Nominees for the Government’s 2020 Music Export Prize
The Government’s Music Export Prize is awarded every year to an artist who has been internationally successful during the preceding year and has contributed to Swedish musical export success and to a positive image of Sweden. The winner will be announced by Minister for Foreign Trade and Nordic affairs Anna Hallberg.
In addition to the Government’s Music Export Prize, a Special Prize for long-standing contributions to Swedish music exports and an Honourable Mention for achievements of particular importance to the internationalisation of Swedish music will also be awarded.
The Government’s Music Export Prize is a way for the Government to draw attention to Swedish performers and practitioners in the music industry who contribute to increased export success for Swedish music and help point the spotlight on Sweden.
“Swedish musicians help point the spotlight on Sweden and I am very pleased and proud today to be able to present the nominees to the Government’s 2020 Music Export Prize. All of the nominees are very good examples of the Swedish music wonder and so have both promoted Swedish exports and helped put Sweden on the global musical map,” says Ms Hallberg.
The nominees for the Government’s 2020 Music Export Prize are:
One of Sweden’s major international stars is relatively unknown here at home. She was born in Varberg and lives in Malmö, and even though she has four times as many followers on Instagram as artists such as ABBA, Robyn or Lykke Li, Swedish media has probably never covered her. But it’s a different story around the world, and particularly in Kosovo, where she has her roots. There this outstanding pop star has reached millions of people with both her videos and music since her debut at the end of the 2000s. Zeqiri’s music has also attracted attention in the US with guest performances by and with French Montana. Her proud mix of pop and R&B, often enveloped in Albanian tones, also embodies her engagement for the equal value of all people and her eternal gratitude to a singing fighter of a mother. She was particularly active in 2020, with ten tracks released under her own name and in collaboration with other artists that often achieved chart successes around Europe.
Folk rock band Garmarna represents the unique accomplishment of successfully exporting music sung in Swedish and with deep Swedish roots. Following an initial breakthrough in the 1990s that included a Grammy award and some export success, the group returned in the mid-2010s after an extended break. This time, the band’s music is beginning to make a real impact around the world. A video from 2015 featuring the song ‘Herr Mannelig’ has been viewed more than 24 million times on YouTube, with the vast majority of viewings by an international audience. In 2020, Garmarna released their first album on a foreign label. The album, ‘Förbundet’ was released on the French ‘Season of Mist’ label, which otherwise only produces music in various metal genres. This can be seen as an illustration of Garmarna’s unique position and export success.
Ludwig Göransson won the Government’s 2018 Music Export Prize, and is nominated once again this year. Göransson has an ear for images, and his signature has become writing boundless music for films that builds atmosphere and becomes an indispensable part of the film it illustrates. He comes from Linköping and is a musical chameleon who is as much at home among Senegalese drums as on distant planets. His music encompasses everything from electronic minimalism to sweeping orchestral music reminiscent of the great symphonies. And he is also named after the great Ludwig van Beethoven. Göransson has already won many awards, including an Oscar and three Grammys. In 2020, he attracted particular attention for his work on the Star Wars spinoff ‘The Mandalorian’, for which he was awarded an Emmy.
In recent years, Linnea ‘Nea’ Södahl has become established as one of Sweden’s most interesting songwriters following collaborations with Zara Larsson, Tove Styrke, Loreen, Sabina Ddumba, Tinie Tempah and Axwell. Now Nea is making her debut as an artist with her most personal songs. Success came quickly with her first single ‘Some Say’, which was a hit in many places around the world and one of the most played songs on the radio in Europe in 2020.
Värmland’s Oscar Holter became a songwriter at a particularly young age and was already a producer of established artists by the 2000s. Then as now, he skilfully creates a meeting between classic pop harmonies and synth-based ‘hooks’. Holter once said: “I think that Kraftwerk are just as catchy as ABBA.” This is something that he’s demonstrated together with artists such as Christina Aguilera, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift and Swedish Tove Lo, but the concept has never been as successful as when Holter, together with guru Max Martin, wrote and produced ‘Blinding Lights’ together with Canadian superstar The Weeknd. In short, ‘Blinding Lights’ is already one of the biggest pop hits of all time. In 2020, it topped the charts in 34 countries and has also broken records for most weeks in the top 5 and 20 on the Billboard chart in the US. It has been played more than two billion times on Spotify alone. For Max Martin, it was the 23rd time he had reached number one in the US charts. For Oscar Holter, it was a confirmation that he is also up there among the most successful composers in the pop world.
The following are members of the Government’s 2020 Music Export Prize jury:
- Isabel Thomson, Swedish Arts Council, Chair of the jury
- Anna Sjölund, CEO, Live Nation
- Anna-Karin Larsson, Music Director, SR Musik, Swedish Radio P2
- Jesper Thorsson, CEO Export Music Sweden
- Lars Nylin, Editor-in-chief and publisher, Musikindustrin
- Linda Portnoff, CEO, Riteband
- Ludvig Werner, CEO IFPI Sverige
- Per Sinding-Larsen, music journalist, Swedish Television
- Robert Sehlberg, Head of Music, MTG Radio