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FANS WILLING AND ABEL TO RALLY ROUND THE WEEKND
Dept. of unintended consequences (12/1a)
VAUGHN'S FIRST MOVE: MATTERA TO THE TOWER
A company with no corner offices (12/1a)
U.K. MEET THE MANAGERS
Who's hot in Blighty? (12/1a)
RON PERRY: SUPERCHARGING THE BIG RED MACHINE
Hoodie man doin' work (12/2a)
SPOTIFY GIFT-WRAPS
THE YEAR IN MUSIC
How Swede it is. (12/2a)
RAINMAKERS 2020
Bring your umbrella.
GRAMMY OUTLIERS
Mulling possible surprises.
ZOOM THANKSGIVING
We're virtually stuffing ourselves.
TRUMP'S LAWSUITS
He's lost 25 out of 26, and so tired of winning!
Blighty Beat
U.K. CLASS OF 2020: AGENCIES
12/3/20




Scottish singer/songwriter Gerry Cinnamon has had a wildly impressive live trajectory; over the course of two years, he’s graduated from 500-1,500-capacity venues to selling out his first stadium show, a 2021 outing at Glasgow’s 55,000-seat Hampden Park. He’s released two albums to date, the second of which, The Bonny (Little Runaway Records/AWAL), hit #1 on the U.K. and Ireland album chart in April and has since been certified silver (with sales of more than 60k).

Cinnamon is repped by London-based CAA agent Andy Cook, who’s been working with him since 2018, having seen him play (and sell out) two nights at Glasgow’s 1,900-seat Barrowland Ballroom.

“I was blown away by his performance and by seeing how much he meant to the people who were there,” Cook says. “The energy of the crowd is a big part of what makes a Gerry Cinnamon show such an experience. People connect with him because he’s 100% authentic. They walk away from his shows with huge smiles on their faces and tell everyone how brilliant it was. This is how Gerry’s fanbase has grown. There’s been very little PR, and Gerry rarely does interviews. He lets his music and shows do the talking. This is a huge part of the appeal.”

A sold-out 2020 tour to support The Bonny was rescheduled to start in May 2021. It will include the biggest shows of Cinnamon’s career. Alongside the Hampden Park gig—Cinnamon will be the first-ever Scottish artist to headline there—he’ll play London’s Alexandra Palace (capacity: 10,400) and arenas in Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham. Overall, he’s set to play to more than 200,000 people. Plans are in the offing to further develop Cinnamon’s career in Australia, continental Europe and the U.S. “I think he’s going to do very well in North America,” Cook allows.• 



British singer/songwriter Cavetown gained traction by uploading original songs to YouTube, thereafter self-releasing his first three albums. He subsequently signed to Warner, where he released his fourth album, Sleepyhead, earlier this year.

Paradigm U.K. agent Anna Bewerdecided to get involved with Cavetown in 2018 after hearing “Lemon Boy” via manager Zack Zarillo. “I think it had already passed 1m streams by that point,” she says. “I immediately loved the song and was intrigued by his background, and the covers he performed on YouTube got huge traction. Zack is a smart manager, and we work very well together, so it was just a no-brainer. If I’m into the music, let’s do it!”

At the beginning of 2018, Cavetown had yet to play a live show. Bewers has since taken him from selling out 150 tickets for London’s Thousand Island (now The Grace) to playing Shepherd’s Bush Empire, a 2,000-seater. “Cavetown started with a very solid fanbase—so the exact opposite of most of the new bands I book! It’s difficult to gauge how many of these fans turn into ticket buyers, but we’ve been measured in the steps we’ve taken, making sure each venue has sold out along the way.”

Cavetown is now selling out up to 1,200-capacity shows in Europe and has appeared at festivals including Rock Werchter and Pukkelpop in Belgium, Lowlands in the Netherlands and Sziget in Hungary. A Russian tour was confirmed but pulled due to the coronavirus. The aim is to get him into 2,500-5,000-capacity rooms in the U.K. by the end of the next touring cycle, whenever that may be. “Cavetown has the reach of a truly global artist, so we need to build his touring to reflect that,” Bewers adds.• 



Rex Orange County is one of the most talked-about artists to emerge from the U.K. in recent years, and his live career is testament to that. His debut album, Pony (Columbia), which hit #5 on the U.K. album chart in 2019, was accompanied by an enviable touring schedule. Delivering on that promise, he moved 10,000 tickets in two hours for a pair of sold-out shows at London’s Brixton Academy, with a third date added to meet demand, and his Manchester show sold out 3,400 tickets in less than three minutes, precipitating a second night there. In total, the tour shifted 25,000 tickets in 48 hours. 

Rex OC’s U.K. agent, WME Co-Head of Music Lucy Dickins, started working with him in late 2018. “We went straight into planning the campaign for his upcoming record, and we all knew we wanted to play multiple Brixtons from the word go,” she notes. “There was some work to do in Europe as touring had been minimal there. But we also knew there was heat in Australia and Asia, which presented plenty of opportunity.”

Dickins was sold on Rex Orange County’s cultural relevance as well as his music. “He brings the hip-hop and indie worlds together with fans on both sides of the fence,” she affirms. “His success at merging the two genres is evidenced by the number of artists that have explored and imitated that sound.” 

Rex OC’s 2020 European tour was cut short in March due to the coronavirus, so the aim now is to penetrate some of the markets the pandemic put out of reach. Dickins is also keen to do multiple shows in London when the time is right and perhaps a few outdoor shows regionally. “It all depends on the next record and its release date,” she says.• 

U.K. AGENTS OF CHANGE
12/2/20



Those working in the live sector have without question suffered the worst of the pandemic’s impact on the music industry. Touring and festivals have ground to a halt, leaving many companies, employees and artists without income. Below, you’ll hear from four U.K.-based agents who are nonetheless optimistic about the eventual return to live performance.

Paul McQueen is a booking agent at Primary Talent, where he looks after international artists in the electronic space, including Tchami, Malaa, Rezz, Nghtmare, Krewella, Valentino Khan, and The Jillionaire, having worked with the latter since the beginning of his career. McQueen’s entry into the live business began with promoting shows in Glasgow—he launched an agency from his bedroom in 2011. After a stint at Elastic Artists, he was hired by Primary, where he’s been for five years.

CAA agent Jen Hammel reps The ChainsmokersOliver HeldensJonas BlueRobin SchulzRegard and Nicky Romero, among others. She started down her professional path as an office assistant for DJ agency IMD, where she graduated to booking shows and supporting two other agents. Four years after landing there, Hammel joined Amy Thomson at ATM to help shepherd the live careers of Swedish House MafiaGroove Armada and Alex Metric. At CAA, she works closely with senior agent Maria May

A senior agent at Paradigm Agency, where he aids in advancing the live fortunes of Billie EilishFINNEAS,  Machine Gun KellyGirl in Red, Jess Glynne and Noah Cyrus, Mike Malak kicked off his career working with the Black Eyed Peas at age 17. He sold merchandise, contributed graphic and web design and other content, supported their tours and eventually booked their afterparties. While watching the group grow from 2,000-seaters to stadiums, he also worked at Warner Bros. Records and for Steve Aoki’s management company and label in London. He joinedCoda (now Paradigm) nine years ago.

Ella Street is an agent at WME who works with Lizzo, Bebe Rexha and The Beach Boys, as well as Empress Of,Gayle, Goldfrapp, Keane, Kaiser Chiefs, LP and Jessie Ware. Street joined WME in 2010 as an assistant, becoming an agent after two years. She initially handled private dates, which opened the door to her own clients and an eventual move into touring. Before that, she worked for a sports-management company.

What have you been doing with the time away from touring?
Paul McQueen: It’s been tough trying to figure out what to work on—it’s hard to make the right decisions when we’re not sure when touring can happen again. Because a lot of artists have pushed back releasing music, we don’t have the pressure to book a tour straight away. As far as festivals, we’ve spent a lot of time rescheduling this year’s events for next year. A lot of the promoters I work with in the club and electronic space are not working, so we’re just talking as friends and keeping each other updated. I’ve definitely found time to listen to more music and appreciate music in a different way and discover new artists.

Jen Hammel: It’s been extremely difficult. We’ve booked drive-in shows, mainly in Germany, for our clients Alle Farben and Robin Schulz, and we’ve had a couple of clients play socially distanced outdoor events, where everyone has to remain in designated areas. We also have clients who’ve been involved in free, charity or pay-for-view streams and even done a couple of pre-recorded streams to be played in clubs (in territories that haven’t been as affected) and some private streams in the brand world or private birthday parties. While everyone is eager to “get back to it,” we have a responsibility to ensure the safety of the fans. We’ve seen territories like South Korea rush back to open their nightlife and within a matter of weeks, they were closed again. 

Mike Malak: I’m remaining proactive for my clients, aiming to stay ahead of the curve. Nobody knows the start date for touring, but I’m doing all I can to move tours to what feel like appropriate windows next year, from summer onwards, and exploring more outdoor options as we anticipate indoor venues remaining a point of contention. I’m working with artists on content, livestreaming digital tours and exploring new ways to get their names out there and help them connect with their audiences. I’m encouraging certain artists to perform—you may not be able to do a regular show in a venue, but there are ways of creating a moment that can be captured and shared as content in nontraditional settings. As the one thing we have is time, the rest of the year will be focused on diving deep on creative ideas. There is an opportunity to break boundaries.

Ella Street: Like everyone else, we’re slotting our 2020 dates from March forward into 2021/22 as appropriate and continuing to book festivals in forward-looking dates. We’re cautiously optimistic.

Do you feel youre making the best of a bad situation or adapting to a new normal?
JH: I don’t think we’ve worked out what the new normal is yet. It’s trial and error with everything we’re doing. It’s very difficult to plan when the climate is constantly changing and the rules evolving. The new normal means the few bookings are coming in fast, needing a quick turnaround—an answer within 48-72 hours—with the show being announced within a similar time period. The new normal in terms of the actual show ... we will see rapid testing on doors, temperature checks, track-and-trace as part of your ticket, fewer people, more staff and therefore higher costs. We’ll be seeing innovation from pre-tests to virtual festivals and more. 

MM: It’s been a process of firstly accepting the reality and then looking to find solutions—I believe there are always solutions if we think outside the box. I’ve been talking to literally every digital platform that’s selling live streams, coming to understand their models, their USPs, and seeing which could be of most benefit to my artists. I’ve also been diving deep and experimenting with a digital entertainment network called VAST. We co-curated ZoomFest, a series of Zoom calls that brought together artists such as ShaggyRobin Thicke and G-Eazy with brands and influencers. It was a successful experiment, with some of the newer artists getting interest from the brands and the stream being shared to the public later. There was an element of not knowing who would join, so the sense of potentially missing out was real. We’re exploring ways of growing it.

ES: I hope this isn’t our new normal but instead something the industry will survive that will spur its evolution. Artists who had planned to tour in 2020 have lost a year’s income, so we’re finding new ways to monetize for them. It’s a time for innovation—livestreaming is exploding and looks like it’s here to stay. Artists are getting very creative finding new ways to connect with audiences. Travis Scott appearing in Fortnite is a great example. Others are simply bringing their audiences into their homes for virtual performances as they endure lockdown alongside their fans.

What do you think the long-term impact will be?
PM: The effect of the pandemic has been devastating, so I think it’s going to have a really, really long-term impact. We just don’t know when things can restart, and then it’s a question of how the business will recover. It might not be until 2023 that we’re really back to what we were. But there is a hunger out there—people are excited for the day they can go to concerts again.

JH: We’re seeing people who’ve dedicated their lives to this industry being made redundant or going bankrupt. The independent promoters and managers need industry support—we need to support each other. We hope the independent venues can survive this. The U.K. was running short on venues as it was. The artists who were about to have “their year,” we hope they can ride it out and still have their year but in 2021 or 2022. So much work is involved in getting to that point, and it’s such a shame to see artists lose their momentum. I do think it’s been a great opportunity for us to stop, reflect and be more creative, take advantage of the time to think about what direction the artist needs to go in, what’s been working, what hasn’t. In some sense we’re speaking to people properly, with attention, for the first time in years. You can get caught in trying to do the deal and move onto the next one. In the last six months, though, I’ve reached out and spoken with all my peers and reconnected with my industry network.

MM: It’s definitely hard out there. However, once we can put shows on again, I see a huge demand—the industry will grow because even people who wouldn’t usually go to concerts will start to take it up. And I see positives in the revenue-stream models for artists on touring thanks to the implementation of technology; we will generate income from touring in the future as usual, but we will also have a public that is open to consuming digital content as part of that tour, meaning the tour can be streamed in other cities, virtual meet-and-greets and other experiences can be sold, and so on. Hopefully, these new models will allow artists and their teams and crews to generate enough income to factor in some kind of financial buffer so that if this were to happen again, the live industry would be able to take the hit a bit more easily.

ES: We have yet to see the long-term damage of the pandemic, but the depressed economy will undoubtedly affect people’s ability to buy tickets, and the practicalities of putting on a show will completely change. Safety concerns, insurance, etc., are going to lead to more expense for promoters, which in turn will impact artist deals, making touring that much more costly. It’s likely to mean the loss of smaller independent promoters and events as they are suffering a huge financial loss this year. I try to remind myself that with change comes opportunity, and there will surely be new players to emerge across all areas of the industry in the wake of the crisis.

When do you see the realistic return of live events?
JH: Everything in my artists’ diaries for this year has been moved to 2021. The only shows happening now are the last-minute socially distanced ones. But it changes week to week. Nobody would have predicted in January 2020 how different the world would look now, and much could change come January 2021. I’d like to say we’re seeing some normalization of shows happening from March 2021, when we are out of the winter months. But if promoters can guarantee safety through rapid testing, then who’s to say it couldn’t happen faster? I think what’s most important is we don’t rush back in at the risk of people’s health. We need to regain the confidence of the punters. 

MM: With the timing of a vaccine uncertain, we can only speculate. My personal thought is that summer in Europe will happen next year. What that actually looks like, however, is anyone’s guess; I believe festivals will go ahead, but will they be allowed to work to full capacity? What regulations will be in place? We will have to wait and see. My main concern at the moment is what’s going on in the U.S. and how American artists coming over will impact Europe, in terms of feeling comfortable flying and being able to cross borders smoothly. Again, though, I’m hopeful progress will be made by the top of next year and summer 2021 in Europe will be a reality!

ES: The vaccine will certainly play a major role in restoring artist and ticket-buyer confidence in live music. Outside of the U.K., each market has its own ecosystem and it’s possible that many territories are unlikely to open up to international artists for some time.

Whats the most exciting development you see happening right now?
PM: Virtual festivals. I don’t see them being a replacement for the real thing—festivals are about the audience and the energy—but I see there is a place for them, especially if you wanted to debut some sort of show, for example. They put together Tomorrowland’s virtual festival in what I think was three months. Usually, it takes a year or two to plan. And although not every live stream is interesting—if you’ve watched someone DJing in their living room, it’s not exciting—but I’ve seen artists integrating cool visuals and playing live in interesting places. So I think that’s quite exciting. 

JH: The possibility of the virtual. What Tomorrowland did was really mind-blowing. While the virtual world will never replace the excitement you feel at a live concert, it’s reaching a wider audience who may be too young or feel too old to go to the club or simply would prefer to enjoy watching the concert in the comfort of their own living room. The latest iteration of this idea has been floating around for some time, but it’s not had the opportunity to develop into something real until now. We will continue to see a rise in these platforms until people feel safe heading back to a sweaty club and perhaps thereafter. 

MM: I am a big fan of innovation and excited to see artists and my peers dive deep into tech and open the doors to their wildest creative ideas. With tech where it is now, even a new artist can create an imaginative experience for their audience. On top of that, I’m super-excited about the paradigm shift toward paying for digital content, which is so necessary to protect our artists, their teams and their hard-working crews. Could this moment for the live industry be something like what the dawn of iTunes and streaming was for the recorded industry?

ES: In January Lizzo was announced as the first female headliner for Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in the U.S. and we saw Primavera Barcelona achieve a 50/50 gender-balanced lineup. This is a great step forward for women in music, and the demand for females on the lineup in turn supports the growth of female artists from the grassroots. That is exciting.

What are your ambitions heading into 2021 and beyond?
PM: Needless to say, I’d love to get back to booking tours and going to shows and resuming the life we had. I had album touring planned this year for artists like ApasheDigitalismJoyryde, Krewella and Tokimonsta, so I hope next year we can resume those plans. I also hope I can reschedule all the amazing festival shows I had planned. Many of my acts have been using their time off the road to work on new albums and develop live shows, so once events can begin again, they will be ready. I’d also like to get a haircut!

JH: I’ve heard some of the music our artists have been working on and it’s game-changing—they’ve have the opportunity to be solely in the studio. We’re now planning things for 2022, which means we have the time to be more creative. We signed ALOK at the beginning of the year, so finally being able to get our teeth stuck into that … and for Meduza to get their moment at all the festivals … Bristol-based Cousn has got a string of releases coming … I think in the short term we will be looking at more domestic touring, and hopefully that will strengthen the domestic club scene.

MM: I’m lucky to work with some incredible talent and can’t wait to see them all take further steps forward. I’ll be encouraging them to break the rules creatively as we enter a new state of live music. On a personal level, I just want to be the best sounding board for my artists and teams, give them as much information and context as possible and push them to innovate and challenge themselves. You can definitely expect me to keep experimenting with content and new models, some of which will be revealed soon.

ES: In 2019 the live business was stronger than ever and I’m excited to get back to that place. There’s no doubt we will see Lizzo return to headline festival stages in Europe, and I’m excited for breaking artist Gayle—she’s incredible live and we’re expecting big things.

U.K. MEET THE MANAGERS
12/1/20

Despite the enormous challenges brought on by the halt of touring this year, the four managers we chat with below remain upbeat and forward-looking. There’s talk of innovation in deal structures, a closer connection among team members and new heights of creativity from artists.

Charlie Owen manages Sony singer/songwriter Joy Crookes, who was nominated for the BRITs Rising Star Award this year and came in fourth in the BBC Sound of 2020 poll. She’s topped the U.K. Asian Music Chart twice. Having worked with Owen for eight years, Crookes is in the process of finishing her debut album. Owen started her career booking bands while at university, then moved into management after a two-year stint at live agency UTA

NQ CEO Michael Adex launched his Universal-backed management firm/record label/publishing company in 2017 to develop talent from his native Manchester (NQ stands for “Northern Quarterz”). His management roster includes rapper Aitch, who last year hit #3 on the U.K. Albums Chart with his AitcH20 EP, released via a licensing deal with Sony. He followed that up in May with a #7 berth for the NQ-issued Polaris. Adex, who spent his late teens touring with various musician friends, also manages Columbia rapper Mastermind.

Chris Melian handles singer/songwriter Beabadoobee for the management company All on Red, where he’s been working closely with owner Jamie Oborne since 2018. A BRITs Rising Star and BBC Sound of 2020 nominee, Beabadoobee hit #8 on the U.K. charts with her debut album, Fake It Flowers, in October. Melian started out scouting for Nick Worthington at 679 Recordings, then moved into publishing at Trevor Horn’s Perfect Songs. He began in management at Maverick, later joining Oborne’s label Dirty Hit and then All on Red. He also looks after alternative R&B singer AMA and pop/R&B artist Kasai

Red Light Management’s Jess Lord shepherds the careers of Ivor Novello Rising Star award-winner Mysie and producer Flood. She also co-manages, with James SandomPunctualDelilah MontaguMuzz and Interpol and helps out with Belle and Sebastian. Lord got her start as a production/label assistant at 14th Floor Records, thereafter moving into the company’s management division as a day-to-day manager before signing on to Warner Music U.K. and later, Nostromo Management. Lord came to Red Light in 2014, beginning in a day-to-day capacity, then co-managing and more recently, taking on her own clients. 


How do you see the coronavirus crisis impacting the music industry long-term and manage-ment specifically?
Charlie Owen: Artists that exist more on the Internet and across DSPs could really flourish long-term. But if touring is a significant part of an artist’s income, as it is for so many, it’s going to be another very uncertain 12 months. It depends on where your artist is in their career and what kind of release you’re looking at, but in general, the pandemic breeds uncertainty. We’re seeing a lot of innovation coming from managers, but nothing can properly replace gigs.

Michael Adex: We’ve had to push projects back because there’s no point putting out something we’ve been working on for three years and not be able to tour it. Artists are having to rethink how they make money if they’re in deals where they’re not earning much from royalties and live was really keeping them afloat. They’re looking at different deal structures and ways of putting out music because a lot of listening depends on being outside the home; we’ve seen statistics showing how listening initially went down because people were indoors, rather than out and about listening with their friends in the park or while driving.

Chris Melian: We’ve found our flow working digitally—we live in a digital space and that allows us to move forward, for which we’re very grateful. But of course I worry about the live industry, the touring musicians and crews and venues. There are historical places threatened with closure. Some are already closing. The same goes with music publications and magazines, a lot of which were already struggling. I just hope people can stay strong. Perhaps this off time will help us, when we do get back to shows and proper concerts, appreciate how lucky we are to all be in a room together. Can you imagine what those first shows or festivals will feel like? 

Jess Lord: A key impact I see is the longevity of a campaign; where many artists could release music and then tour it for a year to 18 months or longer, that’s been erased. The challenge lies in how to extend the lifespan of your release and keep fans engaged. Of course, financially that has huge ramifications, too. Though it’s been interesting to see how artists are finding ways to navigate these obstacles with live streams, online meet-and-greets ... Some have truly managed to connect. That said, when the time is right, I believe the live business will bounce back and leap forward. 

How are you and your artists adapting to the new normal?
CO: We’re taking advantage of plans being pushed back and using the time to focus on the record and make it the absolute best it can be. Joy has had more time to write and develop as a producer, which has been incredibly valuable. Some brilliant tracks have been written over lockdown, music we are really excited to share with everyone. I think in this new normal everyone has become more attuned to checking in with each other and in some ways our team feels more connected than ever, which I understand sounds counterintuitive but is a welcome silver lining to the last nine months. 

MA: We’re looking at brand and merchandise deals. We’re actually looking at purchasing a merchandise company and setting up our own, internal operation to support our artists even more. I think that in the U.K., especially in the urban community, merchandise hasn’t been adequately utilized because of how music is released now, which is mainly single by single. But there are a lot of big singles that could benefit from merch. 

CM: The pandemic came out of nowhere; no one was prepared. So I’d say these are difficult times even for the strongest people I know—but at least we’re all in it together. Though we’ve somewhat adjusted, it’s times like these when you find out what you’re really made of. It’s made us realize how fragile we are, how delicate things can be. But we have to make it work, and there’s a lot we can do to stay creative and productive. If we can look at it that way … if that becomes the focus … we’ll have something to show for this when we’re out the other side. 

JL: After the initial period of shock, everyone’s adapted really well, particularly in terms of writing and creating. A lot of the “noise” has been turned down and opportunity has opened up—for some artists, for the first time since their debut releases—to really focus on the music itself.

What is the most exciting development you see happening in the business right now?
CO: The increase in online engagement and how people have utilized that has been really exciting to watch. There has been some great direct-to-fan interaction, some really interesting live streams and standout moments, like the ticketed, geo-locked live Laura Marling performance streamed from the Union Chapel. The Fortnite Icon Series is just so, so clever, genuinely innovative. Over 12 million people watched the Travis Scott set live.

MA: The opportunities internationally are what’s most exciting for me. Different markets have opened up, like Australia, where there are very heavy listeners of U.K. and international music. The collaborations happening among international artists are very exciting, too, and the opportunities to take music to different regions. Though one of the goals of our company is to also really impact the national scene. This year, during lockdown, an act from Nottingham, Young T & Bugsey, had a Billboard Hot 100 entry, which I haven’t seen from a U.K. rap act while I’ve been working in the industry.

CM: The strength of and support for BLM, women’s rights and the LGBTQ communities.

JL: I’m encouraged by the move away from genre designations. That transition has been happening for a while, but it seems increasingly true that an audience cares more about culture and authenticity than what the music is labeled, and that creates freedom for artists to experiment and push boundaries. Artists are speaking out against being pigeonholed—they’re bypassing arbitrary categories to make the music they want to make.

How do you see the role of a manager evolving over the coming years?
CO: Managers will have to be more creative and flexible, better prepared to react. I think the trend of managers operating outside of the traditional sphere, offering services that a label would typically provide, will accelerate. The independent sector will continue to go from strength to strength, with more people and companies facilitating successful independent releases. That said, I don’t think one type of manager negates another type of manager; I just think the ways a manager’s role can be interpreted will expand even further. 

MA: Managers are definitely more like labels nowadays, taking on a lot more responsibility. Outside of the financial backing a label provides, a lot of the stuff they do you can do yourself.

Social media has made marketing and distribution easier, for instance. If you want to get to the top of the music industry, you need an experienced team, but it’s about the team; it’s not about being signed to a specific label. I think the traditional role of the label is slowly but surely becoming obsolete. You can see it in the deals labels are having to resort to, paying obscene sums for singles that aren’t worth it to maintain marketshare. So managers are creating more of their own structures, being more innovative in how deals are done with artists, getting a bigger slice of the pie—managers do more now so they should be rewarded for that.

JL: The role is ever-evolving, and it’s not just about responsibilities; it’s about opportunities—understanding new technologies and being at the forefront of using them to “release, promote and enhance performance.”

Whats coming up that we should keep an eye out for?
MA: Definitely Mastermind and Ayo Britain—they have a very unique sound I feel will really resonate with U.S. culture. Beyond that, my main aim is to innovate, create opportunities, meet new people and keep my ear to the streets for developments. I’m also focused on building real estate in the regional areas, seeing them develop, and looking at how we can collaborate more in the European market. And I want to do festivals!

CM: Dirty Hit has opened an office in Los Angeles with an eye toward expanding the management and label roster and moving stateside. We’re looking to grow the artists we manage, from Beabadoobee releasing her album to Kasai releasing her first EP and building new U.S. signings like Bryce Hase and Pretty Sick. It’s the next chapter for us, and I’m committed to finding the next connecting points and surprising people with our new generation of artists and campaigns.

JL: I’m excited by interesting collaborations. With the unrivaled focus we can have on creation, now feels like the perfect time to get artists, producers, songwriters and creators to work together freely. Travel’s either out the window or unreliable, and geography’s been reduced to a time zone. So much can be achieved at the moment by those who are open-minded.

HEAT IS ON AT STREAMING INQUIRY
12/1/20

Artists fear reprisals from labels and streaming services for giving evidence to a British Government committee, which has led to the chair of the inquiry issuing a warning against anyone punishing witnesses.

DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP said today that he’s been told that “some of the people interested in speaking to us have become reluctant to do so because they fear action may be taken against them if they speak in public.”

The statement doesn’t specify who’s being threatened by whom, but songwriter Tom Gray—a key witness in the inquiry—tells us via social media that potential artist witnesses fear being blacklisted by streaming services and losing the support of their labels.

…Read more

U.K. MIDWEEKS: BARLOW'S BOUNTY
11/30/20

Gary Barlow is heading toward claiming his third solo #1 on the U.K.’s Official Albums chart with Music Played By Humans (Polydor). Over on singles, Liam Gallagher looks set to claim the highest new entry.

At the midweek point, the former Take That leader sits 4,300 chart sales ahead of Steps  What the Future Holds (BMG) at #2. 

The most-streamed album of the week so far is Miley Cyrus’ Plastic Hearts (RCA), which starts at #4. Also looking to secure new entries in this week’s Top 10 are Spandau Ballet’s retrospective, 40 Years–The Greatest Hits (Parlophone) at #6, and hits collection, Singled Out (BMG), from Welsh singer Shakin’ Stevens at #8. 

Following her Studio 2054 livestream concert and the release of its Bonus Edition, Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia (Warner Records) rockets 18 places to #11. 

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GOV'T EASES VENUE RULES
11/30/20

Following lobbying from the live music industry, the British Government will allow grassroots music venues in England to sell alcohol at ticketed live shows beginning Wednesday. Initially, post-lockdown restrictions banned venues from selling alcohol without food.

Alongside the Live Music Industry Venues and Entertainment Group, (LIVE), Music Venue Trust warned the Government that the new rules, announced last week, would mean grassroots music venues would be unable to deliver economically viable events, with 65% of their income coming from wet sales. Originally, guidelines stated that alcohol could only be served as part of a “substantial” meal but MVT argued that 92% of venues do not have the necessary facilities to fulfil that criteria.  

“We are delighted that we have been listened to and that guidance has been issued that makes it clear that ticketed events at grassroots music venues can go ahead in Tier 2 with alcohol on sale,” Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Dayvd said. “It makes a direct difference to the number of shows that can be delivered and is a significant step forward in the campaign to revive live music and reopen every venue safely."

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0207 DEF JAM SIGNS STORMZY
11/30/20

Stormzy and the 0207 Def Jam team gathered in London with a beaming Sir Lucian Grainge beamed in via video to celebrate his signing with 0207 Def Jam. Pictured, from left, are Stormzy’s manager Tobe Onwuka, 0207 Def Jam Co-President Alec Boateng, UMG Chairman & CEO Grainge, 0207 Def Jam Co-President Alex Boateng and Universal Music UK Chairman & CEO David Joseph.

British rap superstar Stormzy has signed to newly launched UMG U.K. label 0207 Def Jam, exiting his deal with Atlantic. He follows the A&R who worked closely with him at WarnerAlec Boateng

Stormzy is the first artist to join 0207 Def Jam and rumors have been swirling around his arrival at the label for months. Label co-President Boateng was an integral part of Stormzy’s signing to Atlantic, where he was then A&R Director, at the beginning of 2018.  

Under that deal, Stormzy hit the top of the U.K. albums chart with his second album, Heavy is the Head, in December last year. He also hit #1 with his debut, Gang Signs & Prayer, which was distributed via ADA, in 2017. In addition, he’s a three-time BRIT Award-winner and headlined Friday night at Glastonbury in 2019.   

The signing is a big coup for both UMG and Boateng alongside his fellow co-President and twin, Alex Boateng, who are focused on bringing British music talent to the world. 

U.K. CLASS OF 2020: INDEPENDENTS
11/30/20




Singer/songwriter Beabadoobee has made inroads at radio, via streaming and in live performance with her take on ’90s indie pop and tenacious spirit. A BRITs Rising Star Award and BBC Sound of 2020 nominee, she was also recognized this year with NME’s Radar Award.

She signed to Dirty Hit and sister management company All on Red at the age of 18, after her song “Coffee” began generating thousands of plays. Informs manager Chris Melian: “We knew Bea was special from our first meeting. We’ve let her lead and just facilitated what she wanted to do creatively. She had only been playing guitar for a year before signing, but she’s prolific and has a lot to say. She moves fast and is surefooted.”

She moves SO fast that within 12 months, Beabadoobee had written and released three EPs and her debut album, Fake It Flowers, which hit #8 on the U.K.’s Official Albums Chart in October. She plans to continue putting out new music and otherwise remaining active until she’s able to support Flowers on tour. “We’d also like to focus on collaborations into next year,” adds Melian.•


Rapper (and professional boxer) KSI has spent the last 10 years building up a highly successful YouTube business with comedy and music videos, which helped lead him to BMG. He signed a global recording and publishing partnership with the company’s L.A. operation in 2019, reaching #2 on the U.K. album chart with his debut, Dissimulation, in June. The album is the biggest-selling debut of the year so far in Blighty, with more than 60k in sales, 93% of which were digital.

“It was a huge victory for KSI and an incredible testament to the work of my colleagues in L.A. and London and KSI’s management team,” says Gemma Reilly-Hammond, BMG VP of Marketing in the U.K. “He is a unique talent in so many areas—a truly 21st-century entertainer.” On the occasion of signing KSI, BMG SVP of Recorded Music Brian Shafton said, “His passion is music, but as an artist, he seems to achieve everything he sets his mind to. He has global appeal, and together with BMG’s global network, he’s now able to get his music heard by millions around the world.”

In addition to his debut, KSI has enjoyed multiple charting singles this year, including “Houdini” f/Swarmz & Tion Wayne, which hit #6 in May and has reached more than 200k in sales. Most recently, he was featured on Nathan Dawe’s #3 hit “Lighter,” also spending time at #3 with “Really Love” f/Craig David and Digital Farm. “Down Like That,” with Rick Ross, Lil Baby and S-X, and “Wake Up Call” f/Trippie Redd, meanwhile, were Top 20.•