Name: Lukas Nieuwenhuijsen
Role Title: Music Partnership Director
How did you get started in the music business?
I worked as an intern at a Dutch Hip Hop label and after graduating in 2007 (Media & Economics) I started an interactive club night that monitored its visitors’ musical behavior (via a software plug-in on iTunes, Youtube, Myspace, Lastfm a.o) allowing them to activate their build-up playlist into the DJ's playlist. At the event users logged in via Bluetooth and were represented on a big screen that showed the amount of influence one had on the choice of the DJ selecting tunes. Simultaneously I started working for MassiveMusic. A global music agency connecting music to brands such as Coca Cola, Heineken, BMW, Nike a.o. As an A&R manager I worked on music researches & licensing and learned how to work with brands, labels artists and agencies alike. Before ending up at WeTransfer I freelanced and co-programmed the Red Bull Music Academy Bass Camp 2015 in Amsterdam.
What does WeTransfer brand stand for?
WeTransfer stands for being productive in a creative environment.
How do your personal values impact upon the way you operate in your role?
I’ve worked directly and indirectly for several global brands and was somewhat disappointed about the fact that a lot of marketing executives don’t understand that music is about culture. They don’t take subcultures seriously and solely use music as a tool to reach their target audience. With WeTransfer, I really feel that we do connect with artists and labels and we can actually help them in multiple ways. WeTransfer is a file sharing service used by artists in their creative process when collaborating with other artists. Artists also use the service as a distribution channel sharing content with their fans.
What workplace values are important to you? How would you describe the culture at WeTransfer?
WeTransfer is a great but relatively small company with very talented and ambitious people. Our marketing team for example consists of merely five people but all of us bring a different skill set to the table and therefore create a diverse and cohesive unit. It’s great working at a company that is successfully growing but still let’s people figure out how they can fully utilize their capabilities. There’s a lot of room for own ideas and personal growth. It’s the first time I’ve worked for a start-up / tech company and I really love it. I joined nearly a half year ago but I can see it’s a very close team that grew from being really small to becoming a serious force to be reckoned within a short period of time. It makes for a family-like team. And although WeTransfer is a tech company, we see our service more as a lifestyle brand instead of just sending files easily from A to B.
Looking into the future, what excites you most about the potential of the music business?
I think it’s a great time for music. Of course a lot has been said and written about the effects of music streaming and about digital distribution in general. Anyone these days can create and distribute music and that makes it harder to really stand out in the crowd. But real talent still does exactly that. If you create something genuine and original you will (still) turn heads. Nowadays there’s a lot of online curation going on. It’s not only A&R or radio people that can grow and pick up talent, it’s also tastemakers such as (for lack of a better word) online influencers and playlist curators on Spotify that can really help and break new music. I think that’s a great thing. If you want to make it big, 9 out of 10 times you still need backing from a serious label in order to become a global star but I love it that the first spark can happen in so many different ways. Whether it’s social media following, plays on YouTube or the coolest thing picked up by bloggers, all of them are alternative ways to get noticed.
In what ways does WeTransfer support creative talent?
It’s at the core of what we do. The whole idea of WeTransfer was to send files form A to B and while doing so be inspired by amazing full screen content. Since it’s inception, WeTransfer has featured countless of upcoming photographers, illustrators, musicians, filmmakers but also start-ups and magazines throughout our wallpaper backgrounds.
From your perspective, what are the issues facing the music business in 2015?
I think it’s fair to say that it’s hard to stand out as an artist because there is so much new music all the time. One other thing that comes to mind is that since the whole EDM boom, it seems, within that “genre”, it’s more important to climb on top of the DJ booth (as opposed to standing in front of it) and throw cakes into the crowd, than actually making original music and giving the crowd a true DJ set. These guys have become superstars and that’s fine, but there’s just no artform in there anymore.
A new low was David Guetta playing an EDM version of “If You’re Happy and You Know it Clap Your hands”. It saddens me because, besides the productional aspects, DJ-ing and selecting tunes is a craft. It’s something that requires character and personality.
In what ways can people be more socially responsible for the health of our music industry community?
I think with streaming services being the future, we’re going in the right and the only possible direction. It leads people away from piracy and will eventually be a good thing for music in general. I agree that there are still some serious steps to be taken. The relation between artists, labels and streaming services for example is still not in the right balance.
I’ve also read some interesting alternatives in ways streams could be counted on Spotify so it seems that in terms of royalty pay-out we’re not there yet either. However, we’re still in an early stage of content streaming and there are still a lot of challenges ahead, but in any case it’s a real solution to piracy. So in my opinion we should embrace these developments rather than fighting them.
*Photography by Stefano Galli