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Industry Talk: Agnes Elizabeth Bjerkenes Kristiansen from Sony Music

By Christian Gran Svenningsen Posted: 20. Nov, 2018

Agnes Elizabeth Bjerkenes Kristiansen

With a to-do list that never ends, she wants to see The Nordics as one big market and break Norwegian music to the world.

Agnes started out writing for a music blog in 2013, which opened a door for her into the music industry. As an intern for “Artistpartner” she worked for about six months, before the journey with Sony Music began in 2015. She started working promo for international artists, before she became a product manager for local artists in 2016. Recently Agnes became “Head of Domestic Repertoire” at Sony Music Norway and currently works with artists such as Jesper Jenset, Amanda Delara, EMIR and Philip Emilio.

What has been on your to-do list lately, and what takes most of your time?

Sometimes it seems like my “to-do list” never ends, but I will always strive to help the artists fulfill their visions and achieve their goals in any way I can.

I am also passionate about Norwegian music crossing borders, so in addition to focusing on our local market, I am dedicating a lot of my time to figuring out how to work the Nordics as one market. We see Danish artists like Sivas and Gilli having a lot of interest when they play shows in Norway, and there is also a lot of interest for artists like Unge Ferrari, Hkeem, Cezinando and Karpe in Denmark and Sweden. Even though these artists dominate the charts in their home territory, and it is undeniable that these artists have fans across the borders, we still have a way to go when talking about truly breaking one of these acts in a different territory with streaming and radio charts. To contribute to figuring out how we as labels, artists, managements, booking agents i.e can help each other out to further establish a bigger fan base across the Nordic borders, is definitely on top of the list of my to-do.

The most important piece of advice you have ever received?

My dad has always pointed out the importance of trying to understand how things are put together, constructed and the thoughts behind every action made. He always wanted me to understand the importance of asking questions, being curious and understanding and respecting why people make the decisions they do. Understanding and listening to other opinions than your own, learning from each person and situation that you are in, is some of the most valuable advice you can get. Do not be afraid to ask “one question too much”.

Any helpful tips and tricks for a way around the industry?

When starting out: Try to gain experience from different aspects of the industry before figuring out where you fit in. Volunteer at festivals, apply for internships and attend conferences and concerts. Don´t be afraid to talk to people or ask questions. Always keep listening to people, whether you are just starting out or have been working in the industry for decades. You will always learn from other people.

Why Norway, why now? Where are we going?

A lot of Norwegian artists and producers have had international breakthroughs in the last couple of years. Artists like Alan Walker, Kygo, Astrid S, Sigrid, Cashmere Cat and many more have made the world look to Norway. We have never seen this many Norwegian «super stars», and it seems like the world is curious to see more of our song writers, producers and artists. Globally, we also see the interest for music in local languages: French and German urban music is crossing borders like never before; Unge Ferrari gets spins on Italian and Finnish radio. It is more about catching the sound and vibe of the music, than understanding the words. I think we will see a lot more of Norwegian music in Norwegian on different international charts within the next few years.

Who in the Norwegian music industry deserves a high five?

I would like to give a BIG high five to Yunus Daar in Nora Collective. He is one of the most hard-working and humble managers in the industry, and he never hesitates to go the extra mile for what he believes in. He is definitely a role model for young people aspiring to become a part of the industry, as well as an inspiration for everyone he already works with.

Also, what Girson Dias has been doing for the rap scene and young talents in Bergen for several years now deserves a massive high five. With starting “Full Effekt Records” this year, I am sure we will see a lot of him and his artists the next coming years.

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