If you've participated in the electronic music scene in any meaningful capacity, chances are you've rubbed shoulders with Bjorn Niclas - even if you didn't realize it. The "serial entrepreneur and angel investor" has his fingers in quite a few pots, boasting varying degrees of involvement with brands like Exchange LA, the Firm Ltd. and Facade TV.
In this edition of Magnetic Magazine's Industry Focus series, however, Niclas goes all the way back to his humble beginnings in the San Fransisco scene - and how he came to make the acquaintance of the Spundae founders. In addition, near the end he discloses which music scene is his favorite and the answer just might surprise you.
Afterwards, make sure to read about Niclas most recent endeavor as cofounder of Grooveo.
How did you start your career in the electronic music business?
Bjorn Niclas: I think like most people back in the day, at the very bottom, handing out flyers for a promoter. In my case, this was for Spundae in San Francisco, where I later on became a resident DJ and learned the ins and out of promoting parties by the two founders, Peter [Beckers] and Guiv [Naimi].
What is the best part of the business?
Bjorn Niclas: For me, it has always been about the music - seeing people come together and enjoying the music and the party. People travel to foreign countries to attend parties and meet up with friends; there is something magical about that experience, I think, and it all starts with the music.
What are the biggest challenges?
I think the challenges are to keep the scene as real and positive as possible. Big money changes everything and everyone. As parties grow in size and popularity, the money portion does as well and people’s head along with it. Same goes for the artist portion. Staying real and having integrity often seems like a long lost skill.
What career advice would you recommend to someone just starting off?
For a DJ, in today’s world of fake plays on SoundCloud, manipulated sales charts, and using daddy’s credit card to buy Facebook ads, the importance of growing a real, engaged fan base is more important than ever. Grow where you’re planted, one new fan at the time. Treat people with respect, courtesy and integrity. Nobody likes to work with an A-hole.
As the EDM industry continues to grow, what do you think the secrets to longevity in this business will be?
Adapting to change. Music trends come and go. Being able to provide new experiences that pushes the industry forward in a positive way on all levels.
Did you start off as a fan of electronic music and then became involved on the business side, or did business bring you into the electronic music world? Describe that process.
I started out as a aspiring DJ in my home town of Helsingborg, Sweden. I continued the DJ passion while living abroad until I landed in San Francisco. There I met Peter and Guiv, who ran the promotion company Spundae, and got involved more in the business aspect, learning to promote and market events and budget. The journey then continued with tour and artist management and talent buying, and these days, to a music technology startup.
What cities/regions do you think electronic dance music is best thriving?
I’ve had the privilege to join John Digweed and Guy J in Argentina for some shows and the crowds there are just incredible. This one massive, beachside gig at Mara del Plata early this year - it must have been around 8,000 people or more, the energy and vibe in the crowd was just amazing. I don’t think a single person left until John played the last record which was around 9:00 AM the morning after. Ibiza is always thriving, of course, but for me, the Argentinians do it best, at least for the underground music.
If you weren’t in the music biz, what would you be doing?
I used to be in the eyewear business. In fact, I had an eyewear company called Bjorn Eyewear, which I sold in order to pursue a career in the music industry. I probably would have continued that path.