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Denmark

Market Focus
April 30, 2018
The much anticipated arrival of the 16,000-capacity Royal Arena in Copenhagen has energised the whole live music sector, with local artistes also rising to the occasion with sell-outs there and Denmark’s status on the international touring circuit significantly enhanced.  Neil Bracegirdle reports

Hailed as the gateway from Europe to the Nordic countries, Denmark shares its southern border with Germany, and that gateway works in the other direction too.

A member of the European Union but not in the euro currency group, its population enjoys a high standard of living, with the economy boasting world-leading firms in the pharmaceutical industry, shipping and renewable energy, and is noted for striking a good work-life balance, thanks to flexible working conditions and a strong social support network.

Although events, particularly festivals, take place across the country, its hub is undoubtedly the capital Copenhagen, where the arrival of the 16,000-capacity Royal Arena last year provided the missing link between concert venues and the 50,000-capacity Telia Parken stadium.

Owned by strategic foundation Realdania and the City of Copenhagen, the arena is operated by Live Nation Denmark (LND) through its Danish Venue Enterprise (DVE) subsidiary.

Among LND promoted shows at the venue are Iron Maiden, with tickets priced at 370-666 krone ($61-110) and two shows with Justin Timberlake at 450-1,000 krone ($74-165).

Jesper Christensen

“Now it’s like the landscape has been completed, and this [the arena] has been a great gamechanger.” says LND head promoter Jesper Christensen.

Putting on between 400-500 shows annually, Christensen has a good overview of the market and believes one of its key strengths is the talent of local acts.

“It’s common that Danish artistes grow into international touring acts, for instance Mø and Volbeat,” he says. “Last year Volbeat sold-out the national stadium Telia Parken, with 47,000 people. This was the first time in history a Danish artiste has done this.”

Other LND shows include Guns N’Roses at Odense Dyrsekueplads (cap. 40,000), Metallica at Herning Jyske Bank Boxen (15,000) and Kendrik Lamar at the Royal Arena.

“We are very pleased with the market and tickets is generally selling very well,” says Christensen.

“We have a big focus on ticket pricing, and as part of this have started using more ticket pricing categories than we used to do. But for all artistes we see a very thin line on what we actually can charge.”

Claiming the title of the country’s leading urban music promoter, ICO Concerts is LND’s closest rival and last year staged shows with artistes such as Justin Bieber, Celine Dion, Rammstein and the Rolling Stones.

Kim Worsoe

Director Kim Worsoe took over the company, which also promotes across the Nordics, from his late father Arne, who founded it in 1965.

“Big shows are doing well at the moment, but the up and coming shows are a bit of a tougher sell,” says Worsoe.

“We’ve also got more festivals than ever before, possibly too many, as not all are doing so well.

“But this is the nature of the live business. It is ever-changing, which is what makes it exciting and keeps you on your toes.”

Among the 300 shows ICO has this year are Sam Smith and Katy Perry, both at the Royal Arena, Rita Ora at Vega (1,500) in Copenhagen, Level 42 at DR Koncerthuset (1,800) and Katie Melua at Musikhuset in Aarhus (3,800).

“The only thing I would change is lower VAT [sales tax] on ticket prices, apart from that we can’t wait for what the future has in store,” says Worsoe.

Risk assessment

After announcing its presence on the promoting scene in the mid-‘90s with a Beastie Boys show at KB Hall (3,000) in Copenhagen, Beatbox Entertainment now stages 200 shows annually and has a hand in five festivals.

“Tickets are doing well, except for the small shows which are a disaster,” says Beatbox founder Mads Sorensen. “The internet was a blessing, it really opened up music, but now there is so much out there you need to be selective at that level.

“It’s okay if new bands have hits, but it can be very risky.”

“We are always aiming for better shows, better value and better experiences for the audience”

Mads Sorensen

In a recent development Beatbox has bought-out partner and pan-European promoter FKP Scorpio from the business that runs festivals Northside (30,000) in Aarhus and Tinderbox (40,000) in Odense (see news pages), and will operate them with co-owner Down the Drain Productions.

“The festival market is good, especially for the more established ones and we still have areas where there is business to be exploited,” says Sorensen.

“FKP still own a small share in Beatbox Entertainment and we have a good working relationship on that front.”

Acts playing Northside include The National, The War on Drugs and Bjork, with three-day tickets costing 1,595 krone ($264), while Tinderbox has Depeche Mode, Bastille and KYGO among headliners, and the same ticket price.

Beatbox is also staging the two-day Haven (18,000) event in Copenhagen, headlined by Kraftwerk and Arcade Fire and has teamed-up with Tap 1 (4,000) to hold indoor festival Noisey over three days in November.

“We are always aiming for better shows, better value and better experiences for the audience,” adds Sorensen. “They are after all the main reason we are all here still.”

Other concerts promoted by the company include Arctic Monkeys and Bon Iver at the Royal Arena, A Perfect Circle at Forum (10,000) in Copenhagen, George Ezra and Haim at Tap 1 and Gogol Bordello at The Grey Hall (1,700).

ABBA The Show at CSB Island

Diverse entertainment

Kenneth Svoldgaard

Based in Fanoe, CSB Island Entertainment is run by Carsten and Kenneth Svoldgaard.

The company promotes across a wide spectrum including classical and family entertainment worldwide, and has shows in Denmark with Elton John at Vejle City Park (10,000), KISS at Forum Arena Horsens (3,500) and John Hiatt at Skovdalen (5,000) in Aalborg.

“We probably do around 600 shows globally and around 250 nationally,” says Kenneth.

“The market is quite stable here and across Scandinavia, and there are no real issues.

“We are aware of secondary ticketing, but it is not a major problem. We do put some time into social media, warning people to buy through the official channels though.”

Carsten Svoldgaard believes international artiste fees are often too high and this particularly affects festivals, which end up having more local acts in their line-ups, while he says VAT of 25 per cent on the ticket price also poses challenges.

“That is the most expensive in Europe and makes it hard for business,” he explains. “We are still succeeding, but I’d say most are doing safe shows and not experimenting too much with something new.”

Long-running family entertainment successes for CSB including ABBA tribute, The Show, Thriller Live which is on tour across Scandinavia for the sixth time and Disney on Ice.

“In general we are lucky to work on things that appeal to a big audience and people like to go out,” adds Kenneth Svoldgaard.

Something bigger

In existence for 37 years, Roskilde (115,000) festival is one the world’s largest and best-known events.

During the 30 June to 7 July festival, around 175 acts will perform across its eights stages, including the Orange Stage, where the audience can reach  60,000.

“Denmark has more festivals per capita than more or less any other country,” says Roskilde’s Mads Mikkelsen. “If there’s a bubble, it certainly hasn’t burst yet.

“There used to be more of a festival demographic, but instead of festivals fighting for the same people, we’ve seen an increase in the number of people going to festivals and different sorts of festivals.

“Most of the bigger festivals enjoyed a good 2017, but we’ll have to wait and see about 2018.”

Mikkelsen says he is concerned about rising artiste fees and the pressure that puts on ticket prices, and the growing trend of local acts missing out smaller venues across the country when on tour.

“Consequently, the venues outside the top four cities are at risk of losing out on great acts and new audiences,” he explains.

This year’s Roskilde line-up features Eminem, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Bruno Mars, Nine Inch Nails and Gorillaz. Tickets for the full eight days are 2,100 krone ($348).

“Eminem is obviously attracting a lot people as it will be his first ever show in Denmark,” says Mikkelsen. “In the past few years there have certainly been legends selling plenty of tickets, like the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney.

“But apart from the individual acts and the line-up as a whole, people go to our festival because of the overall experience. Our not-for-profit ethos means that people feel part of something bigger.”

“Instead of festivals fighting for the same audience, we’ve seen an increase in the number of people going to festivals”

Mads Mikkelsen

Another staple of the festival scene is Smukfest (55,000) which was launched in 1977 and takes place in Skanderborg. Founder JP Andersen has seen many competitors come and go, but fears the amount being spent on festival headliners could spell trouble for the future.

“More and more festivals are now mostly aiming at headliners, giving less space for new and upcoming music,” says Andersen.

“This year we have had to set the highest ticket price [2,695 krone, $446] for any Danish festival. Not because we are seeking a larger outcome as we are a not-for-profit community, but because we are forced to raise our total budget to attract suitable headliners, and hold a high service level, to keep our position in the market.

“In our local community in Skanderborg, Smukfest is the very backbone in bringing thousands of people together around music and cultural activities the whole year through,” says Andersen.

“If the only driving force was profit,” he says, “then I’m sure that the future would become a very narrow and soulless cultural place.”

Artistes playing the festival include Britney Spears, Shawn Mendes, Kendrik Lamar, MO and deadmau5.

Game-changer

Opened 15 months ago with four sell-out shows by Metallica, the Royal Arena has since welcomed acts such as Lady Gaga, John Legend, Rod Stewart, The Weeknd and Celine Dion.

Capable of staging shows from a capacity of 2,000 upwards and located in close proximity to the capital’s airport, the venue is an instant success.

“Danes are probably as passionate about live music as the rest of the residents on planet Earth,” says DVE CEO Dan Hammer. “From day one we have been very busy and the future looks, and will sound, good.”

Along with sporting activities, the arena is expected to hold 90 events in 2018, with sold out shows by Justin Timberlake, U2, Sam Smith, Depeche Mode and Danish band Nephew among them.

“I don’t think we are missing anything,” says Hammer. “The music scene is certainly alive and kicking and there is so much talent out there.”

Jyske Bank Boxen

Prior to the arrival of the Royal Arena, the 15,000-capacity Jyske Bank Boxen in Herning was the primary venue for major international touring acts. Since opening in 2010, with a sold-out concert by Lady Gaga, the venue which is part of the MCH Messecenter exhibition and entertainment complex, has staged shows with Ed Sheeran, Andre Rieu, Prince, Rihanna and Ariana Grande.

Over the coming months it has shows with Roger Waters, with tickets at 480-990 krone ($79-164), Queen + Adam Lambert at 500-850 krone ($82-141), and Anne Sanne Lis, 380-650 krone ($63-108).

“The venue was the country’s first multi-purpose arena and provides a wide range of services,” says MCH head of culture Nicki Quist. “We are known for our flexibility and hospitality.”

Home of football team FC Copenhagen, the national stadium Telia Parken has a maximum concert capacity of 55,000.

Staging between three to six concerts annually, the stadium has hosted artistes such as Coldplay, Robbie Williams and Guns N’Roses.

As Audienwent to press, the sole concert announced for this year was Jay-Z and Beyoncé.

Telia Parken

Upward curve

Having undergone an extensive renovation TAP 1, a former distillery, reopened last year with separate event spaces – Hall 1 (4,500) and Hall 2 (1,800). The work has opened up new possibilities for the venue and it is due to hold the country’s first indoor festivals, Hafnia Zoo and Noisey, later this year.

“Generally, tickets are selling, even though they are far from cheap,” says TAP 1 chief operating officer Rikke Friis Assentoft.

“People want experiences and supply and demand rules. From my perspective we have never had more shows and festivals. The big question is, when the curve breaks?”

The venue usually stages between 20-30 shows every year, with 20 Seconds to Mars, Haim, G-Eazy and George Ezra among concerts this year, and there are plans to increase this number.

“We still believe there is room for improvement on the music experience,” says Assentoft.

“We hope that Denmark will continue to be a preferred stop on many international artistes tours. In the long run, we believe that the mid-sized stage benefits from the many big international artistes visiting Denmark.”

Also in Copenhagen and operating for more than two decades, the VEGA complex has three live spaces – Store VEGA (1,550), Lille VEGA (500) and Ideal Bar Live (250) – and stages around 350 shows a year.

Ticket prices range from 75-500 krone ($12.50-83), and recent sell-outs have included LCD Soundsystem, King Krule, Ryan Adams and Slowdive.

“We have played a crucial role in breaking local and international artistes for a bigger audience,” says Vega’s Ditte Sig Krammer.

“As an independent venue we are very aware of the big players growing market position and how this position expands with the arrival of new festivals promoted by the agencies.

“We are very concerned about the development of emerging artistes and securing the room for these acts to grow. In a market that seems to get more and more profit orientated, with a sole focus on the already established artistes.

“We see it as our goal and responsibility to secure these young acts to have a place to go and meet their audience.”

Artistes due to perform at VEGA include Johnny Marr, Rita Ora, The Vamps, Ziggy Marley and Franz Ferdinand.

Positive upturn

Peter Astrup

Founded by Peter Astrup, Blues Productions focuses mainly on established jazz and blues acts and is enjoying a productive period.

“It goes in circles, but it seems like the blues and soul has found its way back and this is the best period we have had for many years,” says Astrup.

The company’s biggest events are Blues Heaven (3,000) at Arena Nord in Frederikshavn and Blues Paradise at Arena Naestved (3,000). Both are held over the same weekend in November.

“We probably do between 80 to 100 shows across Scandinavia, but also some in Europe,” says Astrup. “People enjoy going to quality live music and that is what we provide.”

Buddy Guy, Robert Cray and Walter Trout will be among acts playing Blues Haven, with tickets priced at 930 krone ($154).

Golden tickets

Ticketing company Venuepoint is owned by CTS Eventim and Nordisk Film – a subsidiary of Denmark’s largest media company Egmont. It also has offices in Sweden and Norway.

Among the 9,000 shows it tickets annually, its best sellers are Northside and Tinderbox, while CTS and Nordisk will be operating the new KB Hallen (4,900) in Copenhagen when it opens later this year.

The original KB Hallen, which had hosted acts including the Rolling Stones, Radiohead and Katy Perry, was badly damaged by fire in 2011.

“The market has experienced a lot of growth the last couple of years,” says Venuepoint CEO Jens Arnesen. “People have gone out with a higher frequency, but lately the growth has flattened out due to a jump in average ticket price, especially with foreign artistes.

“We expect the market to continue to grow, but at a slower pace than we have seen the last couple of years.”

Meanwhile, the MD of Live Nation Entertainment-owned Ticketmaster Denmark, Jakob Lund, believes the live music industry is thriving.

The company is the primary agency for shows such as Jay-Z and Beyoncé at Telia Parken; Sam Smith, Arctic Monkeys, Katy Perry and Enrique Iglesias, all at Royal Arena, and Roskilde festival.

“There has been an explosive growth in the number of great shows, artistes and entertainers performing in venues, both new and old, in recent years,” says Lund.

“Royal Arena has been a big contributor to the success of the whole market and overall we have noticed a general uplift in ticket sales.

“I’m personally very impressed with the amount of shows selling out – even in the big arenas. And on top of this, I’m sure we will see several of the Danish festivals sell exceedingly well too.”

Facts

Population (millions): 5.7m
Language: Danish
GDP per capita: 56,334
Currency: Danish Krone (DKK)
US$ exchange rate: 6.01285
Broadband households: 3.7m
Internet users: 4.5m

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