Speed Promotions’ lightning dash to become one of Finland's major music promoters looks to have ended with an ugly crash.
Kalle Keskinen’s company was apparently in trouble at the end of March, when court papers showed it had debts of euro 2 million and euro 5,000 in the bank.
Keskinen was able to block Finnish collection agency Teosto’s effort to have the company declared bankrupt, but the stay of execution he won in the Oslo court hasn’t helped. Speed stopped trading at the end of October.
Any hopes that his fortunes would immediately be turned around by a Guns N’ Roses show at Helsinki’s 80,000-capacity Kapyla sports field June 5 – where the lineup reportedly cost $1.3 million – were soon dashed as it attracted only about 17,000. Local eyewitness reports pitched it even lower.
Over the previous two years, Keskinen’s apparent success has bothered some major promoters, including Live Nation, that claim his aggressive bidding policy appeared to be driving up the cost of talent.
Some of the shows had not done well, beginning in 2008 with Bon Jovi, which ended up suing him for not letting the band know about a sponsorship deal he made with a dairy firm that led to the band’s name and images splashed on thousands of the company’s yogurt pots.
Keskinen, a well-known rally driver with a celebrity image in the Finnish media, also dropped money on two 50 Cent shows in Helsinki’s 11,000-capacity Hartwall Arena.
A Bryan Adams show at a 35,000-capacity site at Tampere did about 6,000.
Keskinen allegedly had his family’s financial backing to step up from being a local promoter in Seinäjoki, where he also ran a regional festival called Vauhtiajot, which was a music event mixed with a motor sports rally.
Kaskinen has blamed Speed’s problems on expanding too quickly and the size of the artists’ fees he was paying.