2022.

Norway is the latest European market to pull the plug on the 2021 festival season, following widespread cancellations in Germany, the UK, Switzerland, Denmark and France.

 


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Live Nation Norway cancels Tons of Rock 2021

Norway’s biggest rock and metal festival, Tons of Rock, is the first major Norwegian festival to cancel its 2021 edition.

The Live Nation-owned festival had been scheduled to take place in Ekebergsletta, Oslo, across three days in June but the organisers say this year’s event is not possible.

“Since the summer of 2020, we have been working on all possible scenarios and options to make it possible to complete the festival,” reads a statement on the festival’s website.

“It has been and is a difficult and demanding time, and it is now clear that it is not possible to hold the Tons of Rock Festival in 2021. This is very sad and frustrating for all of us in Tons of Rock, for the artists, suppliers, collaborators and mostly for our amazing audience from all over Norway and more than 50 nations.”

The Norwegian government previously announced a NOK 350 million cancellation insurance fund for festivals, allowing organisers to plan for this summer without the financial risk posed by a potential Covid outbreak.

“It has been and is a difficult and demanding time, and it is now clear that it’s not possible to hold the festival”

However, Norway’s minister of culture, Abid Raja, said in a press conference that the scheme is expected to cover July and August events – meaning Tons of Rock’s June edition would not be insured.

Though Tons of Rock would have been ineligible for that particular government support, the festival did benefit from the state’s compensation scheme for organisers and subcontractors in the cultural sector.

In February, the festival was granted NOK 36.1 m, the full amount applied for by the organisers, for the cancellation of the 2020 edition – caused by the government’s extended ban on major live events.

The festival will return next year between 23–25 June, with headliner Iron Maiden.

Other major Norwegian festivals including Live Nation-owned Bergenfest and Superstruct’s Øya Festival, are still going ahead at the time of writing.

 


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Bergen Live, Øya tasked with saving Norway’s summer

Live Nation-owned concert and festival promoter Bergen Live, and Superstruct-backed Øya Festival will be partially responsible for determining how the upcoming festival season can take place.

The two organisations will bring their live music expertise to the Norwegian government’s newly formed working group, which is completed by festival organisations spanning literature, sports, arts and agriculture.

With the input of Norway’s health authorities, the group has been tasked with the safe reopening of large outdoor events this summer, compliant with the infection rate at the time.

Minister of culture, Abid Raja, has entrusted the group with two tasks. The first is to look at alternative practical solutions that make it possible to carry out the events within the current infection control rules.

“The working group must solidify its understanding of what can be realistic when it comes to planning summer events within an optimistic scenario, an intermediate scenario and a pessimistic scenario,” the brief reads.

“The working group must solidify what can be realistic within optimistic, intermediate and pessimistic scenarios”

The second task is for the members of the group to provide professional input and suggestions for solutions that make it possible to open to a larger audience than previously allowed during the pandemic.

“The input must include plans for handling the public both to and from and during the events themselves with a view to reducing the risk of the spread of infection,” the brief outlines.

The working group will be required to submit their input on the three aforementioned scenarios by 5 March.

Norway’s government this month took an important step towards ensuring this year’s summer season can go ahead, with the announcement of a NOK 350m cancellation insurance fund for festivals.

While this week the government paid out another NOK 120m to compensate organisations including Live Nation, All Things Live and Tons of Rock for last year’s festival season wipeout.

 


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Norway’s festival sector compensated NOK 120m+

Live Nation Norway, All Things Live and Tons of Rock will benefit from the latest round of compensation from the Norwegian government’s scheme for organisers and subcontractors in the cultural sector.

The scheme, funded by the ministry of culture and distributed by Norway’s cultural council (Kulturradet), has so far paid out approximately NOK 1.4bn to more than 2,000 applicants across various compensation schemes for 2020.

For the latest tranche, which covers the period of May to August 2020, the cultural council is distributing more than NOK 120m (€11.7m) to some of the biggest players in Norway’s festival sector.

Live Nation Norway has been granted NOK 24.7m as an organiser – just under the NOK 25m it applied for.

Nordic live entertainment powerhouse All Things Live will receive NOK 36.4m – two million less than they applied for – for around 20 concerts that had to be cancelled in 2020.

While, Live Nation-owned Oslo festival Tons of Rock will benefit from NOK 36.1m, the full amount applied for by the organisers.

Other successful applicants include Kristiansand beach festival, Palmesus (NOK 27.1m); organiser of Ålesund Live, Summer party at Giske and Jugendfest, Momentium Live (NOK 8.4m); and Fredrikstad-based all-ages festival, Idyll (NOK 8.7m).

“The largest players in the sector are also large employers and an important part of the cultural sector’s business chain”

“The applications for the compensation schemes show us both how hard the cultural sector has been affected, and how diverse the Norwegian cultural economy is,” says Kristin Danielsen, director of the cultural council.

“The largest players in the sector are also large employers and an important part of the cultural sector’s business chain. Therefore, I would have liked to have had the application process completed earlier.

“At the same time, it has been important for us to process the applications thoroughly. These are community funds, and it is our responsibility to manage them in the best possible way.”

More than 1,500 applications were received for the compensation scheme for the period May-August and more than 1,200 applicants received their decisions in the early autumn of 2020, with a few more applicants yet to be notified.

The Cultural Council is now processing applications for the scheme that applies to September, and the period of October–December has an application deadline of 1 March.

The scheme is designed to compensate organisers and subcontractors that were financially impacted by the Norwegian government’s ban on live events which was extended into late 2020, causing the cancellation of the country’s biggest festivals.

Norway’s ministry of culture last week announced a NOK 350 million financial safety net will allow festival organisers plan for July and August 2021 without the financial risk posed by a potential Covid outbreak.

 


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Live Nation acquires Norway’s Bergen Live

Live Nation Norway has acquired a majority stake in Bergen Live, the Bergen-based concert and festival promoter, as competition between the major live music businesses heats up the Norwegian market.

Bergen Live’s activities include promoting headline acts at outdoor venues such as the Bergenhus Fortress, organising club events with up-and-coming Norwegian artists, and staging leading music festival Bergenfest, whose 2020 edition takes place this June and features Lewis Capaldi, Robyn, Dave, Michael Kiwanuka and Belle and Sebastian.

“Today marks the next step in the journey of Bergen Live, which will further develop and strengthen the company’s position in the Norwegian market,” says Bergen Live CEO Frank Nes.

“We look forward to working with Rune [Lem, senior promoter, Live Nation Norway] and being a part of the team at Live Nation Norway, as well as the support and resources that come with this union.”

“It is both exciting and natural that they today become part of the Live Nation family”

“Bergen Live and Live Nation Norway have had a close relationship since 2005. It is both exciting and natural that they today become part of the Live Nation family,” adds Lem.

Live Nation’s acquisition of Bergen Live – its second of 2020, after Taiwan’s Tixcraft, and following a record 20 in 2019 – comes amid a flurry of activity in Norway. Live Nation-owned, Sweden-based Luger announced its expansion into the Norwegian market earlier this month, while Live Nation rival CTS Eventim/FKP Scorpio recently acquired leading promoter Nordic Live.

Elsewhere, private equity-backed All Things Live has been steadily building its Nordic business, with Sweden’s Big Slap festival the latest addition to its portfolio, which includes events in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.

Read IQ’s latest Norway market focus here:

Norwegian Mood: Norway market report

 


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Odd Inge Sneve joins All Things Live Norway

Odd Inge Sneve, a 16-year veteran of Live Nation Norway, has joined All Things Live as a senior promoter in its Oslo office, effective today (2 December).

Sneve (pictured), who joined Live Nation in its production department and advanced to national promoter, brings hundreds of shows’ worth of experience to All Things Live, which launched this time last year.

All Things Live, backed by private-equity firm Waterland, was formed in December 2018, combining ICO Concerts and ICO Management and Touring (Denmark), Friction and Atomic Soul Booking (Norway), and Blixten & Co and Maloney Concerts (Sweden), and has since added Weekend Festival (Finland). The combined company has an annual revenue of around €85 million and approximately 70 employees in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

“Odd is one of the best guys in the business. But in addition to being great guy, he is a great promoter and a proper music person,” comments All Things Live head promoter Mark Vaughan. “He’s been doing this a long time and knows every facet of the promoting business. We think he and the fantastic range of acts he works with will be a perfect fit at All Things Live.”

“Live Nation has been a great home for a number of years, but it’s time for a new challenge”

Adds Sneve: “Live Nation has been a great home for a number of years, but it’s time for a new challenge. Watching what Peer [Osmuundsvaag] and Mark have been able to achieve in the last few years, firstly as Atomic Soul and now All Things Live, is very impressive, and I’m excited to join them and see how we can all take things even further together.”

All Things Live promotes 3,000 shows a year across the Nordic countries. Next year, its Oslo office will stage concerts for acts including Taylor Swift, Rammstein, Celine Dion, Green Day and Nick Cave.

In June 2018, All Things Live Norway/Atomic Soul promoted the record-breaking Eminem show in Oslo, where he performed to a massive 55,000 people at Oslo Sommertid.

 


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Norwegian Mood: Norway market report

Norway doesn’t have the world’s biggest population – about 5.4 million – but don’t let anyone tell you it’s small.

If you were to drive from the site of the country’s southernmost major music festival to its northernmost – from Bystranda beach in Kristiansand, home of Palmesus, to Midnattsrocken in Lakselv, well into the Arctic Circle – you’d be looking at a 25-hour, 2,120km road trip through Norway and Sweden. Ergo, you might want to think about flying.

Between those two points on the Norwegian side, in addition to 450,000 lakes, there’s a lot of music. Some agents suggest there are more shows in the capital of Oslo than in Stockholm and Copenhagen combined. Others claim Norway has more festivals than any other country per head.

“Concerts are still the most popular cultural activity among Norwegians, besides the cinema,” says Tone Østerdal, CEO of the Norwegian Live Music Association (NKA). “And there are so many festivals now. We are not that many people but there are very many festivals around.”

The Norwegian concert business was worth NOK2.6billion (€270million) in 2017 – more than half of the NOK4.9bn (€510m) total value of the Norwegian music business. Norway is, of course, a major producer of music – not quite at Sweden’s level, but with plenty of recognisable names, from A-ha and Röyksopp to Sigrid, Susanne Sundfør, Nico & Vinz and Marcus & Martinus. And given its strong exchange rate and sound consumer base it is known, internationally, as a pretty lucrative spot that earns its place on a tour schedule.

“We are out on the outer edge,” says promoter Peer Osmundsvaag of All Things Live Norway. “You go to Norway for a reason, whether that be a financial one or because you have a strong fanbase here. It is not somewhere you just roll through.”

“It’s a strong and well-run live industry all over the country, and there’s a good bond”

There’s certainly money here, as everyone knows, but as well as the standard high-octane live business that fills arenas in the largest cities, Norway has a large, often volunteer-driven network of grass roots venues and small promoters, with regional music hubs tasked with supporting talent and initiative outside Oslo, and strong communication between regions.

Oslo is clearly the key Norwegian market, but other major cities – Bergen, Stavanger and Ålesund, scattered up the west coast; Trondheim in the centre; and Tromsø in the north – maintain their own highly independent scenes. No two of them are any less than five hours from each other by road, and most are much more. The geographical isolation of each city has effectively meant that each one has developed its own live identity, fuelled by hearty festivals and small venues.

“Norway is really about five countries in one, centring around the major cities,” says Osmundsvaag. “Therefore, the local festivals are very strong, because they are all so important for the local communities.”

Norway’s oil wealth also has ways of trickling down into the market. The Norwegian Cultural Fund had €98m to spend in 2018, having granted support to 2,546 out of 6,668 applications from the worlds of music, literature and other arts, the year before.

Festivals tend to attract more support than the broader live business, Østerdal suggests, but money also goes to regional talent development and new venues, and the NKA is active in knitting the industry together at all levels.

“For all of Norway, the reason we have a good live music scene is because of the NKA,” says Are Bergerud, head of Trondheim’s Tempo hub. “Everyone meets up and we all talk to each other all over the place. It’s a strong and well-run live industry all over the country, and there’s a good bond. Tone [Østerdal] is doing important work.”

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 85, or subscribe to the magazine here.


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Pink’s crew, manager escape plane crash unscathed

A private plane carrying Pink’s crew and manager Roger Davies made a crash landing in Aarhus airport in Denmark, local police have confirmed.

Ten people were onboard the plane, which caught fire after landing. No casualties were reported.

“Pink was not personally on board,” a representative of Live Nation Norway told reporters. “Her manager and several other members [on] the tour were, but it all turned out ok.”

Davies took over management of Pink following the release of her second album, Missundaztood, in 2001. The Australian has worked with artists including Tina Turner, Cher, Janet Jackson and Olivia Newton-John.

“Pink was not personally on board, her manager and several [crew] members were, but it all turned out ok”

The plane had taken off from Oslo, Norway, on its way to the next stop on the European leg of Pink’s Beautiful Trauma tour at the 10,400-capacity Casa Arena in the Danish city of Horsens. The show went ahead last night (Wednesday 7 August) as planned.

After the date in Horsens, the singer is heading to the Veltins Arena (62,271-cap.) in Gelsenkirchen, Germany and open-air venue Malieveld in the Hague, Holland (17,500), before heading back to North America for three more dates.

The 156-date tour, which kicked off in Phoenix, Arizona, on 1 March 2018, was the fourth highest-grossing tour of last year.

 


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Live Nation acquires another Nordic festival

Live Nation Entertainment has announced the acquisition of a majority stake in Tons of Rock (10,000-cap.), Norway’s biggest rock and metal festival.

The move comes following last week’s acquisition of Finnish urban music festival, Blockfest, as Live Nation continues to expand its foothold in the Nordic region.

Launched in 2013, the three-day rock and metal festival takes place in Fredrikstemn Fortress, Halden in June each year. The festival received recognition from the Norwegian Concert Organisers (NKA) in 2017, winning the organisation’s best Norwegian festival award.

Tons of Rock organisers have worked with Live Nation Norway since the festival’s first year, securing acts including Slayer, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper, Ghost and Five Finger Death Punch, among others.

“We have worked with Tons of Rock from the very beginning and are excited about our future with the festival,” says Martin Nielsen, Live Nation Norway head promoter. “The Tons of Rock team have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the festival and to audience experience.”

“We wanted a strong strategic partner who would help us continue to grow, and the answer was obvious – Live Nation Norway”

The announcement comes at a time of change for the Norwegian festival, which moves to its new home in Ekeburg, Oslo for its 2019 edition. Headliners for this year’s Tons of Rock include Kiss, Volbeat and Def Leppard.

“We are ready to take the next step in the festival’s journey and the line-up for the 2019 festival speaks for itself,” comments festival manager and co-founder, Jarle Kvåle. “After five successful years in Halden we saw potential for further growth.”

Kvåle adds: “We found the perfect venue and wanted a strong strategic partner who would help us continue to grow. The answer was obvious – and close at hand – [in] Live Nation Norway.”

Live Nation has acquired a string of festivals, promoters, venue operators and other industry businesses this year, including Tennessee-based event marketing company Neste, Canadian venue operator and promoter Embrace Presents and Spanish Latin music promoter Planet Events.

 


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Gyllene Tider sell 100,000+ tickets for farewell tour

Swedish pop icons Gyllene Tider are moving their last-ever domestic show to a larger venue, after selling more than 100,000 tickets for their upcoming farewell tour over the past three days.

Gyllene Tider (‘Golden Ages’), fronted by former Roxette singer Per Gessle, are one of the best-selling Swedish bands of all time. Their 40th-anniversary tour, GT40: Avskedsturnén (GT40: Farewell Tour), begins at the Brottet in Halmstad, Sweden, on 4 July, and is scheduled to wrap up at the Dampskipsbrygga in Fredrikstad, Norway, on 9 August.

Their final Swedish date, in Gothenburg on 3 August, was previously set for the 8,480-seat Slottsskogsvallen, but has been moved to the larger Ullevi stadium, which can hold up to 75,000 people for concerts, due to demand for tickets.

Tickets for the Ullevi show, promoted by Live Nation Sweden, are released tomorrow (Friday 8 February) at 9am via Livenation.se and Gotevent.se.

“We are stunned and overwhelmed by the interest in our summer concerts,” say the band in a statement, “so it is with pride that we, once again, realise we need to move our gig in the nation’s second-largest city to the majestic Ullevi. It is the third time this has happened to us and we, of course, hope for an even bigger party in the middle of Gothenburg and the middle of the Swedish summer.”

 


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