Marty Zwaan’s first love was the LP. When he returned with his “Recordfriend” store after an impressive career, it quickly became an international success.
Marty Zwaan: ‘Little boy of fourteen, turning tables, well … how do you get to that point? It attracted me. The music in the first place of course, and the records themselves, and then playing the music for others. In Noordwijk in “Boule 7”, a large nightclub on the boulevard … all those people that you just get moving, that’s it. Plus a kind of practical business sense that is just inside me. The idea that everything is fun and nice, but that if you want to be given the right to exist, an organization has to get around it. Money must also be earned. After all, it is an extremely Amsterdam notion.
Punk era and practicality
‘It was the punk era when I started and punk bands obviously did not need a manager, but yes, I arranged those tours, made sure the stuff was there. Nice time, but occasionally people died from the drugs and the nightlife. That made me think even more about the volitility of life. That is why I went the other way at one point; business administration in Groningen, a Masters of Business Administration at Nijenrode. Great jobs followed – at Delta Lloyd, Generali, ABNAmro, Head of Automation at the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets. High salary and the latest leased car. I was totally in it and enjoyed it, until I had done most of it. Then the kick faded. Business is an essential ingredient, but money is not your motivation in the end. You want to leave behind something meaningful.’
‘I did not have to think long. Back to records. Started this business, restoring and designing turntables. Never thought that it would grow like that, but it’s hugely succesful. The “Witte Zwaan” next door is our new restaurant, with pure local dishes. We accomplished this with the records. We also get more and more foreigners. Russians who buy whole collections. Koreans looking for classic work. Records are becoming hugely populair anyway. They sound good and in the meantime a generation has grown up for whom everything is digital. For them, that physical, is a new value; to be able to really hold something in their hands, designed with so much attention … ‘
Love and business spirit
‘That is the lesson I learned. What you do with love, you do better than others and then combine that with sensible business – that puts things right. It is also the story of Amsterdam. Yes, it is a beautiful city with unique architecture and art that the whole world comes up with, but it would never have been without the merchants. Perhaps exaggerating to say that I have set up this business in the spirit of the city but do something beautiful that attracts people from all over the world on the basis of a healthy business spirit … it fits nicely in the city. And with me.’