By THOMAS TALSETH and STEIN ØSTBØ
Published May 17th 2019,
Translated by Karina Brandt, July 16th 2021
TEL AVIV / OSLO (VG) NRK spends over three million kroner (NOK) on the Eurovision Song Contest, but very little on the participants who represent Norway in the competition.
On Saturday night, Tom Hugo Hermansen, Alexandra Rotan and Fred Buljo will be on stage in Tel Aviv, to spread Norwegian pop and Sami cultural heritage to hundreds of millions of viewers in the ESC final.
The road there started with a victory in the Melodi Grand Prix on March 2nd – but just over two months of work to ensure the best possible result for the band, Norway and NRK, the trio has had to take care of and pay for themselves.
NRK informs VG that until their delegation arrived in Tel Aviv on 6 May, their assistance to KEiiNO consisted only of facilitation to Norwegian and international media, ie booking of interview agreements.
This was taken care of by two employees in NRK’s communications department and is far from a full-time job.
In the meantime, KEiiNO has travelled around Europe to promote Norway’s contribution, at their own expense.
The trio has participated in Eurovision promo concerts in Amsterdam, London, Madrid and Riga, as well as a similar event in Berlin.
VG has gained insight into the budget for these trips. A grant of 20,000 from the music export foundation Music Norway and a total concert fee of 3840 covers only half of the expenses.
In an interview with TV 2, KEiiNO says that fans have helped them with the rolling of the money and that credit cards have been a help to the initiative.
Buljo is said to have taken unpaid leave from work, while Rotan says she has put her studies on hold.
– I would put these promotions in the total budget for Melodi Grand Prix and Eurovision, says Tom Hugo Hermansen in KEiiNO to VG.
– Possibly the MGP winner should have received a prize pool to cover expenses and lost earnings.
He emphasizes that the promotions are valuable in reaching the hardcore of Eurovision fans around Europe, both in performances – “our best weapon” – and in interviews.
Norwegian Eurovision participants do not receive a fee from NRK for their efforts. However, NRK covers costs associated with the artists’ participation in Eurovision during their stay in the host city, such as hotels and transport.
– Some of the other delegations pay their artists well to join the ESC, and in some countries, the artists themselves have to pay to join, says Hermansen.
When asked who he is referring to, he answers:
– I do not know if it is official what Sweden pays, but you can check if they want to say something.
Sweden’s delegation leader, Madeleine Sinding-Larsen in SVT, says:
– We never reveal the fee for our participants, but SVT pays all participants in the performance in accordance with an agreement with the Swedish Musicians’ Association.
According to Aftonbladet, the fee was approx. 11,300 Norwegian kroner per artist head in 2013.
The artists receive this sum once per performance – both in the Melodifestivalen (Swedish Melodi Grand Prix) and in the semi-finals as well as – in the event of promotion – the finals in Eurovision.
– Different countries operate with different agreements. Of course, I do not know the details of everyone, says Stig Karlsen, NRK’s delegation leader in Eurovision.
More money, bigger artists
Hermansen in KEiiNO further believes that his proposal for more money can get bigger artist names into MGP and ESC.
– A plan that includes a music video and a greater focus on promotion abroad for the winner may lead to more established artists wanting to participate. This in turn can increase interest in the competition and thus justify increased expenses.
Stig Karlsen points out that NRK already invests large resources in the artists’ participation.
– Everyone must bring something to the table, and in the artist’s case, it means their time and talent. NRK covers costs related to participation in all the official events for Eurovision. Promotional tour with fan parties around Europe is not part of what NRK covers.
This is how the NRK money is used
NRK informs VG that their total budget for Eurovision this year is NOK 3.03 million.
One-third of the sum goes to participation fees and viewing rights, while 800,000 are travel costs for the entire trial and submission period.
The other expenses are stated to be “working hours, line rental, home jury, etc.”.
The delegation consists of 17 people; 13 of these are in Tel Aviv during the entire production period, which started on 6 May.
In addition to KEiiNO’s three members and their three choristers, NRK has two press officers, two who work with online and social media, a music producer, a commentator, a production manager and a delegation manager. They also have an employee in the photo and show direction, one in make-up/costume and one in charge of screen graphics.