Business Interviews

Q&A: Riku Salomaa, Music Finland

By | Published on Tuesday 8 January 2013

Riku Salomaa

The first music industry conference and showcase festival of the year, Eurosonic Noorderslag, gets underway in Groningen in The Netherlands tomorrow.

Showcasing bands from all over Europe, each year the event selects one featured country that is given extra attention, and this year that is Finland. Amongst the sixteen Finnish artists to go under the spotlight are CMU approved acts LCMDF, Rubik and Siinai, plus Sin Cos Tan, Phantom and French Films.

Ahead of it all, CMUs Andy Malt caught up with Riku Salomaa from Finnish export agency Music Finland to find out more.

AM: What benefit do you hope to get by being the featured country at this year’s Eurosonic?
RS: Eurosonic is a hugely important live sector music industry event, where up-and-coming acts are introduced to festivals, promoters, venues and agents from all over Europe. Previous years have shown that our acts get a lot of bookings from their shows at this festival. And with higher exposure this year, we’re certain to achieve concrete results in the UK, GSA countries and elsewhere in the Europe, by which I mean bookings, signings and media coverage for the acts.

AM: Finland was a featured country at another European music business event, MIDEM, back in 2006, how do you think this will compare?
RS: Like then, we expect to be able to showcase the diversity and quality of Finnish music to even wider audiences, industry people and media throughout Europe. As a small country we need to make a big noise to get recognised in the international music scene. We want to show how important a role music plays in our lives and how that generates good music.

AM: Are there any countries where Finnish music does particularly well?
RS: Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Japan have traditionally been important for us, but the UK and some other markets are becoming more and more important too.

AM: Which Finnish bands have been most successful internationally in recent years, and does that success help other bands looking to reach a wider audience?
RS: In the 21st century the most successful acts internationally have been the symphonic metal band Nightwish, love metal act Him, gothic rockers The Rasmus and Sunrise Avenue, whose style varies from pop-rock to rock ballads, and who have sold more than 700,000 albums, mostly in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

Sunrise Avenue were also the most played act on German radio during the whole first decade of the new millennium, leaving Robbie Williams in second place! The Rasmus have sold over 4 million albums worldwide, while Him – whose manager Seppo Vesterinen used to manage Hanoi Rocks in the 80’s – was the first Finnish band to break the gold record limit in the US. The most successful Finnish band worldwide, though, is definitely Nightwish. They’ve sold more than eight million records and received more than 60 gold and platinum awards.

The success of these acts has built an awareness of our country in music and has therefore, without a doubt, helped other acts to reach wider audiences.

AM: Do you feel the Finnish music scene is particularly vibrant at the moment?
RS: Yes, absolutely. Finland is known for its classical, jazz and – especially – metal music, and bands like Nightwish, Children Of Bodom and Michael Monroe have led the way for many acts, and not only from Finland. Today, however, there are numerous indie and electronic acts too, like LCMDF, Phantom, Sin Cos Tan, French Films, Death Hawks and Rubik, as well as acts from other genres, planting their feet firmly on the international ground. And this can be seen in the way Finnish music is now being picked up in various music markets.

AM: How did you choose the sixteen acts who will appear at Eurosonic this year? Are they representative of the music scene in Finland now as a whole?
RS: The Eurosonic line-up gives a very good picture of what Finland has to offer in these genres right now. Michael Monroe, Acid Symphony Orchestra and Sin Cos Tan’s Jori Hulkkonen are legends in their own scenes, and LCMDF and Phantom represent the cutting-edge in indie. Disco Ensemble, French Films, Rubik, Siinai and Huoratron are well established across the international music market, whereas Satellite Stories, Sin Cos Tan and Death Hawks are promising newcomers. We strongly believe in all of these acts and trust they will have long-lasting international careers.

AM: Finland’s own music industry conference, Music & Media, is one of the longest running of these sorts of event. Why was it set up originally, how does it compare to other events, and what has kept it successful for nearly 25 years?
RS: The Music & Media Finland conference was originally a platform for the local industry to meet once a year and discover new music. Since then, the event has developed as a gateway between the Russian/Baltic and the Western music markets, and become an important meeting place for delegates, especially from Europe, North America and Southeast Asia.

In recent years, Music & Media Finland has launched the new Synch Summit programme offering an insight to music synchronisation and providing participants with an opportunity to connect with some of the most influential music supervisors in the world. Last year, Joe Cuello (MTV), John Katovsich (Fuel TV), Andrea von Foerster (Firestarter Music) and Tracy McKnight (Lionsgate) attended the programme, to mention just a few.

Also, Music & Media Finland is an intimate and thus effective music industry conference, which I believe has also kept it successful over the years. With a growing attendance of international delegates, the event is an important platform for the Finns to launch international activities in music business.

Listen to the sixteen acts heading to Eurosonic this week here: