The pop music culture of Stolkhom has been garnering eyeballs as it’s become an overachieving hub of export growth and artistic genius. This export growth and the popularity of its music industry is happening regardless of population. Currently, Sweden has become the third-largest exporter of music in the world, just behind the US and the UK. Its capital city Stockholm is the hub of this business where the Polar Music Prize will be awarded to the ‘Godfather of Punk’, Iggy Pop, this year. In this article, we will examine the reasons behind the Swedish capital’s success as the annual Polar Music Prize – described as ‘the Nobel prize of music’ – approaches.
Founded in 1989 by Stig Anderson, whose record company released the songs of Swedish supergroup Abba, The Polar Prize is also described as the “Nobel prize of music” in Sweden. The aim behind its foundation was to honour exceptional achievements that transcend music genres – is awarded annually.
According to Marie Ledin, the CEO of the Polar Music Prize, Stockholm’s success as a pop music hot spot is partially down to the city’s blend of nationalities and cultures.
She explains, that the mix of people who live in Stockholm, not just from Sweden but also from abroad, is a major component of the city’s success as a music hub. To live in a city where you can hear English, French, Spanish or many other languages, and enjoy a multitude of cultures, broadens your imagination and connects people.
Marie further states, that Stockholm is a small city, and people who are interested in the same things tend to meet each other. The music business hub in Stockholm is tightly-knit but it’s also multicultural and welcoming.
SKAP (The Swedish Association of Composers, Songwriters & Lyricists) executive chairman, Alfons Karabuda, agrees that the city’s heady blend of nationalities and cultures has contributed to Stockholm’s boom, but he adds that there is another factor – how Swedes assimilate other cultures to produce their style.
Stockholmers have a brilliant way of absorbing elements of other cultures and making them their own Karabuda explains. You can also see that with food. You can find fantastic restaurants in Stockholm, but the best ones offer a Swedish twist on other cultures’ cuisines. Adding to this, he remembers meeting an amazing Japanese chef who was raving about how a Stockholm restaurant was modifying Japanese food using typical Swedish ingredients.
Stockholm’s international reputation as a heavyweight player in the music industry goes back decades, whether you prefer Cornelia Jakobs or Roxette. Spotify, which is based in Stockholm, is streaming the music of millions of artists.
Meanwhile, contemporary Swedish pop stars, such as Zara Larsson and Tove Lo, continue to underline the importance of Stockholm as an international pop behemoth. This is supported by the fact that in 2019, Stockholm’s music sector had a revenue of 6.8 billion Swedish kroner and employed more than 1,800 people. In comparison with 2018, this is an increase of 500 million Swedish kroner in revenue and a 23 per cent increase in employees.
Stockholm’s music scene has been devastated by Covid-19 like every other global music city, but the Swedish government is investing 2.5 billion Swedish kroner into bolstering it, in recognition of the economic impact Swedish culture has.
As soon as the restrictions were lifted, Stockholm’s live music scene flourished again, further cementing Stockholm’s position as a leading musical talent base.
Alfons believes that Stockholm is more durable than most other global music hubs. He notes that no other city has the combination of language skills, cultural values, a tight-knit cluster, and supportive public policy that Stockholm does.
Stockholm’s success, says Marie, is less complicated than it seems. According to her, Swedes just love to play and listen to music. They all just love music – it’s as simple as that.