Swedish House Mafia’s manager on the US, money and the changing EDM game
As the “equal member” who powered the success of the Swedish House Mafia, Amy Thomson has a well-earned reputation as one of dance music’s straight shooters. At IMS Engage in Hollywood, the renowned manager (who is now also stationed as music director at ambitious new Las Vegas club LIGHT) sat down opposite Troy Carter, manager of pop powerhouse Lady Gaga. It was a meeting of sharp minds who’ve taken their artists to stadium-filling behemoths, and Thomson was in a no-messing-about mood. “Do you think the way America has grabbed electronic music will actually kill it?” Thomson, a UK native, asked Carter. “Because I do.”
Later, she was asked by an audience member to elaborate on that outlook. “I worry about it, to be honest,” she said of the enormous cash values entering the picture, a theme that opened the conference in the one-on-one with Shelly Finkel from the acquistion-hungry SFX Productions. “I feel the investment buzzards are circling. I worry about the big valuations flying around that could lead to disappointment. What you don’t want is some big fucking massive city sale and everyone’s fucking cheering, and then in three years time you’re declared bankrupt and you’re a stigma for 20 years when you’ve just finally been accepted and legitamised.
“The buzzards circling worries me,” she continued. “The saturation worries me. But who backs down? Which promoter stops? There’s a huge demand, it’s being supplied currently, but at what point do kids get sick of it, and whose fault will that be? I’m as guilty as anyone else.”
Thomson highlighted the Swedish House Mafia’s sell-out show at Madison Square Garden as a tipping point. “It attracted a lot of people to the table and I wasn’t really comfortable with that,” she told the room. “I worry that by doing that it’s attracting all these millionaires, billionaires, trillionaires coming in and all I can think about are the kids who must think that’s shit. They must think, I don’t want to go to a business conference, I want to go to a fucking rave.”
During the questions from the floor, someone got a laugh asking if there’s an inevitable reunion tour scheduled. “We’re going to have a break, we’ve been on the road for three years,” Thomson said. “Sebastian [Ingrosso] and Axwell are creating a new brand called Departures, launching at Ushuaia in June. We’ve got a great group of DJs joining us for summer. All of them have big records on the runway. We have studio time booked in the fall. We’ve got some really interesting songwriters. We’re going to try to be graceful moving forward, and I’ve genuinely got no fucking clue when the reunion tour is.”
Over the trajectory of the Swedish House Mafia, Thomson has proven to be a virtuoso of marketing. The trio’s farewell tour saw blockbuster returns. Additionally, send-off single Don’t You Worry Child was their biggest hit in the U.S. and earned a Grammy nomination. Of the group’s 360 deal, Thomson said “we’ve nailed that model”. And her secret to keeping artists on-side? “They trust you over time if you don’t fuck them over.”