Ina Wroldsen is a prime example of the growing cast of Norwegian songwriters that have made a successful transition to the international stage. Wroldsen has written songs for such artists as Britney Spears, One Direction, Leona Lewis and Pussycat Dolls and has been backed up by Oslo’s Waterfall Music, headed by music industry veteran Kai Robøle. Music Norway sat down earlier this month to talk to Robøle on the music publishing company and its successful songwriter programme, strong roster of Norwegian talent and unique songwriting camps:
Initially, could you talk us through what Waterfall Music is and what the company’s aims are?
– Waterfall Music is a music publishing company that has developed artists and songwriters since its foundation in 1997. Over the years we’ve been instrumental in the international success of acts such as M2M, Span, Karin Park, Gisli, Ida Maria, Alfred Hall and more. On the songwriting side of things, we’ve been perhaps most successful with Ina Wroldsen. She has been a main priority of our Innovation Norway-supported Songwriter Programme that now sports 6-8 new songwriters that are rapidly gaining ground internationally.
What challenges does Waterfall face in today’s business climate?
– We face a number of challenges in our day-to-day operations, striving to succeed internationally with artists and songwriters. We try to eliminate those handicaps dealt to us by being located on the outskirts of the global music scene – it’s impractical, time-consuming and costly. We speak a different language, come from another culture and have to adapt to a different business culture in the major international markets we focus on. We also have to be on par in terms of quality compared to our international counterparts.
And if you were to view your business in a broader perspective? What’s holding you back?
– It is challenging to finance our operations without signing off too much of our rights to international players. We strive to increase our exports, but seeing as the only way to secure capital to develop our artists and songwriters is to license and do co-publishing deals with companies abroad; it is inevitable that few rights remain on Norwegian hands. It is a paradox that it is easier to have international players realize the potential represented by Norwegian talent than it is to raise interest from relevant players on the home market.
Can you share some success stories with us – who have been your most successful songwriters on an international level?
– Ina Wroldsen is by far the most successful one, songwriters such as Odd Jensen, Caroline Ailin and other participants of our Songwriter Programme are beginning to gain some very impressive cuts with artist in the UK, Asia and on the Continent.
Waterfall is renowned for their Songwriting Camps that have boosted the careers of many Norwegian songwriters. Their skills have been sharpened and their international networks boosted under the tutorship of top-tier international songwriters. The Songwriting Camp resume: Cass Lowe («Love You and Leave You» with Ronan Keating, co-written by Waterfall’s songwriter Odd Jensen, «Fool Of Me» with Say Lou Lou, «Boyfriend» with Shola Ama, written and produced for Alison Moyet, Backstreet Boys, Guy Sigsworth, Don Diablo, Diana Vickers, Madeon, Guy Chambers, Ludovico Einaudi), Annet Artani («Everytime» with Britney Spears, «Nothing Lasts Forever» with Girl’s Day), seven times BMI Crystal Award-winner Andy Love («The Whisper» with New Kids on the Block (#6 on Billboard), «Upside Down» with Paloma Faith, «Time Machine» & «Let It Rain» with Girls Generation, music for «The X-Factor», «America’s Got Talent», «Britain’s Got Talent»), Francesca Richard («Wrong Feels So Right» with Carly Rae Jepsen, eight tracks with Peter Andre, «Shawty Come Back» & «Let It Out» with Charlie Wilson, «A Little Party Never Killed Nobody» with Fergie for the motion picture «The Great Gatsby»), plus Waterfall’s own songwriter, artist Brandyn Burnette, who has scored numerous placements with US X-Factor-finalist Chris Rene and Canadian artist Hedley. Songwriters Torgeir Kristiansen and Ole Hegle are also featured as co-writers on one track on the upcoming Isaac Elliot-album.
Looking back on 2013 – what has been the Waterfall highlights?
– On both the artist and songwriter side of things, there’s been lots of exciting stuff happening, but if we were to highlight something it would have to be our songwriting programme and particularly the four major songwriting camps that we’ve held in London, LA and Oslo. To witness how the level has been raised from month to month, from camp to camp, up to a point where international publishers and managers start sending their top-level execs to Oslo to participate at our camps has been utterly rewarding.
What are the main 2014 priorities for Waterfall Music?
– For next year, we’re planning to really focus on bringing more talent from our artist pool onto the international stage. We have lots of exciting projects planned for the first half of 2014, but we’re also hoping to be able to fund a ‘Class 2’ of our songwriter programme. We’ve found a path that leads to where we want to be – stopping now would be ridiculous.