Internationalization of the Finnish Music Business

What do countries like Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden have in common? A booming music business. And what is the difference compared to Finland? In the three other countries, the most popular language in music is English, as per Spotify top lists. In Finland half of the songs in the Spotify top 20 list were from Finnish artists, and most importantly, sung in Finnish.

The popularity of Finnish music within the country stems from musical traditions, such as iskelmä, that is quite close to the German Schlager tunes. But, the Finnish language is fundamentally different from the majority of other languages in Europe. The different rhythm and flow are something that people in Finland are familiar with, and the language has such a flexibility that the tricks and turns of speech are hard to translate to other languages.

Getting the international attention – with neon yellow hair

The time has come to expand the horizons and go international. Talouselämä wrote recently about the Finnish music industry, and mentioned the rising popstar Alma, who is aiming for the overseas markets. Alma, who was noticed by the world when collaborating with the German DJ producer Felix Jaehn in the song Bonfire, is now working on her own music – together with world class songwriters and producers. The same that have worked with Adele, Sia, and Amy Winehouse (Helsingin Sanomat).

Alma is trying to make a breakthrough in the UK and USA as the first Finnish pop artist. She is well on her way to this goal: the girl cited as “a cybergoth reimagining of a young Adele and sounds like Beth Ditto” by The Guardian, has already performed on BBC’s Future Festival and been interviewed by the British Vogue. Who would not take interest in the bold and charming singer with the glow-in-the-dark hair?

Street paintings in the street of Helsinki, Finland

Going international has some implications for her fans in Finland, though. The local fan base had to wait for half a year for the song Chasing Highs, as Alma’s label PME Records wanted to release the song simultaneously in the Nordic countries, Germany, France, UK, and USA, tells Talouselämä.

A growing business

Like Alma, other young Finnish artists such as Isac Elliot and Venior, sing in English and focus on the international markets. According to Music Finland, the net export of Finnish music was 47 million euros, and the forecast for this year is 50 million. Although still small, the music business in Finland is growing fast. The talent is real, and just needs to get out there.

Check out our post about the best Finnish festivals here. Alma is performing in the Flow Festival, go show her some love!

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