Interview with Peter Hart, A&R Manager Universal Music

After a tip-off from a friend that Universal Music was looking to recruit music people with IT skills, Peter Hart started working for Universal Music Sweden in the late 1990s, specifically as A&R manager in the pop genre from 2003. He is linked with an impressive list of successful Swedish artists, including: Emilia, Carola, Lars Winnerbäck, Urban Cone, Daniel Adams-Ray and Tove Lo. A&R stands for ‘artists and repertoire’ and is the lifeblood of a label, being the people responsible for sourcing and signing new talent.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned working in A&R?
I’ve learned how important it is to trust your gut instinct. Even though we all have different tastes in music and different ways of listening to a song: for some people it’s all about the melody and that special hook, while others pay close attention to the lyrics. In the end it’s up to you to go with what you believe in and stand by your decision.

What do you think about the development of the music industry and digital distribution?
I would say that the digital revolution, after a couple of shaky years (…Pirate Bay etc) has had an enormously positive effect. It’s become so much easier to get information about artists online and to get a better picture of them, than after only listening to a demo track. Nowadays it’s also easier to release singles, distribute music and find more ways to promote artists.

Who are your idols/influences?
Since my job requires me to listen to music from a different standpoint, it’s hard to say who my idols are today, but when I was younger I used to listen to U2, The Clash and The Waterboys.

How many artists are you currently working with?
At the moment I’m working with: Tove Lo, Lars Winnerbäck, Daniel Adams-Ray, Urban Cone, Tomas Ledin, Faråker and State Of Drama. The number I’m working with at any given point varies depending on the length of each artist’s campaign, when they release new material, and their involvement in different active projects.

If you were to give our Spinnup artists some advice, what would it be?
It always helps when the artist has a vision and has put some thought into how to present themselves, both in their appearance and the delivery of their music. Having your own unique style of expression doesn’t mean that you have to be the world’s greatest singer, and if you hit a false note, sing it with 100% conviction and be proud of what you’re doing! And don’t give up!

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Time to announce the winners of the challenges in May!

We were very impressed by your contributions to this and your hard work. But, as usual, one of our precious Scouts did that little extra. This month it waaaaaaas… *drumroll*…. Niklas Hansson! Besides the “usual” guerilla marketing activities such as handing out flyer, putting up posters and stickers, he organized a live show for his artist Anna Wihlke at Obaren in Stockholm. The show was a great place for marketing Spinnup, with one of our artists performing. Anna even said “thanks to Spinnup” during the show which made it even better. Congrats to you Niklas, you’ll win a ticket to the Way Out West festival i August!

Since we didn’t reach the goal of 1200 likes, unfortunately you won’t win any prize for this. Currently, we just passed the 700 limit, so keep on working on this and you will be rewarded!

Best listener: Niklas Hansson must be listening to everything Spinnup has to offer! And we want to hand out a badge to another Scout for best listener this month, Marcus Krylborn! Only a few week as a Scout and he has been listening like bananas!

Best commentator: Oscar Larsson, you did it again! Keep on giving great feedback to our artists, and you other Scouts, of course you’ll do the same!

Facebook: This one goes to you, Annie Turesson! Your band Damn Delicious passed 2300 likes, great job (Matias – Bosson doesn’t count, he already had some likes before you scouted him 🙂 )! Overall when looking at your artists’ Facebook pages, there are surprisingly few likes, maybe work a bit on that?

Badges will be put on your profiles to make them even more attractive.

You’ve all done a great job but congratulations goes out to our winners! The festival challenge is still under review and the winners of it will be announced soon, along with new and fresh challenges!

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Next up: Sa’ra

Sa’ra is a New York City-based Swedish/Eritrean singer songwriter in the genre of Dark Soul/Electronic Pop. New single “Hole” is an uptempo electro-pop song written and produced by Sa’ra and Danny Ocho, distributed globally via Spinnup.

Born and raised in Stockholm, Sa’ra moved to the US at the age of 17 to pursue her musical aspirations and continue her studies. Her years stateside have been formative ones, and the singer has been shaped by her experience of growing up in a big city like New York. Influenced by many artists, she cites Amy Winehouse and Lauryn Hill as her primary inspirations: they are both very soulful artists with certain grit to their voices, and there’s something unresolved about them both, which Sa’ra says she can identify with.

“Music has always been an important form of self-expression for me. I have a very vivid imagination and I also tend to carry a lot of pain around with me, and music is my only real outlet. I tried love and I tried comedy…neither really worked out,” explains the singer.

Sa’ra is currently back in Stockholm to release the single and music video for “Hole”, taken from her upcoming EP. Her new songs are infused with catchy hooks, which are characteristic of the Swedish pop music that she grew up listening to. At the same time the music is influenced by her adult years spent in Brooklyn, while also containing an element of darkness that has coloured many of her life experiences.

New single “Hole” is now available in all major digital stores via the Spinnup distribution platform. We’re going to be seeing a lot more of Sa’ra in the next few months, as she performs around Europe to promote her upcoming EP scheduled for release this summer.

Check out the new single “Hole” and feel the beat here.

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As the second small challenge in May, we give you…. the festival challenge! As you all know, the summer is when it really happens when it comes to music in Sweden. Therefore, we want to send you guys to a bunch of festivals to promote Spinnup (and of course get to watch some really great bands)!

As the challenge, we want you to write a motivational letter in which you describe how you will promote Spinnup at these festivals. Try to keep it to one page. What kind of campaign will you run? How will you make sure that the entire crowd will know what Spinnup is and will recommend it to all their friends once they get home? Remember that you have a bunch of posters, flyers and stickers to work with. All letters will be read and evaluated, and 8 winners will be selected. So be creative in you letter and do your best!

Don’t forget to write which festival you want to attend (Hultsfred, Bråvalla and Way Out west). The winner of this challenge will be selected by the end of the month (May).

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Let us present: KWAAI

KWAAI is the result of a unique collaboration between Swedish and South African hip-hop and urban artists. Now out with their debut single “Badman”, proudly distributed by Spinnup.

It all began in early 2012 when Stockholm-based rapper Mofeta secured funding from the Swedish Culture Council for a music project with South Africa. KWAAI was assembled – a diverse mix of talented male and female, multi-racial musicians – and in December 2012, Adam Tensta, Syster Sol, Chords, Cleo, Kristin Amparo, Mofeta & Jerre and Dirty Jens, all travelled to South Africa to meet some of the leading lights of the region’s urban music scene. Inspired by their surroundings and recording in the famous Red Bull Studios in Cape Town and the famed Kalawa Jazmee Studios in Johannesburg, they recorded 25 songs over three weeks.

Initiator and Project manager Mofeta said, “I learned that the more I was letting others take place in the music, the better it became. Instead of holding so hard to it and thinking that if it didn’t get as I thought, it wouldn’t be good.”

The project quickly expanded and surpassed everyone’s expectations. Not only are they releasing a documentary about their musical adventures in South Africa, this summer they’ll all meet again in Sweden to perform at festivals including “Way out West” with the backing of the National Theatre and Red Bull. Touring with KWAAI will be Driemanskap, the charismatic South African hip-hop collective who mix Xhosa, English and local dialect into their lyrics, as well as Kanyi, the MC and talented lyricist who raps in her mother tongue, Xhosa, and who also happens to be a Sangoma, a traditional healer.

KWAAI’s debut single “Badman” is now available in all major digital stores and proudly distributed by Spinnup. Their album will be released at the beginning of June. Get ready for summertime and the most important cultural summit meeting in Sweden!

Listen to their song “Badman” here.

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Promotion advice

As an artist, it’s important to understand how to market your music. How do you grab people’s attention and promote your act? Remember the music industry is a people industry, so get networking, learn to hustle! Here are some tips to make yourself heard above the noise…..

Your image and style of music will to a large extent define your audience, so be strategic, without restricting your options. Research and target the magazines, websites, radio shows and blogs that cover similar musical genres and find out the key contacts, with a view to creating a relationship and potentially recruiting them to your fanbase. Be professional and persistent, but don’t become a pest! Make the most of social media to connect with your fans and update your twitter and facebook accounts regularly with your latest news and any live performance dates. Make it easy for your fanbase to do some of the legwork, encourage them to link back to your posts and help you spread the word.

This might sound obvious, but when you’re performing remember to introduce yourself or the name of your band at the beginning, as well as the end of your set. That’s free promotion. If you’ve created a brand/logo, you might want to consider selling merchandise: the right products can offer something extra to your fans and can be great advertising for your b(r)and. However, don’t get carried away and over order, also keep an eye on quality control – your fans will blame you (not the manufacturer) for inferior goods. It’s also a good idea to have some business cards, or an equivalent ‘calling card’ such as promotional EPs (don’t forget to add all your contact details), for when you meet journalists, promoters, agents, scouts or anyone you might want to collaborate with in the future.

While you shouldn’t forget the importance of building a local fanbase, nowadays digital distribution offers you a platform to get your music heard far beyond your hometown, potentially reaching a global audience. Through Spinnup you’re able to supply your music to the leading digital stores such as Spotify, iTunes, Wimp, Google Play, Amazon and Rhapsody. It’s an easy and fantastic way to distribute your songs worldwide! Go for it and plan the next stages of your career as a musician!

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Spin for artist talent development

This just made our day! Digital Music News dropped some nice lines about us as the spin for artist talent development. Now with over 1000 registered artist, 16 of them are being scouted and hundreds of songs from all kinds of genres… Spinnup is growing every single day!

From the article:
“..It’s early days, of course, but it seems to be an interesting way of bridging the gap between self-release and major label deal, giving artists the opportunity to sample services that are usually only offered as part of a record deal – without having to give away the rights to their music..”

Read the article here

And big thanks to all on Spinnup, Scouts and Artists for making it possible!
/Team Spinnup

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Time to announce the winners if the second round of challenges! Here we go:

Wow! A lot of great videos popped up on your profile, but the one that caught our eye the most was the one Lisa Holmgren made. Congratulations to you Lisa, you win a meeting with one of our A&R’s for some tips & tricks! Our Scout Manager will contact you by e-mail for further information.

She did it again! The Scout that recruited the most artists to Spinnup in this round was Zoofie Ljung. A big congrats to you Zoofie, we’ll send you a nice Håkan Hellström book as the prize!

Best listener: This guy really scours the site to find that awesome artist! Jonatan Södergren is our most active listener.

Best commentator: Always active, always constructive. Our artists appreciate him and we do too. Oscar Larsson is our commentator of the month!

Facebook: Anna Wihlke went from 525 to 653 likes, that’s an addition of 128 likes and by far the best result this month. Congratulations to you, Niklas Hansson!

Badges will be put on your profiles to make them even more attractive.

You’ve all done a great job but congratulations goes out to our winners! New challenges are out, now focus on winning them!

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As this months’ big challenge, we invite you to cover the city you live in with Spinnup posters, stickers, and flyers! Soon, you’ll receive a package containing these things by mail, and when you do it is just to start your own guerilla marketing campaign!

You will all receive a list of places to visit via e-mail. The list contains examples of bars, clubs, etc. which are nisched and where we believe you can find the target group for Spinnup. Of course, you don’t have to follow this list slavishly, we encourage you to go beyond it as well.

As we can’t measure how many new registered artist your campaigns result in, the prize will go to the Scout who comes up with the most creative campaign! Therefore, we want you to document it and send it to the Scout Manager by the end of the month at the latest. Now go promote Spinnup!

This challenge runs until the end of May. As prize, the winner will get a ticket for one of the major festivals in Sweden this summer. So make sure to do your best!

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As the third small challenge, we want you to be on the hunt for likes for the Spinnup Facebook page. A good first step is to invite all your friends to like the page, and if you have your own page you can invite all your followers there, but how you will go on after that is up to you. Be creative! A good example is what Niklas Hansson did for his artist Anna Wihlke, where he collaborated with a jewelry manufacturer to produce bracelets for a like-campaign for her Facebook Page. Maybe contact him for some inspiration?

As it will be hard to measure how many likes each one of you have collected, we will do things a bit different this time. We’ve set the limit to a 1200 likes (currently we have 537), and if we reach that all of you will be rewarded. How will we be rewarded you ask? Well, let’s keep that a secret for now. That’s a bit more than 30 likes you’ll have to collect each, not an impossibility!

Now, go get those likes!

This challenge runs until the middle of May, when a new small challenge begins, so you better start now! If you reach the goal, you will all be rewarded with a night out, to be more specific beer and a concert!


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