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Spinnin' Records Launches Asia-Centric Label, Spinnin' Records Asia: Exclusive

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With the global mainstreaming of region-specific scenes like K-pop, the ongoing rise of streaming hubs and "trigger cities" in countries like Indonesia, and a wave international partnerships across mushrooming music markets like China, all eyes are on Asia these days. It was only a matter of time until the EDM industry stepped into the arena.

Enter Spinnin’ Records, the legendary Netherlands-based dance imprint that’s home to EDM stars like Oliver Heldens, Alok, KSHMR and Sam Feldt. Founded in 1999, Spinnin' has continuously spearheaded EDM’s expansion into international markets across its 20-year existence. (The label was one of the first to make major inroads into Brazil.)

Now, Spinnin’ is setting its sights on the wider Asian music market with the launch of Spinnin’ Records Asia, a new imprint focused on discovering and developing talent from across the continent’s rapidly growing EDM scene, as well as artists of Asian heritage from across the world. The imprint will partner with parent company Warner Music Group, which acquired the main Spinnin' Records label in 2017, to exploit the know-how and network of the latter’s local affiliates, while also cross-pollinating both labels’ rosters via collaborations with rising Asian artists.

“We want to match Spinnin’s renowned A&R capability in this space with Warner Music Asia’s marketing expertise and local knowledge,” Simon Robson, president of Warner Music Asia, tells Billboard Dance. “This will be a very powerful combination at the service of artists.” Spinnin' Records Asia officially opens its doors on Nov. 29 with its inaugural release, “Feel The Light,” a pop-leaning dance track from U.S. duo BEAUZ, who have Indonesian and Taiwanese heritage.

Spinnin's new label comes during a flurry of major music industry moves into the Asian market. Most recently, Universal Music Group launched a headquarters in Southeast Asia, a move comprising the launch of satellite labels Def Jam (for hip-hop) and Astralwerks (for dance/electronic) in the region. In 2018, Sony Music Entertainment and Tencent Music Entertainment, the China-based streaming and tech giant, launched the EDM label, Liquid State.

Billboard Dance caught up with Spinnin’ Records CEO Roger de Graaf and Warner Music Asia’s Simon Robson to chat about the launch of Spinnin’ Records Asia and the growing influence of the Asian EDM market.

Spinnin’ is known for spearheading EDM’s expansion into new international markets, including Brazil and Latin America. What were some of the first signals that tipped you off about the emerging electronic market in Asia?

Roger de Graaf: We initially noticed the rise of the Asian scene by our own artists receiving more bookings there. They came back with impressive experiences, spoke about well-organized festivals and events, and a huge, dedicated audience. As a result, more and more DJs and producers from the Asian territories started to emerge, increasing the quality of the music that was made. The same goes for popular local genres such as K-pop, which also started to reach a worldwide audience, as well as the increasing influence of electronic music on those genres. For us, these were clear signs to do something special with those emerging artists, not only in the short term, but with a long-lasting vision. Spinnin' Records Asia was the logical, but also most exciting, step to take for us.

How are you sourcing your A&R initiatives and signings? 

de Graaf: We're building our own team there, but also working closely with several Warner Music affiliates on this. Through them, we already did a successful collab between our own artist, Sam Feldt, and K-pop star SHAUN, signed to Warner Korea, last year. Sam did a wonderful edit of SHAUN's hit, “Way Back Home,” featuring Conor Maynard in English vocals, building a very nice bridge between pop and dance and resulting in another worldwide hit for this new version. This is a good example of how we envision the new label, letting the local teams work together with ours to create and promote exciting new music.

In addition to signing artists from regions across the wider Asian market, you are also working with artists of Asian heritage from around the world. Is this an important distinction for Spinnin' Records Asia?

de Graaf: One thing we’ve learned throughout the years is that musical talent can be found in every corner of the world. With this label, we want to bridge the gap between those artists. If artists of Asian heritage are successful in the rest of the world, we’ll try to get them known in their native country, and vice versa. We'll also try to set up collaborations between them, or with one of our artists. For example, we’re currently working on a team-up between [Spinnin’ artist] KSHMR and SHAUN, bringing together their strengths and popularity and leading to new heights in their respective careers.

Can you talk about the first official Spinnin' Records Asia artist, BEAUZ? Why did you choose them as the inaugural release and artist for the label?

de Graaf: From the moment we decided to launch this label, we started to focus more on artists and records that would fit it. We receive lots of demos every day, including many from Asian artists, but we really wanted to be careful with who and what we'd sign. We look for something that can make the cross over, with a potential for commercial success in Asia. BEAUZ had been on our radar for a while; we'd already heard several interesting demos from them. We picked “Feel the Light” because we felt it has the right potential and perfectly represents the crossover sound we have in mind for the label.

Spinnin’ is known for its “winning recipe” of discovering and marketing international talent. What are some of the challenges you might face when taking that approach to market artists and music to a region that’s made up of so many diverse cultures, languages and customs? 

de Graaf: Firstly, music has no language. Something great or beautiful can work in every part of the world; this has been in the back of our minds for the last 20 years. Besides, we realize not every release will be a success in each part of Asia. It's a rich region with various cultures and tastes, which also opens up many opportunities for the label. Of course, it will be a learning process, together with the Warner Music affiliates. We'll be in close touch with their A&Rs and scouts, hopefully making the right choices for each market. Cooperation is key here. Our ambitions are high, and without Warner Music and Simon Robson's team, we couldn't have rolled out this new label at this level.

In addition to its music releases, Spinnin’ is known for its live events series. What plans do you have to expand Spinnin’s live events into the Asian market?

de Graaf: Spinnin’ Records already has a residency in two cities in China at great venues where we host multiple Spinnin’ Sessions club nights per year. In addition to that, we’re part of a number of festivals in Asia in 2020. We are definitely planning more events in different key markets in Asia, both club shows in some of the best venues in different countries and hosting stages at major festivals.

How closely will Warner Music Group work with Spinnin' Records Asia? 

Simon Robson: Warner Music and Spinnin’ already work closely together on a global basis. This new venture will enable us to focus even more on signing and developing some of the amazing talent we see coming out of Asia. We want to match Spinnin’s renowned A&R capability in this space with Warner Music Asia’s marketing expertise and local knowledge. This will be a very powerful combination at the service of artists.

What, specifically, is WMG offering to Spinnin' Records Asia?

Robson: We’ve got people on the ground in 11 territories across the region, and they’ll help open doors for the Spinnin’ Asia team. We’ve got connections with everyone from broadcasters to brands, and we’ll be able to leverage those relationships for Spinnin’ Asia artists.

Asia is a massive market with many diverse cultures and countries, each with their own customs. What are some of the challenges that may arise with marketing and promoting artists on such a wide scale across such a diverse market?

Robson: In recognition that Asia is an incredibly diverse region, it’s important to tap into our experts in each country for specific localized marketing campaigns: what flies in Tokyo may flop in Bangkok. That’s why we’ve got teams in different countries who can tap into what’s happening in their local music scenes. But we also see great music connecting with fans across any cultural divides. That’s what happened with K-pop, and it happens in the dance and electronic scene, which has always had a strong international flavor.

What have been some of the most significant recent cultural and technological developments that have bolstered the EDM market, specifically in Asia?

Robson: We’re seeing a surge in interest in dance and electronic music. In many countries, economic growth has created a cohort of young people with money in their pockets and the leisure to spend it. That’s helped drive an interest in the club scene and create an audience for a new generation of DJs and artists.

What are some other international markets that Warner Music as a whole is tracking?

Robson: Countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines, with big populations that are starting to enjoy economic growth and greater connectivity, are becoming more important markets globally for us. Places such as Jakarta and Manila have been identified as “trigger cities,” as local fans are so passionate, they can help turn a great song into a worldwide smash on global streaming services. We’re seeing more of our artists touring these countries, and they’re generating a fantastic response.


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