Press release from Ministry for Foreign Affairs

ABBA, A36, NEIKED and Julia Karlsson & Anton Rundberg nominated for the Government’s Music Export Prize


The Government’s Music Export Prize was established in 1997 and 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 on 23 March by Minister for Foreign Trade and Nordic Affairs Anna Hallberg at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Nominated for the Government’s Music Export Prize 2021
Nominated for the Government’s Music Export Prize 2021 Ministry for Foreign Affairs

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.

“Not only does the music industry contribute to Swedish musical export success – it also puts Sweden on the map as a creative and innovative country. That is why it’s important for the Government to annually acknowledge some of the artists who have played their part in the Swedish music phenomenon,” says Ms Hallberg.

The jury have nominated the following (in alphabetical order) for the Government’s Music Export Prize 2021:


With his Swedish lyrics, the rapper A36 has, despite his French-inspired hip-hop, a theoretically limited audience. In 2021, he utilised these frameworks to the max. A36, whose real name is Geivar Hasado Shlaimon, achieved widespread success in the Nordic countries with the song Samma gamla vanliga. The single was released in April, and thanks to, among other things, going viral on TikTok, it was number one in the Swedish charts for six weeks during the summer. After that, it was the rest of the Nordic countries’ turn to fall for the Swedish-Assyrian rapper from Partille. Samma gamla vanliga reached number 3 in Norway, number 12 in Denmark and number 4 in Finland. Additionally, a local remix of the song was released in Finland and reached number one. The last artist performing in Swedish to reach top five in our neighbouring country to the east was the band Kent. To emphasise his Nordic-based globalism, A36 also made a Scandinavian remix of the song with Danish rapper Branco and Norwegian hip-hop artist Kamelen.


It is not every day that the BBC reschedules a news broadcast to premiere a new pop song. But that is exactly what happened when ABBA released new songs for the first time in 40 years. Suddenly, some of history’s greatest pop artists were back. ABBA’s album Voyage was not only one of the greatest, most surprising and acclaimed comebacks in pop history, it also broke new records. The LP reached number 1 in 18 countries, the quartet topped the album chart in the United States, and it was the best-selling album in Germany. They were most successful in the UK. Only the Beatles and six other artists have reached number 1 more than the 10 times that ABBA reached in autumn 2021. Voyage became the fastest-selling album ever in the 21st century in the UK. In just three days, the group’s upcoming, much-discussed and spectacular avatar-based show in London sold a quarter of a million tickets. The show will premiere in spring 2022. It has been 50 years since ABBA was founded, and they have sold over 400 million albums. What Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid started in 1972 became a massive first step in the success of Swedish music worldwide.

Julia Karlsson & Anton Rundberg

The songwriting duo Julia Karlsson and Anton Rundberg released one of the biggest hits of 2021: The Business with Dutch DJ and artist Tiësto. The song was nominated for a Grammy and has been streamed close to 800 million times on Spotify alone. The song underlines how the duo from Vimmerby (Julia) and Lidköping (Anton) have gone straight to the top since they began collaborating while studying on the Musikmakarna songwriting programme in Örnsköldsvik. In 2015, Karlsson and Rundberg were recognised by the industry for the first time when they won the Rookie Songwriter/Producer award at the Denniz Pop Awards, primarily due to them having co-composed Swedish artist Galantis’s Grammy-nominated international hit Runaway (U&I) the year before. After that, Karlsson & Rundberg who are based in Stockholm and Los Angeles respectively, have reached a global audience by producing the song On My Way by Alan Walker and Sabrina Carpenter and Party for One by Carly Rae Jepsen. In 2021, the American music magazine Billboard listed the Swedish duo as the third best songwriters in the world within the genre dance/electronic.


The Swedish music collective NEIKED have achieved global success with the song Sexual, and their latest catchy dance hit from 2021, Better Days with British pop artist Mae Muller and Polo G, a rapper from Chicago. Together, they have created a sound that is perfect for TikTok, dancefloors, radio and streaming platforms alike. In addition to their personal success, they have worked with artists including Maroon 5, Macklemore, Zedd, Jess Glynne and Rudimental. In Sweden, they have produced Miriam Bryant for many years. Victor Rådström and Mikael Rabus from NEIKED studied on the Musikmakarna programme in Örnsköldsvik and are showing the world how contemporary hit music should sound.

The following are members of the Government’s Music Export Prize jury:

  • Anna Sjölund, President Live Nation
  • Anna-Karin Larsson, Head of the Music Department, SR Musik, Swedish Radio P2
  • Isabel Thomson, Senior Adviser, funding for record producers and cultural organisations, Swedish Arts Council
  • Jesper Thorsson, CEO Export Music Sweden
  • Lars Nylin, Editor-in-chief and publisher Musikindustrin
  • Linda Portnoff, CEO Musiksverige
  • Ludvig Werner, CEO IFPI Sverige
  • Per Sinding-Larsen, music journalist, Swedish Television
  • Robert Sehlberg, Head of Music, Nordic Entertainment Group Sweden

Press contact

Vidar J Lindgren
Acting Press Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Trade and Nordic Affairs Anna Hallberg
Phone (switchboard) +46 8 405 10 00