Export Office To Clear Airwaves

The country’s music export office is taking over the running of Iceland Airwaves Festival, after the collapse of the Icelandic banking industry brought the event to its knees.

Iceland Music Export (IMX) managing director Anna Hildur Hildibrandsdóttir acknowledges many UK-based agents were annoyed at being left in the dark about how long their acts would have to wait to get paid in 2008. But she told Pollstar she’s confident her organisation will soon restore their faith in the event.

She says she has a good relationship with Steini Stephensen of Mr. Destiny, who has promoted the festival since it started as a one-off event in a hangar at Reykjavík Airport in 1999. She is sympathetic that he was caught by the country’s financial meltdown, which meant the cost of international acts almost tripled as the Icelandic króna went into freefall against foreign currencies.

Last year’s event went ahead despite a reduced budget and possibly the fact that some UK agents were soured by what they experienced in 2008.

Hildibrandsdóttir is on record saying the 2009 edition of You Are In Control, the annual conference her export office organises, had to be run on a much tighter budget because the real value of her funding was less than half of what it was 12 months earlier.

She says she hopes to build on the reputation Iceland Airwaves has created over the course of its entire history rather than be an apologist for the 2008 disaster – a goal she shares with the national airline that backs the festival.

She says IMX’s role as a marketing and business office for Icelandic music means it’s been one of the best platforms to introduce Icelandic music to the world for several years. She believes the interests of the festival and her export office “go hand in hand.”
“This agreement confirms Icelandair’s vision that new Icelandic music is amongst the best promotion Iceland offers,” said Icelandair managing director Birkir Hólm Guðnason as the five-year deal with IMX was signed March 25.

“Music travels across borders, connects Iceland with different cultural societies and raises awareness of the country as an exciting destination,” he explained.

Svanhildur Konráðsdóttir from the city of Reykjavik’s department for culture and tourism – the festival’s other major backer – says the event has been instrumental in introducing the Icelandic capital as a vibrant city for music.

The name of the festival’s new manager, the dates for this year’s gathering (usually the third weekend of October), and the list of acts appearing will be announced before the end of April.

Previous bill-toppers include Kaiser Chiefs, White Lies, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Vampire Weekend.