Music + Business – Willem Mutsaerts

Being both a professional musician and a procurement professional the interaction between the two worlds, for me, is quite obvious. For those, however, who are only involved in one or the other, this may not be so clear.

I have decided to have conversations with people working in a corporate environment to discover the interactions between our day-to-day work and music.

What is the first ever song we can remember? How do they imagine the world of music biz? How does music affect their day to day life, and last but not least, what are their top songs to recommend?

I have first dug deeper with Willem Mutsaerts, the CPO of Givaudan, the company I work for.

Join me in the discovery.

What is your first memory of music?

The first song I can remember is maybe L’été indien by Joe Dassin. My parents had vinyl records. They had classical music, French and popular artists, as well. This was my introduction. I often listened to their records without them and when they had a party, I sometimes played as the disc jockey.

Do you think music helped to shape the person you have become?

Shaping may be a little bit of a strong word, but music is very important to me. I often listen to music when I work from home, I often listen to music when I travel, I always have music with me. It is part of my feel-good methodology.

When I work, I put my Discover Weekly list on Spotify, and let it play in the background. This is a selection of music Spotify suggests based on what you have been listening to.

When I hear a nice song, I put it in my preferred list. I don’t have much time to search actively for new music, so this is a good way to still access pieces I would otherwise not find. Then based on the ones I like I can search for similar songs.

I have five brothers and sisters, and I share my playlists with them. They all really like it. My mother and my brother are on holiday at the moment, and she sent me a message that they really enjoy the current one, and they are listening to it all day long. My brother does not have an interest in searching out and collecting music like I do, but he appreciates what I share with him.

If I am at home alone, and there is silence, I sometimes just blow up the whole building with very loud music, I get my dose and then I get back to work. Like in breaks between meetings. It is probably very strange, but it makes me feel good.

What was the last piece of music you listened to?

This morning I had my Discover Weekly playlist on.

What genres or performers do you listen to?

I have an extensive taste. I listen to old pop, like Supertramp, I listen to old Dutch music for nostalgic reasons, Dutch popular songs, disco music, and modern pop.

Before Spotify, I used to discover music by listening to the radio, for example the Dutch Sky Radio, as I like to stay a little bit in touch with my origins. Afterwards you could buy what you liked on a cassette or a record.

Have you ever learnt music?

Unfortunately not. You know, what I would like to do is a course on classical music. Because like with all arts, it is nice to look at artworks, but if you do not know the context or the story behind, it will not resonate with you so much. Classical music is very powerful to me, I wish I knew the stories of the Wagners or the Mozarts and in what kind of condition they wrote their music, what is the message they wanted to pass on. I often listen to podcasts with stories about these composers, I find it extremely interesting. Unfortunately I don’t have time to study this now in more detail, but maybe when I retire.

Photo provided by Willem

You have to find the right person, too, who could present in a nice and concise way. I am not interested in a five year course on the history of classical music, but more the essentials. It’s like learning how to drink wine. I don’t want to learn the whole encyclopedia, but it is nice when somebody takes you by the hand and shows you the tricks. Like going to a museum with a guide. It is more about putting context around it and being curious to discover things.

Would you also like to learn an instrument if you had the chance?

I have no patience for that.  

How do you imagine the music industry? What do you think the biggest problems would be for the music business?

I think it is an industry that takes things from people, uses it, takes the money and throws the people away. I can see that it’s a very negative industry, probably less than 1 percent of the artists can make a  living from it, I don’t think they are valued enough. 

And if you got into a record label, let’s say as the CEO, what would be the first thing you would do?

You know, I think I would like to appreciate people for their value. Although dreaming is one thing, reality is another. You also need to get money into a company in order to be able to pay people and to survive longer term. 

What we see there, I think, is a consequence of how the world is organized today, it’s all about financial wellbeing, balance sheets, investing and making money. But music comes and is inspired by people, so I would put the people first.

Imagine a world without music. How is that different?

It would be very dark and sad. 

What would you do to fill in the void?

I would probably try to sing something.

By Kristóf Hajós

The singer of The Unbending Trees - your favourite Hungarian crooner from Amsterdam

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