The Power 50: Niko Nordström

4 May 2020 | 2:02 pm | Jessica Dale

The 50 most influential people in the Australian music industry.

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In 2007, Niko Nordström joined Warner Music Finland as Managing Director after Helsinki Music Company - the business he co-founded - was acquired by the group. In 2014 he became Vice President of Warner Music Nordics, later moving to Sydney and into his current role. He was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at Finland’s prestigious Emma Gaala in 2018.

If there was a shining star for Warner Music Australasia in 2019, it was certainly Thelma Plum. The Gamilaraay woman released her debut album Better In Blak in July, earning praise all over and even catching the attention of Sir Paul McCartney who was reportedly visiting the studio where Plum was recording in New York - he then contributed guitar to the album’s closing track, Made For You. The album picked up six ARIA Award nominations, winning Best Cover Art. Plum’s run continued with the APRA Awards, with two nominations including Song Of The Year for Better In Blak. The track also broke a record in January with triple j’s Hottest 100, appearing at #9 and making Plum the highest-ranking Indigenous artist in the countdown’s history. Homecoming Queen and Not Angry Anymore from the album also appeared in the Hottest 100, coming in at #65 and #78 respectively. 

This is all part of Warner’s commitment to investing in local music - something that is set to continue into the future with Nordström signing joint venture deals with two yet to be disclosed Australian hip hop labels, as well as restructuring the company’s A&R department, in 2019.

The commitment paid off too, with Warner Music local acts enjoying a successful year across the board. Busby Marou's latest album, The Great Divide, debuted at #5 on the ARIA Albums Chart and SAFIA saw Story's Start Or End debut within the top 20. Acts like Morgan Evans, Kita Alexander, The Kite String Tangle and Wafia all delivered well over a million streams each on their 2019 singles, while E^ST landed at #70 on the Hottest 100 with Talk Deep.

International artists on the Warner Music books included Dua Lipa and Lizzo who both hit the ARIA End Of Year charts - Dua Lipa's self-titled album coming in at #22 and Lizzo's singles Truth Hurts and Good As Hell coming in at #31 and #48 respectively. Of course, there was Ed Sheeran too, who delivered another chart-smashing year with six songs making it into the End Of Year Singles Chart (I Don't Care with Justin Bieber at #6, Beautiful People feat Khalid at #14, South Of The Border feat Camila Cabello & Cardi B at #54, Cross Me feat. Chance The Rapper & PnB Rock at #55, Perfect at #58 and Shape Of You at #75) and four albums on the End Of Year Albums Chart (No 6 Collaborations Project at #2, ÷ at #11, x at #33 and + at #77). No 6 Collaborations Project debuted at #1 on the ARIA Albums Chart in July. 

Warner Music Australasia are looking at a strong 2020 as well with Sony's Paul Harris joining the team as Vice President of Australian Artists and A&R in their brand new Pyrmont office.

“Last year we were still in building mode, strengthening our A&R department, moving the office to our new premises in Pyrmont and entering into two new brilliant JV set-ups (which will be announced soon), etc. As a company, we made the decision and commitment to aim to double the amount of our domestic releases each year. But if I need to pick one moment or achievement of 2019, I would say Thelma Plum’s amazing Better In Blak album campaign, she is just a brilliant artist and beautiful soul and I am very proud of the record and how strong the campaign was.”

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