Swedish Festival Considers Mortgage

A $1 million loss on this year’s Swedish event has led to the departure of festival chief JP Bordahl, leaving Hultsfred Festival organizer Rock Party to consider mortgaging its property to survive.

Festival board member Åsa Johnsen said one option is to raise money against the company’s Rock City complex, a building close to the Hultsfred site that houses the Rock Party offices, a concert venue and a bar and restaurant.

Bordahl looks to have fallen on his sword after the festival’s finances took another bump along their rocky ride.

In 2003, only a last-minute cancellation from Linkin Park stopped Hultsfred from taking a huge loss.

After the following year’s festival, Bordahl announced it had done 90 percent business, but he qualified that by adding that profits were still low because the event runs at a high break-even, largely due to the cost of trying to attract "the best available international talent."

Johnsen said Bordahl’s departure was of "mutual consent" and that he won’t be replaced through the summer, giving the Rock Party board the chance to weigh up whether to appoint another festival chief or completely restructure the hierarchy.

Johnsen blamed this year’s disappointing attendance – 23,000 when they needed 28,000 – on the increasing competition from new festivals such as Way Out West, the expansion of Accelerator Festival, and the increasing number of smaller events mushrooming all around.

Finnish promoter Juha Koivisto was blaming the same trend after the numbers for his Provinssirock Festival, over the same June 14-17 weekend as Hultsfred, were about 10 percent down on 2006.

Rune Lem from Live Nation’s Oslo-based Gunnar Eide said the Norwegian market is reaching the point where "every small town with a kiosk and a telephone booth wants to put on Elton John and Robbie Williams."

Johnsen also said Denmark’s 75,000-capacity Roskilde Festival (July 5-8), which falls two weeks after Hultsfred, selling out a month in advance indicated the Swedish event was in for a tough time.

"Many people in Scandinavia decide each year which one they’ll visit between Roskilde and Hultsfred, but there are very few that go to both each year," she explained.

The acts on this year’s Hultsfred bill (June 14 to 16) included Ozzy Osbourne, 50 Cent, Pet Shop Boys, Korn, Turbonegro, Mando Diao, Evanescence, Wolfmother, Billy Talent, Gentleman, Razorlight and The View.