Norway - Full Moon 41 - 02/19/00
Norway2000: Watt vs. VAT
Norwegian politicians are killing live music
Let me tell you how it will be,
There's one for you, nineteen for me,
Cause I'm the taxman! Yeah, I'm the taxman!
(G. Harrison, Taxman, Revolver, 1966)
Yet again the trigger is getting pulled, as the politicians are aiming at rock as
a source of money income. This spring there's a big chance that the Norwegian
Government will agree on a suggestion of putting taxes on concert tickets for popular
music, claiming this sort of entertainment to be "luxury goods" (this new tax-claim
will also concern movie theaters, and I will not be surprised if the next move will be
to put taxes on books and magazines, but that's some other story).
It's a pity, because this new tax law will, due to more expensive tickets, force the
clubs to a safer programming of acts to survive. This means it could become more difficult
for new (local or National, but also international up-and-coming acts) bands/artists to get
to play, simply because there's a limit of how much the audience will pay to check out some
unknown names. Last month there was arranged a Venue festival in Oslo at some of the most
important clubs, such as So What!, Blå, and John Dee (Rockefeller's side scene), which
also marked the importance of these venues, showing a great activity and creativity in giving
the audience an impressing line of gigs to chose from. This has also brought Oslo to the top
of European cities when it comes to pop-rock repertoire of live music. On January 25th the
daily paper Dagsavisen had an article on this tax-matter, asking the "in charge" people of
the aforementioned venues on the topic. The whole bunch was worried, of course, and Claes
Olsen form the highly prolific club So What! (a 300 capacity club which has brought "every"
band/artist of indie/alternative importance - Yo La Tengo, Mogwai, Thurston Moore, Neutral
Milk Hotel, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Stereolab, Lightning Seeds, Ben Christophers,
Built To Spill, Supergrass, Rae & Christian, Tortoise, Elliott Smith, bob hund - the list is
lo-o-o-ng! - to Oslo over the last years, as well as launching a lot of Norwegian acts, all
this at indeed fair prices) was quite clear in his statement: if this new law comes through,
So What! will close down.
So, if this comes through, we'd better prepare for a slim future of exciting live music in
Oslo. And I don't think I'm too pessimistic when I say it'll be even worse for the rest of the
country. So, think twice, Mrs. Minister of Cultural Affairs and all you other ignorants!
Copyright © 2000 Håvard Oppøyen