Four And A Half Acts Spotted

This year’s Spot Festival in Aarhus, Denmark, will again focus mainly on Scandinavian acts and four and a half of them will come from Iceland.

Pop rockers Dikta, heavy rockers Ham, singer-songwriters Helgi Jónsson and the self-proclaimed Icelandic Elvis called Mugison will play the Danish university city May 27-28. Also playing will be Dad Rocks!, which is half Icelandic and half Danish.

The 17-year-old gathering has recently helped launch such national acts as Mew, The Raveonettes, Junior Senior, The Blue Van, Oh No Ono, and Spleen United.

In the past it’s also helped build the Danish profile of artists from the other Scandinavian territories. The Icelandic acts may be encouraged by the success their countrymen Sigur Rós achieved in 1999.

Other Scandinavian acts to have benefited from coming under the Spot light include Norway’s Kaizers Orchestra, which went on to top the inaugural European Talent Exchange Programme, and Swedish indie rockers Shout Out Louds.

The city’s Musikhuset stages the daytime programme, known as the Spot Lounge, which opens with a discussion on whether the Balkans and Eastern Europe is the new market for popular music.

Bojan Boskovic, general manager of Serbia’s Exit Festival, Dan Popi from Romania’s Cat Records and Maria Gergova from United Partners in Bulgaria will provide the expert opinions.

Other panels include Viktoria Lindén, head of Sweden’s Arkiva Festival, Swedish born singer-songwriter Helienne Lindvall – who’s also a blogger for the UK’s The Guardian – and Dennis Nørmark, an anthropologist from the local Aarhus University, talking about how well the music industry balances gender.

“We want to book more female artists, not because they are women, but because they are awesome artists,” Lindén said, as if giving some clue to where the discussion may be headed. “Gender has nothing to do with booking bands and we are not talking about quotas. Our focus is to book good artists in an equitable program and to break old patterns in a male dominated industry.”

Later Daily Telegraph music critic Neil McCormick and Gillian Porter, general manager of UK PR firm Hall or Nothing, will lead a discussion on whether the music press still matters in a digital age. Hall or Nothing’s clients include Muse, Kaiser Chiefs, Beady Eye, Manic Street Preachers, The Cribs and the Reading and Leeds Festivals.

Lindvall returns for a second panel that should be of interest to all of the 100 or so acts playing the 17th edition of Spot.

She’ll join Jay Frank, a senior vice president of music strategy for MTV, and UK record producer Tom Mcfall – who’s worked with R.E.M., Snow Patrol, Weezer, Regina Spektor, Biffy Clyro and Editors – to discuss what makes a hit song.