Steven Van Zandt is best known as Little Steven, solo artist and guitarist in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band and as the character Silvio Dante from The Sopranos. Van Zandt has for some years been engaged in promoting and helping Norwegian music beyond its borders through his company, Renegade Nation.
Renegade Nation serves as a parent company for a number of Van Zandt initiatives, among other things, its own radio show, Little Steven Underground Garage and the Wicked Cool Record Company, which has signed four Norwegian acts.
Van Zandt's commitment to Norwegian music took a step forward during last year's by: Larm in which a new joint project was launched by the municipality-owned company Oslo Teknopol as a partner. The purpose was to create a company with Wicked Cool as a model, that is to stimulate talent and export Norwegian and Scandinavian music to the United States.
Now Van Zandt is back in Norway to develop the company and present new ideas for the Norwegian market. The main initiative for Van Zandt now is to make a TV series, and a number of meetings with key representatives of the Norwegian TV industry have been scheduled.
- The main ambition is to get Norwegian bands out and bring attention to the Norwegian music scene. We started with the idea to create a studio and bring in songwriters and producers from elsewhere to work with Norwegian artists. It has evolved to the point that we are talking about a TV show. I think we are more efficient, and we believe that a TV show has a stronger foundation. It has more depth and you can travel further and deeper, and it will be more effective in general, "said Van Zandt in an interview with MIC’s Ballade site at Oslo’s Grand Cafe. Van Zandt brings with him Jean Beauvoir, who is a musician, producer and CEO of Renegade Nation.
The concept of the Van Zandt TV series is to bring in well-known songwriters and producers who will work with Norwegian artists, and document the process from the songwriting stage through studio work and rehearsals leading up to live shows.
- The idea is to shoot everything and make it a TV series in which we combine the Norwegian artists and renowned international producers and writers. But the idea is not sold yet, and we are to meet TV people about it this week with assistance from Oslo Teknopol, "says Van Zandt.
"The first truly international music site"
Van Zandt and Beauvoir are also in Oslo to expand the Renegade company beyond pitching the TV series. The two are also looking for investors who are willing to invest in export and promotion of Norwegian music in other ways. The biggest project in addition to the planned TV shows is the website fuzztopia.com (www. fuzztopia.com).
- Fuzztopia.com is to be "the first truly international music page," says Van Zandt, and Beauvoir. The ambition is to develop this in a way that combines the properties of sites such as MySpace, Facebook and allmusicguide.com, and combine it with the other parts of the Renegade Nations activities. Van Zandt and Beauvoir’s networks can help to get artists record contracts, the two argue, and the opportunity will also be present in order to get radio play in the Renegades program or secure contracts with Wicked Cool. In addition to being a social networking platform, the site will also offer users the opportunities to buy and sell music.
Fuzztopia is currently available in a beta version, and is scheduled for a full-version launch in May. The ambition is then to have made pre-exclusive sub-pages for five countries, possibly ten. Norway will be one of them. Plans call for the national pages to contain not less than 54 genres and countries. Each genre page will contain vast amounts of info on the genre, including as event calendar services, artist directories, history and external blogs.
- We are here to search for a Content Manager for Norway, plus a coordinator for each genre, "says Van Zandt.
In addition to the 54 genre pages, the site is planned to feature app. 15 menu items on each national site.
- This will be business related and teach the user anything about the business, such as how to form partnerships and how to secure copyright protection of your music so you do not have to hire expensive lawyers. The site will also feature everything on technology, such as how to use Pro Tools, and you can find advice on how to be ecologically sensitive when you travel on tour.
- In total, we will have around 70 content providers per country. All you need to know to be found on this website. It is a true music community, "says Beauvoir.
This sounds like a massive project?
- We have expanded a little faster than we can handle and we need new people. Now it's all about finding content providers and add content. We’ll launch in May with at least five countries, and after that we'll see. It's about how quickly we can secure investor capital. If we fail to get investors in on this now, we’ll continue anyway. Lack of external investors won’t cripple the project, but it will help us develop content much faster, "says Van Zandt.
(Translated – original article (in Norwegian) here)