Swedish-American Chambers of Commerce USA (SACC-USA)

Sweden's Most Pop-ular Export

Blog post  •  May 15, 2012 08:00 EDT

Ever since Abba won the Eurovision song contest in 1974 and went on to be one of the best selling musical groups of all time, Swedish music has been dominating the modern world. Roxette, Ace of Base, Europe, the Cardigans. The list goes on and on. Swedish music groups have been topping the charts and winning critical acclaim for decades. Swedes such as Miss Li, Tommy Sparks and Caesars (known in Sweden as Twelve Caesars) have been prominently featured in iPod commercials. This last December, Swedish House Mafia became not only the first Swedish group to ever play New York City’s Madison Square Garden, but also the first electronic dance music group. When tickets for their show at the world’s most famous arena went on sale, they sold out in a mere 9 minutes. The New York Times even ran a review of show. Led by Swedish House Mafia, Swedes are dominating the rapidly expanding dance music genre. Half of the Grammy award nominees for Best Dance Recording were Swedish and two Swedish DJs were ranked in the 2011 top ten of DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJ poll(Avicii at #6 and Swedish House Mafia at #10). Swedish DJs are among the most sought after performers at music festivals around the world. But most notably of all is the Swedish dominance of the Billboard Top 100 music charts:

Billboard Top 100 for the week of April 28, 2012
1. Somebody That I Used To Know- Gotye featuring Kimbra
2. We Are Young- fun. Featuring Janelle Monae
3. Glad You Came- The Wanted
4. What Makes You Beautiful- One Direction
5. Boyfriend- Justin Bieber
6. Wild Ones- Flo Rida featuring Sia
7. Starships- Nicki Minaj
8. Call Me Maybe- Carly Rae Jepsen
9. Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)- Kelly Clarkson
10. Part Of Me- Katy Perry

Don’t see it? Let’s break it down.

4. What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction: Written by Rami Yacoub and Carl Falk, both Swedish
6. Wild Ones by Flo Rida feathuring Sia: Produced by Axwell, a Swede
7. Starships by Nicki Minaj: Produced by RedOne, Rami Yacoub and Carl Falk, all Swedish
9. Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) by Kelly Clarkson: Co-written by Jorgen Elofsson, a Swede
10. Part of Me by Katy Perry: produced by Max Martin, a Swede

Five of the top ten songs in the world at the moment are written or produced by Swedes, and this is an off week. Not bad for a country of just under 10 million people. In fact, Sweden is the largest exporter of pop music per capita in the world and the third largest overall after the United States and Britain. In 2008 it was conservatively estimated that Swedish pop music exports totaled over $800 million USD. But where does Sweden’s strength in producing pop music come from?

Most of it has to do with Sweden’s strong cultural music foundation. Sweden has the highest amount of choirs per capita in the world and its yearly song contest Melodifestivalen is regularly the most watched TV program in Sweden with the final round drawing up to 4 million viewers. Sweden’s government is also extremely supportive of musicians. The Swedish Arts Council regularly funds bands and musicians who are just getting their start and since 1997 the government has been awarding a “Music Export Prize” for internationally recognized achievements in the music industry by Swedes. Past winners include Swedish House Mafia, Robyn, The Hives and Roxette. With such a broad base of support it is no wonder that Sweden turns out so much of the world’s pop music. Now if only I could get “Waterloo” out of my head…

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