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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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All Things Live joins forces with Monkfish event agency

Nordic live entertainment powerhouse All Things Live is partnering with one of Denmark’s leading event agencies, Monkfish.

The Danish company, founded in 2007 by Rikke Salling, and its network of cooperation partners organises and executes 25-35 events annually which have involved artists including Jan Gintberg, Hella Joof, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Lukas Graham (pictured) and The Minds of 99.

Monkfish will retain the company’s independence while working in close co-operation with All Things Live, which has a presence in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

All Things Live says the acquisition does not entail changes for Monkfish’s customers, partners or employees as ‘market proximity is a key focus area for the partnership’. Both parties have declined to comment on the price or additional details of the transaction.

“I am pleased that our fantastic team at Monkfish will now become part of the All Things Live family and have even better opportunities of creating the best experiences for existing and new customers. We maintain our independence and the uncompromising focus on creativity and thoroughness that has always set Monkfish apart,” says Rikke Salling, founder and CEO of Monkfish.

“Monkfish creates unique experiences for some of the largest Danish corporate customers and has a strong market position”

“The new partnership offers strong organisational support and a good foundation for strengthening Monkfish’s profile towards existing and new customers. At the same time, we are looking forward to contributing to the All Things Live community with our knowhow and network.”

Kim Worsøe, CEO of All Things Live Group, says: “Monkfish creates unique experiences for some of the largest corporate customers in Denmark and has established a strong market position, which we are looking forward to developing with Rikke and her team in cooperation with the other members of the All Things Live partnership. Together, we will have an even stronger platform for creating more fantastic events and experiences for our customers.”

All Things Live was established by six Scandinavian companies in early 2019, with a number of additional live entertainment companies joining later including Sweden’s Big Slap and Stand Up Norge.

The Nordic company represents around 250 local artists, promotes and produces more than 5,000 events with more than 1.5 million tickets sold annually, and has entered into a number of partnerships with large corporate clients.


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Norway scraps distancing for artists

The Norwegian government yesterday (15 June) quadrupled the number of people allowed to attend live shows in the country, giving the green light to events of up to 200 people.

Under the new phase of regulations, there will also be an exemption of the one-metre distancing rule for performers, dancers, musicians, singers and other “professional practitioners in culture”.

“This is very good news for cultural life,” comments Norway’s culture and equality minister Abid Q. Raja. “This means that many people who have had their lives and work on hold in recent months can take a step closer to a normal everyday life.

“An exception to the one-metre rule for performers will allow them to be creative again in more normal settings, and especially help with the production of art and culture.”

Event organisers must present a plan for infection control management, as well as conducting a risk assessment to decide how governmental requirements can be met and whether it is possible to run the event in accordance with regulations.

“This means that many people who have had their lives and work on hold in recent months can take a step closer to a normal everyday life”

Live music was permitted to make a comeback in Norway earlier than in many other European countries, with events of up to 50 people allowed since early May, although promoters IQ spoke to at the time stressed the financial inviability of operating under such restrictions.

Elsewhere in the Nordics, capacity limits have been eased much more swiftly, with concerts of up to 500 people already taking place in Denmark and Finland.

If infection rates are kept under control, the capacity limit in Norway could potentially rise to 500 by September at the earliest.

“We must do everything we can to prevent the spread of infection throughout the summer,” comments Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg.

“We are giving greater freedom, but this is freedom under responsibility. It is as important as before to follow the infection control rules. Otherwise, the efforts in recent months will have been in vain.”

Photo: Sveinung Bråthen/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) (cropped)


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Why host city partnerships will shape the future of festivals

While most music festivals and event organisers fight through the Covid-19 disruptions, many are already looking toward a sustainable and lasting future beyond the crisis. Festival organisers with continuous and formalised host city agreements are in better shape for recovery as they are benefitting from support provided by authorities in structural, economic and practical ways.

As the public health situation winds down, a distinct window of opportunity is opening for festival organisers to craft new partnerships with host cities. As for governments themselves, keeping and attracting events will be paramount for economic recovery.

In representing a multitude of rightsholders across music festivals, esports and federation-owned sports events, we see two groups of event organisers coming through that are less affected than others: ones with ticket revenue as a tertiary income stream and ones that have long-lasting, integrated partnerships with public hosts.

First, organisers with public events as a tertiary income stream. These are entities where the events are primarily a promotional channel, creating television rights and ultimately supporting the sale of primary products. For example, an esport publisher has the games themselves as a primary income stream, esport broadcasting as a secondary income stream, and then event-driven income as tertiary.

It would be unfair to say this group has not been affected – because they have. However, their business model and diversity of revenue streams, allow them to continue business with lesser impact than others.

Festival organisers with continuous and formalised host city agreements are in better shape for recovery

Host city partnerships
The second group, however, are organisers with long-lasting partnerships with host cities, regions or countries. They are not only less affected than others but are also well positioned to move forward in the current global circumstances.

Host cities, as well as host regions, destinations and nations have proven extraordinarily loyal and committed to their partners. For example, cities have:

That is because cities know that event organisers are in an unprecedented position to become a driver of economic recovery for the hard-hit sectors of tourism, entertainment and hospitality. In moving past Covid-19, cities will invest in attractions and securing events, thereby rebuilding the aforementioned industries. Accordingly, a window is opening for rightsholders to attain new (or re-structure existing) host city partnerships with public entities as primary partners.

Here we outline some characteristics of host city partnerships that should be considered now and why they are the way forward following the worst of the crisis.

Cities know that event organisers are in an unprecedented position to become a driver of economic recovery

Rebuilding a brand, revenue, city pride and confidence in the future
Following the current pandemic, analyses have suggested protracted changes in global travel patterns. Domestic travel is expected to increase at the expense of visiting international tourism destinations. Long-term contracts ensure the return of guests, re-focus the world’s attention and provide dependable sources of future revenue.

Events can make incremental progress in rebuilding destination brands, generating revenue within the hospitality sector, restoring the pride of local citizens, and, most importantly, providing confidence in the future. As such, cities are looking for partnerships and now is the time to seize that opportunity.

Yield management for destinations
With severe damage to the tourism and hospitality industries, we will see stakeholders become even more forward-looking – considering short-term remedies, as well as looking toward longer-term goals. Having long-lasting agreements with event makers is a part of detailed calendar planning. For example, mitigating crowding out effects which would be a net loss to a city.

Major events will increasingly become a yield management exercise. That is, how to further maximise tourism revenue for specific events given a new global travel environment.

For instance, working to build and prolong shoulder seasons, as well as developing creative ways for utilising the offseason at holiday destinations. In such a context, rightsholders will be met with more specific requests, in the short and long term, for dates and planning. In this context, established, defined agreements with host cities will be increasingly critical.

Events can make incremental progress in rebuilding destination brands, generating revenue, restoring pride and providing confidence in the future

Event sustainability
All parts of the value chain will incur substantial financial losses during this crisis. Entities will go bankrupt or otherwise suffer severe economic damage. Cancellations and defaults will continue for months (or longer). Sponsors, participants, ticket buyers, and broadcasters will be sceptical regarding events being re-established and as to their long-term sustainability. Everyone involved will become more selective, with careful attention to sustainability.

For the above-mentioned parties, as well as for banks, suppliers, and talent agencies, a ten-year contract with a public entity will signal credibility and a more viable future. Partners will base their confidence in the reputation and record of the public body and will seek secure future cash flows.

From the city’s (or country’s) perspective, they can develop a more defined long-term plan. Host cities can maintain a more predictable hotel and hospitality inventory, as well as a template for planning for associated services (security, public transportation, etc). Events can become an integrated part of the city’s calendar, providing assurances for both the rightsholder and the public body. Based on these benefits, cities are eager to partner with festival organisers, and thus may be willing to offer them generous terms on extended partnerships.

Mitigating future risks
We know now, from having observed and assisted music festivals in the industry, that one of the most important entities to have support from during a crisis is the relevant public authority. An integrated partnership with a public host suggests that the city (or country) considers you as a close partner – a relationship that needs to be sustained regardless of current economic, social, or political situations. In the best cases, they will offer the same considerations as they extend to ingrained cultural institutions, such as operas, orchestras and football clubs.

Thus, an integrated partnership becomes an effective way of mitigating future risks from other financial crises or postponements (for example, due to climate/weather, currency devaluations, or civil unrest).

A proper plan for mitigating risks will likely become critical for stakeholders and investors, such as how professional security and crowd control plans emerged as critical considerations more than 20 years ago. An integrated partnership with the host will be ever more important in the context of uncertainty that will prevail following the crisis.

An integrated partnership becomes an effective way of mitigating future risks from other financial crises or postponements

Minimising costs
A short-term step for organisers will be planning and producing more financially sustainable events. Minimising costs is essential to that. Deciding on a long-term home for an event will allow for long-term planning and thus substantial cost reductions related to planning, site inspections, event-to-event negotiations with authorities, permissions and authorisations, site preparations, insurance, security and marketing. Indirect effects will impact suppliers positively, thus benefitting all parties involved.

As a part of agreements, cities can provide reduced costs for such things as security, cleaning, site rentals and expenses for permissions. Events and rightsholders with solid public partnerships will see these cost reductions. Further, several cities have been interested in developing new sites and infrastructure directly with their long-term event partners.

A way forward
Integrated host city partnerships for music festivals will be exceedingly beneficial for all parties after the crisis. They instill confidence at a time of uncertainty, setting the stage for long term sustainability, stakeholder reassurance, sharing of risks and modelling a much-needed stable future.

Most music festivals and event organisers are back at the drawing board, reshaping what is left of 2020 and building the outlook for 2021 and beyond. To those we say: so are mayors, governors, ministers and presidents. Take this opportunity to synchronise your goals with theirs and leverage off the assets of one another. It is the best way forward.


Ronnie Hansen is director of sports, culture and entertainment at Scandinavian communications agency Geelmuyden Kiese.

Live Nation SE’s Kristofer Åkesson joins start-up Society Icon

Kristofer Åkesson, formerly marketing and communications director for Live Nation Sweden, has joined Swedish marketing start-up Society Icon.

Åkesson, whose achievements at Live Nation this year include Swedish House Mafia’s Stockholm comeback shows and the first Lollapalooza Stockholm, becomes COO and partner at Society Icon, which connects companies with influential fans and customers – ‘icons’ – who market the brands via their own channels.

Existing Society Icon clients include Live Nation, Warner Music, H&M and magazine publisher Aller Media.

The company recently closed an investment round, and is valued at 81 million kr (US$8.6m).

“With his knowledge, experience and ideas, he will be invaluable in our continued expansion”

“I leave one dream job for another,” comments Åkesson, who had been with Live Nation for nearly a decade. “Throughout the years at Live Nation I’ve met many companies that offered different solutions for influencer marketing, but never found a good and efficient alternative.

“When Mose [Haregot], CEO and founder, presented Society Icon one and a half years ago, I immediately saw that the unique idea and technology behind it – where the ordinary person and their followers are central – is not only is the future of influencer marketing, but ultimately also for marketing and consumer loyalty in general.”

Haregot adds: “Kristofer is a dream hire. I have always been impressed by his ability to understand and foresee trends and behaviours, and as a client to us for one and a half years, he has also made the product better. Since day one he has understood the long-term potential of Society Icon, and with his knowledge, experience and ideas, he will be invaluable in our continued expansion.”


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Swedish government honours LN’s Thomas Johansson

The Swedish government has awarded Thomas Johansson, Live Nation’s chairman of international music and the Nordics, the Music Export Prize.

The prize is awarded to leading figures in the industry who have excelled over the course of their careers, making a long-standing contribution to Swedish music and promoting the country’s music industry worldwide.

The Swedish government created the Music Export Prize in 1997 to recognise contributions made to exports by music industry figures.

Previous recipients of the award include ABBA in 2013, Max Martin in 2014 and Roxette in 2011.

The prize is awarded to leading figures in the industry who have made a long-standing contribution to Swedish music

Johansson has been an important part of the Swedish music industry for years. He founded live entertainment company EMA Telstar in 1969, bringing international acts to Sweden and managing ABBA’s touring, as well as that of many other Swedish acts. EMA Telstar joined Live Nation over ten years ago.

As chairman of Live Nation Sweden, Johansson has delivered concerts, tours and events to over one million Swedes a year.

Johansson has worked with acts including Roxette, The Cardigans, Peter Jöback and Zara Larsson, in addition to his global tours with ABBA.

Live Nation has recently strengthened its foothold in the Nordic market, acquiring Norwegian rock and metal festival Tons of Rock and Finnish hip-hop festival Blockfest.


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Grímur Atlason departs as Iceland Airwaves sold

Icelandic promoter Sena Live says it plans to take Iceland Airwaves back to its roots by showcasing emerging Icelandic talent, rather than booking big international names, following its recent purchase of the festival.

Speaking to Morgunblaðið, Sena Live CEO Ísleifur Þórhaldsson says it wants to “go back to basics. We don’t think Airwaves should be chasing the big acts, but should be a festival for up-and-coming and indie bands.”

The company announced last week it had bought Iceland Airwaves along with the Airwaves brand, which previously belonged to the festival’s main sponsor, Icelandair. According to the paper, Airwaves lost almost half a million euros in 2016, owing to declining ticket sales and rising costs. “We definitely have to make cuts here and there, but we’re still not talking about people feeling like the festival is downsizing,” says Ísleifur. “It’s not about booking as many [bands] as possible, but booking well.”

Mumford & Sons, Fleet Foxes, Michael Kiwanuka, Billy Bragg and Benjamin Clementine were among the high-profile international acts who played Airwaves 2017.

“We will not be the people who destroy Airwaves”

Sena Live’s acquisition of Airwaves coincides with the departure of long-serving festival director Grímur Atlason, who says that after eight years, “it’s time to move on”, adding: “It’s been a privilege and pleasure working for this great festival with all my marvellous co-workers over the years.”

Ísleifur says the festival’s renewed focus on showcasing Icelandic talent to foreign bookers has the full support of its sponsors. “We take these obligations seriously,” he explains. While bigger bands will still be booked, “they will always have to fit into the basic ideology of the festival,” he says.

“Airwaves is a deep-rooted cultural institution which we know and feel immediately that everyone cares about,” Ísleifur concludes. “We will not be the people who destroy Airwaves.”

Sena Live is one of Iceland’s biggest promoters, recently bringing artists such as Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber, Iron & Wine and Tiësto to the Nordic island, which has a population of around 350,000.


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