At 25, Bianca Nilsson has already gone from organising "old ladies" in a rural potato processing plant to working full-time in her own music industry businesses, wrangling paste-ups and publicity campaigns for musicians around the world.
From potato factory worker to music publicist: How Bianca Nilsson is building her empire
In 2017, Bianca Nilsson worked five mammoth night shifts a week – from 4:30pm until 5am – at her job as a potato factory team leader in the northern suburbs.
After knocking off from her ‘day job’ at 5am, Bianca would go home and hide behind her computer for up to five hours. She would be busy organising campaigns for musicians’ single launches thousands of kilometres away.
Bianca tells CityMag she wasn’t sleeping much at this time in her life, nor did she have any bit of a social life. Instead, she was stoking the embers of a nascent music career that, looking at her now, appears to have paid off.
“I had street teams across Germany and the US who were putting up posters,” she says while sitting with CityMag, sipping on green tea at East End Cellars. “And we were trying to publicise music that way. All the musicians were from overseas.”
Four years later, Bianca is no longer working in the potato factory, “managing a bunch of 60-year-old ladies that used to fight at 3am and slap each other’ hands,” she says, laughing.
Instead, three out of her five working days is devoted to managing the publicity campaigns of singles and musicians at her self-made independent record imprint, Renegade Records.
For the remaining two days, Bianca and TOWNS musician Daniel Steinhart offer media and advertising services at their artist development agency SEE OH, which is funded by the City of Playford’s music facility – and hit factory – Northern Sound System (NSS) in Elizabeth.
CityMag was first introduced to Bianca this year when we visited the creative hub, which absolutely bursts at the seams with budding musicians.
Back then, the entrepreneur told us part of the reason she abandoned her career in carbs was due to two influential NSS music educators and mentors in her life, Nick O’Connor and Ben Smith.
“Last year in January 2020, I said to Ben that I wanted to work with a music publicist. And Ben said ‘Dude – be your own publicist’,” Bianca says.
“I decided to learn about publicity by doing some research and finding outlets across the globe that cover musicians. I just started contacting them and saying, ‘Hey, I’m starting my own little publicity wing on the side of my record label’, and the response was great.”
But then the pandemic kicked in. Bianca set up her business wanting to only support singles she believes in, but she needed to pay the rent. So, she expanded her services and ventured into the world of artist management.
“I offered some small seed campaigns for other artists to see how it would go, and it went well,” Bianca says.
“I can proudly say I haven’t had an unsuccessful campaign yet. I’m tooting my horn, but I try to give everyone the best experience I can.
“I spent about three months teaching myself when I started running publicity campaigns or Spotify playlist campaigns in about March 2020, and since then I’ve run over 350 campaigns. I was looking at that number the other day and was like ‘Damn, I did that’.”
The number of campaigns isn’t the only impressive statistic Bianca has racked up at Renegade.
One single she organised the publicity for, ‘Freedom’ by Detroit neo-soul musician Matthew Cue, clocked in over 300,000 Spotify streams and charted on French charts next to ‘Old Town Road’ by Lil Nas X (the undisputed song of 2020).
Bianca has also travelled to the US seven times since the label kicked off in 2015, to meet musicians and attend gigs. She was even lucky enough to be introduced to Cimorelli, the band she named her record label after, for whom she occasionally now does graphic design work.
“We became so close that I get listed on the door now for every show,” Bianca says.
More recently, she received her first business investment. “I feel like it’s just like a gift from the universe,” Bianca says.
“The investor said, ‘You’re doing cool things. Let me help you’.
“It’s the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me.”
As someone who has successfully carved out a music career from Adelaide (a difficult task even if you are located on Australia’s east coast), you might think Bianca would take a moment to sit atop her Renegade Records empire and reflect on how far she has come.
But she tells us, while stirring her tea, she has more lofty goals she hopes to achieve. Bianca wants to make it easier for other people, particularly women, to find their feet in the music industry, which she describes as competitive and at times sexist.
“I want to keep the staff on the label all-female and show these men what women can do,” she says.
Decades down the line, Bianca sees Renegade Records occupying a multi-storey building with a lower level flush with musical instruments and recording facilities, all free for the public to access, just like NSS.
“There’s so many people that can’t afford to do things. I want to be like, ‘Hey, enjoy this studio for free’. I want to be able to fund that.”
As for now, Bianca wants to make a ruckus for Renegade Records in the postcode 5000. She recently signed RnB virtuoso GRCO, and is looking for other South Australian musicians to help her bring Renegade Records “back home”.
“I’m going to make a big name for Renegade in Adelaide,” she says.