Navigating the New Zealand music industry

Going Global: Tom Wironen

in Industry by

New Zealand artists looking to make it on the international stage should not get too hung up on breaking the big markets, according to US management veteran Tom Wironen, who is one of the speakers a this year’s Going Global Music Summit.

While breaking the US remains the holy grail for acts all over the globe, Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s manager believes bands should concentrate on the territories where they already have inroads.

“It’s important not to get too focused on an individual market like the United States,” he says. “If you find you’re getting traction in another country make that a priority and things will blossom if it’s good and you have the right supporters.

“With streaming, there is a chance to have your music heard everywhere and you can have a great career in various territories before you start seeing inroads in the UK or US.”

While some in the indie sector believe that platforms such as Spotify are no doing enough to support indie artists, Wironten says there are now less gatekeepers between artists and fans, so those acts with good music can still crack the major streaming platforms.

“I actually think there is a lot of opportunity for smaller artists if they are making good music,” he continues. “From my perspective, streaming has really opened the doors for a lot of bands that wouldn’t have necessarily connected through traditional outlets.

“If something is really clicking, the algorithms will notice and streaming will make it explode.  They just have to have a good team crafting the story and making it appealing to the editorial staff at the digital streaming platforms.”

Steaming also means artists can now look after their own releases themselves, but Wironen believes labels still have a vital role to play, particularly when it comes to marketing and promotion.

Although in the long-terms, record labels may end up losing some of their more established artists, for newcomers, the infrastructure services they provide are still valuable, he adds.

So what is the biggest mistake a new act can make when setting out on their career? “As a manager, I’m biased but hiring a friend with no experience to manage your career is a mistake,” according to Wironen. “It’s better to stumble on your own and know what is going on in your career. You’ll learn a lot and if things really start to take off you can find someone to manage you that is just as passionate, but will have the experience to look out for your best interests.”


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