Last month, legendary dance label Spinnin’ Records announced that it had become the first record label to reach 30 million subscribers at the 2023 edition of the International Music Summit (IMS) in Ibiza. Headliner boarded a plane to the home of dance to sit down with the company’s VP of marketing Susanne Hazendonk, and commercial director Steven De Graaf, for a chat about the state of the dance sector, their commitment to discovering new talent, and how the label’s acquisition by Warner Music Group five years ago has impacted the business.
Ever since it was founded in the Netherlands back in 1999 by Eelko van Kooten and Roger de Graaf (brother of Steven), Spinnin’ Records has been revered as one of the dance world’s most iconic and influential labels. Its partnerships down the years with the likes of Tiësto, David Guetta, Sam Feldt, KSHMR, Lucas & Steve, LUM!X, Alok, and many others established it as a home for both giants of the industry, as well as new and emerging talent.
Its efforts on both fronts have been upped significantly since being acquired by Warner Music Group, a move that the company says has “moved the needle” with regards to its global reach and ability to attract the most exciting talent in the market; the IMS announcement of its record-breaking YouTube performance being one such example of its continued success.
Susanne Hazendonk and Steven De Graaf, who coincidentally started their careers at Spinnin’ on the same day back in 2015, have overseen, and indeed spearheaded, much of the label’s recent success, driving its expansion into new territories and transforming its YouTube channel into what Hazendonk describes as “the MTV of YouTube for the dance community”.
The label's success was also hailed by Max Lousada, CEO of recorded music at Warner Music Group, during a keynote interview with dance legend Pete Tong, in which the pair discussed everything from A&R in 2023 to the role of AI, TikTok, and other social platforms in today's industry. You can read all the highlights from the interview here.
Headliner joined Hazendonk and de Graaf at IMS for an in-depth conversation about all things Spinnin’ Records, the power a label still harnesses for artists in today’s industry, and what the future holds for the dance music genre…
You both joined Spinnin’ Records on the same day back in 2015 and the label has grown significantly since then. What has driven its performance during that time?
Steven: The growth of dance music as a whole; the whole festival scene and the explosion of big room and EDM. That has really accelerated everything. Dance music and DJs, if you compare them to international pop acts coming from the US and the UK, were the new thing that connected the world. The Netherlands is a breeding ground when it comes to international DJs, and that accelerated all the business we did as it became more mainstream than specialised.
Is the Netherlands still a major talent hub for dance music and DJs?
Steven: Yeah, we grow them in the ground [laughs]! The infrastructure in the Netherlands is extremely good. We have a really small country but a great infrastructure when it comes to media, especially radio. It’s a good breeding ground to test out what works and what doesn’t. And off the back of the globalisation of dance music it can really accelerate things to a global stage.