Tom Westerholm AKA Tom Westy smashed a huge milestone at the end of 2022 and signed to Sony Music / Blue Future Music Publishing. We caught up with him to celebrate his achievement, gain his insight on how to maintain and grow your audience and find out what’s in store for 2023.
Hey Tom! First of all, massive congratulations on the recent news
“Thank you, I really appreciate it. There's a lot of producers in dBs who are so good - you almost feel like a needle in the haystack in some ways - so it’s a pretty unreal feeling. It’s taken almost a year to get everyone in the same place and make it official, but it felt great when we finally got to do it.
“When people saw the news they were saying, ‘Are you having a big weekend to celebrate’, but I was buzzing from it and making tunes in my room.”
How did this all come about?
“It all started around two years ago - it’s kind of a weird journey. I think it was towards the end of my last year in uni and I released a song on a small label, and it didn’t really get a huge amount of traction. About two weeks later, though, a few DJs started playing it and Jonas Blue happened to hear it.
“He got in touch over Instagram and was like, ‘I absolutely love this! Have you got any music that we can put out on my label?’ I didn’t at the time, but got on it and produced a tune for him in like five days and sent it over. He loved it, we signed it to the label, I did another one and it kept growing from there. I’ve supported him around the world - he invited me to open for him in Thailand and that was the best show of my life. I’d never played outside Europe, so playing to such a different audience was absolutely insane.”
It must be great having Jonas as a mentor figure…
“Without a doubt. He’s exactly where I want to be, and I think having someone like Jonas backing me, making me more visible to other labels… it’s great validation.
So it’s not just Jonas’ label where your music’s been getting signed then?
“No, pretty soon after signing a few with Jonas I began branching out and releasing on other labels, you can’t really stick with the same one. I want to be a producer, not just for my own projects, but for other people’s as well. By having a publisher, we can pitch out stuff that’s not right for me to other artists. I can do sync things, as well. And then when they have vocals come in, they can send it to me and get me collaborating on sessions. So yeah, I think it was the right time for me to get a publisher.
It's great that it's opening up so many new opportunities…
“Yeah, definitely. I think you have to as well. You can't just focus on your own project. If you want to do this for a living and for it to be your full-time job. thing, then you have to branch out.”
What has it been like having management behind you to help with maintaining and growing your profile?
“I noticed that I've been sitting behind on my social media recently, because I was focused on producing; it’s what I love doing. But that makes it a really hard thing to balance. I’d try to stack up releases, plot them out and then I’d have time to be more present on social media, but once those releases are finished, I’m back to square one.
“I’m really lucky that now I have a really good team behind me. There’s two guys - Ben and Aaron - who really know this business inside and out and have been able to take the pressure off me and allow me to spend more time making new music.
“I remember in one of my lessons with Bruce [Turner] he said, ‘You can either be a big part of something small, or a small part of something big’, and I think it’s true. When you have lots of people working towards a common goal, you’re more likely to have a chance at doing something big. I’m still early on in my career and there’s a lot I want to achieve, but I’m on the right path.”
We’ve recently seen Spotify release Wrapped 2022 and you had a pretty insane year, especially compared to 2021…
“Thank you, I appreciate it. It’s pretty good, I think I almost hit a million listeners in total. When I saw that, I was like, ‘so close!’, but I’m still so grateful and it was a massive improvement on the year before.”
I see a lot of artists rally against things like Spotify Wrapped and how they don’t like to judge their success on those numbers. Do you find yourself judging yourself on those kinds of things?
“It's hard. The monthly listeners are what I've noticed rise and fall so frequently. I'd be checking the Spotify for artists app and I'd be gassed one day because it was up, and then the next day it started dropping, and I was so sad. That's when you need another release to come out then because it brings those numbers back up.
“I know it's not all about the numbers, but it's good for your image, especially if you want to get gigs and things like that; you can say, ‘I've got however many monthly listeners’. It just looks good, in my opinion. What I really noticed was consistent releases are the way to get those numbers up and maintain that audience.”
Would you say consistency is the biggest thing when it comes to producers trying to find success in the industry?
“Definitely. I’d advise that you’re releasing something every 6 - 8 weeks. Music is so disposable these days and everyone's a producer. If you can put a track out, unless it’s a huge hit it usually fizzles out within a month; that's just the way it is now. If you have another one ready to come out, yeah you’re putting out a lot of music, but people are remembering the name, they’re seeing that pop up all the time.
“I think after that, every time you put out a song, it might not do amazing, but as long as you achieve something new with each release you’re building up all these little wins. Say you put out 10 songs in a year, you might have learned something new, had someone important follow you after a release and a higher chance of turning people’s heads.”
Any advice on when you’ve built that profile and people like management are starting to take notice?
“Obviously don't say yes to the first person that asks, it’s got to be the right fit for you. I had a few people ask and I’m so glad I didn’t jump the gun. I waited until it felt right. Aaron, who I mentioned earlier, used to work for Defected Records back in the day, and they’re one of those labels that I aspire to release on. He just knows EVERYONE, we work together well and he’s a really nice guy, so it’s exactly what I need to grow as an artist.”
What are you hoping for in 2023?
“I’m just going to keep putting out more music. Hopefully, you’ll see me playing at more club gigs. I’d really love to get booked for some festivals. Playing at Creamfields has been my biggest goal forever and all the guys in my team know that, because I don’t shut up about it. I don’t know when it’ll be, but I’ve got to get that gig one day. Once I do that, I can die happy.”