The Government’s Music Export Prize for extraordinary services to Swedish music exports in 2021 goes to ABBA. The Special Prize for long-standing contributions to Swedish music exports goes to Håkan Hardenberger, while the Honourable Mention for achievements of particular importance to the internationalisation of Swedish music was awarded to Export Music Sweden.

The winner of the Government’s Music Export Prize was announced today during a ceremony in the Blue Drawing Room at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The prize is awarded each year to Swedish music creators who have contributed to export success and to spreading a modern and positive image of Sweden abroad.

“For 50 years, ABBA have symbolised globally successful Swedish music, and they have played a huge part in establishing Sweden internationally. Being able to return to the stage after 40 years is an extraordinary and immense feat,” says Ms Hallberg.

The jury’s citation:

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 records. What Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid started in 1972 became a massive first step in the success of Swedish music worldwide. Thank you for the music!

The other nominees for the Government’s Music Export Prize were A36, Julia Karlsson & Anton Rundberg and NEIKED.

The Special Prize for long-standing contributions to Swedish music exports goes to Håkan Hardenberger. The jury’s citation:

For many years, Håkan Hardenberger has been one of the world’s most sought-after trumpeters. All classical music lovers have heard him play Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto. He’s a staple on the great concert stages and has played with, among others, the New York Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Berliner Philharmonic. His curiosity and willingness to innovate make him unique. He constantly explores his instrument’s genre and style and takes us on unexpected trips through time and space. Several of the greatest composers of our time have written music for him, and he takes the Swedish repertoire out into the world, which he tours regularly, as both a soloist and a conductor. He celebrated his 60th birthday last year by founding the Hardenberger International Trumpet Competition in Copenhagen and Malmö. It offers young trumpeters from all over the world the opportunity to develop while maintaining Mr Hardenberger’s legacy as one of Sweden’s best, international soloists.

The Honourable Mention for achievements of particular importance to the internationalisation of Swedish music goes to Export Music Sweden. The jury’s citation:

On the outside, the phenomenon that is Swedish music exports seems to run on its own accord, like a self-playing piano. Of course, that is not true. A great many industry actors work hard all year round to enable Sweden to have become the third largest exporter of hits per capita as well as a respected country in a wide variety of genres. Export Music Sweden, ExMS, consistently plays a crucial role. Since the company started in 1993, ExMS has become an increasingly well-oiled machine that plays a direct or indirect role in Swedish music exports. Among other things, it ensures a strong Swedish presence at trade fairs, seminars, festivals and other global events. It draws attention and spreads interest in Swedish music abroad, often in cooperation with the Swedish Institute, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, embassies and other partners. Over the last ten years, ExMS has also increased its role as a specialist industry educator and guide in Sweden, conducting seminars and lectures relating to all the areas connected to the contemporary global music industry. These include all genres and rightholders: artists, musicians, songwriters and record labels. During the pandemic, things picked up even more with country guides, digital songwriting camps and trade missions. Sweden has a unique global music brand, and ExMS has helped further magnify Swedish music’s international charisma.

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