SMASK stands for Sveriges Musikakademiker's Song Kåntest - it's an annual music competition organized by Sweden's six music Colleges from Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, Örebro, Piteå and Ingesund.
Being based right by the Royal College of Music in Stockholm (KMH), we at Amplify got the chance to take part in this year's SMASK on April 11th. It was a special edition of the event for Amplify, as one of our incubator companies, Stagecast, has provided their platform to use a digital voting service to determine the competition's winners. Stagecast is a live interaction platform for entertainment events. The app provides different tools - moments - that allow for an interaction between the audience and the perfomers, without creating a digital distraction.
The contest is a humorous and fun parody of Melodifestivalen - Sweden's largest entertainment program where 28 artists compete to represent Sweden in the Eurovision Song Contest.
SMASK competition started in 1991 when students at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm were disappointed and tired of applying to compete in Melodifestivalen - with no luck. They have decided to start their own competition instead. Each school organizes its own competition and the winners from each school take part in the big national finale. The competition is fully organized by students and all of the competitors need to work on everything themselves - from the lyrics to music and choreography.
Since lightly orchestrated pop songs dominate on stage, Melodiefestivalen is sometimes referred to as Schlagerfestivalen - "the schlager festival". While you can sometimes hear different genres of music, "schlagers" are the most popular at SMASK as well. That includes a live orchestra, lively and catchy compositions and sparkly costumes.
Anna Martinson, who is the vice president of the Student Union at KMH and the Project Leader for SMASK, said "the best part about SMASK is that everyone gets to play and have fun. It's the perfect opportunity for students to have fun with other genres of music even if they study classical music or jazz." All the performances we got to see this year were fun and light, including a parody of a popular movie called "The Hunger Games".
SMASK is the only project at KMH that is fully driven and organized by students. It takes a lot of energy and preparation and work starts as early as September! It is no surprise since there are around 100 students involved in the production of the event. From writing the lyrics to arranging the orchestra, they are in charge of everything themselves. Anna believes that working on the event production is a great practice for students, especially those looking to work in the entertainment industry and media production after graduation. It's a great opportunity for them to learn and build a project and get professional experience as well.
We were happy to collaborate with the SMASK production as the process ran smoothly and we had time to meet several times with them to really plan how they wanted to and were going to use Stagecast - and that’s valuable for us to understand as many other larger productions often have less time to really make sure that Stagecast can reach its full potential in their event. - says Hedvig Ahlgren, co-founder of Stagecast. It was nice to see how the hosts on-boarded the people how to use the app on stage, they did a great job and actually 88% of the total participants downloaded it! Anna Martinson and her fellow Project Leaders were thrilled to collaborate with Stagecast on the event. For them, it was the perfect voting tool - free for the audience (in contrast with paid text voting that was used the year before), easy to navigate and most importantly - the hosts were able to view results of the voting quickly.
Next year, the big finale of SMASK, with winners from all six Colleges, will be held at the Royal College of Music here in Stockholm. Until then, we're keeping our fingers crossed for this year's winners - Natasa Baykal and Malin Willén - who will be competing in the grand finale in May!
Photos: Courtesy of Robin Bugdahn, co-founder of Stagecast