Promoting the export of Norwegian music 

TONO launches new US venture

Los Angeles Street

Photo: ViewApart / iStock
TONO is establishing a presence in Los Angeles to strengthen Norwegian music exports.

Willy Martinsen

The music cooperative TONO is establishing, for a trial period, a presence in Los Angeles to serve as a resource for Norwegian songwriters, composers, and lyricists who live and work in the United States. The goal is also to make it easier for Norwegian music creators to invest in the United States and to strengthen Norwegian music exports.

The United States and Los Angeles have a dominant position in the global music market. Music created here is listened to by the whole world, and the city also attracts Norwegian songwriters, composers, lyricists, and producers seeking an international career.

“Norway has many music-creating talents in all genres who deserve to reach an international audience, and we believe that there is potential to increase the export of Norwegian music rights. And so, we are establishing in Los Angeles with a local representative to be a resource for Norwegian songwriters who venture into the American market,” says TONO’s Head of Membership Jan Espen Storo.

Advice and meeting places

TONO sign

Photo: TONO
The first TONO meeting in the U.S. entertainment industry was held in Los Angeles in fall 2023.

The American West Coast is a long way from Møllergata 4 in Oslo, where TONO’s offices are located. Now, Norwegian songwriters, composers, and lyricists living there and elsewhere in the United States will be able to meet TONO physically.

“We feel that there is a need among our members in the United States for a local TONO representative in the United States. We will contribute with advice, member services, and TONO meeting places, as we do for our members in Norway. We organized the first TONO meeting in Los Angeles in October 2023, and it was very well received. Such meeting places enable new contacts to be made, and thus we stimulate the innovation of music, which is one of TONO’s obligations according to our bylaws,” says Storo.

The TONO representative in Los Angeles will also, on TONO’s behalf, represent TONO in meetings with sister companies, including ASCAP, BMI, and Australian APRA AMCOS, regarding ordinary member-related matters and possible new collaborative projects.

First in the Nordics

Erik Steigen

Photo: Arne Ristesund / Bergensavisen
Erik Steigen is TONO’s representative for Los Angeles and the United States.

TONO is the first Nordic collective management company for songwriters, composers, lyricists, and music publishers to establish a “USA office.” British PRS for Music and Canadian SOCAN have been represented in the United States for several years. The same is true for Australian APRA AMCOS, which has been a sparring partner for TONO in the planning of the U.S. venture.

TONO’s representative in Los Angeles is Erik Steigen. Originally from Bergen, he has worked in the U.S. music industry since the late 1990s after graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston. He has been a business partner and adviser in music rights for, among others, Lionel Richie, Mötley Crüe, Sheryl Crow, Pearl Jam, Blondie, and Brian Wilson, as well as songwriters who have written for Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, Barbra Streisand, Demi Lovato, Pitbull, Jason Derulo, and Eric Clapton, and more. Today, he is a manager and consultant. He also heads the Los Angeles chapter of NorCham. Steigen will not be employed by TONO but will be hired on a consultancy basis.

“I am very impressed by TONO’s willingness to invest. Only the larger PROs, or ‘TONO companies,’ in the world are already represented in the United States, so this gets TONO noticed. I am very happy to be able to do some work for TONO and Norwegian music creators who work in the United States. I will share experiences, knowledge, and networks to support TONO’s members, and in this process, I hope to contribute to reducing the distance to Norway. L.A. is a unique meeting point, where creative souls from all over the world meet and create music for potential clients from the film, TV, games, tech, and music industries, so there are many exciting opportunities here,” says Steigen.

Strengthening Norwegian music exports

It is important for TONO to be close to members in Norway and abroad.

“We want to provide excellent service, be a resource for the members, and meet their expectations for a modern copyright company. This means that in addition to being close to members in Norway we also need to follow up and be present for Norwegian songwriters who invest in other countries. We want to work hard to secure and strengthen income from the use of Norwegian-written works abroad,” says Storo.

About TONO

TONO was founded in 1928 and is a nonprofit cooperative that is owned and managed by composers, songwriters, and music publishers. TONO manages the financial copyrights to their musical works and grants permission to use protected music for radio, TV, the internet, concerts, cinema for payment, and transfers its financial results each year to copyrights holders for music that has been performed publicly. TONO has more than 40,000 members, and it also works for millions of authors and music publishers from around the world. TONO gives music creators a financial basis to be able to create new music and collects and simplifies the licensing of copyrighted music to users. TONO’s revenue in 2022 was about $83 million.


This article first appeared at and was reprinted with permission. Translated by Ragnhild Hjeltnes.

This article originally appeared in the April 2024 issue of The Norwegian American.

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The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.