Written by: Sarah Johnson
A jack of all trades.
Thor Simonsen is - quite literally - a jack of all trades. He’s an entrepreneur, media consultant, writer, musician, graphic designer, marketer, activist, DJ, and avid reader. Did we miss anything? Probably - and if it’s not on the list yet, he’s most likely working on mastering it as we speak.
With so many skills in his portfolio, Simonsen seems to embody the role of a freelancer. And instead of limiting himself to one field, he’s playing them all. Having grown up in Nunavut, Simonsen knows first hand how underserved the territory is, calling it “a third world country in the first world.” And with two entrepreneurial parents, he quickly developed a passion for making a difference in the territory that raised him. Which is exactly what his company, Ajungi Media Inc., strives to do.
It’s a business that works to bridge Southern Canada to Nunavut in new and innovative ways. His most recent project is called Nunavut Hitmakerz. This program travels to different communities in Nunavut, teaching youth how to write and record music. And as if that wasn’t enough, the initiative has also donated a music studio to each community they’ve visited. Simonsen is no stranger to the music industry. He spent years as a DJ in the Faroe Islands of Denmark and even co-founded the first music booking agency there, working with major Danish labels to organize a music festival in the capital city. Essentially, Nunavut Hitmakerz was a perfect storm for him - a manifestation of his long grown skills and deep rooted passions.
So how does he feel about the current state of the music industry? Regardless of changes over the past decade, Simonsen says it has never been financially lucrative to be a working musician. And since streaming services have come into play, the concept of making money in the music industry has changed dramatically.
“I think a lot of the money in music today has shifted from sales of music to live performance and once in a lifetime experiences,” says Simonsen. “Merchandising and tangible products are attracting the money. The music is the thing that gets to people’s emotions. It hooks them. And then you can put them down a sales funnel to make your money.”
But making money isn’t always easy for a freelance entrepreneur. Simonsen fully admits to being “technically homeless and unemployed” and still bringing in more than enough financing to keep his projects alive. His key to staying afloat: a safety buffer.
“Before I started this, I saved enough to be able to sit two full years on my ass and not do anything,” he says. “If all else fails, I still have two years and I’ll be okay.”
Simonsen’s number one piece of advice for pitching is to “go there wanting it but not needing it.” In other words, believe 100% that it will happen for you but accept that it might not happen at all.
It seems paradoxical, but this tactic has kept Simonsen sane through the rocky waters of financing, resulting in some successful pitches to boot. Entrepreneurial Mindset With his finances under control, Simonsen can enjoy the upsides of his entrepreneurial lifestyle.
His favourite part about being his own boss? “The daily schedule,” he says.
“My days are exactly what I want them to be. I get up after I’ve slept enough. I eat somewhere I want to. I work on things I care about. I spend hours reading and going for walks. I hang out with people I love. I consider those things work, too!”
Read books that interest you. Save up money. Start right away. With his own book in the works and multiple freelancing projects on the go, Simonsen is working towards his personal pinnacle of success.