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Oslo racetrack upgrade planned to attract top acts

Oslo’s new city council has revealed it plans to invest millions to upgrade an outdoor concert venue in a bid to entice leading international touring artists to Norway.

The Norwegian capital’s Bjerke Travbane racetrack welcomed a 60,000-cap show by Rammstein in July 2022, and the authority is setting aside NOK 5.3 million (€449,400) in next month’s revised budget for improvements to the site, with a target completion date of summer 2025.

VG reports that politicians were compelled to act after Stockholm’s Friends Arena in neighbouring Sweden was selected to host the three Scandinavian dates on Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, and decided that enhancing an existing venue would provide a fast and cost-effective option.

“For us, it has been important to get this in place, and quickly, because the city needs it,” says Hallstein Bjerck, city councillor for finance. “We will not stand by and watch Taylor Swift go to Stockholm, and not to Oslo.”

Bjerke Travbane general manager Hilde Apneseth says it would also be possible to stage concerts on a smaller scale at the outdoor venue, perhaps of around 30,000-capacity.

“We hope that there will be concerts several times during the year, especially in the period from mid-June to mid-August,” she adds.

“It will still be a big challenge to get Coldplay, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and so on to say ‘yes’ even though we have Bjerke”

The move has been backed by All Things Live Norway‘s Peer Osmundsvaag, who says: “This will avoid many one-off costs, so you can lower the threshold. There are several Norwegian bands that can sell 20,000 tickets here. If you manage to do this, you can perhaps get between six and 10 concerts during a season.”

However, Live Nation Norway general manager Martin Nielsen sounds a note of caution, warning that many of the biggest acts will still prefer to play stadiums, both for financial and production reasons.

“It will still be a big challenge to get Coldplay, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and so on to say ‘yes’ even though we have Bjerke,” he tells VG. “In a stadium, you can operate with several price ranges, preferably seven or eight different ones, and then sell the best seats at a higher price.

“In a flat area like Bjerke, you can at best have one slightly more expensive ‘golden circle’ near the stage, while the other tens of thousands become standing room with the same price for everyone. If you only have two ticket price levels, it will obviously be much more difficult to maximise income.”

Despite bringing Bruce Springsteen to Oslo for two nights last summer to 50,000-cap greenfield site Voldslokka, Nielsen warned in IQ‘s 2023 Global Promoters Report that a dearth of suitable venues for the largest productions was a major obstacle.

“A key issue is that we don’t have a big stadium in Norway,” he said. “A lot of the tours are built for stadiums, and they don’t want to play [in Norway] unless it’s a stadium.”

 


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ASM Global enlisted for Helsinki arena project

ASM Global is partnering with Suvilahden Areena Oy in Finland to secure the future development of Helsinki’s Hanasaari power plant area.

The site is best known for hosting Helsinki’s annual Flow Festival, which hosts some 30,000 visitors per day.

Suvilahden Areena Oy, a privately owned Finnish development company, applied for a development reservation for the site in March 2023.

A further feasibility and market research study was then completed in May 2023 by venue consultants CAA ICON, which “confirmed the viability of the project economically… provided that the city is contributing to the implementation of the project”.

Both companies’ shared goal is to secure a development reservation for the area and to start actual planning work in cooperation with the operators of the area and the city.

Plans include building a [17,000-capacity] arena onsite and using the existing structure and festival grounds to continue to cultivate the area for music, arts and events, while preserving as much of the power plant building as possible, supporting the local culture and environment and to combine the current festival area within the development.

“Hanasaaren Voimala is a major next step for ASM Global in Finland”

According to ASM Global, “there is also scope for incorporating sports programming on a major scale”.

President of ASM Global Europe, Chris Bray, says: “Hanasaaren Voimala is a major next step for ASM Global in Finland. We already have a strong presence in Scandinavia and are now building on our recent expansion into Helsinki, which includes Kulttuuritalo. We believe that with our unrivalled global network, we will bring the world’s most sought-after concerts and artists to fans in Helsinki.

“Hanasaaren Voimala has an exceptional location. The possibility of building a new arena and entertainment hub by the sea with a festival area and an urban culture project is an exciting prospect. Suvilahden Areena Oy has done a great job together with CAA ICON, and we are looking forward to the project progressing in the near future.”

CEO of Suvilahden Areena Oy, Timo Nieminen, adds: “Cooperation with ASM Global strengthens the credibility of our project. We get to use ASM’s experience and best practice regarding venue management. Basing the design on strong experience and insights is a prerequisite for a financially feasible project. Our cooperation will certainly continue in the planning phase with CAA ICON as well.

“We are now just waiting for the development reservation to be granted by the city. We aim to run a planning process, working with the key players from the Suvilahti and Hanasaari power plant area, the environs and the city of Helsinki.”

ASM Global made its first foray into Finland earlier this year, having been appointed to run operations at Helsinki venue Kulttuuritalo (The House of Culture).

 


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All Things Live Sweden strengthens promoting team

Nordic live entertainment giant All Things Live (ATL) Sweden has reinforced its team with the hiring of Rickard Nilsson as senior agent and promoter.

Previously head of artist relations at concert streaming service Staccs, Nilsson brings years of experience as a promoter and agent, and has also been involved in several club and festival concepts.

Nilsson was co-founder, DJ and promoter of the mobile club Svenska Musikklubben before becoming a promoter at FKP Scorpio Sweden, where he worked with a variety of international artists and festivals over a decade-long stint. He has also been involved in launching events such as Bråvalla festival and Rosendal Garden Party, and continued as a local agent on a freelance basis in his most recent role.

“I hope that my experience can add something new to this highly experienced group at ATL”

“I’m incredibly excited to join All Things Live and their team,” says Nilsson. “I hope that my experience can bring something new to this highly experienced group at ATL.”

ATL Sweden represents around 150 of Sweden’s most prominent artists, actors, comedians, profiles and produces concerts, festivals, shows, musicals, stand up comedy, theatre and dance performances all over Scandinavia. Nilsson’s main focus at the firm will be as an agent for Swedish artists, building a larger roster, and developing festival and club concepts. He will also work with foreign artists as a promoter.

ATL was established in December 2018 following Waterland Private Equity’s acquisition of leading Nordic live entertainment companies in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The partnership has since expanded into Finland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and the Middle East.

Last month, it expanded its interests in the Netherlands by securing a majority stake in festival promoter Loveland Events.

 


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20 years of Finland’s Fullsteam Agency

From humble beginnings come great things. That’s certainly how it has panned out for Finland’s Fullsteam, a group of music companies that now encompasses a record label, management services, a booking agency, event organising, and publishing.

Currently celebrating its 20th anniversary, it started out like many music industry endeavours – as a hobby for music lover Rauha Kyyrö. “I was still in high school, and I never thought it would become my profession,” she recalls. “My plan was to go and study law! But then music happened…”

Tobbe Lorentz of United Talent, one of the first agents she started to work with professionally, can certainly recall her passion. “My first memory is when Rauha turned up at my home, unannounced, and I opened the door to see this unknown kid with dreads and piercings asking to book my bands,” he says. “I believe my response was: ‘Of course you can. Now go away.’ But I booked Turbonegro with her the week after, and we’ve been working together ever since.”

Booking bands was something that, by then, Kyyrö was already adept at. She started out playing in a band but was, by her own admission, “never the best or most talented musician.” But she had smarts and determination – “I was great at getting things done,” she says.

Booking shows, promotion, logistics, and taking care of releases became her domain, and she came up with a novel way of getting her own band shows abroad.

“We did everything ourselves – book the shows, sell merch, release records, and do the PR”

“The easiest way to do that was to book shows in Finland for a Swedish or German band in exchange for getting to play with them in their home countries,” she recalls. “That’s how I first got into the business of booking shows internationally.” Her abilities earned her the nickname “Fixare” (The Fixer) – and she soon found herself dealing with agents who had got her contact details from their artists who had friends in bands she had promoted.

To do things officially and pay taxes, she started her first company Sitruunamaailma (which translates as ‘the world of lemons’) with two friends, and then things really took off. “I started promoting the first ‘bigger’ shows – those with a 900 capacity – and also my first outdoor summer festival,” she says. Bear in mind, this was all before she even left high school – “prodigious” doesn’t even come close.

Yet the financial realities of promoting and booking were somewhat harsh – in the early years, it remained very much a hobby. “I was doing all this while working in a record shop in Helsinki,” she says. Even after starting Fullsteam proper in 2002 – it began life as a record label, Fullsteam Records, and was a subsidiary of her previous company, Sitruunamaailma – her ambitions were modest.

“The idea was just to release music for great bands that couldn’t get their music out on the existing labels. And I guess it felt great to have a record label.”

Releasing music was just the start. Kyyrö soon realised there were many things she could do to help her own and friends’ bands, and so the other aspects of Fullsteam began to grow organically. “We did everything ourselves – book the shows, sell merch, release records, and do the PR. We also had a rehearsal room centre with 50 rooms, so we basically just did whatever we wanted […] for our own and our friends’ bands. It was always some kind of a 360 ̊ model, but as the business grew and things got more professional, it was necessary to have different companies for different parts of the business.”

James Rubin of WME recalls [Kyyrö] being “exceptional in problem-solving and career-building”

Kyyrö admits that it wasn’t until 2004 that she actually got paid for booking shows, when she went to work for Welldone – now Live Nation Finland – for two years. The other Fullsteam
companies continued during that time, and on leaving Welldone in 2006, she founded Fullsteam Agency. “That was the first time I started to get paid from my own company,” she says.

Those early years were characterised by a can-do work ethic and DIY spirit, traits that continue to this day and endeared Kyyrö to all those who worked with her in the beginning. Kalle Lundgren Smith of international booking agent Pitch and Smith recalls booking tours with her back in 2000, when she was still running Sitruunamaailma, and being “so impressed with her professionalism. My hardcore band was used to dealing with promoters on a very DIY level, so this was very different. We were even offered accommodation on top of the fees, which seemed like an absolute luxury to us.”

Before they met in real life, Lundgren Smith assumed she was a seasoned pro. “I was picturing someone far older in my mind. Then, when we finally met in Helsinki, it was this very young punk rock kid with long dreadlocks. We’ve been working closely together ever since.”

Many others express similar sentiments, and it’s a testament to Kyyrö and the company she’s built that so many peers remain friends and colleagues 20 years later. James Rubin of WME, who began working with her 15 years ago through Bad Taste, a Swedish management company and promoter, recalls her being “exceptional in problem-solving and career-building. She always helped with any issues my clients had.”

Paulina Ahokas, managing director of Tampere Hall, remembers being so impressed by Kyyrö’s dogged determination that she badgered colleagues at Music Export Finland to bring her along on an export mission to Japan.

“All of the Fullsteam companies work together on some level, but we don’t work in the ‘traditional’ 360 ̊ way”

“Rauha was spot-on at every single panel discussion in Tokyo,” says Ahokas. “After the panels, I asked if she needed some help with meetings. She did not. She had a list of names and addresses, a map of Tokyo, and a bicycle – she cycled to the meetings she had sourced herself. I’d been to Japan at least three times, yet knew only half of the companies on her list. I told everyone at Music Export Finland that we would be hearing a lot more from this rasta-haired dynamo, and damn, I was right.”

And it’s not just in a professional capacity that Kyyrö won people overtaking the “work hard, play hard” mantra to heart, she’s had plenty of fun, too. “I first met Rauha at a showcase festival in Canada,” says Julia Gudzent, co-founder of Misc Berlin, an agency for cultural change. “We immediately got along really well, and together with Mikko Niemelä from Ruisrock and Nina Howden from Silver Circle Distillery, we founded a synchronised swimming group in the hotel pool. We had the time of our lives and all became best friends right away.”

Since 2006, Fullsteam has continued to grow organically, a slow and steady rise governed by one clear principle – serve the artist. Today, Fullsteam Agency – “by far the biggest company [in the group],” says Kyyrö – serves as a booking agency and event organiser, booking domestic performers into every venue in Finland and bringing international artists to the country (to date, Fullsteam has promoted over 2,000 international acts).

They also organise Seinäjoki’s Provinssi Festival and Helsinki’s own Sideways Festival. On top of this, they represent around 100 Finnish performers, both popular acts and rising talent, and Fullsteam group now includes management, publishing, and record label interests. But while the businesses are deeply integrated, Fullsteam is not your typical 360 ̊ company.

“All of the Fullsteam companies work together on some level, but we don’t work in the ‘traditional’ 360 ̊ way,” says Kyyrö. “We hope to work with all the music companies in Finland, so we do not push for 360 ̊ deals. They only make sense if it makes sense for the artist and everyone else involved, and to be honest, in most cases it actually doesn’t work that well to have ‘all your eggs in one basket’. But when it does work, it can be really fantastic – we have good examples of that.”

Fullsteam Agency is now co-owned by European promoter giant FKP Scorpio, following a merger in 2014

Fullsteam group’s smaller companies remain 100% owned by Kyyrö, and she’s involved in various other businesses, albeit in smaller roles. But Fullsteam Agency is now co-owned by European promoter giant FKP Scorpio, following a merger in 2014.

The deal, says Kyyrö, “Helped us to really enter the festival market and to become more professional in many different ways.” But it wasn’t driven by finances or a desire to wield more clout. “I just really liked the people at FKP Scorpio: simple as that,” she says. “I thought they would support our team in our ambitions to grow but also let us be who we are and work the way we do. They are good, kind people – I appreciate that a lot.”

That added professionalism has manifested itself in various ways. Fullsteam has, says Kyyrö, become a better employer and partner for artists and clients. Her colleagues agree. “The best part of working as a promoter at Fullsteam is probably the creative freedom that you have; we’re not tied to one or two or even three genres but work with everything that we believe has value – be it money or something else,” comments staffer Artemi Remes.

“I’m pretty sure that’s not the case with every big agency in the world. And for me, that’s really the greatest thing as it makes every workday and every concert special. Never a dull day!” Remes says it’s difficult to pick just one highlight from more than 1,000 shows he has promoted over the past 16 years. “But pressed, I’d probably choose the Ennio Morricone concert in Helsinki in 2016. That exceeded all levels of specialness and is one that I’ll probably remember for the rest of my life.”

Summing up the employee experience at Fullsteam, fellow promoter Aino-Maria Paasivirta says, “The great part of working at Fullsteam is that I get to work with so many different kinds of artists – I promote everything from small club shows to arenas and festivals and many different genres, which keeps the job interesting.” Asked to share her career highlights, to date, Paasivirta states, “Nick Cave’s sold-out shows on the Conversations tour was definitely an amazing experience.”

“We have a team that’s capable of anything”

She adds, “I’m very much looking forward to the business finally opening again and the festival summer 2022 and I’m, of course, especially looking forward to Provinssi. Our last editions have been great, and I’m very proud to be in the booking team. Everyone knows working with music is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle, and I can’t imagine a better community to do it with than Fullsteam.”

It hasn’t always been plain sailing, however, and Kyyrö admits to having struggled with “how competitive and mean this business can be sometimes.” Yet she has remained optimistic and never lost her passion. “I’ve always loved being part of this community and feel that I am actually really good at this thing they call the music business.”

Modestly, she feels the company has only recently properly “arrived” and achieved lasting success. “The first time I felt that wasn’t until the end of 2019, after we’d promoted three historic events in Finland within a year – Ed Sheeran in Helsinki in July 2019, Rammstein in Tampere in August 2019, and Cheek in Lahti in August 2018. We’d also succeeded in bringing Provinssi Festival back to the top. None of those things were on my bucket list, they just happened when the time was right – or when we were ready for it.”

That’s a view shared by Fullsteam Agency managing director Tuomo Tähtinen, who believes that the platform the company has built means the best is yet to come. “Fullsteam has already come incredibly far, yet there’s still so much potential,” Tähtinen tells IQ. “We have a team that’s capable of anything. And we all know that success shouldn’t be pursued at any cost, but we need to build for the future sustainably and with respect to everyone around us.”

Recently, Fullsteam’s formal successes have been numerous. They are now Finland’s biggest, most important concert promoter and booking agency, for both alternative music and global superstars. Fullsteam Records has won Independent Label of the Year a total of six times and remains a champion and supporter of new, exciting, and unique Finnish music. And, perhaps most impressively of all, Fullsteam scooped a total of seven awards at 2019’s Music & Media Industry Awards Gala, including Booking Agency of the Year, Concert of the Year, and numerous accolades for individual staff.

“I’ve always loved being part of this community and feel that I am actually really good at music business.”

So, what’s the secret, then? What has made Fullsteam such a successful company and given them – and Kyyrö – two decades of growth, excellence, and a stellar reputation? The accolades are numerous. “They are music fans first and foremost,” says Geoff Meall of Paradigm Talent Agency. “The first correspondence is always about them wanting to work with the band or act because they like them. In a world of expanding corporatisation, I’ll always have time for companies like Fullsteam.”

Kalle Lundgren Smith agrees. “Fullsteam has a very loyal and strong team. It’s like a nice big family of true music lovers with an open and welcoming mindset. I think Rauha’s single-mindedness and creative mind – combined with her amazing staff – brought them this far.”

Tobbe Lorentz says that it’s “hard work, a great team, having their finger on the pulse, and good timing,” that’s made them so successful; Julia Gudzent agrees. “What makes Fullsteam and Rauha so special is that they do their work with complete passion, but unlike a lot of other people in the industry, they also take care of themselves and don’t forget to live and celebrate their wins. And that makes them so much better at their job.”

James Rubin says their “dedication to personal attention, being artist-friendly, and sheer excellence in everything they do has been nothing short of exceptional,” while Xenia Grigat of Danish promoter Smash!Bang!Pow! adds that there’s a “special DNA that defines Fullsteam, and it seems like a workplace that is inclusive and sees the full potential in the team. That’s inspiring, and attracts talented staff and artists.”

For Paulina Ahokas, one of the many who’ve worked with Kyyrö since the very beginning, there are three main reasons behind Fullsteam’s continued rise. “Every single person in the company has the same attitude, the need and desire to excel. Every person is willing to work harder than anyone else. And every single person in the company knows how to party! I have no idea if this is the recruitment strategy, but I know it has worked.”

“And every single person in the company knows how to party!”

And the view internally, from new partner FKP Scorpio, is just as effusive. CEO Stephan Thanscheidt credits their “friendship, loyalty, creativity, attitude, professionality, and a great taste in arts and music,” qualities he says you feel at every single Fullsteam show or event. “Their team, in combination with their family values, is hard to beat. They have an extraordinary spirit; creative and professional entrepreneurship; a great social and political attitude; and good relations with loads of talented artists.”

Certainly, their legacy seems assured. They’ve brought a lot of live music to Finland that the country might not have been able to enjoy otherwise, from the likes of Disco Ensemble, early emo bands, many Nordic artists, and numerous international superstars. They have blazed a trail for diversity and inclusivity and redefined what a group of music companies – both working together and in separate fields – can achieve on behalf of their artists.

Ultimately, that might be the single biggest factor behind Fullsteam’s success – it really is all about the music and the people who make it happen. One anecdote in particular, from Julia Gudzent, encapsulates this attitude perfectly. “I went to the Finnish music awards show once, and Fullsteam won all the prizes. Rauha took her whole team up on stage because she knew that it was not only her prize, but the whole team that won it. That impressed me so much because I’d never seen this kind of leadership before. I’ve not met a lot of people in the industry who do their job with so much modesty, kindness, and team spirit.”

What then of the future? What focus, hopes, and dreams does Kyyrö have for Fullsteam for the years ahead? “I really would like us to be the best place to work at and best partner for the people we work with,” she says. “If we succeed in that we will always be successful. We have truly amazing people working for Fullsteam and close to us, and I truly hope they will stick around, keep up with the shit in the business and shape the company and the music industry to become a better and more inclusive place for everyone.”

So we’ll be back here in another 20 years, with Fullsteam continuing to go from strength to strength? “I am sure we’ll continue to have many victories, but there are also challenging times ahead of us. I think that at the end of the day, a business like ours is just a bunch of people working together, and I hope there is room for life to happen and for people to grow and pursue their dreams at Fullsteam.”


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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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