2020 Mentor Session Interview: Symphonic Distribution Senior Client Manager Peter Wohelski

Monday, December 23rd, 2019 |

One of the best features for aspiring music professionals at Winter Music Conference 2020 will be the mentor sessions. They will give badge holders the ability to talk to DJs, publicists, tech professionals, streaming executives and more for genuine interaction in a classy, personal setting. Pro Badge holders will be able to get meaningful insights that can advance their career from some of the best in the business. We are running a series of interviews with each of our mentors as we prep for the sunshine in March. We have already talked to Jonas Tempel and Lara Kelley and continue our run of interviews today with Symphonic Distribution Senior Client Manager Peter Wohelski.

With nearly 30 years in the electronic dance music space, Peter Wohelski is not only a pioneer and an innovator, but a jack of all trades. From humble beginnings as a radio, club and underground party DJ and founder of the influential early 90’s central Florida ravezine Trip Magazeen to career defining highlights including as Director of A&R at US electronica powerhouse label Astralwerks, General Manager for Detroit Techno legend Carl Craig’s seminal Planet E Communications imprint, and longtime Account Manager at Beatport, Peter Wohelski has witnessed first-hand the ups, downs and resurgence of electronic dance music into American culture like few others in this industry.

With time spent running labels big and small, overseeing the execution of marketing and promotion plans for major artists such as The Chemical Brothers, influencing the direction of such independent label success stories Black Hole Recordings, Crosstown Rebels, and Soma Recordings as part of K7’s physical distributor Studio Distribution in the early 00’s, then part of the rise of US-based A&R for esteemed German distribution house finetunes GmbH (now part of The Orchard) and currently Senior Client Manager / Electronic Genre Specialist for Symphonic Distribution, Peter Wohelski has a deep level of experience that lends a unique wide angle view and perspective on how to succeed in today’s oversaturated and challenging music marketplace.

Read more about mentor sessions and get your badges now.

Winter Music Conference will return to The Faena Forum in Miami Beach on March 16-19 to celebrate 35 years. Peter Wohelski will be one of the mentors during WMC.

  1. When you were coming up professionally did you have the opportunity to have a mentor, and if so, how did it affect your career path? 

Not consistently, no. While I have no real regrets, if I had a mentor more consistently through my career, I feel I may have made different career decisions at certain junctures.

  1. Have you ever mentored someone, and if so, what are some of your techniques? What type of knowledge did you impart?

I have. Typically I like to talk with the mentee about what their career goals are or projects they’re working on and open up a dialogue to discuss anything business related from news stories, strategies, career opportunities, or just the ups and downs of everyday life as a music business professional, which isn’t always easy.

  1. Winter Music Conference has been such an important part of so many people’s careers in the electronic music business; do you have any particular memories or stories to share? Was there ever a WMC moment that you felt help make your career?

I’ve been working in the music industry since 1988 and coming to Winter Music Conference since 1993. The memories are countless. Contacts and relationships from those early WMC days created a network of dance music industry and artist friendships and connections that have formed the backbone of my career for nearly 30 years.

I signed my first artist to Astralwerks off of a demo tape given to me at WMC in 1995.

I don’t think there’s a singular WMC moment that has “made” my career, but in looking back, for many years being at WMC was pivotal to staying relevant in the industry and my career’s longevity.

  1. What are a few pieces of advice you might give someone starting off in your line of work? How have things changed since you started?

This business is a marathon, not a sprint. The same people you see on the way up are the same people you see on the way down, so be humble. The perks of the job are the perks of the job, but don’t let those things get in the way of your responsibility to yourself, your artists, and the company you represent.

How have things changed? Everything has changed! The only thing that hasn’t changed is that the music still has to be great and you have to put in the work to get there.

  1. Can you share any “aha” moment in your career where you knew you had made the right choice or that things were about to get really great for you?

Signing the Chemical Brothers to their US deal and watching Astralwerks evolve from the “red-headed stepchild” of Caroline Records, a indie/punk label to becoming the primary focus of the company (and the name changing from Caroline to Astralwerks) within 24 months.

  1. What are you looking forward to the most at 2020’s WMC and MMW?

Seeing old friends and watching the next generation of dance music industry people come away from WMC inspired the same way I did so many years ago.

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Before there was Ultra Music Festival, there was The Winter Music Conference, the annual coming together of the dance music tribes. Miami in March is a fundamental place to be from a business perspective, and has always given me endless opportunities for discovering new partnerships and talent. WMC brings together the dance music industry and surrounding culture like no other event in America. I’ve been attending WMC for nearly 20 years, and I’m very much looking forward to experiencing its evolution in 2019.

Matt Colon

Director, North America - YM&U Music

I’m so glad to see WMC rebooted with such thoughtful content and first-class curation. It’s been a long time since the industry had a must-do American event and this is it. The reborn WMC!

Patrick Moxey

Ultra Music

Winter Music Conference was the cream of the crop of conferences. Every label owner, label A&R, DJ and artist knew they had to go network at the Fontainebleau where the conference was hosted. The conference was not only one of the most important time of the year as it relates to dance music but it was also a place where records were broken and became summer hits. Some of my best DJ memories are from the events I played during WMC in the last 20 years.

Erick Morillo

DJ / Producer / Label Boss - Subliminal Records

I first went to WMC ’87, the year I started Big Beat. It was an incredibly inspiring congregation of indie labels, DJs, artists, songwriters, producers and dance music lovers dedicated to breaking and discovering new music. WMC has been instrumental in furthering the dance and electronic cause; keeping the community connected, vital and relevant, and serving as an amazing springboard for talent. It’s a fantastic crucible for the future of dance music. Long may it live.

Craig Kallman

CEO & Co-Chairman Atlantic Records, Founder Big Beat Records

I feel fortunate to have been part of the first-ever WMC. Over the 35 years, it has grown to give us an international forum where we exchange music and ideas. As an attendee and host of many of the award shows, I am proud each time I see new young talent emerge and then become world-renowned. We all have so many Winter Music Conference moments of hearing a seminal breakthrough record for the first time as well as a new DJ with star quality. Magical moments in my career.

Daniel Glass

Glassnote Records