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STENNETT SHINES
AT LONDON AWARDS

First Access Entertainment boss Sarah Stennett gave an impassioned speech on the future of the music business at the Music Week Awards in London, while her extraordinary vision, strategy and tenacity was celebrated by a host of top tier execs.

Stennett, who founded Turn First in 2004, was honoured with the prestigious Strat at the Music Week Awards. (Rather disgracefully, she is the first woman to be given the gong in 30 years).

After an assortment of thank you’s, she addressed the future of the industry: “Through the hard financial years we’ve been suffering, I feel we’ve been less able to embrace the rebellious in a way that the music business always has. So perhaps we’ve ended up with a business that is a little less exciting, a little less rock and roll, with a little less individuality than we would probably like. 

“I’m really excited that the new optimism emerging in the music business is going to allow us to take new risks with spirited, talented and disruptive individuals who will help drive the business forward to new pastures and great heights.”

Doug MorrisMax HoleSteve BartelsMax LousadaPeter EdgeTom CorsonDarcus BeeseJason Iley and Mike McCormack offered words of praise in a video.

Len Blavatnik called Stennett “one of the most brilliant thinkers I’ve ever met–an overall remarkable woman … If I was to be reborn as a woman I would like to be Sarah Stennett… and I would like to point out that Lucian Grainge was knighted after receiving the same award she’s receiving.”

Said Stennett (pictured with Rita Ora at left): “To be the first woman in 30 years to receive this award is astonishing, especially in view of the fact that we're all so acutely aware of the enormous contribution women make to this business. May I be the first of many more.”

The power manager paid tribute to the many who’ve inspired and supported her career to date, including ZTT Records founder, the late Jill Sinclair, First Access' Cassandra Gracey, Chloe Roberts and Nadia Khan and her first business partner Paul Spraggon, with whom she co-founded law firm SSB. She saluted Grainge for “giving me the opportunity to spread my wings” and Morris for “believing in me on days I didn’t believe in myself.” 

Regarding Blavatnik, she said, “Thank you for becoming my business partner, and thank you for being so enormously generous with your time, experience and your contacts.”

In 2015, Stennett signed a new partnership with Blavatnik’s Access Industries and re-branded Turn First to First Access Entertainment. Since then, successes have included the solo launch of ZAYN, while new acts are Bebe Rexha, Lion Babe and Madison Beer.

Stennett closed with a note on how to do business better. “I think it’s important for us to embrace those people who think differently. In the noise and endless discussion around technology, platforms, streaming and marketshare, I feel that we have forgotten the importance of the people. It’s the people who are the heart of this business. 

 “Let’s support the young people. Let’s allow them to express themselves, let’s help guide them through their mistakes. To all the young people in the room who aren’t always able to express themselves in a room full of experienced executives, or who aren’t heard even if they do, and to all of us who are navigating the uncharted waters of a rapidly changing industry, I encourage you to be brave, to embrace your individuality and, in the words of my father, hang on in there.”

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