Industry Profile: Simon Füllemann (Indie Recordings)

Hello and welcome to a brand new week of music industry insight and advice here on the official blog of Haulix. We have been working on the features that will be released this week since the final months of 2013, and to be perfectly honest we think it’s sum of our best content to date. If you have any questions regarding the content of this blog, or if you would like to learn more information about the services offered by Haulix, please email and share your thoughts. We can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

We set a personal goal for ourselves to highlight more people who lived outside the US in 2014, and today we further those efforts with the story of Norway resident and metal industry legend Simon Füllemann.

The current Head of Marketing and Export for Indie Recordings in Oslo, Simon Füllemann is one of the music industry’s most dedicated and interesting young minds. He is a founding member guitarist of Cataract, as well as the former CFO of Metal Blade Records. He eats, sleeps, and breathes music to an extent most aspiring professionals can only dream of at this point in their career, and in the interview below he sheds some light on how he helps bands reach music fans worldwide on a day-to-day basis.

Simon came onto our radar through his publicity efforts, which impressed us immediately. It was not until we began working on this feature that we realized the full extent of the history he had in the business, and we feel very honored that he chose to share his story with us. If you would like to learn more about his efforts in the industry, please make it a point to follow Indie Recordings on Twitter. Additional questions and comments can be left at the end of this post.

H: Hello there! To help get us started, would you please tell everyone your name, job title, and the company you currently work for:

S: Hi, my name is Simon Füllemann, I am head of Marketing & Export and I am responsible for the international development of Indie Recordings AS, Olso, Norway.

H: Not to out you geographically, but I am pretty sure you’re the first professional from your country to be featured on the blog. Can you please tell our readers a bit about your location?

S: Well, that can mean two things as I am originally Swiss. I moved to Norway 2.5 years ago for the above reason after bei at Metal Blade Europe. Oslo is Winter and cold right now. We have short days (around 09.30-15.30ish) right now. Norway is a beautiful country with lots of nature and friendly people. The capital, Oslo, where I live is not the usual big city compared to other metropoles. It has only about 600.000 people living in the centre and around in different suburbs approx. 1.5Mio.

H: We like to kick things off with a little walk down memory lane. When you think of your earliest memories with music, what are the first moments that come to mind?

S: Oh, that was my 1st Abba record I got in 1978, ha ha. I remember that day very well I loved Abba, especially Agnetha, ha ha. Then I had another revelation when I got the Sex Pistols record “Never Mind the bolocks”. It was so different and so well produced (I got into Rainbow a bit later otherwise I guess it wouldnt have been such a revelation :)). When it comes to Metal it all started with Slayer and Metallica for me. I was not especially fond of the true heavy metal bands. I needed it a little faster and dirtier. I remember getting Kill em All and also Show no Mercy. I felt like a newborn music kid. Also my 1st ever show of a local band and a german band called Poison was significant to me as it made me want to play music on my own and learn bass (later on guitar).

H: Do you recall one or two albums that made a significant impact on you as a young person? Can you share them with us and provide a bit of insight on why they were/are so meaningful to you?

S: There is several, yes. Metallica “Ride the Lighting” for example. It still has on of the top 3 guitar sound out there. It was just so mind blowingly great and innovative. I still have it on permanent rotation. Slayer “Reign in Blood”. THE thrash metal record there is. It was so brutal, voilent and well prodcued I couldnt stop listening. I thought this is what hell sounds and looks like. Another recore is “Seven Churches” from Possessed. It was Death Metals birth for me even though listened to Death or Mantas, massacre, etc before but this record had all and stated Death Metal for the 1st time ever. When it comes to more poppier stuff I had revelations with Cheap Trick “Heaven Tonight”. This record just sounds so punk but pop. Its a typical Sound City record that sounds brilliant. Same goes for “The record” from Fear. when it comes to punk alongside with Black Flag. I am hooked still. REM “Automatic for the people” is another milestone. It helped me through tough times in live. Its just so emotional and deep.

The record that made me 100% switch from Bass to learning guitar was Dr. Feelgood from Moetley Crue. That guitar sound was amazing and so huge. The song kickstart my heart is still Top 10 in my Fav songs of all time.

There is tons more but I guess I stop here :).

H: What was the first album you purchased with your own money? Do you still own it to this day?

S: It was Abba “Waterloo”. I was in love with Agnetha, ha ha. After that it Sex Pistols “Never mind the Bollocks”. No, I sold all my Abba record to buy Metal records in about 83. I still own a copy of Sex Pistols though.

H: Having an interest in music is common for just about everyone, but deciding to pursue a career on the business end of entertainment requires a special kind of drive. When did you realize a life in music was the type you wanted to lead?

S: That was very early.I started playing and working with music in 1989 though. Actually it was in 1991 when I decided I want to dedicate100% of my life to music but it was impossible back then in Switzerland. Until 200650% of my life was dedicated to bands I was in, labels I founded, magazines I co-worked, etc. At that time, when living in Switzerland, it was impossible to make a living of the music that I loved most – which was metal and punk. And I didnt wanted to work at a major or pop oriented label just for the sake of working in the industry. So I always did my own thing and worked 50% on a regular job to get around. In 2005 – after two years nearly constantly touring with my old band – I was approached by Metal Blade and I made the step. I thought what the heck, just jump 100% in it and do your 50% on top, cant get better than that! It was a big step I realized years later, not then. The Music industry is very different with very special characters that you need to learn to deal with.

H: What was your first job in music (paid or unpaid), and how did it come together?

S: I played in a band from 89-92. We played our 1st show on Dec. 21, 1991 and that was my 1st money I got in the industry. I will never forget :). Before that I helped an underground magazine and label to spread the world as it was called back then. Today its called marketing, ha ha. But my 1st real and payed gig was the one I mentioned.

H: You now find yourself as Indie Reocrdings. Where did you learn about the job you now have, and what can you tell us about the application process?

S: I was working at Metal Blade and Indie Distribution was my distributor in Norway. So the connection was there already before I joined the Recordings side of things. How it came all together was that I met a wonderful Norwegian Girl at some point. We tried to live in Germany together but it didnt work for the both of us, we became more and more unhappy, so we decided to move. I contacted Indie and they were looking for experience to push their label forward internationally. So it all came together at the right point and I took the chance. I sent the resumee but they knew my work already so it was not that much of application process going on actually.

H: From what I understand, the label was founded by Erik and Espen Røhne. How long after launch did you join the label?

S: Yes, that is correct. Indie Distribution AS was founded by the two brothers. And then in 2006 Erlend Gjerde and those two founded the Label. I joined in April 2011.

H: You work with a diverse selection of talent at Indie Recording. How would you describe the music on your label to people unfamiliar with your previous releases?

S: We cover Rock and Metal, mainly focused on top international acts that have a special twist in the music to it and Norwegian acts. As a norwegian based label and having so many great bands in our country it is a must to push it to the best. Prefect examples are Kvelertak, 1349, Satyricon or when it comes to international acts, Cult of Luna.

H: Piracy has been a hot topic for well over a decade at this point, but there is still plenty to be said. What efforts have you taken to avoid music leaks?

S: We have haulix, a perfect watermarked system, to spread our records and it served us really well. We also hired companies to take down links of our records from pirate sites. And we live in the world of streaming up here, so that help big times to minimize the piracy.

H: Before settling on your method of music protection and secure distribution, did you try any other methods of delivery that proved less effective?

S: yes, we did different things. We tried to limited the physical promo copies to key journalists. The other got it after release. We watermared the CDs, etc. Nothing helped as much as the switch to watermarked digital promotion.

H: Your base is in Norway, but there are publications all over the world that cover the artists on your roster. How do you approach marketing new talent on a global scale, and what advice would you offer aspiring publicist hoping to one day work on the same level as you?

S: Well, that is a tough one as it works on several layers. What most people forget is that the music industry is one network, so key is to be connected and respect other people work. You have to know your role and where your strength lies as well as find the right team around you that share the same passion and enthusiasm working our bands. That is the key 1st and foremost in my eyes. And you dont start working an artist worldwide usually if you dont sign a huge artist that is know everywhere – which is not often the case, you start in several local markets, focusing your attempts and strengths. This is based on the bands fanbase and/or where they get the best feedback and lay weight on in their touring cycle. This brings me to another point. I am convinced that only the right team can make a success of a band. You need a good band/mgmt, a booking agent, label and promotion team. Those need to work hand in hand and work on a plan, focus on the same aim and go for it. Doubt and unfocused work doesnt bring success. So, its not me basically, its a great team that helps us succeed.

H: What is the biggest misconception people have about life in the music industry?

S: That you have the coolest life with tons of money. Its the opposite actually, a 24/7 job with not a lot of money. Vacation? I guess I have 10-14 days with my phone not reachable over x-mas/new year max. The rest of the time – even when I am off – I have my phone/mails with me. The music industry lives fast and there is tons of events and shows you should/have to attend outside your regular working hours.

H: At this point in life, what is your ultimate career goal?

S: Being happy and being able to work with what I love most: Music.

H: If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

S: This an issue on several layers. When it comes to the business I would say it would be the healthiest for a lot to finally wake up and try to be one step ahead of thing instead of blaming others/other things and running behind all the time. Be innovative and creative. On a personal level, I would get the big egos out of the industry – its a team players world. Wise decisions are based on wise men.

H: 2014 is right around the corner. What can you tell us about Indie Recordings’ plans for the future?

S: Sure, we have great releases coming up for 2014 that we are very proud of. These are bigger names like Kampfar or Keep of Kalessin as well as great newcomers like Woland or Vredehammer. Beside that we will focus on expanding our team and being ahead of things. Using the social network and the streaming world in a combined effort to reach more people. 2014 will be a cahnging world for most industry players, I hope they are prepared.

H: That’s all I have for now. Before I let you go, is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

S: Thank you very much for giving me the chance for this interview. Keep your eyes open and think ahead. The world is different from country to country. Challenges have therefore different roots and different angles. Educate, learn and find your team to make a dream come true.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.