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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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Eventim rolls out fanSALE platform in Scandinavia

CTS Eventim has launched its face-value ticket resale platform, fanSALE, in Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

FanSALE is the first fully digital face-value platform in Scandinavia, and is already in use in Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Finland and Brazil. In both Norway and Denmark, it is illegal to resell tickets for a profit.

When tickets are resold on the fanSALE platform, the original tickets are cancelled and new tickets issued in a new order, guaranteeing the new tickets and allowing for the resale of personal tickets when people can no longer attend an event.

“With fanSALE, Eventim is taking an important step in Scandinavia to help fans buy and sell tickets safely and legally”

“With fanSALE, Eventim is taking an important step in Scandinavia to help fans buy and sell tickets safely and legally amongst themselves,” says Jens Arnesen, CEO of Eventim Scandinavia.

“FanSALE guarantees that tickets cannot be sold for more than the original ticket price. At the same time, buyers are guaranteed genuine, valid tickets to the event.”

FanSALE is one of a number of capped-price resale services offered by the major international ticketing companies, along with See Tickets’ Fan-to-Fan, AXS’s MarketplaceTicketmaster ticket exchange and Ticketek Marketplace.


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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.

Eventim, Ticketmaster partner with redeveloped Trondheim Spektrum

The Norwegian divisions of Eventim and Ticketmaster have agreed a multi-year partnership with Trondheim Spektrum that sees the companies become ticketing partners to the Norwegian entertainment and sports complex.

The venue, one of the most-visited in Scandinavia, is currently under redevelopment, including work to add a new 4,800sqm (51,667sqft) hall with a capacity of up to 12,000. The new venue will host concerts by international artists, in addition to the 2020 European Handball Championships, other sporting and corporate events, trade shows and exhibitions.

Eventim Norway, part of Germany’s CTS Eventim, and Ticketmaster Norway will split the ticketing for shows at Trondheim Spektrum (pictured) between them, offering a range of ticketing features, including CRM and data analytics solutions.

Eva Annie Svendsen, CEO of operator Trondheim Spektrum AS, comments: “Trondheim Spektrum is facing exciting challenges in the years to come. Having expanded our venue, we’re looking to draw more visitors than ever and to triple our revenue by 2026. In order to reach these goals, we want to team up with the best service providers possible.

“Having expanded our venue, we’re looking to draw more visitors than ever”

“With Eventim we’ve found a partner that not only shares our vision, but that also provides us with the most technologically advanced and internationally proven ticketing solutions. We look forward to this partnership.”

“Eventim Norway is very pleased to have the opportunity to support such an outstanding venue as Trondheim Spektrum,” adds Marcia Titley, managing director of Eventim Norway. “Our whole team is looking forward to helping our new customer sell as many tickets as possible.

“As part of an international group, we’re also happy to share our knowledge and experience with the team so that they meet their goals. At the same time, we want to provide every visitor with a smooth, state-of-the-art ticketing experience.”

The partnership comes into effect this autumn, when the new Trondheim Spektrum opens its doors. John Mayer will perform the first show in the new building on 4 October. Tickets for the opening show will be sold by Ticketmaster.


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CTS Eventim acquires Venuepoint

CTS Eventim is now the sole owner of Scandinavian ticket agency Venuepoint, after acquiring all remaining shares from its former partner Nordisk Film.

Germany’s CTS bought into Venuepoint in March 2016. The company is, according to the ITY 2017, a market leader in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, through its Billetlugen, Eventim.no and Eventim.se platforms, respectively. All Venuepoint platforms are in the process of being migrated to CTS Eventim’s systems.

Venuepoint CEO Jens B. Arnesen, who will stay on in his current role, comments: “Personally, and on behalf of my colleagues, I want to thank Nordisk Film for all their confidence and dedication. At the same time, I’m looking forward to further developing our business with the unique expertise of Europe’s leading ticketing provider, CTS Eventim.

“I am sure we will benefit … from the new, simplified ownership structure”

“I am sure that we will benefit not only from their resources and network, but also from the new and simplified ownership structure.”

“The Scandinavian countries are particularly attractive to us, not only because of their spending power, but also because of their strong digital affinity,” adds Alexander Ruoff, COO of CTS Eventim. “Therefore, we are very much looking forward to actively contributing to Venuepoint’s further growth over the long term. At the same time, I sincerely thank our former co-owners at Nordisk Film for our trustful collaboration and all the progress we have achieved over the past two years.”

Asger Flygare Bech-Thomsen, CEO of Nordisk Film Cinemas, says Eventim is “the best possible sole owner” to “take Venuepoint to the next level”.


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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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Venuepoint eyes Nordic expansion under new CEO

Venuepoint, the pan-Scandinavian ticketing platform part-owned by CTS Eventim, has hired a new CEO.

Jens B. Arnesen, who moves into his new role on 1 March, was most recently country manager at streaming service C More Denmark. Prior to this, he was sales and marketing director at Danish media company Berlingske, where he was responsible for, among other things, ticket sales for entertainment, sports and business events, and was previously a VP at Danish telco TDC and CEO of pay-TV company Canal Digital.

At Venuepoint – a JV between CTS Eventim and Egmont’s Nordisk Film, launched in March 2016 – Arnesen’s focus will on growing the company and increasing ticket sales throughout the Nordics.

Oliver Främke, senior vice-president of international business development at CTS Eventim, comments: “We’re delighted that Jens will dedicate his entrepreneurial spirit and industry expertise in shaping the next chapter in Venuepoint’s growth story. Our joint venture with Nordisk Film has already helped us strengthen our market position under the Venuepoint umbrella in Denmark, Norway and Sweden over the past two years.

“I look forward to working with skilled and ambitious colleagues in strengthening Venuepoint’s position as a leading ticketing provider in the Nordics”

“Now we’re ready to expand on this, and look forward to Jens’s and his team’s contributions.”

“I look forward to working with skilled and ambitious colleagues in strengthening Venuepoint’s position as a leading ticketing provider in the Nordics,” adds Arnesen. “Over the past 15 years, Venuepoint has built a unique local market expertise and strong partnerships with our clients. With our parent company CTS Eventim providing a world-class ticketing platform and continuous product development, Venuepoint has an even stronger competitive advantage as an attractive business partner, offering the best possible ticketing solutions to our many clients.”

Jay Sietsema, formerly of AEG’s Stockholm Globe Arenas, joined Venuepoint as country manager for Sweden last January.


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Ticketmaster extends Got Event deal in Sweden

Ticketmaster has renewed its partnership with the largest venue operator in Gothenburg, Got Event, for a further three years.

The agreement will see Live Nation-owned Ticketmaster, the world’s biggest ticket agency, provide ticketing for all Got Event venues, including Scandinavium (12,000-cap.), Ullevi (43,200-cap.), Lisebergshallen (3,500-cap.) and Bravida Arena (6,500-cap.), and its more than 400 annual events.

“It’s great to have the opportunity to continue our work with Ticketmaster”

“Got Event provides the magic of live entertainment to hundreds of thousands of fans every year,” says Kristian Seljeset, CEO of Ticketmaster Sweden. “We’re very proud to have not only renewed our partnership with Got Event but strengthened it with the addition of its sports club ticket sales.”

Lotta Nibell, CEO of Got Event, comments: “It’s great to have the opportunity to continue our work with Ticketmaster. As a business that runs over 400 events annually, it is of utmost importance to have a partner capable of managing all different kinds of ticket sales to fans across Sweden and beyond.”


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Market report: Norway

If money doesn’t make us happy, then how do we explain Norway, which is both the world’s happiest country and, thanks to its oil wealth, Europe’s second richest?

Maybe money isn’t such a curse after all. Or maybe Norway’s diverting live scene keeps those rich kid blues at bay. The smallest Scandinavian nation by population, with the fiddliest coastline, it houses a disproportionately deluxe live market, with all the international shows and domestic touring talent a nation of 5.2m people could reasonably expect, and a festival scene that is thoroughly embedded in its culture.

“Festivals have taken over Norwegian social life now,” says Torbjørn Heitmann Valum, CEO of Norske Konsertarrangører, the country’s live business trade body. “That’s all people do in the summer: they go to a festival, meet up with friends and see bands.” Events such as Norwegian Wood, Øya, Findings, Picnic in the Park and OverOslo, which all take place in the capital, are among the prominent evidence of this, but in the summer, Norway is swarming with festivals from top to bottom – not just national ones, but regional and local ones, too, in virtually every town.

“That’s all people do in the summer: they go to a festival, meet up with friends and see bands”

Likewise, Oslo is the prime destination for most international artists, but second and third cities Bergen and Trondheim have their moments too, and Norwegian music is strong and varied enough that the country’s live business could, if pushed, run on little else. Once famous solely for A-ha, Norway’s talent machine these days produces a far broader range of artists than before.

“Yes, it’s a really good time,” says Atomic Soul’s Peer Osmundsvaag. “I remember growing up thinking Norway was probably the most rubbish country in the world, with only A-ha…”

These days, artists are breaking out of Norway all over the place. Notable names include hit-making DJ Kygo, pop twins Marcus & Martinus and X Factor offshoot Astrid S; diverse singer-songwriters such as Susanne Sundfør, Maria Mena, Anna of the North and Aurora; and indie-rockers Kakkmaddafakka – part of the so-called New Bergen Wave, which follows the original wave in the 1990s that produced Röyksopp, Kings of Convenience and Annie. Norwegian artists even occasionally manage to get noticed in Sweden, which would once have been unheard of.


Read the rest of this feature in the digital edition of IQ 73:


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Luger’s silver bullet

The towns of Gävle and Sandviken, a two-hour drive from Stockholm, were not exactly the centre of the musical universe back in 1991. But thanks to three former residents, the health of Sweden’s live music sector – and beyond – has since benefitted massively following the birth of an organisation that music industry professionals around the world view with a mixture of envy and admiration.

2016 marks the 25th anniversary of Luger, but the celebrations in their relaxed Swedish offices haven’t exactly been extravagant. “Is it really 25 years? 1991… yes, well I suppose it is,” says founding partner Ola Broquist. Business partner Patrick Fredriksson laughs: “How can it be 25 years, when I still think of myself as being 25? That’s almost depressing.”

That dry sense of humour resonates through everything at Luger, whose roots in the punk scene are evident to this day, with a collective desire to nurture new, exciting talent. Indeed, the ethos at the company is to work hard and play hard – a mantra underlined by the company’s latest plans to launch a new festival in 2017. But more on that later.

“How can it be 25 years, when I still think of myself as being 25? That’s almost depressing”

Looking back at life pre-Luger, Broquist tells IQ: “In the beginning, me and Morgan [Johansson] lived in Sandviken, while Patrick was in the next town, Gävle. We knew about each other and that we liked the same music so we started working together to bring bands to our towns, because nobody else was organising shows for the punk and hardcore music we liked.

“It’s common in Sweden to have nonprofit cooperatives running music shows, so we got involved in that and started bringing bands to play in our tiny little venues. We quickly got to the point where we needed to find better venues, because we were basically using living rooms. There was no stage and the sound, the lights, everything, were basically shit. But the local authorities didn’t seem willing to help. We tried everything, even occupying buildings and stuff, but the process just dragged out and we were getting nowhere.”


Read the rest of this feature in issue 68 of IQ Magazine.

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