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Industry talk: Anita Halmøy Wisløff

By Julie Vold Posted: 04. Apr, 2017

Photo: Maria Gossé

Meet one of the founders of the leading booking agency Atomic Soul

Atomic represents more then 60 Norwegian and Scandinavian artists, and delivers some of the largest and most sought after international acts to Norwegian audiences across the country. Anita Halmøy Wisløff has been working as an agent for nearly 12 years, and is a co-owner of the booking department. She represents artists within different genres, like Matoma, Mari Boine, Unge Ferrari, Madcon and John Olav Nilsen & Nordsjøen.

What has been your focus lately?
Wrapping up the summer festivals and the fall tours with all of our touring acts! Mari Boine has just released her first studio album in eight years, and she is singing in English for the first time on the brilliant and critically acclaimed album “See The Woman”. There will be a tour accompanying this album that starts this summer. Matoma just ended his successful world tour “Party at your place” with two packed shows in Oslo. We are looking forward to a busy festival summer with him! Arif is on a long support tour with the amazing Erik Lundin in Sweden, and Unge Ferrari will keep up the high activity doing shows with the H.E.V.N project with Tomine Harket, alongside his own shows. Arif and Unge Ferrari will also embark on their own Scandinavian tour this upcoming fall. I am thrilled that John Olav Nilsen is back with Nordsjøen, and they just finished their comeback tour before moving on to festivals. Also, Madcon is doing a lot of shows all over Europe, and I’m super excited that I get to bring the brilliant Silvana Imam to Norway for a bunch of festivals. Furthermore I am working with Nils Bech, Matilda and Donkeyboy, who will also be very present in the upcoming summer festival season.

My focus has also been on evaluating the results of 2016, and I’m particularly proud to see that our strategy towards looking at Scandinavia as our home market is proving worth while, with Sweden as a good example: in 2015 we had 1,3% of our 700 shows in Sweden, and in 2016 the number is 4,6% of 800! And alongside our steady gross increase comes more people; we’ve just hired two new agents, and they are an awesome addition to our Atomic-family which now counts 12 employees.

The most important piece of advice you have ever received?
If you want loyalty, buy a dog. Not because I’m ever following that advice, but it continues to remind me that I still believe in the value of a good and respectful relationship between an artist and an industry person.

Your best industry-tip?
I’m sure there’s many good tips, but one that’s come in handy for me came from the great Per Eirik Johansen: when checking out new live acts, always catch at least three songs. A lot of developing and emerging artists might not have a pin pointed perfect 30 min set of pure gold, and you won’t get what they’re all about unless you see at least three songs. That’s become my mantra at showcase festivals. I also feel that this is more respectful to the hardworking artists, since you haven’t really seen an act properly if you just stop by and talk with a few industry people while downing a beer in the back of the crowd. And also, you could totally miss out!

Whats your golden moment to share with the rest of us?
The first time I spoke out about the lack of gender equality in the music industry. I wrote an essay that was published in Aftenposten around by:Larm 2014, and I’m really proud of speaking my mind. A lot of industry people refused to acknowledge this issue back then, and there were some not so nice things said about me and the others who spoke up. But this has changed a lot over the past years, and the great work of organizations like Balansekunst has made sure we’ve kept talking about it. At some point it got impossible to ignore, and if you still don’t think gender has played a role in various ways within the music industry, you seriously need to check your privileges and think again. I do feel we’re heading in the right direction though, with more females in key positions behind the scenes, and also way more women up on the stages!

Why Norway, why now?
Because there’s an insane amount of good music here now. And good music is among the best things in life.

Who in the Norwegian music industry deserves a high five?
Ali Wali at Nora Collective! He is the definition of a good guy, and I love working with him and his acts. I salute them for always dreaming big with us, and not being afraid of disproving old farts saying thinks like “Norwegian artists can never make it in Sweden”. Eh no, if you never try it, then you won’t make it either. High five, Ali!

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