Do You Want My Network For Free?

I’m always told I have a very large network in the global music industry. I guess I have, and it’s no coincidence. I have invested to  get that network. I never really told this story before, but I guess I need to explain what happened since so many just think it happens by chance.

This is actually a very calculated career move with a high risk to take. I started my record label when I was 13 years old. I grew  that to be a midsize record label in Sweden. Then I started Musichelp, which was a pure blueprint of what the modern music company looks like, just that I was twenty years ahead of my time and had to be a trailblazer, we got chewed up and spit out and booed off stage many times. We kept pushing and in 2009 Musichelp was at its peak. We had over 10,000 artists in our systems with different services. We could go into any part of the industry we wanted and become a big company in Sweden. I was jaded though. I was tired of help small artists that really weren’t serious with their career. I had done this for the past twenty years from the beginning of the 90’s. I wanted to play in the big league. The Swedish Duckpond with around 400 people working there with no visions and a hillbilly mentality was not what I wanted.

Showcases have just started to rise up. The spell of the old boy’s club on MIDEM was starting to decline. I just told the board that we should spend all our PR money and investments to build a large network and maintain it over ten years. They didn’t really get what I was saying. Doesn’t it seems like a good thing to send a person around the world just to make contacts? Where was the money in that? What I described was something really new and not really done before. I managed to talk them into the plan anyway. They gave me five years to get the costs to the minimum then after five years still give me the time to be away from the office. The fact is every day I was gone was the loss of working hours that could have generated money.

I spent five years to be on every showcase festival that existed. Flying myself in, paying for my own hotel, even paying for the entrance fee. After a year,  I got into the network so I started to get free tickets to at least some of the events. I easily did twenty showcases in the first year. Then thirty the next year. Since I was on so many and spent my time on every panel there I started to have a lot of knowledge about the new music industry. That knowledge made it possible to get on panels. In the second and third year, I was popular to speak on panels, yes I had a lot of knowledge, and I also learned how to be a good panelist that they could trust to deliver. The main thing was though that I many times came for free. I still paid for my flights and hotel nights. Then it started to be a demand to have me on. By the five years, I was so in demand that the festival paid for my flights and hotels and got me free tickets. Today I do a festival almost every week almost, around fifty a year.

During these early years, my travel account was over seventy percent of the company’s income.  Several times we were in big discussions to just cut it off, but I managed to talk them in to keeping it going. And there were trips where they couldn’t even pay me a salary. I lived ouf of free food and drinks on the meet and greet parties, even today the joke is that I would find the free food and drinks if there are any. Now it’s more of a joke, back then I survived on that and lived in the shittiest motels in the worst areas. I really paid my dues.

At the same time, I was first at the conference in the morning. I spoke to everybody. I did every speed meeting and hung out until three in the morning just so people would recognize me. I took pride to meet even the smallest player and be friends with them. All of this paid off.

Suddenly my network was so big that people got recommendations from others to seek me out for business opportunities. I found a business in the network as well. I placed music in the world’s largest commercials and movies. Worked with the biggest brands.  Walked on the red carpet at the world’s largest galas. Broke the record of the world’s most streamed songs. Opened up Festivals, and a Radio Station and became a columnist. 

Today my company’s biggest asset is the big network, and we can solve anything almost anywhere. We got the latest trends and the latest knowledge. I took a huge risk and spent more than a million dollars to get this network in the first years.

Many people think this is easy. Many people also think it’s easy to copy. After a year, they complain that the festival should invite them since it’s so a big investment to get there. You can’t do that before you have earned your stripes and have done the time. I have seen so many people fail to try to do the same. Also, they think it’s just to tap into the network just like that. They don’t understand how many hours were invested to build  solid relationships. You can’t just walk in and take over.

In the end, no you can’t get my network for free. You can work with me to reach it. Or you can do the journey if you have a couple of million dollars laying around and really put your mind to it.

Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 35 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. In 2021, he worked as the European Consultant for Heal the Earth – An Earth Day Celebration. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes Peter is a Managing Partner and Editor of the legendary Record World International and also sits on the Board of Directors for the Canadian-based charity, The Drive Foundation.