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Exclusive: Spotify Founder Daniel Ek, Avicii Manager Ash Pournouri Starting SXSW-Style Conference in Stockholm in Summer 2015

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Stockholm’s population may be just over 2 million people (one quarter of New York City). Yet it's home to over 22,000 startups, and has been responsible for more than a half-dozen billion-dollar brands: Ikea, H&M, Skype, King (makers of Candy Crush), Ericsson and Spotify among them. Yet it’s never had its own South By Southwest or Silicon Valley Innovation Summit, conferences that have positioned Austin and San Francisco as tech hubs on a global scale.

Daniel Ek, CEO-founder of Spotify, and Ash Pournouri, founder of At Night Management (Avicii), will seek to change that by hosting the inaugural Symposium Stockholm June 8 through 13, anchored by the tech and music-based Brilliant Minds Conference on June 11 and 12.

Ek argues that Sweden is already a model for the future of content consumption and technology: HBO has been available as an a la carte subscription for years, while the major sports leagues have also cut deals that exclude cable and satellite partners.

"I wanted to cast an eye on how those consumption behaviors can lead to creativity thriving,” Ek says. “A lot of that dialogue seems to be happening in the U.S., but if you’re a technology executive and you want to see how rapidly something can get adopted, look to Sweden, which has the third-highest per capita usage of new technologies."

Founding ABBA member Bjorn Ulvaeus, Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström and Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg are among the executives expected to participate in Brilliant Minds. Other events taking place that week include the Denniz Pop Awards, the Scandinavian Music Summit, Polar Music Prize, Polar Talks, Summerburst Festival and AVICII Fest, where the DJ is expected to preview music from his upcoming album.

"The reception [in Sweden] has been great, and everyone feels it’s about time someone did something like this," says Pournouri. "I don’t think it’s going to come from politicians because they’re not incentivized in the long run for focusing on the politics, we’re focused on all issues and problems. I just felt this responsibility was with us: if we don’t do it who will?"

This article first appeared in the May 2 issue of Billboard.


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