WIN GM Noemí Planas
The IMI 31st Jan 2022

Noemí Planas: WIN’s new GM on building indie collectives around the world

Noemí Planas took over the Worldwide Independent Network's leadership at the end of last year as part of a organisational restructuring. The IMI sat down to talk about her ambitions and objectives in 2022 and beyond...

Alongside celebrating its 15th year in operation, The Worldwide Independent Network (WIN) undertook a strategic restructure at the end of the last year.

As part of the reshuffle, Noemí Planas now leads WIN’s operations as General Manager, stepping up from her previous role as Network Development Director.

Planas is an accomplished music executive, bringing more than 20 years of experience in various areas of the independent industry, having worked in records, directed her own publishing company, managed the Spanish independent music trade association UFI, and served as a director on IMPALA’s board for eight years.

Upon taking the top role at the indie trade body, Planas said: “We are proud of the accomplishments we have made and look forward to the next 15 years of success. We have seen many changes over the years, but one thing remains the same: the value of working together.”

The IMI caught up with Planas to dive a little deeper into her ambitions as WIN’s new GM. Building that collective value globally is a central pillar. She talked about empowering more independents at local level, but also highlighted the lack of independent unison in certain territories across the world – something she’s determined to fix…

What will this restructure mean for WIN from a practical point of view?

The restructure envisions the continuation of many of the core elements of our work, but with a significant shift toward implementation around some of the key priorities of our strategic plan, such as member support and network development.

What are your immediate plans and objectives in the GM role?

As an organisation dedicated to supporting the network of independent music trade associations around the world, my main goal is to provide more resources and better services to our members to help them build capacity at the local level. Another key objective is to foster our regional networks and help territories without current representation to develop new associations that eventually become members of WIN, so that we can continue to grow stronger.

"Independent music trade associations promote and effect real change so that all labels have the same opportunities and the entire musical ecosystem can flourish."

Why do you think independent companies in some territories are yet to combine their influence via trade associations?

There are multiple factors: historical, cultural, economic. We are working with companies in countries where associations were banned until recently. Or with a degree of political instability that makes it difficult for companies to obtain support from their governments, which leads to a dog chasing its tail situation because the sector cannot be structured without aid, but without a grouped representation it cannot advocate for the funds it needs. Most independent music trade associations are born out of the altruism of a few people generous enough to dedicate their time and resources to the common good. In smaller music markets where independent music companies are barely getting by, this can be a challenge and sometimes individualism prevails.

What would be your message to them?

A collective is always stronger than the sum of its individual members. If you are interested in starting an association and are not sure how WIN is here to help you, as are our members. We can provide examples of bylaws, organizational charts, possible projects to undertake, and other useful resources. We are committed to growing our community even further and welcoming new members, so that together we can become stronger.

How has the role and influence of independent music trade bodies changed over recent years?
Independents are being heard and actively participating in the discussion and negotiation of cultural and digital policies. It has always been somewhat frustrating that the headlines about the “music industry” actually referred to developments related to big three companies that don’t always reflect the reality of independent labels. For example, last year AIM was able to present evidence to the DCMS Committee’s inquiry into the impact of DSPs and explain the practices of the UK independent music businesses, which in many ways differ from those of the majors. Independent music trade associations are not only great at providing commercial opportunities and other resources and benefits to their members, they also promote and effect real change so that all labels have the same opportunities and the entire musical ecosystem can flourish.

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for WIN in 2022?

The biggest challenge remains being able to resume international travel and organise in-person meetings. For an international organisation with members on all continents and in all time zones, a one-day conference like our annual meeting, WINCON, does not easily translate to the virtual world. We look forward to reuniting the global independent family when the pandemic allows it.