The Elite Nurturer model: Canada, South Korea, Sweden

As discussed above, given its recurring emphasis on selective collaborations with specialist larger entertainment companies, South Korea also provides an example of the Elite Nurturer model working in tandem with Architect mechanisms. Some western nations have also revealed aspects of this model, or at least nodding aspirations to it. Components of Canada’s Architect model are accompanied by funding streams designed to broker (selective) long-term relationships with appropriate companies of international standing. The Canada Music Fund (derived from FACTOR funding) is a market leader in this respect through its Support for Eligible Music Companies grant programme, where the “company” definition can apply to labels, publishers, distributors or artist managers. The programme funds business development (activities leading to company expansion of the development of new territories) and business travel activities “that support the marketing and promotion of the company and its services, as well as domestic and international travel to support the company’s development objectives” (FACTOR. 2019). The Canada Music Fund also offers the Music Entrepreneur: Aid to Canadian Music Publishing Firms “to support the development of Canadian songwriters/composers and the promotion of new Canadian musical works in Canada and abroad”. Both grant funds acknowledged the need to grow domestic expertise:

It’s all well and good to develop our artists, but if there’s no industiy to support, what you’re doing is exporting your artists either into the major label system, or outside the country altogether, which is not our intention.

(Interview 29, 2017)

In breaking with traditional artist-centric grants, such funding forms amount to the opposite of “excellence” discourses of typical Patron mechanisms; instead, a steady progression to export expertise and accompanying track record is rewarded.

While Sweden possesses a mixture of Patron (Arts Council, Arts Grant, Culture Fund, Foreign Affairs) and Architect (Export Music Sweden, comprising rights, musician and recording associations) mechanisms, it has also attempted other assistance forms. The countiy has in some instances led innovations in creating production hubs that emphasise exports of songs and sounds as much as artists. Denniz PoP (who died in 1998), Jacob Schulze, Kristian Lundin and Max Martin are internationally known as pop songwriters for an assortment of global artists, constructing a pop aesthetic that cuts across genre and national boundaries. These writers, and the “next generation”, are a central part of the country being regarded as the “low-key Nashville of the Nordics, a hit-making heavyweight that’s one of the world’s biggest exporters of music relative to the size of its economy” (O’Kane, 2018). There is a belief that the country’s first-mover advantages in some spheres of digital platforms (both Spotify and Soundcloud were developed in Sweden) has had ancillary benefits in music promotion:

I think another very big contributing fact is the fact that Spotify started in Sweden and is the major streaming service, and the major private consumer sendee these days. I’m pretty sure that helps too, because the marketers and the record companies and the publishers, they've had a lot of time to practice how to perfectly master the art of marketing music in a streaming service environment, as opposed to maybe Germany, where you still have a 70% physical market, or Japan for that instance.

(Interview 30, 2016)

Song-writing has been an important component of international success, including Max Martin, RedOne, Avicii, Swedish House Mafia, Robyn or Lykke Li (MXD, 2016): “We have more superstars in the world of songwriting than we do superstar artists” (ibid.).

Such concentrations of individual talent, it has been argued, are couched in deeper structures. For the national government, not only should small to medium SMEs seek to export; “born global” industries “such as IT, computer gaming, music, design and trade, start-up enterprises are global from the very beginning” (Govermnent Offices of Sweden, 2015, p. 15). This necessitated more intensive assistance for such industries, including strengthening Sweden’s image abroad to attract talent and investment (ibid.), and earlier positioning of the music industry at the forefront of new (digital) business models that overlapped with other industries (Govermnent Offices of Sweden, 2012). Further aspects of the welfare model (artist financial support), combined with technological innovation and solid education and broadcasting structures, have allowed particular genres and acts to stand out (Swedish Institute, 2019).

One interviewee noted the irony in the country's comparative success resulting in less annual funding for export activities to their Scandinavian counterparts:

We have more funding now than when I started, but still compared to Music Finland or Music Norway, we’re a really small organisation, at least money- wise ... It's easier to go to the government and say that, “hey, we're just one- third of Sweden and we have a pretty similar society, why aren’t our export figures similar?”. Whereas, we're like number one and they say “well, that's a great job, continue”.

(Interview 31, 2017)

 
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