The 12th edition of by:Larm, Scandinavia’s largest music conference, increased its attendance by 33%.
While other music business events such as MIDEM in Cannes and Popkomm in Berlin suffered a downturn in attendance, by:Larm organizers report 2,000 delegates flocked to the Norwegian city of Oslo Feb. 19 to 21 — up from 1,500 the previous year.
Up to 40 venues were utilized for the nightly showcases (up from 27 in 2008), which covered a range of music genres including acoustic, singer-songwriter, folk, indie rock, metal, pop and traditional Scandinavian music.
In total, 280 bands participated in over 500 concerts (a substantial increase from 2008’s 350), with several more playing unofficial by:Larm shows in fringe venues during the event. Attendance was strong from the international delegate fraternity as well as local residents, amounting to an approximate total audience of 25,000, according to organizers.
Some of the hot tips packing out venues were recent Universal Music Norway signing Harry’s Gym, Icelandic outfit Hjaltalin, Norwegian-language group Casiokids and the Whitest Boy Alive, an electronic act featuring Erlend Øye of Norwegian indie-folk duo Kings Of Convenience. Danish electro group WhoMadeWho headlined the Saturday night main tent finale.
Delegates were given the choice of panels spoken in English or Norwegian, with key issues including how to deal with music piracy, journalism in the digital age, songwriting, recording techniques, how to break the European and U.K. markets, TV and film synchronization, and finding success as an independent label.
Featured speakers included producer Joe Boyd (Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, Fairport Convention), Sigur Ros’ manager John Best, Sup Pop founder Jonathan Poneman and Domino Records founder Laurence Bell.
During one panel discussion, Bell said it was important to “give something back” to independent retailers, citing the label’s exclusive bonus mix CD giveaway with Animal Collective’s latest album, “Merriweather Post Pavilion.”
Bell and Poneman recognized the CD as a declining format, citing the growing influence that technology has on the new generation of music lovers. In reference to his company’s budgets, Poneman admitted that he “always had to take into consideration a certain amount of P2P file-sharing.”
Bell jokingly added that “with CDs on the way out, vinyl has turned out to be the ultimate format.”
Nettwerk co-founder Mark Jowett and Renegade Nation CEO Jean Beauvoir also appeared on the panel.
The by:Larm conference has been held in various locations around Norway since it began at Trondheim in 1998. Oslo has hosted the event for the last two years.