Face to face with Marie Dimberg. Pt. 3: “Communication is the way to save the world”
Marie Dimberg at her desk in Stockholm
K: Going back to the past again… your work at EMI certainly was not a nine-to-five job. But you still managed to go to the communication school Berghs, you managed to get a Cambridge certificate…
D: Cambridge I did before EMI, I think.
K: Then your study at INSEAD [business school]…
D: Yes, this was when I was in London.
K: Are you a career oriented person whose aim has always been being a manager for musicians?
D: No. I wanted to work with music. And that’s what I knew when I applied for a job at EMI. But I never thought I could be a manager. I thought I could be a manager only after I left London because I met a lot of really good managers and I met a lot of really crap managers and I thought I can do better than that. So I don’t think that I would have done it if I hadn’t been to London. I’ve always been curious, I’ve always wanted to learn things, I like learning languages. I think languages are very important. I think communication is the way to save the world. I don’t see myself as having been a career person. I’ve just been curious; I’ve just wanted to do my job as good as I can.
K: You said there were crap managers and there were good managers. What makes a manager good?
D: Communication! I think communication is the essence of everything. Whether you’re communicating for a deal, whether you’re communicating with your artist or the labels or your fans or media or whatever. I think it’s communication and I think it’s planning, developing, protection… Also to try and feel the limits of “This is too much” and “This is too little”, and that’s also a form of communication.
J: And girls are the best in communication…
D:Traditionally, yes. But the thing is that this is a really male oriented business, so you have to sort of communicate in “their” arena.
K: The old image of a music manager that I still had in my head thinking of the ‘70s was an old man who books dates for the artist no matter if the artist has time or interest, then going backstage grabbing the fee, keeping half of it for himself…
D: …that’s Hollywood…
K: What is real life?
D: You can’t generalize like that. What is a managing director for a company? I mean, we work very closely, and we have high maintenance for our artists. Other managements work in other ways. It’s very different. There are still those kinds that you refer to. The majority is still men in various ages, but you simply can’t generalize.
K: On the one hand you work with the artist, on the other hand you have to deal with fans. What is your experience with fans? You are the first address they have when it comes to getting autographs or sending love letters. How much of your time does this consume?
D: Yes, that part can be time consuming. Before Malin started, we had a big pile of letters from people who wanted autograph cards and we try to do it. But it can’t be on top of our priority list. We try and answer whenever someone asks for something. We try and be as informative as we can when we can.
K: You’re three women working here in this office. I thought you had a much bigger office with like ten or twenty people because you may have so much to do for a lot of artists. So HOW do you do this?
D: We work a lot. I don’t have a family.
K: Is this the price you have to pay for this?
D: Well, I don’t like to see it like that because obviously I have made choices. But we work a lot! Dita has a family, she still works a lot.
K: Do you actually go to your artists’ concerts?
D: Yes, of course! That’s the real deal!! If you work in the office all days and weeks and then there is a concert, that’s when your artist is at his or her best, that’s the bloom of things, that’s the reward for everybody! Of course, you go to concerts! I don’t understand how people don’t go to the concerts! You want to see the result of everything you’ve done to get there and see the audience. That’s what it all comes down to.
K: When you go to the concerts, do you actually watch the audience’ reactions?
D: Yes, very interesting! That’s free marketing research! For Roxette, it’s interesting to see how the audience is different in different markets. Age groups etc.
K: Can you give examples?
D: I think the demographic in Australia was younger than anywhere else. I think it was a little bit older in England. In England, it was more nostalgia than anywhere else. When we did NOTP, we were surprised there were so many young people there; I thought it would only be from my age upwards so that surprised me.
K: Does that influence you or the artist when they make their music?
D: No. You try and do your thing. I mean, obviously you want as many people as possible to like what you do but you can’t tailor-make your music.
K: In my opinion, Roxette is more famous abroad than in Sweden itself. At least that’s the impression we get when we talk to Swedish fans. You could have done more concerts in Sweden…
D: No. I think Joyride is one the best-selling albums of all times in Sweden, I think we did 6-700,000 units. Before Roxette, Per was successful with Gyllene Tider and Marie was very successful with her solo career, they are singing in our native language. You become closer to your audience then. I think it’s a language thing. And because after Marie got sick, Per had a huge comeback both with his solo stuff and Gyllene Tider and that maybe diminished the fame of Roxette. But in 2010, they played 20,000 in Halmstad, 20,000 in Sundsvall, 20,000 in Gothenburg 2011, they played the Globe in Stockholm and Malmö Arena the same year. It’s just that the media interest and the general hoopla is not as big as when they do their stuff in Swedish.
Read tomorrow: Face to face with Marie Dimberg. pt. 4: “I like to see my friends”
Technical errors may occur.