In this edition of my blog series feature Behind the Art, meet April Malmsteen—the woman behind guitar virtuoso, Yngwie J Malmsteen. As an entrepreneur, April has ventured down many roads beyond the music industry, including founding a cosmetics company and her own foundation (AMF) to help heal our planet.
Behind the Art: April Malmsteen
Malmsteen Management, Medusa Cosmetics, April Malmsteen Foundation. Follow April online.
To be honest with you, I fell into it. When I got together with Yngwie, I realized that many aspects of the so-called music industry were more in favor of everyone other than the actual artist creating the music. I quickly realized that there was a rule all music industry people went by—rip off the artist! I rebelled against those that said this is the way the industry had to run and created my own platform of management, and it worked!
As a woman in a male-dominant business, what gender-based obstacles have you encountered and how did you overcome them?
I have been very lucky in that I have not really felt that “male-domination” because I think the males in question quickly understand that I know exactly how things work, and that they are not going to be able to pull a fast one; it’s just not going to happen. I think they feel my energy of professionalism and no-nonsense very quickly.
Regardless, I am very feminine and refuse to be any other way; I guess it takes a lot of them by surprise. Some are quite shocked, but they know when someone is a professional and gets the job done. Your track record speaks for itself; they quickly forget that you are a woman.
Was there a particular moment when you felt you’d “made it” as a music industry professional?
I don’t really think about things in that way. To me it’s just a business—the most important thing is to get results.
Surprisingly easy! I don’t question it too much . . . it just works.
What is your morning routine?
The first thing I do is meditate, followed by a bottle of water to start the day. Afterwards, I will do some sort of a sport for about 45 minutes—then I am ready for the day.
What constitutes a productive day at work for you?
Seeing and getting results!
Is there anything unusual about your workspace? What do you keep on your desk? What’s the view from there?
Probably the thing that most people would be surprised about is that it’s so neat and simple! Besides that, I keep numerous world clocks to track the times of the countries I do business with overseas. I also like to keep fresh flowers and a large glass bottle of water as well as a mala to accompany my computer, tablet, and phone.
As I’m also an author, I’d love for you to recommend three books and tell us why you like them.
To be honest with you, it’s very hard for me to narrow it down to just three.
The Woman I Wanted to Be—Diane von Furstenburg. Actually quite insightful.
Anything about Plato is interesting to me.
The Alchemist—Paulo Coelho. Also one I’m quite fond of.
Do you have any superstitions?
No—I’m too busy for that sort of thing.
What phrase do you over-use?
“Get it done—now!”
Do you have a funny story related to your job, whether it be planning a tour, or on tour, or at a meet-and-greet with one of your artists?
Too many stories to count! I’ve been doing this for 17 years, traveled round the globe so many times I almost lost count, so as you can imagine, there’s plenty of funny and not so funny stories that I could tell you, but there is one that still has stuck to me.
We were passing through Germany and had to stay in a village that was stuck in the 16th century. Nothing had changed, from the houses to the roads! Absolutely nothing had been updated in this village since its conception, which was fascinating to me. Of course, it wasn’t so fascinating after we got put up into the local haunted motel!
The second we walked into the room, the TV switched on by itself. That was just the first of many weird happenings there. Once night fell I refused to go to bed and was ready to leave! Yngwie stayed and just flopped to bed, but I ended up staying wide-awake in my full clothes, ready to run out at a moment’s notice!
I’m about as un-heavy metal as they come! I’m an entrepreneur with many different businesses, from cosmetics to art to music. I am into sports from surfing, hiking to yoga. I thrive on living a very clean healthy life-style. I am a pesco-vegetarian. I am very family orientated. I try to live a simple easy-going life. Simplicity in my life gives me more time for the things that are important. Many of my business associates are quite surprised when they see my husband!
What advice would you give to an aspiring musician?
Realize that it’s a business, first and foremost. If you are intending to make a career out of it, be aware that you have to know the ins and outs of the business and how it works. It’s very important. Try to be the best musician you possibly can, and play and write as much as you can. There are no short cuts; it’s a lot of hard work. Dedication, passion is what you need to have a lot of because you will come across a lot of obstacles, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is what will keep you going.
What advice would you give to someone interested in getting into the business side of music?
Do your homework. It’s probably one of the most difficult businesses that you can get involved in. It’s packed with crooks and fraudsters, hangers-on, people who want to ride on your name and brand once you are known. You’ve got to have a very strong business-oriented mind to cut through. You can only do that with knowledge. Knowledge comes from education. You have to educate yourself in order to be able to benefit yourself and the business of the artist.