Wilbert Mutsaers is currently Head of Content, Spotify Benelux. Previously he was CEO at Mojo Concerts – Live Nation. Before that he was Station manager at the Dutch public radiostations NPO 3FM (alternative/pop-radio), Radio 6 (Soul & Jazz) and FunX (Urban radio) of which he managed the music, marketing and online strategy.
Mutsaers has also been Head of A&R, Creative and Marketing Director at Universal Music and Sony Music Benelux. Mutsaers is co-founder and first chairman of the Dutch Pop-Coalition and a member of the Dutch Creative Council, the creative board for the Dutch Government.
To get to know Wilbert Mutsaers as a jury member, we’ve asked him a couple of questions about the European music scene.
What’s your opinion on the European music and its artists?
The European music scene, although not a homogenic scene as such, is in bloom and rising, and the chances for gaining and sustaining success have grown significantly in the current streaming era.
How do you combine your personal taste and business interests in making jury decisions?
Over the years I’ve had the opportunity – and the obligation when working in music – to get acquainted with almost every genre. In a way it’s a semantic discussion to talk about ‘genres’ and at the same time it’s handy to categorise songs and artists by (several) sub-genre’s. Every single genre has its own attractive styles, artists, audience and relevance.
Music is never and shouldn’t be a competition as such. But highlighting and supporting emerging European talents is of great importance. In my work I always have to weigh a lot of factors, and use the context and data available and try to take into consideration as many different personal tastes possible. That’s a joy. Music is more than just the notes and tones, it has so much more meaning, context and even lifestyles within it. Music can be just to entertain, music can be statement, music can be hedonistic, music can be political.
What are you looking for in new talent?
The straightforward answer would probably be predominantly good songs, production and being either original or exactly on point in a flourishing genre. More secondary ‘what’s the artist/act like’, ‘what’s the story’, ‘what’s the history if any’, ‘what is the artist/act like if performing live’, and ‘what are the visuals like, artwork, styling’ to ‘what’s the social context’.
What tips do you have for artists that want to make it big?
There’s no such thing as a recipe to make it big in music. And that’s exactly what makes it so unpredictable and interesting. In general I would say that artists, songwriters, musicians, DJ’s etc should make the music they would like to make and put it out there.
Having said that, it’s also true that there are some general and constantly changing ways to bring attention to your music. My tip would be to think about these things, sometimes it’s just the music that makes it happen, sometimes it’s the approach, the plan, the partners, the team, the ‘momentum’, and most of the time it’s a bit of all of those.
Do you have an examples of an inspiring breakthrough?
The good thing about breakthroughs is that they don’t have to be ‘original’ per se, we obviously like the original story’s or the unexpected ones often the most, but a breakthrough can happen in many ways. I’m convinced that this year’s MMETA winners will show some prime examples of the variety of ways you can cross borders and build an audience.
What should emerging artists know about the music business?
‘The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side’ (quote Hunter S. Thompson).
Just kidding, one thing that is a certainty: the music business is ever evolving and currently changing quickly, as is the media-landscape and the ways artists and fans can ‘meet’, it’s not a one size fits all model, there are tons of opportunities and ways of approaching the music business.