Report: The Corona Spring & Summer 2020 in the Music Field

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Hanna Isolammi

This report presents the measures, practices, and recommendations taken in the various sectors of Finland’s music field to prevent the spread of COVID 19 and due to the restrictions on gatherings established during the spring and summer of 2020. A list of sources and relevant material has been compiled at the end of this article.

In spring 2020, the coronavirus pandemic highlighted the instability of the economic foundation of the music industry for free-sector actors and for support structures that enable long-term activity. Live music operators, particularly venues, freelancers, and events and their producers, have been most acutely affected by the pandemic, but the effects of the crisis are now spreading to other sectors of the field, as a consequence—among other factors—of a decline in composition orders, performance fees, copyright royalties, and the sale and production of records.

The pandemic situation has also drawn wider attention to drawbacks and shortcomings in the working lives of freelancers and other self-employed persons—shortcomings which, it is hoped, will now be remedied politically, to an increasing extent. This report will focus on solutions undertaken in the field and on examples of action taken during these exceptional circumstances. More specific detail on losses of income can be found in Music Finland’s summary Musiikkialan tilannekuva 2020 (in English, “A Snapshot of the Music Industry, 2020”).

The period of the pandemic has highlighted the profuse strengths of the music industry, the most fundamental of which is the perceived relevance of music. We want to hear and perform music, regardless of changing circumstances. Music, in its various forms of activity and experience, has intrinsic and instrumental value and meaning that has continued to be emphasised under exceptional circumstances. We may say, therefore, that the core of the music industry will not disappear, even if changes occur to the culture-bound activities, structures, and value climates surrounding that core.

During the crisis, the Finnish music industry actors joined forces to find common ground for influencer communication, among other measures. As April ended, a proposal for a crisis and recovery package, devised jointly by ten industry organisations, was handed to ministers and officials responsible for decisions in this sector. Combining the powers of several arts organisations, a plea was made to amend the unequal position of creative workers, in particular with regards to unemployment benefits. The petition was handed over in June to the Minister of Social Affairs and Health through the leadership of the LYHTY association. Mutual solidarity and co-operation have proved to be strengths for both umbrella organisations and individual actors in the field.

The third strength that emerged in the music industry during the spring pandemic is creative, solution-oriented thinking and—on the basis of that thinking—prompt reactions to the changing situation. As a result of those developments, the music industry has seen the learning and launching of many excellent new ideas and practices that will also be useful in the long term. The following subsections offer more detailed examples of actions taken in the various sectors of the music field, during this exceptional time.

Direct and indirect financial assistance

The collective voice of the music industry was heard in the Finnish government, whose second supplementary budget directed support to individual artists, free groups, events, and communities. Aid for private individuals was distributed through the Arts Promotion Centre Finland as work grants, while community subsidies were accorded directly by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The ministry also allocated special grants to music schools receiving state contributions, to secure their continued operation. Municipalities also funnelled additional, express grants to individual artists or groups.

Companies were offered flexibilities, relief aid, and various subsidies—from which a small number of music businesses have also received help. It also became possible for a single business owner to receive some small operating aid from his or her local borough of residence. Freelance and entrepreneur access to unemployment benefits was also made easier temporarily.

In addition to public support, associations and private foundations have, within the bounds of their resources, channelled aid to the music sector. By mid-March, an emergency help package was announced, gathered jointly by several private foundations and the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. These funds were distributed by Taike, the Arts Promotion Centre Finland, as early as April 2020. Private foundations also distributed grants through their own channels. For example, the Kone Foundation launched a home residency, a new type of work grant awarding creative professionals three month’s support to work in their own homes. The Arts Promotion Centre Finland and the private foundations also considered the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic when assessing their criteria for the timetabling and fulfilment of projects that had already been awarded grant money.

In addition to the efforts of private foundations, several trade and creator organisations in cultural fields have created new ways to support individuals and communities affected financially by the crisis. For example, the Sanoma Corporation donated approximately 350 thousand euros for distribution to Finnish freelance musicians and music creators through special work support granted by the Finnish Music Foundation. Those donations mark the beginning of Sanoma’s Anna sen soida (“Let it Play”) campaign, which aims to create a million-euro support package for Finnish music. In June, the Finnish Musicians’ Union published a mobile application to assist with quick, easy requests for crisis support. The mobile application is intended to help union freelance members who have lost gig income, particularly as a result of the corona pandemic.

Besides acting as a joint messenger between political decision makers and the unified music industry, Music Finland has supported the continued export of Finnish music by adapting its existing grants to suit these exceptional circumstances. The new Musiikkivienti poikkeusoloissa grant (in English, “Music Exports in Exceptional Circumstances”) was distributed rapidly on a weekly basis. The University of the Arts Helsinki, cooperating with several Finnish foundations, launched a grant for its international degree students, who experienced extreme financial difficulties due to a lack of support networks and limited social security, among other factors.

Teosto and Gramex, Finland’s music copyright organisations, have altered their activities to ease the plight of the industry. Among other measures, Teosto temporarily included streaming with its existing performance licenses, so that live gigs would be easier to arrange online—and created an easy-to-use live streaming licence for paid livestream gigs. Teosto has also granted licence discounts and facilitated and sped up applications for advance royalty payments to composers, music creators, and music publishers. In August, Teosto announced that it would allocate support at the end of the year to its composer, lyricist, arranger, and publisher members, whose income will be delayed during the pandemic. Gramex, like Teosto, has brought its royalty payments forward and changed its licencing practices. Gramex has also funded a support package of approximately one million euros for musicians and music producers, through the Foundation for the Promotion of Musical Performance and the Finnish Musicians’ Union’s crisis support fund, applications for which can be submitted via the union’s mobile application.

Solidarity has also become apparent through the actions of individual actors in the industry. For example, in a campaign lasting approximately a month, the Alba Records company donated ten euros to its freelance musicians for each purchase of a full-price album through an online store. Concert Centre Finland is, for its part, selling remote concert recordings to schools, municipalities, and day-care groups, allowing musicians to work under exceptional circumstances. Churches, among other organisations, have hired musicians to perform at their events. Yle’s radio channels have increased their playtime for domestic music, so that artists, composers, and musicians will receive compensation in the form of copyright revenue. Music Finland’s sheet music collection has actively gathered small ensemble material and promoted it to conductors and orchestras, aiming to increase royalty payments to composers through performances of Finnish music.

Online gigs and events

When restrictions on gatherings were imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic, actors in the music industry—including individual musicians, orchestras, ensembles, education, festivals, teachers, and recreational actors—moved quickly online.

Initially, nearly all music listened to was free of charge: large orchestras and opera houses opened their digital performance archives for free viewing, while bands and musicians produced playable content for everyone to access. In technical terms, many types of streamed concert existed, from light recordings—made at home on mobile devices—to professional productions. Professional streamed productions were created by Yle, Ruutu, Concert Centre Finland, Concert at Home (,, and G Livestream. Many professionally realised online gigs also charged an entrance fee, which is a healthy phenomenon for performers and in terms of general attitudes to a musician’s work and the music industry as a whole., or Coronagigs in Finland, was set up to compile live gig information, providing details on upcoming streamed concerts.

The job descriptions and methods of communication of artists, musicians, and other performers expanded through online performances. Musicians who had previously played and performed mainly to live audiences were soon video recording their own playing and speech. Through rehearsal diaries or video greetings, for example, audiences were able to see musicians in unusual contexts. The Ruutu service produced “rehearsal room live shows,” in which bands and artists performed in rehearsal room conditions. Elisa Viihde commissioned and released two music films built around Olavi Uusivirta’s songs, in which Olavi’s band members also acted. One particularly innovative concept was a virtual club environment developed by the Tampere-based SWÄG collective, in which a registered person could move from one gig to another with the aid of an avatar they created.

Livelaboratorio oy’s two concert venues, G Livelab Helsinki and G Livelab Tampere, have had their own mobile application since they began operating. In addition to the purchase of concert tickets, the application allows clients to order catering directly to their tables, which has proved a useful feature in particular to ensure safe limited-audience gigs after the corona pandemic, helping audience members to avoid close contact. As a service, streaming was considered part of the G Livelab concept from its inception before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. During the pandemic, the G Livelab application has enabled the streaming of paid professional concerts.

The pandemic’s arrival in spring, towards the end of the concert season, was a stroke of luck in the midst of disaster for the continued functioning of the Finnish city orchestras, the Finnish National Opera, and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Many orchestras survived the exceptional circumstances of the spring entirely without laying off permanent staff members. For others, layoffs were short and temporary. Work and wages were only stopped completely in a few orchestras already in financially precarious positions. Of course, the situation for orchestra assistants hired regularly under normal conditions was as challenging as for other freelancers. The typical activities of an orchestra musician during the restricted period included home rehearsals, streamed or recorded solo/chamber music performances, instrument presentations, interviews, video greetings, rehearsal diaries, and other content produced for the internet easily and within the restrictions imposed.

The daily lives of the parents of children attending day-care centres and primary schools, who found themselves working at home under the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic, were made easier by remote concerts arranged by Concert Centre Finland and other parties producing content for children. These remote concerts, which received positive feedback, will continue to be produced in autumn 2020 alongside live concerts with a limited audience.

With the exception of the suspended Oulu Music Festival, the Tampere Biennale and April Jazz festival were forced to react the fastest to the pandemic situation in April. The Biennale became the Tampere Biennale 2.0 radio festival, broadcast free of charge on the Yle 1 channel, following its original timetable with an amended programme. April Jazz—with a little more time to react—became the April Jazz Subgrooves festival, an entirely streamed event to which several international promotors were invited as listeners. Both festivals succeeded largely because of networks and cooperation. The Tampere Biennale was realised with Yle, while April Jazz’s high-quality streamed gigs happened in close cooperation with G Livelab and the Finnish Musicians’ Union. As the situation of the pandemic developed, it seemed, initially, that all the summer music festivals in Finland would be cancelled. As restrictions were eased and the initial panic was alleviated, several festivals were arranged either completely virtually or using a hybrid model of events that took shape around a limited audience and an online environment.

Besides online concerts, many export events, showcase festivals, and industry fairs have also been held in digital environments. Nordic cooperation through representatives of different musical genres was promoted through the Nordic Talks discussion series, conceived by Music Finland. The Luminous showcase festival, for its part, had been planned as a live event from start to finish, but was realised entirely as a digital showcase, through the efforts of artists and international gatekeepers in the music industry [link].

Online concerts, while an important way to maintain contact between performers and audiences, are not a substitute for a live community gig or concert experience. It will be possible, however, to continue to apply the best practices gleaned from spring and summer experiences during the pandemic. For example, the hybrid model of live concerts and streams already formed and carried out at G Livelabs offers a larger, more geographically dispersed audience access to concerts. In turn, the addition of digitalisation to live events promotes accessibility and therefore equality for audiences who cannot attend an offline location due to health issues or other concerns. The addition of interactive, background, or archive materials to the concept—such as online chats, artist interviews, or panel discussions—would be relatively easily to accomplish through digital means. As large audience events become impossible, local, smaller, clearly profiled events can stand out and find new attendees.

Besides accessibility and equality, the digital jump taken by the music industry during the spring and summer of 2020 has also enabled the development and implementation of considerably more environmentally friendly procedures. In particular, many useful measures have been identified in the export and promotion of digitalisation. The virtual participation of international gatekeepers and other professionals in Finnish music events is ecological, cost-effective, and logistically easy. In some recording projects, it would also be possible to replace travelling with studio-level tools and software [see, for instance, MuFi Nordic Talks 1]. An industry representative in part two of Music Finland’s Nordic Talks discussion series remarked that his record company was planning a digital rehearsal platform for musicians. When running, this would allow internationally diverse bands to rehearse and to record songs more efficiently without travelling.

Live gigs for a limited audience

Some live music performances were arranged within the strict restrictions on gathering in the spring. Performances by small professional and amateur music groups were common in the yards of hospices and nursing homes, particularly in late spring. Before the strictest restrictions on gatherings were lifted, Flame Jazz had begun to arrange Home Delivery concerts on demand in the yards of private residences in the Turku region. Similarly, Recover Laboratory, an interdisciplinary group, launched multi-artistic evening walks in May, during which solo viewers moving alone on their routes encountered artists and performers from the fields of music, dance, and the modern circus, without close contact. From early June, when gatherings of under fifty people were permitted, live concerts began to be arranged more frequently for a restricted audience. These included outdoor concerts such as the Lallukka artists’ residence yard shows —and gigs held under the canopy of the Lutakko Ballroom’s loading platform.

As restrictions on gatherings were loosened in the summer, some festivals such as Meidän Festivaali (‘Our Festival’), or concert venues, such as the G Livelabs, opened their doors to limited audiences. Like many other clubs, the activities of G Livelabs are determined by restaurant regulations [link] that differ to some extent from those of other indoor concerts. The G Livelab mobile application has proved useful not only for streaming, pre-ordering, and table services, but in the opportunity, through its functions, to trace people exposed to the virus and contact an exposed client if necessary. Visitors are also reminded of safety measures at gig venues and facilities are cleaned efficiently.

Finnish performing-arts trade organisations have published national safety recommendations for performances, rehearsals, and the planning of performances. Those recommendations complement the guidelines previously issued by other officials, adding details from the perspective of musicians and singers, to be updated as the situation requires. FIM, the International Federation of Musicians, has drawn up detailed pandemic recommendations for orchestras, in order to ensure a safe return to work [link]. In addition to basic hygiene, both sets of instructions focus on the special features and characteristics of performances, breaks, break spaces, rehearsals, and instrument maintenance. Guidelines for international concerts and events have also been compiled by organisations such as the ECA or European Choral Association, Event Safety Alliance, Live DMA (a European network for live music venues, clubs, and festivals), and RIFEL, the Research Institute for Exhibition and Live-Communication.

At the time of writing this article, orchestras have published their autumn programmes, some for the entire season and others for two months at a time. The programmes in question were compiled with safety issues in mind—and taking into account the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. A typical approach for orchestras is to schedule concerts to happen intermittently.  With the pandemic restrictions, the occupancy of autumn concerts can only be eighteen to forty five percent, inevitably affecting orchestra finances. Many orchestras are choosing to perform the same concert twice in one evening, to compensate for drops in ticket revenue. For the same reasons, other ensembles are choosing to perform twice in one evening.

Arrivals and departures of audiences are being staggered and controlled at some gig venues and concert halls. Some orchestras are not selling any autumn season tickets or catering whatsoever. A few larger orchestras will begin their autumn season with performances by small ensembles. A movement of small groups to perform in spaces outside the concert hall—for instance, in libraries—is particularly common during the autumn season. The live performances of several clubs, bands, artists, and orchestras in autumn 2020 are also being live-streamed.

Although Finland’s concert and gig life suffered huge losses of income during the spring, positive experiences also occurred, one of the most obvious of which is the interaction between the audience and musicians on social media. Orchestra-made video greetings, podcasts, live streams, and commissioned musical greetings were very well received by audiences and are therefore likely to remain part of the activities of some orchestras. An increase in technological know-how and the conceptualisation of new gig ideas, paradigms, and safety practices will also benefit event organisers and concert musicians in the long term. Besides concerts held in the afternoon, audience development with schools, daycare centres, and care homes will likely remain a long-term activity. Additionally, as presented at the end of the previous subsection, the chance to combine live concerts with online concerts and background material benefits all parties involved.

Individual and small-group music teaching (vocals, instruments, composition) as remote learning

In Finland, many parties offer individual and small group music education, from private teachers, churches, organisations, and associations to community and vocational colleges, music colleges, secondary schools, polytechnics, and the Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki. This section examines the situation of the individual and small group teaching of instruments, singing, and composition during the spring of 2020. The next subsection will examine the activities of larger groups.

When live teaching was suspended in Finland in mid-March and schools moved to online education, music lessons also became digital, smoothly and on a brisk schedule. Finland’s long history of integrating music technology expertise into teaching was further emphasised in remote learning. Responsibility for the implementation of distance teaching resided largely with each education provider. The ability and capacity to use the necessary software, platforms, applications, or technical equipment for remote teaching varied greatly, which put both teachers and students in unequal positions. Since live teaching cannot be translated into remote learning as such, the means, goals, and contents of music teaching have had to change. Educators have had to consider their own work methods and pedagogies—which will certainly prove useful in the long term. While the number of hours spent planning and implementing music lessons increased many times over, time management also became somewhat easier as teachers accumulated new digital skills.

Individual instrument, composition, or singing lessons were most commonly arranged through video conferencing software and recordings. For instance, a band lesson might use teacher-made background tracks, which students would play over. More ambitious projects were also organised on the basis of a teacher’s previous interests and expertise. Many educators streamed pre-recorded performances or real-time concerts though a video conference. An online concert might be seen by an audience that would not otherwise have been able to attend. In some educational institutions, student concerts could be streamed—for example—to residents of care homes, who could watch and listen to them later, as recordings. This practice received a lot of praise in particular from the isolated residents of care homes.

The remote organisation of entrance examinations presented a particular challenge. Exams might be arranged through a combination of pre-recorded videos of instrument recitals, tasks for completion in a digital learning environment, and interviews conducted via video conferencing. For secondary school and vocational students—as for professional musicians—finding rehearsal space became a major challenge. In a few institutions, students about to graduate had limited access to school premises for rehearsals, but most were obliged to practice at home, which proved difficult, for example, in shared student apartments. From early June, a number of institutions including the Sibelius Academy gave students the chance to access school facilities, issuing detailed instructions on hygiene, reservations, and other rehearsal-related considerations.

Changes were made as necessary to graduation schedules in secondary schools, in the Sibelius Academy, and in universities of applied sciences. However, as the spring teaching was already nearing completion when the pandemic began, most student graduations proceeded as planned. During the exceptional period of the pandemic, students also usually pursued the support subjects and written assignments of their degree studies. In secondary-school institutions linked strongly to working life, an additional challenge was presented by the need to change or postpone practically every internship. Despite the difficulties, most graduating students finished their studies in spring 2020. Launched before the coronavirus pandemic by the Pop & Jazz Conservatory and the Turku Conservatory and Institute of Music, the Diginä musaduuniin (“Digital for a music job”) project will create solutions and best practices in the near future for digital learning environments in vocational music studies. Digital study materials are also being produced within the framework of the Diginä musaduuniin project.

The remote learning period during the spring pandemic highlighted several positive considerations. One of the most obvious of those considerations is the growth of the IT skills of teachers and students, realised largely through peer support and knowledge sharing. For example, social media groups served as platforms for tips, know-how, peer support, and general reflection. Established on Facebook, the Musiikin etäopetus group (“Remote music teaching”) became an important resource for many music teachers, enabling teachers in schools, community and vocational colleges, parishes, music schools, and recreational groups to receive advice quickly on detailed problems. Similar peer groups were formed at a brisk pace around the world.

Online learning materials and material banks were already in development before the coronavirus pandemic and remote teaching period, but their number increased in spring 2020. For example, many educational institutions collected recordings and teaching videos of musical accompaniment or music theory material—a resource that will continue to create diverse self-study opportunities for students. In addition to the materials in the above-mentioned Diginä musaduuniin project, Opus1, a material bank for the pedagogy of music compositions was published before remote learning began. The educational and other materials produced during the spring will remain useful in the future.

Some teachers stated that students emerged as individuals in a new way in remote learning. For some, distance learning was an excellent fit—for example, teachers of music theory reported that they had gained a better understanding of their students’ skill levels. Students in need of special support also benefitted from progressing at their own pace, in calm conditions. For certain students, an increase in digital know-how enabled a more comprehensive integration of music activities with the rest of their lives, as they created their own web pages and uploaded material to those pages (for example). The creation, processing, and analysis of recordings increased students’ self-awareness as singers or instrumentalists, inspiring them to create polished work. Through their recordings, students gained a documented record of their progress. Among other factors, teachers at music colleges enjoyed the positivity of being able to review and adjust the conditions of students’ home practice, and a strengthening of cooperation between home and teacher.

While the consensus in music education is that remote learning cannot wholly replace live teaching, distant learning will continue to be useful, for instance, when planning for long distances, for support teaching, or for teachers or students with a mild flu. Remote attendance is also planned for future entrance examinations and teacher meetings. In the spring, the Sibelius Academy had already paid for high quality external microphones for its vocational students. On the basis of their new remote learning experiences, many institutions will likely invest in quality software and digital devices for their teachers. Organisations offering further vocational training and liberal arts studies expanded their range and number of online courses during spring, with mounting demand for courses—for instance—in music support subjects. The number of online courses offered by community colleges increased more than tenfold; new students have begun to study music.

The website of the Finnish National Agency for Education presents new guidelines for the organisation of basic arts education and liberal arts education, as of August 1, 2020. When music studies continue as live teaching in autumn 2020, particular attention will be paid to hygiene levels, to student group sizes and facilities, and to disinfecting instruments in shared use. Student groups will be redistributed as necessary and safe distances maintained, in particular, between the members of choirs and wind instrument ensembles.

Groups in music education and amateur activities

In music teaching, the organisation of choirs, orchestra activities, music play schools, and band and chamber music studies demands the most adaptation from teachers, as online connection delays make real-time co-musicianship impossible to arrange through video conference software. By contrast, for example, composition teaching and music theory studies were shifted to distance learning in a relatively natural manner.

At its simplest, music for an orchestra, choir, or other group may have been arranged during the pandemic through remote weekly meetings, using video conferencing software. Video or email-based home rehearsal or supplementary activities—such as body therapy or musical visualisation tasks—were also common during the restrictions. Besides an exchange of news, greetings, and instructions, online meetings may have included exercises sung or played over the instructor’s direction or a pre-recorded track, with the participants’ microphones turned off. Musical parts may have been explored with a smaller group or one individual musician. Small groups may also have rehearsed outdoors or arranged a performance, for example, in the grounds of care facilities. Musical play groups usually ended with a weekly video prepared by a teacher, allowing families to hold music sessions in their homes.

Many association-based music enthusiasts have not been obliged to continue their lessons during the coronavirus pandemic. However, due to the perceived effects on well-being of music as hobby—and due to the philosophy of lifelong learning as integral to the idea of recreation—it was considered important to continue to learn, even in exceptional circumstances and with a lack of obligation. For that reason, several recreational and educational institution music groups arranged activities of some description during the spring and summer. National organisations offering amateur music activities—such as SKML, the Finnish Church Music Association, STM, the Finnish Workers Music Association, KoL, the Finnish Association of Adult Education Centres, FSSMF, the Finnish-Swedish Singing and Music Association, or Sulasol, the Finnish Amateur Musicians’ Association—have published reports on their own websites and in members’ magazines, listing activities offered during the exceptional spring situation.

Singing in a choir as a hobby is one of the most popular forms of musical recreation in Finland. However, some studies have found that singing increases the risk of viral infection. For that reason, choir activities during the spring pandemic were either halted or became virtual. Recreational choir activities have remained lively, nonetheless, and many solutions have been explored within the situation of the pandemic. For example, the ECA-EC or European Choral Association has compiled a comprehensive list of research data, good practices, and recommendations—and programmes, software applications, and inspiring examples suitable for implementation as choir activities.

Trips, an essential component of recreational activities, have been cancelled, but several different summer courses and camps have been arranged virtually or as live teaching within the restrictions on gatherings. For example, the Finnish Workers Music Association’s Aitoo music courses were conducted in June, virtually and with amended content, while the Iitti Music Festival courses—and several other study packages—were arranged face-to-face. Of course, it was also necessary to change the content of any courses and camps to be implemented as live teaching, with new solutions devised for issues of hygiene. For instance, piano keyboards were disinfected between student sessions, cleaning was carried out more efficiently, and meals were arranged in stages, observing safety distances and particularly careful kitchen hygiene.

During the spring corona pandemic, large-scale projects were also organised, including virtual choral and orchestral performances that were realised in various ways. The Virtual Choir, which has been the focus of much national media attention, is one such example. Set in motion through the Aventur show choir project, the Virtual Choir expanded quickly through the power of social media to choirs and singing groups—and later to individual vocal enthusiasts. During the spring of 2020, a Virtual Choir of approximately one thousand people gave three performances as mosaic videos.

Virtual performances were also created in the amateur orchestra world by the Kotka and Hamina Youth Orchestra. The Finnish Wind Band Association’s summer 2020 magazine published a detailed article describing the aforementioned project’s technical implementation, existing programmes, lessons learnt, plans and opportunities for the future, and orchestra member feedback and experiences. Professional orchestras are now also creating virtual performances in the manner of amateur groups. For instance, the Association of Finnish Symphony Orchestras released a mosaic video of the finale of Ludwig van Beethoven’s seventh symphony, compiled from the playing of musicians in its member orchestras as a spring greeting to students and teachers at the close of the academic year. Several other bands, choirs, and orchestras have also created mosaic videos. The laboriousness of such videos makes it unlikely that they will remain part of the usual activity of amateur ensembles, but different virtual classrooms or rehearsal recordings may continue to be used, for example, when preparing for an upcoming season.

In conclusion

The music industry is one of the sectors most widely affected in Finland by the coronavirus pandemic. However, despite all the difficulties encountered, this sector is one of the fastest to continue its operations and in the most creative ways, even with radical changes to its operating environments. While the crisis reinforced the idea that music is regarded as relevant and significant, it is necessary to reconsider the structures and operating models that have proved weak in the music industry over the time of the pandemic. The most pressing task is to anticipate the long-term effects of this exceptional situation.

The individuals interviewed for this report on the positive phenomena of exceptional arrangements during the pandemic drew particular attention in their speech to solidarity within the music industry, to the growth of IT know-how and online material, to environmentally friendly practices, and to the renewal of industry thought patterns.

During this time of crisis, music industry actors have joined forces on many levels, pulling together in one direction—a phenomenon that should be further cultivated. According to the people I interviewed, a united front towards decision-makers is a considerably more effective way of influencing decisions in the field as a whole than previous influencer communication from single organisations. Increased cooperation between actors was also considered valuable.

When confronting the pandemic, the acquiring of new equipment, accumulation of online material, and strengthening of IT skills are letting more diverse, environmentally friendly, and economically sustainable practices take root in the activity of organisations and individual musicians. It is likely that new software programmes and digital platforms for the creation of music will be developed further in the future, and that greater motivation will exist for developing those programmes and platforms. During the spring, actors in several sectors of the music industry experienced an increase in their social media skills and activity, in their number of social media followers, and in their knowledge of target groups or social media audiences.

During the spring of 2020, the entire Finnish music industry had to shake up its practices and the mindsets behind those practices. In facing the pandemic situation, a reconsideration of visions, practices, strategies, and values has become appropriate for individual musicians, groups, teachers, and organisations. Bands, musicians, and orchestras have become particularly concerned with their relationship with the audience and with the musical needs and wants of an audience, community, or both. Music teachers have considered the need for changes to pedagogies and study content, while musicians and composers have reflected on the development of their own careers and income. The urgency created by the viral pandemic may have accelerated a reappraisal of industry mindsets that would, in any case, have become necessary.


The Conservatory Association of Finland is the national co-operation forum for Finnish music conservatories and polytechnics. It aims to support and promote music education and advocate its members’ interests. Today the association has sixteen member schools: all 11 conservatories of music in Finland and five polytechnics offering a degree in music.

The Association of Finnish Music Schools‘s member organizations represent approximately 3,600 teachers from the field of basic arts education. Approximately 1,000 teachers are currently working in the vocational music education sector, some of whom work in both basic and vocational sectors, while others work in the vocational sector only.

The Association of Finnish Symphony Orchestras (Suosio) promotes and develops Finland’s symphony and chamber orchestras, and safeguards their interests and rights. The membership consist of 14 professional symphony orchestras, 1 opera orchestra, 8 professional chamber and semi-professional orchestras, 5 other orchestras and 3 associate members. In 2019, the member orchestras employed 988 full-time musicians. The number of assistants and musicians working under temporary contracts was 2,518.

Workers’ Musical Organization in Finland (STM) is a nationwide amateur music organization with 93 member associations, which include men’s, women’s, children’s and mixed choirs, orchestras and pensioners’ groups. The purpose of STM is to support and develop amateur music in Finland. About 3,000 people play and sing in the member choirs and orchestras.

The Society of Finnish Composers‘ members are composers in the field of concert music, or classical music. The purpose of the Society is to provide a community for its members located around the country, to safeguard and promote the artistic, professional and financial interests of composers, and to contribute to the creative musical arts in Finland. The membership of the Society is 221 individuals.

The Sibelius Academy is part of the University of the Arts Helsinki, formed jointly by the Academy of Fine Arts and the Theater Academy. The Sibelius Academy is one of the largest music academies in Europe and an internationally known and recognized creative community of about 1,500 music students and 500 teachers. In Finland, operations take place in Helsinki, Kuopio and Seinäjoki.

LiveFIN ry is a nationwide interest organization of music events and their organizers. The membership consists of venues, festivals and event organizers. The association oversees the interests of music events and organizers, develops the industry and promotes common issues, giving a voice to live music actors. In 2019, LiveFIN had 54 member organizations.

Sulasol ry (Finnish Singers and Musicians Association) is one of the largest amateur music organizations in Finland representing nearly 350 choirs and orchestras. The member organizations have approximately 12,500 personal members. Sulasol, as a unifying force, is driving the field of amateur music by influencing the art administration, authorities and the field of music education.

The Finnish Music Teachers’ Association (SMOL) has about 2,600 members who work as music teachers in universities, colleges and conservatories, as well as in the field of liberal arts education. SMOL oversees the interests of those working in the field of art and culture education. SMOL promotes the conditions of music education in Finland.

The Finnish Music Creators’ Association has 1,069 members. The aim of the association is to promote the economic and professional interests, social appreciation and community of Finnish professional composers, lyricists and arrangers.

The Finnish Music Therapy Association promotes the position of Finnish music therapy and increases knowledge of the field. The association has about 250 members. A person or community interested in the field can become a member.

Promotion centre for Finnish Folk Music & Folk Dance (KEK) is the umbrella organization of professionals and enthusiasts in the field of Finnish folk music and folk dance. KEK has 19 member organizations.

The Finnish Jazz Federation is an interest group in jazz music and culture, and has 46 member associations. It is an expert organization in the field and an active production body nationally and internationally. The Federation increases the visibility of jazz music in society and provides information about the Finnish jazz industry.

Finlands svenska sång- och musikförbund r.f. (FSSMF) is an organization of Finnish-Swedes working in choirs, orchestras and other amateur groups. The number of members is about 3,800.

The Finnish Association of Adult Education Centres (Kansalaisopistojen liitto KoL) is the umbrella organization for the adult education centres in Finland. The main task is to improve and promote non-formal adult education and learning in Finland. The association has nearly 200 members.

The Finnish Music Education Association – FiSME ry has both individual and community members. In 2019, the association had 376 members, of which the number of community members was 15. FiSME is an association of communities and individuals that acts as a mediator within the field of music education, both nationally and internationally.

Suomen Kanttori-urkuriliitto – Finlands Kantor-organistförbund ry monitors the interests of the cantor-organists in Finland. In 2018, the union had 1,138 members.

The Finnish Church Music Association promotes church music in Finland. Music associations such as choirs, orchestras or festivals as well as congregations can be members. The members of the Association are 17 church music districts and 84 member congregations.

The Finnish Musicians’ Union is a trade union of musicians with about 3,600 members. About a third of the membership are orchestral musicians, and two-thirds work as freelancers in various sectors of music.

The Finnish Wind Orchestra Association (SPOL) is Finland’s largest wind orchestra organization, whose members consist of wind orchestras as well as community and individual members. There are 246 orchestra members in the Association, in which play approximately 5,800–6,000 musicians. The background associations and their actors include about 1,000 more people. In 2018, about 300,000 visitors attended the members’ concerts and events.

The Concert Centre Finland’s aim is to arrange tours of high-quality concert programs for children in a wide variety all over Finland, mainly in public schools and kindergartens. The number of organized concerts and other events varies annually between 1200 and 1700, with 150 000–200 000 children taking part in the activities of the association. In 2019, the association had 56 bands and 176 performers as members.

Arene – the Rectors’ Conference of Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences protects the common interests of Finnish universities of applied sciences. Members of Arene include all 24 rectors of Finland’s universities of applied sciences and the universities of applied sciences themselves.

The Global Music Centre’s key task is to collect, record and distribute information about musical cultures from around the world. The Centre aims to increase understanding among listeners, researchers and music-makers of the individual and collective values in music, and of the importance of music as a means of communicating and strengthening identity. The Centre aims to promote understanding between people through music. It has 4 community members.

The Finnish Music Foundation (MES) promotes and supports the diversity of Finnish music. It supports the work of composers, musicians, producers and publishers. In 2019, more than 3,800 grant applications were submitted to the Foundation, of which 1,705 (45 %) received a positive decision.

Music Education Institutions’ Association (MOY ry) develops the educational content, monitors the professional interests of music education institutions providing basic art education, promotes co-operation between its members and improves the general conditions of the field. MOY ry has 27 members.

The Finnish Early Music Association promotes early music in Finland and to rally those engaged with it: professionals, amateurs, groups, ensembles, organisations, and festivals. Its goal is to develop Finland’s early music scene as a whole and promote cooperation by organising e.g. networking events. The association has 26 members.



Ahti Vänttinen, chairperson/Finnish Musicians’ Union; chairperson/Finnish Music Council (16.6.2020)

Patrik Stenström, vice-chairperson/Finnish Musicians’ Union; arts sector work and presentation instructions for exceptional circumstances – orchestra workgroup member (17.6.2020)

Annamaija Saarela, executive director/G Livelab Tampere (17.6.2020)

Sanna-Mari Holma, executive director/Finnish Musicians’ Union; chairperson of the workgroup for music as recreation/Finnish Music Council (FMC) (22.6.2020)

Kaisa Rönkkö, executive director/Music Finland (23.6.2020)

Jouni Auramo, principal/Pirkanmaa Music College; chairperson/The Association of Finnish Music Schools & Eija Kauppinen, acting executive director/Association of Finnish Music Schools (26.6.2020)

Anne & Vesa Kankare, the Kotka and Hamina Youth Orchestra (26.6.2020)

Miika Granholm, Aventur and virtual choirs (26.6.2020)

Mirja Kopra, lecturer and advisor/TAMK; Music teaching and education work group/Finnish Music Council (FMC) (17.7.2020)

Kai Amberla, executive director/Finland Festivals (21.7.2020)

Sari Löytynoja, producer/Finnish Musicians’ Union; Youth representative, chairperson of Finnish Music Council Youth workgroup/Finnish Music Council (FMC) (6.8.2020)

Helena Värri, executive director/Association of Finnish Symphony Orchestras (email interview 13.8.2020)

Noora Herranen, executive director/Concert Centre Finland (email 27.8.2020)

Taija Lähdetie, executive director/The Conservatory Association of Finland – Finlands konservatorieförbund (31.8.2020)

Jaakko Kämäräinen, freelancer representative/Finnish Musicians’ Union; musician (email interview 1.9.2020)

Jenna Lahtinen, executive director /LiveFIN ry (2.9.2020)

Jaana Nuottanen, executive director/The Finnish Association of Adult Education Centres (KoL) (2.9.2020)

Sanna Takala, training director/The University of the Arts Helsinki (email interview 3.9.2020)

Ulrika Kauniskangas, vice-principal/Pop & Jazz Conservatory (7.9.2020)

Instructions and materials

Arranging a liberal arts education from 1.8.2020:

Arranging basic arts education from 1.8.2020:

Concert Centre Finland’s remote concerts on demand:

FIM Recommendations for a safe return to work (orchestras):

Live DMA’s (the European network for live music venues, clubs, & festivals) material and instructions for venues, clubs, and festivals:

Opus1 – A material repository for the pedagogy of musical composition:

Performing-arts sector instructions for work and presentation during exceptional times:

Taideyliopiston toimintaohjeet tilankäyttöluvan saaneille (The University of the Arts Helsinki’s instructions for those permitted to use its facilities). 16.6.2020. The Sibelius Academy at Uniarts Helsinki.

The Arts Promotion Centre Finland’s help pages. Corona’s effects on the application of grants and benefits:

The Association of Finnish Music Schools’ (SML’s) guidelines and best practices for remote learning material:

The European Choral Association (ECA) corona-virus-related web page:

The European Choral Association (ECA) compiled practices and recommendations:

The Event Safety Alliance’s instructions for event organisers:

The “Musiikin etäopetus” group on Facebook:

The Research Institute for Exhibition and Live-Communication instructions for event organisers:

Valtioneuvoston asetus ravitsemisliikkeiden toiminnan väliaikaisesta rajoittamisesta tartuntataudin estämiseksi (Government decree on temporary restrictions to catering establishment activity, to prevent the spread of infectious disease):

Magazines, articles, and newsletters

Ahola, Anu, & Isolammi, Hanna 2020. “Music emerging from the coronavirus crisis – a view from Finland”. FMQ 15.5.2020.

Finnish Church Music Association 2020. “Näin toteutetaan erilaista musiikkitoimintaa koronakeväässä” (”This is how different musical activity is implemented in the corona spring”).

Hiltunen, Riikka 2020. “Sustaining normality through choices in music – Notes on music consumption in a state of emergency”. FMQ 18.6.2020.

Isolammi, Hanna 2020. “Finnish music institutes take a flying digital leap”. FMQ 30.4.2020.

Isolammi, Hanna; Ryökäs, Kalle & Stenström, Patrik 2020. ”Mitä teit keväällä 2020?” (”What did you do in the spring of 2020?”) Muusikko magazine, 4/2020.

Kaipiainen, Santeri 2020. ”Elävänä, etänä tai ei ollenkaan – kesän musiikkileirit päätyneet eri ratkaisuihin” (”Live, remote, or not at all—the various solutions of the summer’s music camps”)  Rondo Classic magazine, 25.5.2020.

Kankare, Vesa 2020. ”Näin toimii etäorkesteri Kotkan tapaan” (”This is how a remote orchestra works, Kotka-style”). Puhallinorkesteri – Suomen Puhallinorkesteriliiton jäsenlehti (Wind band—The Finnish Wind Band Association’s magazine) 2/2020.

Kauniskangas, Ulrika 2019. “Diginä musaduuniin -hanke. Ammatillisen koulutuksen uudet oppimisympäristöt ja ratkaisut” (The “Digital for a music job” project: the new learning environments and solutions of vocational education”). Presentation material, 20.11.2020.

Kukkonen, Annika & Mäkinen, Maria 2020. ”Ikäystävällinen orkesteri. Orkesterien ikääntyneille suunnatun yleisötyön käsikirja” (“An age-friendly orchestra. An orchestra handbook for elderly audience development”). Helsinki: The Association of Finnish Symphony Orchestras.

Malmberg, Aleksi 2020. “Korona muuttaa orkesterien toimintaa” (“Corona changes orchestras’ operations”). The Association of Finnish Symphony Orchestras’ May blog post.

Orvasto, Reima 2020. “Kuorolaisen koronakevät” (“A choir member’s corona spring”). Sulasol 2/2020.

Resonans 2020. “Så sjunger sig Svenskfinlands körer genom coronakrisen”. Resonans 2/2020.

Resonans 2020. “Manssångarna under coronakrisen”. Resonans 2/2020.

Saarikallio, Suvi 2020. “Music – a meaningful resource at turning points and in times of crisis”. FMQ 18.6.2020.

Stenström, Patrik 2020. “Orkesterit koronassa” (”Orchestras under corona”) Muusikko magazine, 3/2020.

Strömgård, Sofia 2020: “Ida Olsonen håller körövning på distans – ett uppskattat avbrott för koristerna i en uppochnervänd värld”. Resonans 2/2020.

Strömgård, Sofia 2020. ”Meningsfulla musiklektioner under undantagstillståndet”. Resonans 2/2020.

Suomen Kulttuurirahaston uutinen (The Finnish Cultural Foundation news):

Suomen musiikkineuvoston tiedote: Luovan työn tekijät tasa-arvoiseen asemaan työttömyysturvassa -vetoomus luovutettiin ministeri Pekoselle (A bulletin from the Finnish Music Council: The “Creative workers for equal treatment in unemployment benefits” petition is delivered to Minister Pekonen).

Sulasol 2/2020. Suomen laulajien ja soittajien lehti (the Finnish Amateur Musicians’ Association magazine). Readable online:

Särkiö-Pitkänen, Auli 2020. “Chamber music spring: Virtual concerts for employment, hope and communication”. FMQ 18.6.2020.

Särkiö-Pitkänen, Auli 2020. “Sounds of summer in Finland in 2020”. FMQ 12.6.2020.

University of the Arts Helsinki bulletin, 22.6.2020. ”Taideyliopisto polkaisi pystyyn korona-​apurahan ulkomaalaisille taideopiskelijoille” (”The University of the Arts Helsinki established a corona grant for foreign students”).

Teosto news, 13.8.2020. “Teostolta koronatuki musiikin säveltäjille, sanoittajille, sovittajille ja kustantajille” (“Corona grants from Teosto for music composers, lyricists, arrangers, and publishers”).

Vänttinen, Ahti 2020. “Muusikkojen koronakriisi – valoa pilven raosta” (“Musicians’ corona crisis—light from a gap in the clouds”). Muusikko magazine, 3/2020.

Reviews and summaries

Korona vie elävän musiikin arvosta noin 70 prosenttia (Corona steals about 70 percent from the value of live music) – Music Finlandin research 25.8.2020.

The Music industry crisis and recovery package. Music industry actors have put together proposals for action into an industry crisis and recovery package. Their proposals were sent to ministers and officials making decisions relating to the field of music on 23 April 2020. The proposed measures were prepared jointly by Teosto, Gramex, the Finnish Musicians’ Union, the Finnish Music Creators’ Association, the Finnish Music Publishers Association, The Society of Finnish Composers, IFPI, IndieCo, the Finnish Music Foundation, LiveFIN, and Music Finland.

Musiikkialan tilannekuva 2020 – Koronatilanteen aiheuttamat tulonmenetykset heijastuvat musiikkialalle laajasti (A snapshot of the Music Industry, 2020—losses of income from the corona situation reflect widely across the music industry). Music Finland study, 23.4.2020.

Teosto’s summary of support measures for its own members and the whole music industry:

Additional information on examples in the text

For more information on the examples mentioned in the text:

April Jazz Subgrooves:

The Diginä musaduuniin (Digital for a music job) project presentation:

Flame Jazz Home Delivery:

Concert Centre Finland’s spring 2020 in figures:

The Kotkan and Haminan Youth Orchestra:

The Lallukka yard gigs:

Music Finland’s Luminous Online vocational event:

Music Finland’s Nordic Talks discussion series: ;

Recover Laboratory’s evening walk:

The SWÄG Music & Art Collective:

The Tampere Biennale 2.0:

The Lutakko Ballroom’s loading platform gigs:

The Virtual choir: