Industry Spotlight: Michael Quvang – The Quay to Success
Every now and then, synchronicity in music means more than well-kept tempo and harmonies well rehearsed. On that rare occasion, it acknowledges a symbiotic relationship meant to be. And that’s certainly the case with regards to Play MPE’s match made with one man music marketing machine Michael Quvang. We had the pleasure of catching up with Michael about his role as Play MPE’s go-to Nordic man, and all that led up to it.
The son of a press photographer, the entrepreneurial and soft spoken Quvang moved around in an artist’s world as far back as his teen years. Musical himself, Michael channeled his passion towards the business side of things as a young man.
During a breezy walk amidst birds chirping near his house north of Copenhagen, Quvang was kind enough to share a bit about the trajectory that led to his more than appropriate role representing Play MPE to clients across Scandinavia and throughout Europe.
“I’m from a small island, called Bornholm. I started out in the music business in 83 as sales rep for this wholesale company selling cassettes and CDs – actually that was before CDs (laughs) – it was cassettes and vinyl.” Later and with a marketing education under his belt, Michael channeled his experience into marketing new releases from the record companies to the record stores.
Then he decided to take a break and went on a one year trip around the world, which landed him in Sydney, Australia and he stayed there for a period working at a restaurant on Circular Quay right across the Utzons Opera House. The restaurant was called Phantom of The Opera, so even here it had a touch of music.
“By the time I got back to Denmark, it was like ok what to do …my heart has always been with music. I’ve been playing guitar since I was 7 years old.” So, Michael reached out to his prior employer: ”They had acquired the mechanical rights to these well known Danish acts and needed a way to exploit it. Hence it was a distribution company only, a record company needed to be set up. And I suddenly saw my self in charge of that. The company was named Kick Music inspired by my recent stay in Sydney and INXS, but also due to the energy and urge to entertain in the name.
At that time in the early 90’s, TV commercials in Denmark were brand new and we were the first one to do a TV commercial for a Danish artist (John Mogensen). The market for this sort of marketing was wide open and the campaign and release became a massive hit. The seeds were sown and the company established for real, and we agreed that besides exploiting older material we should also focus on new material, and since my heart belongs to rock’n’roll, the path was obvious.
“One of the first things I did, and that was in the heydays of grunge, was a Danish band called Boghandle. They supported Mudhoney, those days with Nirvana and Mudhoney, and some other ones. I went to New York with them and sold them to most of the world on license basis.” That summer in ’92 we came back from NY and Boghandle as well as Nirvana played Roskilde Festival, and Denmark won the European Championship in soccer during the festival as well. What a summer!!!”
“I’ve been attending various music fairs like Midem, Popkomm, SXSW over the years both for meetings, networking and getting inspiration and for example, in Austin 2006 at SXSW and at Emos I just saw Gogol Bordello….and i went up to these guys backstage. A deal was made with Side One Dummy records and later in the summer of 2006 Gogol Bordello was playing Roskilde Festival.
“I managed the record company until 2008. At that time, I had a big roster with both international and Danish artists. The roster was a mix of licensed and distributed acts like Ida Corr, Gogol Bordello, Kaizers Orchestra, Gaslight Anthem, Jesse Malin, Richmond Fontaine, Eva Cassidy a.o. as well as homegrown artists such as Michael Falch, Mike Tramp, Nekromantix, Defectors a.o.
We were having a really big hit with Ida Corr and Fedde LeGrande, “Let Me Think About It’ … but I could tell we were not gonna make a decent income to cover the cost of promotion work and running a independent record company since it was all going digital and mostly through illegal filesharing or on services like Napster. Digital development at the time was still not fully realized and much of it consisted of piracy.
So, I went in the market and decided to sell the record company to Sony Music.” That summer of 2009, Kick Music now under the umbrella of Sony Music had 5 acts playing at Roskilde Festival, the largest in Northern Europe.
Following his time at Sony, Quvang began to explore various projects. “I started looking at all this DIY scene that was emerging around the music industry and decided to do some management and other consulting because these artists and these musicians still need proper tools; they still need proper people to work with them and actually get them out to radio, to press, and media and get them to the right promoters, and get them to the right everything, booking agents etc.” So what’s an entrepreneur to do?
“So, I started up this company called Music Quay. I settled in with Warner Music, still being independent but being able to use their distribution and promotion set up. Following the merger of Warner and Parlophone, Quvang needed to set up physical digs elsewhere.
At the time when I left my office at Warner Music, some artists contacted me and said What can we do and how do we get to radio. I said actually, I’m not a promoter but we have this really, really good tool called Play MPE…”
“At that time I didn’t have an appointment with Play MPE but I just filed a message on the web and the day after they called me. They had a look at my profile and said ‘Oh Michael, maybe we should talk some more.” And the rest is history. “That was the reason why I really started with Play MPE, because I could tell there was a market for this in Scandinavia, a need for this, a need for my company as well, and a chance for Play MPE to get more exploitation in Europe and Scandinavia. And then I ended up representing Play MPE because I could tell from the position I was in that this tool was needed in Denmark and Scandinavia …it’s obvious. ”
Besides Play MPE, Michael is also representing Nordic Wristbands in Denmark. The company delivers wristbands to festivals, venues, events a.o. But not only wristbands, the company embraces most things regarding access control and registration also with RFID/NFC. Michael also is partner for Scandinavia for the company Music2Deal, a network platform for artists and music business people.