Wil Van Zyl
Artist Management & International Marketing Consultant
Wil’s journey with music started very early in life where music permeated his childhood home in the suburbs of Ontario. His father, a gifted singer in his own right – immigrated to Canada in search of broader opportunities from their native Swaziland. The elder Van Zyl’s love of song led to music lessons for all of Wil’s siblings, yet Wil gravitated early on to the world of sport where he excelled in Soccer and Track & Field.
As fate would have it, while studying Business Management in college, a chance meeting on the bus one Sunday on the way to church led to a life-long creative and business relationship with his first management client, the Detroit bred R&B dynamo, Wade O. Brown. Wil credits Wade with igniting a latent passion for music and the mechanics of the music business. In fact, it was with Wade that Wil inked his very first publishing deal via the venerable Warner Chappell (Willi-Wade Music) – and the rest - as they say – is history.
Growing up in a household brimming with music, with a father who harbored a gift as an exceptional singer, Wil developed a keen ear for talent. Having no discernable musical gifts of his own, he quickly developed a reputation in artist circles as “the business guy” and found himself consulting in a broad fashion from business deals to orchestrating Street Teams. Joining forces with musician Wade, and style maven Christos, they set up shop as Morningstar Entertainment in the uber trendy Yorkville area of Toronto where they set about developing a range of creative artists who years later have gone on to have legitimate careers in music, animation and theatre.
In the late 90’s, it became apparent with Wade’s constant touring and the rapid expansion of Christos’ chain of salons that change was in the air. Setting out on his own, armed with the track record of success with Morningstar, propelled Wil to a lucrative consulting practice working with brands like Audi, Heineken, and Nokia and ultimately to the doors of an upstart boutique record label based in Toronto. Wil developed music packages of themed music, including a hugely heralded Jazz series, which were sold in Big Box retailers charting a path for success for the label. In a bid to expand the label’s musical footprint, they decided to venture into R&B. In the first of several “full circle” moments in his career – Wil reached back for his old friend Wade O. Brown who delivered a classically soulful album for the label which found success both north and south of the border.
It was during the Wade O. Brown album cycle that Wil hired and was ultimately mentored by Ramon Hervey – the esteemed Public Relations and Marketing master who first rose to prominence guiding the career of his then wife, Actress/Singer Vanessa Williams and later Multiplatinum Super Producer/Artist Babyface and Gospel legend Andre Crouch. Wil credits Hervey with teaching him two important lessons which he leans on until this day – First, the need for Quality; and not settling for second best and secondly, to remain humble even when presented with tremendous success.
As it goes in life, the constant grind can lead to burnout - and (following the shuttering of the boutique label) Wil discovered that he wasn’t a kryptonite immune supehero. After a short break to recharge, the seeds planted early in his career with Morningstar continued to bear fruit. Now, one of the artists he had developed had landed a deal for their indie imprint with Universal and was placing the finishing touches on a project co-produced by a young dynamo named Byram Joseph who produced and recorded under the moniker Slakah The Beatchild. Wil discovered a treasure trove of tracks in Slakah’s library which he helped envision and subsequently channel into the now legendary Soul Music Vol.1 featuring a who’s who of Canadian R&B and Hip Hop talent including a young Drake and Divine Brown. Under Nova Music Group with his new business partner, legal wiz Joanna Lawrence, Wil established the STBC Internationally as an artist and producer securing Publishing and Record deals with Reservoir Media and Ultra hip UK imprint BBE Records adding to Wil’s already impressive international reach. Having already inked a myriad of label and licensing deals in France, England, Italy, The Netherlands, Germany to Japan and Africa to name a few, Wil continued to strengthen and amass his international alliances on behalf of his growing roster of artists.
Now entering his third decade in music – Joining the team at FULCC (while continuing to grow NVM) represents a third pivotal “full circle” moment for Wil. Throughout the years, multiple chance meetings with Stephane Lecuyer would always conclude with an earnest “we should work together,” yet no obvious opportunity presented itself until now. While Stephane was developing his own trajectory in the Tour promotion and Artist Management arenas, joining forces and combing unparalleled resources would create a new opportunity to have an elite firm which excels in providing services to its select roster of clients, providing opportunities for talented artists with excellent music at the highest levels of the entertainment Industry. For Wil Van Zyl - it’s another way to provide the artists he loves with the best opportunities to win. You might say it’s just another day at the office for “the business guy.”