Ever since ABBA Sweden has had many internationally successful bands, artists and songwriters. This nation in the northern corner of Europe has also been at the forefront regarding music tech. Innovations like Spotify and Soundcloud and the synths from Teenage Engineering and Nord are all originally Swedish inventions. The largest part of the revenues comes from live music and with Norway, Finland and Denmark close by it makes a great tour stop for every international artist on tour. Consumers in Sweden have a big interest in international music, which makes the country an excellent market to invest in. Here’s our guide to Sweden!
Population: 10 367 232
Other cities and number of citizens
1. Stockholm, 974 073
2. Göteborg, 579 281
3. Malmö, 344 166
4. Uppsala, 230 767
5. Linköping, 163 051
6. Örebro, 155 696
7. Västerås, 154 049
8. Helsingborg, 147 734
9. Norrköping, 143 171
10. Jönköping, 141 081
Calling code: +46
Time zone: UTC+1, UTC+2 (Summer)
Official languages: Swedish
Visas: No visas needed for citizens within EU. For citizens outside EU: If you are invited by a "established organiser" you don't need a visa if you are staying for fourteen days or less. A list of these organisers and more info about work permits for performers at Migrationsverket: https://www.migrationsverket.se/English/Private-individuals/Working-in-Sweden/Employed/Special-rules-for-certain-occupations-and-citizens-of-certain-countries/Performers.html
BNP per capita: 52 477 USD
Social media platforms ranked by popularity (Källa: Statista)
Active internet users: 98%
Active smartphone users: 84.76%
Active mobile subskriptions: 14.2 million
Recorded music revenue: 234 632 200 USD
Recorde music revenue per capita: 22.6 USD
A summary of the media landscape in Sweden.
Below you will find the TV channels that have live music and interviews with artists and creators.
Below you can find the biggest regional newspapers in Sweden. In brackets is the city where they are based. Some of these newspapers cover larger areas than the city they are based in and some of them also have even smaller local newspaper variants.
Below you can find online and print media with a music and cultural focus.
Why do you think Swedish songwriters are a great match for the k pop industry?
In Sweden (and the Nordic countries) we usually grow up learning children rhymes and listening to melodic pop songs that are full of repetitive hook-lines. Most kids attend the many local music schools and sing in choirs, or they learn to play an instrument in a school band. There are also many small venues with high quality equipment where young talents can perform and hone their craft, whether they play in a band or if they want to become DJ’s. There is a lot of interest surrounding TV shows such as the Eurovision Song contest, IDOLS, The Voice etc. who gives music and performance a huge focus and push young people into follow their dreams. The heritage from ABBA and other prolific Swedes like Denniz Pop, Max Martin, Shellback, Red One etc. who have all experienced massive international success as songwriters and producers have become a part of the Swedish DNA. I also need to mention the DJ era with Avicii and Swedish House Mafia being important idols for many creative young people. All this and more makes the Swedes perfect to write songs for K-POP and with the access to labels and artists this success will continue to grow.
You are originally from Norway, working with Swedish songwriters internationally. Do you think there is a typical “swedish way” of making business?
There are many talented young Swedes who are highly competitive, got a huge drive and great work ethics. Stockholm is globally connected with a great Infrastructure in place, a highly professional music industry with active publishers promoting the creators, their songs globally. There is also several professional educational paths for creatives, such as Musikmakarna and other music schools that have world class teachers and mentors. All this combined gives Swedish songwriters great possibilities to thrive and succeed internationally.
Any word of advice for someone who would like to break in to the Swedish territory?
In my opinion Sweden is always open to welcome talented and creative people. Make sure you have something unique and different, high quality, great sound, dare to push the limit and go further. Be openminded and open to connect with the local industry, and you will have a shot at breaking into the Swedish territory.
A summary of the Swedish music industry.
Why do you think the Swedish Hip Hop scene is bigger than ever before?
Hip Hop has always been a genre were the artists speaks for its community or illuminates problems within our society, it’s much bigger than just lyrics and visuals – it’s about something only some of us can understand or relate to and that’s one of the main factors Hip Hop always will stay relevant. We can also see a bigger generation shift happening right now were and not only in Sweden, artists today are being discovered in ways we couldn’t count on before. It’s easy to share a clip of someone rapping and some go viral, most rapper careers start that way or by posting a video on YouTube. The Swedish Hip Hop community is also very welcoming, when someone’s new you get instant support and or even a feature from your favorite rapper. But – mainly because of the younger generation deciding who’s up next, they are in charge now – not only the industry.
Sweden is a great importer of international Hip Hop acts. However the biggest Swedish hip hop acts nationally has almost always been rapping in Swedish. Why do you think that?
I think it’s a language barrier and fair of judgment, Hip Hop is about credibility which means it’s important that you in some way have experienced the words you’re expressing – an artist should not jump on another language and use slang or an accent you’re typically not familiar with, which can make you lose your credibility and even seem disrespectful to the culture. The culture is also different depending on where you coming from and it’s easier to rap about something you have lived in your own life and then later expressing your experience in your own language, since the slang and accent has an considerable role in Hip Hop – but commonly share the feeling of exclusion from society and the affinity with your community. Understand, embrace and respect the culture wherever you go and more opportunities will come along.
What does the future hold for Swedish Hip Hop?
Even though Swedish Hip Hop still is significantly underrepresented in Swedish mainstream media the future is brighter than ever and opportunities from outside our boarders keeps coming towards artists and representatives for the genre. It’s even easier today for artists to connect and jump on different collabs all over the world since it’s become easier to release independently. The streams, clicks, shares and views is mostly driven by the youths which also means that main stream medias role for Swedish Hip Hop isn’t as crucial for the artist anymore. Nothing can stop what’s coming next for Swedish Hip Hop and we can also see the interest for Swedish Hip Hop keeps increasing both on local level but also internationally – don’t be surprised if you see your favorite local rapper dropping a collab with an well-known established artist very soon…
A selection of music festivals in Sweden.
Way Out West is often associated with sustainability. Tell us more about it!
Sustainability lies in the core of Way Out West, and through the years the festival has done a bunch of initiatives to lower its climate footprint. The biggest, and most spoken about, was when the festival became fully vegetarian ten years ago. A study made afterwards showed that 15 % of the visitors said that they ate more vegetarian food after attending Way Out West – that’s real change, and proof that festivals can change people’s behavior. With that said, what we do at the site during the festivals three days matters too. Every year we look at our numbers and try to get better in all possible ways. There is just no time to wait when our planet is burning.
Artist and bands from a wide range of genres perform at Way Out West. How is the selection done and how much of the line-up usually consists of international artists?
Way Out West started as a way to create a festival that we didn’t think existed, a festival that we’d like to visit ourselves. A lot has changed through the years, but this mindset remains the same to this day, which obviously also applies to our bookings. The lineup, which has been gender-balanced for several years, consists of acts that we in one way or another think belong on the bill and together create some kind of entity. You have to get a certain feeling when looking at the line-up poster, which is harder to achieve than most people think. The amount of international artists vary for each year, but we do tend to book a lot of them and would book even more if we could find room. Sometimes there’s just too many great acts around!
Way Out West has a new graphic profile every year that runs throughout the project such as communication, posters and festival area. Tell us a little about how you work with this?
We’ve been working with the same design team since 2007 (shout out to Leon & Chris!), and together we create a new design concept for each year. Some elements tend to overlap, but the overall feel must be fresh for each festival. To feature cutting edge graphic design work when presenting an act is also a way to build the artist’s brand in the Swedish market, and a reason why some artists choose Way Out West. Playing the right festival at the right time can be crucial in an artist’s career, and good marketing around it can be what makes the show (and the artist’s future over here) successful in the end.
Great places to network with the Swedish music industry and other creative industries.
A selection of concert halls and culture houses in Sweden.
Through your work, you have gained a unique pan-Scandinavian perspective. Is there anything that separates Sweden from Norway and Denmark when it comes to how the countries work with classical music?
There is a wonderful professionalized focus on young audiences in Sweden, perhaps the school system is better adapted to integrate collaborations with the music institutions – I´m about to understand better… but on the other side, I´ve seen more examples of classical music taking more radical steps in development of formats, where classical concerts are being experimented with in performance habits as well as new context in Norway and Denmark.
The big difference culture-wise from Denmark to Sweden is the temper and managing in general: While the Danes are more openly competition-driven and top-down governed, Sweden has this really blessed but also more heavy procedures in decision-making in general: It makes the communities more transparent and stable in many ways, but the danger is that one is less risk-taking – for good and bad.
In Sweden, arts and humanities has a solid position in general awareness and media compared to Norway and Denmark, but the digital revolution is oh so present with its polyphonic effects – meaning we need radically other tools for communication work. I experience that the general “take” is more conservative in Sweden, institutionalized if you like.
From a distance we probably seem pretty similar – there are still in all three countries governmental driven Art Councils (in different degrees with the important arm´s length distance in decision making where representatives from art life are ambulating in the committees). However there are some clear differences in the support potential: Whereas Denmark has a forest of private cultural funds in addition to the public supprt (making the scenario less transparent but very dynamic), Norway has a few but extreamly generous ones, additional production or development support in Sweden is not easily accessible.
How is the typical concert hall in Sweden financed and is this something that is differs between different concert halls?
Typically with the biggest weight from the city, which makes sense – and on that level it does not differ that much from the sister countries. But there is a huge difference between those who have been able to engage local industries as partners, which is a crucial add-on, not understood alone as financial investments but in general community engagement and ownership. We do live in welfare countries and all believe that public support to arts is a “human right” – a principle I generally share. But we have to be aware of society going through a tremendous change in these years, and we need multiple strategies to remain relevant to our surroundings: Artistically, financially and socially.
What development opportunities are there for concert halls in Sweden?
First and foremost, I miss national common strategies when it comes to audience development – it´s important to have politically independent bodies for this purpose, were creative ideas are developed in dialogue between the artistic teams and the audience. Secondly, better and more active national ambitions when it comes to international networking and exchange on behalf of classical music. There is so much quality and competence in the Swedish cultural scene, but I think we can do far better to make it heard both in our local communities as well as from a distance.
A selection of orchestras in Sweden.
A selection of concert venues in Sweden. Venues generally book somewhat mixed genres except where noted.
As a Swedish band touring worldwide – what is different on the Swedish market compared to other markets?
There are a few things that makes Sweden stand out. Rock and heavy metal is well accepted in Sweden and has a higher status than in many other countries. This has resulted in that this specific genre is more represented in the media and in the general public which in the end generates a great base for doing concerts and music consumption. The purchase power of a Swedish person is relatively strong compared to most of the world, most people are earning enough to be able to spend money on music. Also, the average Swede is more concerned in doing the right thing, meaning buying official products and not supporting bootlegging, pirate radio and illegal downloads. The same goes for the trust in the promoters and industry as there are plenty of countries where an artist cannot trust the promoters in the same way as in Sweden. This also goes for the organisation even there are other countries where this works also. When doing a concert in Sweden an artist can mostly rely on that all things are being taken care of, from security to paying the authors and publishers.
You have a huge Swedish tour coming up in May 2022 with over 30 dates with is totally unique for an internationally touring band of your calibre. Why did you choose to focus so hard and spend so much time in Sweden right now?
There are many reasons behind this. The first is that we talked for a long time about doing a very big tour in Sweden and play in cities where bands like us would normally not come, and the pandemics gave us the opportunity. Of course, the beginning of the pandemics was full of experts making statement who later proved wrong, but we still had to analyse all available information and came up with a few key things. One was that we should avoid border crossings if countries require testing before entry as that is not acceptable circumstances for a touring party of Sabatons size. Carrying over 100 people, we cannot test this amount of people every time we cross a border. We also thought that when shows grow to a certain size they put pressure on local resources such as police and healthcare workers in a different way than smaller shows so if we avoided big shows, it would be more likely that we would be allowed to do them. Another important was that authorities wanted their citizens to travel less, this we solved by travel to the fans. And during the last two years we have learned how expensive it is to cancel big tours as we need to do big deposits for buses, trucks, flights, hotels and they are not covered by insurance. But ultimately it would be awesome to visit 30 cities in Sweden and really be able to judge where the best audience for a final time. I doubt that Sabaton will be able to do something like this in the future.
Sabaton is a band that runs their own management and seems to be in control of pretty much everything concerning the band’s career. Is this something you choose from the beginning and what are the upsides and possible downsides of this approach to the industry?
We choose this since we quickly got scared of how many bands are managed badly, this has been stronger the more involved we have become with other artists managements, so I am happy to retain the control myself. Unfortunately, there is a ladder where the artist is on the bottom, the managers are very often just tiny smarter than the band but still can take this position. But the managers are usually not as smart as the industry, we skipped one step at least. Running it ourselves comes with a lot of learning, trying, risking and more than anything else hard work. But the reward is so much higher. I have difficulty enjoying something that has been given to me without effort and I would rather fail myself than watch someone else fail on my behalf. I daily monitor our channels, streams, ticketsales, mailorder and the feedback we have in our communities. And the good thing is that I can react quickly on this. Another upside is that we own ourselves which means we can quickly do deals, licences and collaborations where other artists need to involve many parts.
Sweden has many fine record stores. Below you will find a selection. Almost all record stores acknowledge Record Store Day every year with concerts, special deals and exclusive releases.
Music Residencies give creators time, space and the resources to art their craft, both individually or collectively. The arrangements may differ from residence to residence. See the respective website for more information.
A selection of music studios in Sweden.
- Sweden is one of only three countries that are net exporters of music.
- Sweden is by far the earliest adopter (and beneficiary) of the streaming model.
- Sweden's national publicly funded radio broadcaster Sveriges Radio consists of four different channels: P1, P2, P3 and P4. P1-P3 do all have a policy to play about 50% Swedish music. P4 focuses on Swedish music, however they still play foreign music.
Below you will find some great links as well as general tips and advice about traveling to Sweden.
Complete list of embassies in Sweden.
Official tourist guide to Sweden.
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Non emergency police phone number: 11414
Non emergency health counselling: 1177
An in-depth guide on how to behave in business relations in Sweden can be found at Commisceo Global.