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The Solutionist: Anna Sjölund’s 25 years in live

In November 2023, it was announced that Anna Sjölund was to leave Live Nation – where she’d spent her entire career until then – for ASM Global. In a move dubbed “seismic” by one exec, Sjölund swapped her widely regarded career as a promoter for a gig in the venue business. And while the latter is new territory for her, it’s a kind of homecoming for the European director.

The 45-year-old Swede has returned to her old stomping ground of Avicii Arena, where she cut her teeth (and broke her foot) as a production assistant in the earliest throes of her career. It was in the carpark of the arena, then known as Stockholm Globe, where she first met ASM’s SVP Operations Marie Lindqvist after their cars ran into each other.

Decades later, Sjölund is set to spend many more working hours at Avicii, now ASM Global’s Sweden office, with Lindqvist at the helm. “I’ve lived these venues, and I know the people very well… I’m having a full-circle moment,” says Sjölund.

High school dropout
Sjölund spent the lion’s share of her youth in Lund, a province at the southern tip of Sweden best known for its prestigious university. Ironically, this is where Sjölund’s education was put on the back burner when she got her “lucky break” in music. “When I was in the seventh grade, I slipped into a group of older kids and ended up taking part in this EU-funded youth project at Mejeriet, a venue in Lund,” she tells IQ.

“We put on events for young people, like parties, viewings of 90210, and concerts,” she remembers. “We took tickets at the entrance or cleaned or did the coat check. When I started working at the big gigs, I realised I didn’t want to do anything else, so I dropped out of school.”

Sjölund had been attending a sports school, where basketball was her focus – “I wasn’t very good, but I was pretty tenacious,” she admits. A leg injury sustained in her first year prompted her to spend more time at the club, before she quit school altogether.

“I never really went back after that,” she said. “I would cycle from the club every morning to the record store Folk & Rock where we sold tickets, count the stubs and report back. Then I’d do the same at the other resale shops in the city. That’s basically what I did for a year.”

“I would cycle from the club every morning to the record store Folk & Rock where we sold tickets, count the stubs and report back”

Not entirely done with education, Sjölund relocated to the US to take her senior year of high school, only to return to the club a year later with renewed ambition. “I started this little side company, and we worked as stagehands and riggers and crew for extra cash,” she says. “Some of those were EMA Telstar shows – Thomas Johansson’s company. When the Stockholm promoters had shows down south, they would call me and ask for crew. We would put together a group of friends and build the stage for them.”

Sjölund’s work then took her as a production assistant to Hultsfred Festival, where her path again crossed with staff from EMA. Soon after, EMA enlisted her for Tina Turner’s Twenty Four Seven tour in 2000 at Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg. “I was 20 years old, and that was my first stadium show,” she says. “Seeing the audience on those shows was amazing, and I just loved working in a venue. I had so much fun [that] I woke up the night after the show with Elvis tattooed on my back.”

Sjölund went from strength to strength with EMA, and the firm offered her a three-month stint at the then Stockholm Globe, working under then head of operations Tor Nielsen. In addition to working on concerts, Sjölund had a hand in producing an NHL game – sparking her lifelong passion for ice hockey “I didn’t go outside for three months, and
I loved it,” she says. “I wore Harley Davidson boots every day and walked so much that I broke the bones in my foot. It was the kind of fracture that people in the military service get.”

Nielsen says that Sjölund made a strong impression from the get-go: “From day one, you could see there was something special with Anna. She was smarter than all the guys around her and with lots of energy and curiosity. From day two, you saw a coming leader in our business.”

“I thought my job was to go out there and beat up the promoter… I was so tough with settlements and riders”

EMA Telstar founder Thomas Johansson had a similar feeling: “I knew that she was going places because she was very determined to work, and she spent a lot of time getting it right… she’s very thorough at her job.” Unsurprisingly, EMA offered the wunderkind a full-time position, which Sjölund accepted, but first, she had to deliver on a promise she’d made.

A year earlier, Tobbe Lorentz, an agent and longtime friend of hers, was in need of a European tour manager for Norwegian rock band Gluecifer, and 21-year-old Sjölund agreed to step in, despite lacking any experience in that role. “She was hesitant at first, but I assured her it was an easy job,” says Lorentz, who now works at UTA. “What could possibly go wrong with these hi-fuelled garage rockers from Scandinavia in the early 2000s?” he laughs.

Gluecifer turned out to be the least of his worries. “I thought my job was to go out there and beat up the promoter,” laughs Sjölund. “I was so tough with settlements and riders. And then I learned that it’s about cooperation. It was a real learning experience.” Sjölund had spent five weeks on the road and though she was the only woman among 16 men, she loved the band so much that she agreed to a second tour with them, postponing her move to EMA. Ultimately, Sjölund says it was clear that tour managing was not for her.

“I always wanted to work as a promoter, though I didn’t necessarily know whether I would be a production person or promoter,” she says. “I love being a facilitator. I want to provide the best possible set of scenarios for the artists, for the audience, and for the staff. The thrilling thing is to help other people get their vision across from stage.”

That passion for producing was only reaffirmed upon her return to EMA Telstar: “After a month at the company, I decided I would never do anything else,” she says.

“Even in the early days, [Anna] came across as knowledgeable and well-informed about her market”

Promoter’s prerogative
After a handful of years working full-time at EMA Telstar as a production assistant and booking agent, Sjölund made the jump to promoter – but it wasn’t an easy bridge to gap at first.

“Nobody would pick up my calls,” she remembers. “I had a list of agencies, and I kept calling them.” Ever determined, the promoter’s perseverance was eventually noticed by the likes of John Giddings, Rob Markus, and Tony Goldring.

“It didn’t matter how late at night I called Anna; she would always pick up. Unlike us mortals, she didn’t seem to need sleep to function,” laughs Goldring, with whom Sjölund worked on concerts such as Rihanna’s first show in Sweden in 2008 and Alicia Keys headlining Way Out West.

“Even in the early days, she came across as knowledgeable and well-informed about her market. When there were issues, we always found solutions together, and when I needed
more money, which was always, she tried to help but was clear when she couldn’t.”

A quick glance at the testimonials accompanying this feature will tell you that Sjölund is renowned for such problem-solving skills – and she’s the first to admit she’s “at her best” when there’s a crisis – but it’s something she’s learned the hard way.

“I’ve made numerous fuck-ups,” she laughs.“Very early in my career, I once forgot to book a venue for a confirmed show, which was bad when it was announced. It was a shock to everybody, especially since the date wasn’t available.

“Sometimes you make the wrong call or miss something, that’s the nature of the business”

“I also misjudged one of my first arena shows,” she continues. “I loved the band so much, I thought it was going to be a hit, but I only sold about a third of the venue, and we lost a fortune. I’ll never forget the feeling of losing money for the company or seeing those empty chairs. I didn’t sleep for weeks.”

But these days, Sjölund is matter of fact about mistakes and says she rarely gets upset. “Sometimes you make the wrong call or miss something, that’s the nature of the business,” she says. “You’ve just got to figure it out and solve the problem. Owning your mistakes and trying to learn from them and not repeat them is a part of this. Tony [Goldring] once said that we’re judged on how well we solve problems, and I’ve always thought about that.”

The Prague years
After a decade of working as a promoter at EMA (which by then had become Live Nation Sweden), Sjölund decided to take advantage of the firm’s international footprint and accepted a job as vice president of operations Central and Eastern Europe for Live Nation.

“It was a huge step up… I had no clue what I was doing,” she laughs. “I was 32, a female in a very male-dominated business, and I had moved to a country where I didn’t speak the language.That experience taught me how to be humble. I was very excited about doing everything and wanted to come in and change things, but there are cultural considerations. Every European market is different, and I didn’t realise that until I came to Prague.”

Though the secondment was challenging, Sjölund speaks fondly of her time in Prague, where she made “friends for life” and oversaw some of her most “challenging and fun” shows, including Madonna and U2 in Istanbul, Lady Gaga in Budapest, and Depeche Mode in Prague.

“I also did a lot of special projects like Linkin Park next to the Red Square in Moscow, which was an MTV-broadcasted show for the premiere of Transformers 3,” she muses.

“If you get asked to be the MD of a company you worked for since you were 20, you’re going to say yes”

“Doing a show like that in Russia, at that time, and with a movie premiere connected, was crazy. Plus, my daughter was ten days old, and I was gone for a week.” The VP also spent months in Baku, working on concerts connected to the UEFA’s Young Women’s Championship and the Formula 1 Grand Prix. And though the country’s live music market was relatively underdeveloped at the time, she worked on concerts with the likes of Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, and Shakira in the Azerbaijan capital.

“She put Mariah Carey on at the Grand Prix one year and Pharrell Williams the next, providing ‘internal transport’ – as requested on the rider – in the form of a sunseeker… Respect!” says John Giddings, Solo.

Sjölund adds: “It was incredibly interesting to do big shows in a market where there had been no big shows like that. We had to start from scratch. I’ve always liked working in other markets. I’ve always wanted to learn more – that’s what excites me; new things and challenges.”

A corporate detour
But there was one challenge Sjölund didn’t enjoy. In November 2017, Thomas Johansson enticed the Swede with a job as co-managing director at Live Nation Sweden – the most senior position of her career until that point.

“If you get asked to be the MD of a company you worked for since you were 20, you’re going to say yes,” she says. But climbing the corporate ladder was never on the promoter’s agenda, and the role took her away from doing what she loved the most.

“It turned out it just wasn’t for me,” she says. “I had too much to do with running corporate stuff and didn’t have time to do what I love – being a promoter. There’s no time for both. I want to work with the creative and the content; I realised that’s the part I felt passionate about.”

“Being a woman is a challenge that I felt many times”

Becoming the co-managing director of the Swedish branch of a multinational company at the ripe age of 38 is impressive by anyone’s standards but even more so for a queer woman in a notoriously male-dominated industry.

“Being a woman is a challenge that I felt many times,” she says. “I don’t know how many times people have told me to ‘focus on my family’ – nobody ever tells a man that.” Sjölund hastens to add that fortunately many of the men she has worked closely with, such as Thomas Johansson and Tor Nielsen, have been “fantastic” champions and lifelong friends, but admits that there were “countless times where the boys’ club has been annoying to handle.”

Having spent the majority of her career as “the only woman in certain rooms,” Sjölund says gender equality in the industry has come a long way but that there’s still more work to be done.

“If you compare now to 15 years ago, it’s fantastic,” she says. “You’ve got amazing women like Emma Banks, Lucy Dickins, Kim Bloem, and Kelly Chappel ruling the business, but I wish there were more of us. It’s unbelievable to me that we don’t manage to bring more women into senior positions.

“The people responsible for the lack of women in high positions are the men who never leave those high positions. Everybody needs to move around a little to create new opportunities… you’ve gotta make room for the Kim Bloems!” she says.

While her experience as a woman in the industry has, at times, been rocky, she says her sexuality has “never been questioned.” In fact, Sjölund recounts Live Nation adjusting its employee benefits so she and her partner could start their family.

“Lolla Stockholm will always be our baby”

“The wait time for two women to have assisted insemination in Sweden was two to three years, simply because there were not enough donors,” she explains. “But we didn’t want to wait to start our family, so we decided to go private, and you could only do that in Denmark. That wasn’t included in Live Nation’s benefits and when I mentioned that, it was immediately adjusted so we could get the same type of support as any other couple that needed additional help to start their family. I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of an employer.”

Home is where the heart is
Ensuring Sweden remains attractive as a market keeps Sjölund awake at night. Throughout her career, she has been a fierce advocate for her home country and its value to the international live music industry.

“It’s a unique market,” she says proudly. “If you look per capita, Sweden is a pretty small country, but if you go to a festival anywhere in the world, you’ll likely see Swedish artists on stage, and you’ll definitely hear songs played by headliners that are written by Swedish songwriters and producers. Plus, we have a great set of venues, Spotify is Swedish. It’s sort of a music centre.”

It was that kind of impassioned pitch that saw the exec bring US festival brand Lollapalooza to Stockholm in 2019 – one of her proudest achievements. “It was my dream to do that, and I could not have done that without the team headed up by Frida Riklund,” she says. “Lolla Stockholm will always be our baby. It was the first time we had something like that in the centre of Stockholm – at least on that scale.

“Plus, I loved seeing the approach C3 Presents take with festivals and combining that with the European approach to promoting.”

A major source of Sjölund’s pride with Lollapalooza Stockholm was creating an event for all ages – an impressive feat in a country where the age limit is 13 due to sound limits. “We worked with the authorities to find a way to let kids of all ages attend with their parents,” she explained.

“The vibe that created – seeing people of all ages having fun – was something I hadn’t seen before in Stockholm. I loved seeing my kids [Magda and Holly] in Kidspalooza playing around, and then going to watch Billie Eilish, who exploded that year.

“I bought sheep… I had to keep myself busy, so I looked after them and learned to cut them”

“I think it’s really important for the growth of the business to get people enjoying festivals and concerts early. And due to Covid, there’s a whole generation of people that missed a few years there. So I think it’s even more important that you get that opportunity.”

Sjölund is equally proud of developing the relationship between Sweden and the National Hockey League (NHL) – a project she worked on from her first days at Live Nation to her last.

“Sweden has the third most players in the NHL after Canada and the US – that’s pretty cool, being such a small market. Working with the NHL has been a real high point of my career.”

Coping mechanisms
The high of launching Lollapalooza Stockholm was abruptly followed by a low – the pandemic. “Can you believe how unlucky it is to work on a project for so long, launch it, and then the pandemic comes?” says Sjölund, who latched onto some weird and wonderful distraction techniques.

“I bought sheep,” she says. “I had to keep myself busy, so I looked after them and learned to cut them. It was a little bit impulsive,” she admits. “I didn’t think about the fact that not every summer would be like a Covid summer, so I had to restructure a little bit after that.”

When she wasn’t shearing sheep, Sjölund was putting her energy into teaching the Swedish government about the music industry and its value to society, alongside ASM’s Marie Lindqvist.

“There is always an itch in me… I was at the point in my career where I was thinking should I do something else?”

“I think we both found a way of channeling our passion for this industry into something constructive during these miserable years,” says Lindqvist. “Anna turned out to be a natural
talent in lobbying; she could probably also go into politics if she wanted. Very passionate, informed, and convincing!”

The pair regularly met up to walk and talk during that period, forming a strong relationship based on shared values in work and in life. “We share a view about events and about taking care of everyone involved – the audiences, promoters, and artists,” adds Sjölund. A few years down the line and it was that shared vision – plus good timing – that ultimately prompted Sjölund to leave the company she’d spent 25 years at.

“As ASM Global grew in Sweden with more venues and expanded into Finland, it needed someone that could head up the programming team and help us to develop our strategies and content in the growing portfolio of venues in Europe,” says Lindqvist. “I think the stars were aligned, I picked up the phone, pitched the role, and luckily it turned out to be the right time and place for Anna.”

Sjölund adds: “There is always an itch in me… I was at the point in my career where I was thinking should I do something else? There was no reason for me to be a promoter anywhere else – I had an incredible ride at Live Nation, and I’m so grateful for all the folks there and the great opportunities I’ve had. It was time for a new challenge.”

“I’m really excited to see what I can bring to the venue business”

A new chapter
If there’s one thing Sjölund’s colleagues, old and new, can agree on, it’s that she’s going to take the venue business by storm. “I think it’s going to be very good for the venues,” says Johansson. “I think the biggest advantage she has is that she’s been a promoter for 24 years. She knows the problems we have, whereas a lot of venue people have no idea what it is to be a promoter.”

“In the ASM office, we joke that I’m the promoter interpreter,” adds Sjölund. “I think it’s exciting to go from one part of the business to the other. In the end, we all want the same thing – to put on a great show.”

While she admits it’s sometimes still strange to be on the other side of the business, she is also fully embracing the change of scenery. “There’s more room for being long-term and strategic, whereas promoters have to solve problems right now.”

Though there are fewer late-night crisis calls, there are still plenty of urgent problems that need solving… “Avails, avails, avails – that’s the biggest issue,” she laughs. “I want to create more days in certain months. In some of our arenas we have a lot of sports, so there’s a juggle to accommodate home teams and all the artists that want to come and play.”

As she looks to the next phase of her career, Sjölund’s ambitions in the venue business are far from small: “I’m really excited to see what I can bring to the venue business. I want to see more great sports in our arenas, and I’m excited to work with both small venues and big venues, and all the opportunities that brings for new types of content – the sky is the limit. I want every promoter, artist, and fan to leave our venues feeling like they have had a great experience – that’s what I take pride in.”

 


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Swift’s Euro trek collects attendance records

The European leg of the Eras Tour is off to a record-breaking start, with Taylor Swift smashing attendance records in France and Sweden.

The 34-year-old kicked off the European jaunt on 9 May with four dates at La Défense Arena in Paris, France, which drew a total of 180,000 fans.

This turnout set a new record for the arena, which had increased its capacity from 40,000 to 45,000 per show.

The AEG Presents-promoted outing continued to Sweden, where the superstar rewrote the history books at Friends Arena in Stockholm.

On 17 May, the star set a new record for the highest number of tickets sold for an event at the arena, which was trumped the following night and the one after, resulting in a new attendance record for a single concert at Friends Arena with 60,243 people.

The 34-year-old kicked off the European jaunt on 9 May with four dates at La Défense Arena in Paris

Across the three Stockholm dates, which were promoted by MTG, AEG Presents and All Things Live Sweden, Swift drew 178,679 people and smashed the previous audience record for a single artist.

The record sees Swift unseat Bruce Springsteen who attracted 167,160 people to his three concerts at the arena in 2013.

Swift’s record-breaking streak in European venues is expected to continue, with AEG being granted permission to extend capacities on various venues.

Edinburgh’s Murrayfield has already announced that the Eras Tour concerts will be Scotland’s biggest-selling stadium shows after the city’s council agreed to increase Murrayfield’s capacity by 8.73% from 67,130 to 72,990.

The concerts will see Swift unseat previous record holder Harry Styles, who performed to more than 65,000 fans at the same venue in 2023. Prior to that, Styles’ band One Direction held the title for selling 64,000 tickets there in 2014.

The Eras Tour, the highest-grossing tour of all time, is set to continue tonight (24 May) at Estádio Da Luz in Portugal.

 


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LGBTIQ+ List 2024: This year’s queer pioneers unveiled

IQ Magazine has revealed the LGBTIQ+ List 2024 – the fourth annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business.

The list is once again the centrepiece of IQ’s annual Pride edition, sponsored by Ticketmaster, which is now available to read online and in print for subscribers.

The 20 individuals comprising the LGBTIQ+ List 2024 – as nominated by our readers and verified by our esteemed steering committee – are individuals that have gone above and beyond to wave the flag for an industry that we can all be proud of.

The fourth instalment comprises agents, promoters, venue directors, bookers, consultants, sustainability experts, talent buyers, managers and sound engineers from across the world.

In alphabetical order, the LGBTIQ+ List 2024 is:

Anna Sjölund, EU programming director, ASM Global (SE)
Ary Maudit, sound engineer/producer, RAK Studios/Strongroom/Saffron Records (UK)
Buğra Davaslıgıl, senior talent buyer, Charmenko (TR)
Caterina Conti, operations manager, 432 Presents (UK)
Chris May, general manager, BC Place Stadium (CA)
Dustin Turner, music marketing agent, music touring, CAA (US)
Emma Davis, general manager/agent, One Fiinix Live (UK)
Gwen Iffland, senior marketing & PR manager, Wizard Live (DE)
Jason Brotman, founder, Five Senses Reeling (US)
Joona Juutilainen, Booking Assistant, Fullsteam Agency (FI)
Luke Mulligan, director, Circa 41 (AU)
Paul Lomas, booker, WME (UK)
Pembe Tokluhan, production/founder/diversity consultant, Petok Productions (UK)
Priscilla Nagashima, VP of engineering, DICE (UK)
Rhys France, corporate & private events booker, CAA (UK)
Rivca Burns, acting head of music, Factory International (UK)
Ross Patel, green impact consultant & board member, LIVE/MMF (UK)
Sam Oldham, venue director, The O2 (UK)
Sam Booth, director of sustainability, AEG Europe (UK)
Zoe Maras, founder & artist services, Joyride Agency (NZ)

Throughout Pride Month (June), IQ will be publishing full-length interviews with each person on the LGBTIQ+ List 2024.

However, subscribers can read the full Pride edition now. Click here to subscribe to IQ from just £8 a month – or see what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below.

Check out previous Pride lists from 2023, 2022 and 2021.

 


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Israel protests shroud Eurovision final build-up

The build-up to the 68th Eurovision Song Contest has been marred by protests over Israel’s inclusion in the event.

Israeli singer Eden Golan qualified for tomorrow’s (11 May) grand final at Sweden’s Malmö Arena after a public vote. The 20-year-old received a mixed reaction from the audience during last night’s semi-final and had been booed during rehearsals the previous evening.

Eurovision has faced boycott calls over Israel’s participation in the 2024 contest, amid the ongoing war and escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Thousands of pro-Palestinian protestors gathered in the streets of Malmö yesterday. The Guardian reports that further protests, and an alternative concert, which organisers have billed as “a song contest without genocide”, are planned for Saturday.

A smaller demonstration in support of Israel also reportedly took place.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organises the competition, allowed Israel to compete after it changed the lyrics to its song, originally titled October Rain, which was understood to reference the 7 October attacks by Hamas, breaching Eurovision’s rules on political neutrality. It has since been renamed Hurricane and features amended lyrics.

“It is truly such an honour to be here on stage, representing [Israel] with pride,” said Golan, as per the BBC. “I’m so grateful for everyone who voted and took part in supporting us, and me.”

“The European Broadcasting Union acknowledges the depth of feeling and the strong opinions that this year’s Eurovision Song Contest – set against the backdrop of a terrible war in the Middle East – has provoked”

According to Al Jezeera, About 1,139 people were killed in the coordinated 7 October attacks according to Israeli authorities – including more than 360 in the Supernova festival massacre – while over 34,904 people have since been killed in Gaza, and 78,514 wounded.

The EBU released a statement last month regarding the “abuse and harassment” of Eurovision artists.

“The European Broadcasting Union acknowledges the depth of feeling and the strong opinions that this year’s Eurovision Song Contest – set against the backdrop of a terrible war in the Middle East – has provoked,” says Jean Philip De Tender, deputy director general of the EBU. “We understand that people will want to engage in debate and express their deeply held views on this matter. We have all been affected by the images, stories and the unquestionable pain suffered by those in Israel and in Gaza.

“However, we wish to address the concerns and discussions surrounding this situation, especially the targeted social media campaigns against some of our participating artists.”

De Tender continues: “The decision to include any broadcaster, including the Israeli’ broadcaster Kan, in the Eurovision Song Contest is the sole responsibility of the EBU’s governing bodies and not that of the individual artists. These artists come to Eurovision to share their music, culture, and the universal message of unity through the language of music.

“The EBU has previously explained the reasoning for the inclusion of KAN and the differences between them as an independent broadcaster and previous participants who were excluded. Constructive debate is a positive consequence of such decisions.

“However, while we strongly support freedom of speech and the right to express opinions in a democratic society, we firmly oppose any form of online abuse, hate speech, or harassment directed at our artists or any individuals associated with the contest. This is unacceptable and totally unfair, given the artists have no role in this decision.”

“We urge everyone to engage in respectful and constructive dialogue and support the artists who are working tirelessly – on what is a music and entertainment show”

He adds: “The EBU is dedicated to providing a safe and supportive environment for all participants, staff, and fans of the Eurovision Song Contest. We will continue to work closely with all stakeholders to promote the values of respect, inclusivity, and understanding, both online and offline.

“We urge everyone to engage in respectful and constructive dialogue and support the artists who are working tirelessly – on what is a music and entertainment show – to share their music with the world.”

Meanwhile, Sky News reports that the Netherlands’ Eurovision entry Joost Klein is under EBU investigation due to an “incident”.

“We are currently investigating an incident that was reported to us involving the Dutch artist,” says an EBU statmement. “He will not be rehearsing until further notice. We have no further comment at this time and will update in due course.”

Malmö Arena, owned by Parkfast Arena, can host up to 15,000 people for music events depending on the position of the stage, according to the venue’s website. It will be the seventh time Sweden will host to Eurovision and coincides with the 50th anniversary of ABBA’s first triumph. Former winners Charlotte Perrelli, Carola and Conchita Wurst are set to perform an homage to the legendary Swedish band during Saturday’s ceremony.

Latvia, Austria, the Netherlands, Norway, Greece, Estonia, Switzerland, Georgia and Armenia also qualified for tomorrow’s final. Last year’s trophy was taken home by Sweden’s contestant, Loreen, who won the competition, hosted by Liverpool, UK, on behalf of Ukraine, for the second time. Croatia are the current favourites to win the 2024 contest.

 


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FKP Scorpio secures Swedish castle agreement

International promoting giant FKP Scorpio has invested in a Swedish castle with a view to utilising it as a concert venue.

The company plans to host live music events at Drottningskär’s castle, which is part of the World Heritage Site of the naval city of Karlskrona, from this summer, with the opening lineup soon to be announced.

“This is a first step for us to develop the music and cultural offer in Karlskrona,” says Niklas Lundell of FKP Scorpio. “We see great potential in the city’s arenas combined with aggressive municipal destination work. This creates good conditions for us to invest.”

Work is currently underway to develop Drottningskär’s castle as a visitor destination over the long term with new content following the signing of an agreement between the municipality and the Statens Fastighetsverk (national property board) last spring.

“FKP Scorpio’s presence in the future will mean a lot for the city’s attractiveness”

“We are working on developing different parts of Drottningskär’s castle and quality concerts during the summer are an important step,” explains Pär Israelsson, Karlskrona director of tourism.

“Of course, we are incredibly proud that FKP Scorpio chooses Karlskrona and this unique concert arena. Karlskrona needs more cultural and musical events spread throughout the year. FKP Scorpio’s presence in the future will mean a lot for the city’s attractiveness.”

Other highlights for FKP Scorpio Sverige, which is part of the Hamburg-based FKP Scorpio group, include a warm-up gig by Massive Attack at Filmstudio in Gothenburg on 5 June and NE-YO’s first Swedish concert since 2010 at Hovet in Stockholm on June 29.

The firm is also organising Chris Isaak’s first performance in Sweden in 12 years at the Waterfront in Stockholm on 17 August and the only Swedish date on Girl in Red’s upcoming tour at Annexet, Stockholm, on 2 October.

 


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Swifties expected to spend half a billion in Stockholm

Taylor Swift’s upcoming concerts in Stockholm are expected to be a “real hit” for the city’s economy, according to a new report.

The superstar is due to play three Eras Tour concerts between 17–19 May at Friends Arena (cap. 50,000), marking her only stop in the Nordic countries.

According to calculations by the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce and Friends Arena, Swifties attending the concerts are expected to spend half a billion kroner (€43.6m).

“When the Friends arena is filled with visitors, it also means significant revenue for hotels, restaurants and shops. Taylor Swift’s visit is therefore a real hit for Stockholm’s economy,” says Carl Bergkvist, chief economist at the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC), in a press release.

“We have calculated what the visitors can spend on accommodation, food, SL [public transport] tickets and additional tourism, perhaps a guided tour of the old town. The concert tickets and trips to Stockholm are not included.”

“Taylor Swift’s visit is a real hit for Stockholm’s economy”

Of the 150,000 fans attending Swift’s Stockholm concerts, almost half will come from abroad, according to the SCC.

Fans from 132 countries, including USA, Finland and Australia, will attend the shows in Sweden’s capital city.

Swift and other A-list stars have also been credited with helping to rejuvenate tourism in Singapore after the country secured a much-debated exclusivity deal with the star.

At the end of last year, Swift’s planet-conquering Eras Tour officially became the first tour in history to surpass $1 billion in revenue.

Weeks later it was announced that the Eras Tour concert film also made history, becoming the highest-grossing concert/documentary film in box office history with more than US$261.6 million earned globally.

The blockbuster tour will resume in May with the European leg, which kicks off at LA Défense Arena in Paris.

In the meantime, Swift’s next album, The Tortured Poets Department, is due out on 19 April.

 


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Swedish festival secures Refused exclusive

Rosendal Garden Party has secured the final ever festival performance in Sweden by hardcore punk band Refused.

The Swedish group will perform on the opening night of the FKP Scorpio Sweden-promoted event, which returns from 14-16 June, alongside M.I.A. and Turnstile.

Refused, who last toured in 2020, are returning to the stage for the first time in four years in what is billed as: “Their only gig and their last festival gig in Sweden. Ever.”

“Rosendal Garden Party has always been about breaking patterns and transforming the old festival concept into something new”

“Rosendal Garden Party has always been about breaking patterns and transforming the old festival concept into something new,” says promoter Johanna Beckman of FKP Scorpio Sweden. “We’ve sought inspiration in art, activism, subcultures, and artists we love for their ability to shatter rigid structures. Both M.I.A. and Refused belong there. They have inspired us, and it feels fantastic that we can welcome both of them to Rosendal this year.”

The festival will also be headlined by fellow Swedish act The Cardigans, as well as Massive Attack. Other acts on the bill include Raye, Saint Levant, Grace Jones and The Heavy.

Three-day tickets are priced SEK1,995 (€178), while one-day tickets, which went on sale today, cost SEK995 (€89). Premium tickets are also available for SEK3,995 (€356) and SEK1,695 (€151), respectively.

 


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Södra Teatern installs Karin Sinclair as GM

ASM Global has appointed Karin Sinclair as the new general manager of Södra Teatern in Stockholm, effective 1 May.

One of the city’s oldest and most beloved cultural establishments, Södra Teatern consists of several concert stages and venues for meetings, conferences and events, as well as a nightclub.

Sinclair joins ASM from Scandic Hotels, where she has held several senior positions, including hotel director for several hotels in Stockholm and Gothenburg and, most recently, as revenue manager for the Swedish operation’s 85 hotels.

“We are very proud of our iconic Södra Teatern, which has had a steady positive development in recent years,” says Marie Lindqvist, senior vice president operations Europe, ASM Global.

“We are facing the next chapter in the business with a strong focus on developing the stage programme”

“Now, we are facing the next chapter in the business with a strong focus on developing the stage programme and the event and conference business. We are very pleased that Karin will lead this work with her solid experience in change management, operations and leadership.”

Sinclair adds: “I look forward to being involved in further developing the offer and getting even more people to experience concerts, events and nightlife at Stockholm’s most beautiful entertainment centre. In particular, I look forward to working with the entire ASM Global and Södra Teatern team.

“You could say that I have come full circle as I previously worked as bar manager at Södra Teatern for some time and am also a frequent visitor, which means that I feel both honoured and happy to have now the opportunity to come back as general manager.”

Södra Teatern is a 19th-century theatre venue with a capacity of up to 600. The building also includes Mosebacketerrassen, a rooftop terrace that can accommodate around 2,000 people, and Kägelbanan, a former bowling alley with a capacity of 750.

 


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Tele2 Arena to host Sweden’s biggest hip-hop gig

Swedish rapper Ant Wan is set to perform the biggest hip-hop concert in the country’s history after selling close to 40,000 tickets in a matter of hours.

The 26-year-old will play Stockholm’s Tele2 Arena on 12 October this year, organised by FKP Scorpio Sweden.

Wan was due to play his first arena gig at the 8,300-cap Hovet in the Swedish capital last September, only for the show to be upgraded to the 15,000-cap Avicii Arena due to demand.

“Neither we nor the ticket supplier have previously seen tickets to Tele2 Arena sell so quickly,” says FKP senior creative curator and promotor Johanna Beckman. “First Hovet, then Avicii Arena and now Tele2 Arena. Ant Wan sells out everything he does. He is number one, a phenomenon.”

“Ant Wan has shown that he has the strongest fan base in the Nordics”

Real name Antwan Afram, Wan has reached No.1 in the Swedish albums chart with each of his last three studio LPs: 2021’s Leylas World and Wow 2, and 2022’s The Only Wan.

“Ant Wan has shown that he has the strongest fan base in the Nordics, so we are not surprised by the high pressure. Together with Ant Wan and FKP Scorpio, we are writing history once again,” adds Ninos Icho, co-founder of Swedish production firm Dopest.

Other upcoming artists slated to appear at the 45,000-cap Tele2 Arena include The 1975, John Mayer, J Balvin, Rod Stewart, Nicki Minaj, Tool and The World of Hans Zimmer.

 


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ASM Global’s Friends Arena in Stockholm renamed

ASM Global has announced a new naming rights partnership for Sweden’s national arena, formerly called Friends Arena.

From 12 July, the 60,000-capacity arena in Stockholm will be known as the Strawberry Arena, named after the Nordic hotel, spa and restaurant company.

Located in the municipality of Solna, the venue is Sweden’s largest stadium and is home to Sweden’s national football team.

The partnership kicks off a busy year for the arena that includes concerts with Taylor Swift, Pink, and Bruce Springsteen, as well as national team matches, and other major events such as Melodifestivalen, Tech Arena and Sweden International Horse Show.

Johan Mägi, commercial director at ASM Global, says “Strawberry is a dream partner for us. They share ASM Global’s passion for hosting and delivering the best live entertainment experiences in the world. They will be a strong, long-term partner for the Nordic regions largest arena and together we look forward to developing market-leading offers for our visitors across sports, music, conferences, exhibitions and more, along with thousands of other fans.”

“Strawberry is a dream partner for us”

Strawberry will also have the opportunity to offer visitors wider packages, with everything from food and accommodation to experiences at Strawberry Arena. According to a release, the company will create VIP entrances for its members, specially adapted member events and Strawberry lounges in close cooperation with the chain’s hotels Quality Hotel Friends and Comfort Hotel Solna, which are located directly adjacent to the arena.

“In July, the arena will change its name to Strawberry Arena, and this is a major milestone for our group and our history in Sweden. Most people see us as a hotel company, but we offer everything from small experiences that spice up everyday life to “once in a lifetime” experiences. With Strawberry Arena, we will create memorable meetings and spread the message that diversity in the world is just as important as diversity in experiences,” says Carl Oldsberg, chief digital officer at Strawberry.

The Foundation Friends and their work against bullying will continue to be represented at the arena and through a new agreement, the commitment is also extended to ASM Global’s other arenas in Sweden.

 


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