Why Amsterdam?

Amsterdam-based MassiveMusic is one of the leading music agencies in the world with outposts in London, New York, Los Angeles and Shanghai. Founded by true ‘Amsterdammer’ Hans Brouwer, the agency operates on the intersection of music and brands, which means it combines traditional music productions with positioning brands in the musical domain. For example, for Unilever brand Cornetto, it recently produced an international brand song, while it handles the in-store music styling for UK department store Selfridges. Apart from working for brands directly, the agency also works with many Amsterdam-based ad agencies, such as Wieden+Kennedy, TBWA and Lemz.

On the terrace of a tiny coffee house close to his office, strategy director Joep Beving explains that music is becoming more important for brands. “Our business used to ‘merely’ add an emotional layer to the TV commercial, but music is now becoming a channel of its own. A channel through which consumers are able to engage with brands more naturally.” It is this kind of engagement that MassiveMusic created quite literally for Heineken during Sensation Asia last year. Visitors could interact with the music through their event wristbands.

Amsterdam: the remix capital

MassiveMusic’s international break came about 10 years ago, when it created a new interpretation of James Brown’s ‘Sex Machine’ for Gatorade. American agency Element 79 had partly chosen MassiveMusic at the time because of Amsterdam’s growing reputation for being the remix capital. Shortly after this very successful commercial, two employees of the biggest production companies in the United States approached the music agency to launch MassiveMusic New York. Beving: “That’s actually how it always has been. People approach us to start our next office.”

When asked what it is exactly that makes people want to collaborate with MassiveMusic, Beving says that all employees are musicians. “We are band members, DJs and composers; music is in the company’s genes. Another reason is that we are open, honest and like to communicate in a direct way. That’s probably part of our Amsterdam roots.” Although Beving often visits his sister agencies, Amsterdam is special to him. “You have so many international top brands and creative agencies here, but at the same time everyone is easily approachable.” When Beving commutes to work – a 15-minute bicycle ride – he literally bumps into people. “Thanks to the scale and positive energy of this city, it is really easy to build up relationships.”

'MassiveTalent'

A spin off of MassiveMusic’s collaborative nature is ‘MassiveTalent’, introduced in 2008. Beving: “The music industry was in a serious dip. Less and less artists were being signed yet more people were recording music in a do-it-yourself way and publishing it online without a publisher. We designed a new type of publishing deal that would help emerging artists to get their music heard by millions through advertising campaigns. This creates a win-win situation for brands and bands.”

Another counter-cyclical initiative is in turning the former Shell headquarters into an international music hub called the A’DAM Tower. When it opens at the end of 2015, both MassiveMusic and renowned dance label ID&T will call it their new home. It will also house nightclubs, a restaurant, a hotel, a rotating sky bar and a members’ club for the creative industry. Beving notes confidently: “The new music industry is evolving fast and at A’DAM we will be at the centre of it all.”