‘Music is supernatural, that’s why I take my job so seriously.’


There’s a brand new UK main label on the town. Not a sub-label; not an imprint. A completely-fledged, frontline, precedence file firm at Universal Music Group. 0207 Def Jam is being run by co-Presidents Alec and Alex Boateng – who occur to be twin siblings. Right here, within the second of two interviews with the UK music {industry}’s most influential twins, we meet Alec Boateng. He explains why he selected 0207 Def Jam and Universal Music UK – and why his whole life has been getting ready him for this second…


Alec Boateng believes deeply within the energy of music. A person of religion, he says that “there isn’t far more essential” in life than songs – and that, for him, they’re even in some way “tied right into a deeper goal”.

Clearly, this isn’t a person who obtained into A&R only for the factors.

The (literal) stage of reverence Boateng has for music helps clarify the startling stage of success the 30-something has already racked up in his profession within the British music {industry}.

Previous to launching 0207 Def Jam with brother Alex Boateng earlier this 12 months, Alec spent over seven years at Atlantic Records UK, working intently with stars similar to Jess Glynne, Burna Boy and Rita Ora. It was throughout his tenure at Atlantic that Boateng befriended Stormzy, and have become the celebrity British MC’s trusted A&R wingman – on each the landmark independently-released 2017 debut album, Gang Indicators & Prayer, and its 2019 follow-up, Heavy Is The Head. Each comfortably went Platinum.

Boateng gained a UK A&R Award in 2019 for his work with modern black British music, an achievement voted for by his friends. (Alec’s tenure at Atlantic additionally pulled him into the controversy surrounding the exit of his boss, Ben Cook, that very same 12 months – one thing we get into under.)

Previous to becoming a member of Atlantic in 2013, Boateng ran a profitable impartial – Ranges Ent – together with his now sadly departed pal, Richard Antwi. The duo developed expertise together with Wretch 32 (in a JV with Ministry of Sound) whereas working with acts together with Popcaan and Gyptian.

Boateng started his profession in-house at Ministry Of Sound, having made his identify by compiling and releasing the Break up Mic EP in 2004, that includes a wealth of premier British MCs. (That mixtape not solely landed Alec his first label job, but additionally led to him being employed as a presenter on BBC Radio 1Xtra, the place he would proceed to work for the subsequent 16 years.)

At this time, at 0207 Def Jam, Boateng is assembling a roster that already includes Stormzy (for that much-anticipated third album) alongside different up-and-coming expertise. The label’s A&R philosophy, Boateng insists, might be constructed on “timeless music [and] artists that matter”. And similar to his brother, he’s feeling assured that success will comply with.

As he explains in our interview under, nevertheless, Alec’s rise by means of the UK {industry} wasn’t at all times a fairytale. In attempting to get black British music prioritised inside industrial organisations, he says, he confronted barrier after barrier. The precise form of barrier, actually, that 0207 Def Jam is tailored to destroy…


Let’s return to the beginning: What do you assume are the defining issues out of your childhood that also outline the way you deal with individuals, and method enterprise?

Religion is the massive factor, and the way that provides me an ethical code. Should you’re fortunate sufficient to work within the music enterprise, then in my humble opinion you need to solely be in it to serve different individuals – to serve artists, primarily.

There isn’t a lot in life that’s extra essential than music. Individuals listening to artists’ artwork is crucial, and carrying that in the absolute best situation to the viewers’s ears… that’s an incredible job, an actual duty, and it’s one thing we have now to do properly.

“you’re fortunate sufficient to work within the music enterprise, then in my humble opinion you need to solely be in it to serve different individuals.”

I’ve at all times had an emotional connection to the worth and energy of music.

A few of it’s tied right into a deeper goal factor. As life adjustments and also you lose individuals, typically while you take a look at what stays, it’s only a track or a lyric that pushes a particular emotional button solely music can.


Typically music can truly set off reminiscences that you simply weren’t even conscious existed.

It’s supernatural. That’s why I take my job so severely – one thing I’d contribute, being even a small a part of a track, it lives without end. That blows my thoughts.



What have been you going to be if none of this ever occurred?

I used to be freakishly good at maths at college. So I assumed I’d do accounting, perhaps enterprise, one thing in that space. I took a 12 months out earlier than uni, and began a job working for EMAP, which was the house of Kiss [FM, a dance-led UK radio network]. I assumed that not directly, that might carry me nearer to a correct radio station, however I used to be within the accounts division. I lasted two weeks earlier than I fell asleep and obtained escorted out the constructing [laughs].

Then I went to uni, and had this concept of placing collectively a compilation. My older brother went to varsity with Wiley and Goal. And in my space, a boy I grew up with, Dizzee Rascal, was blowing up. Main Ace, RIP, was actually the primary garage-into-grime celebrity from our space. I used to go spherical his home, ask him a great deal of questions on bookings and MC tradition. He was the primary MC I requested to be on the [Split Mic] mixtape.

Then I went to the native council and gave it: ‘Ah, all us youngsters are bored and want someplace to go. Can I’ve some funding for a studio?’ And by way of a Prince’s Belief scheme I obtained £1,800 for studio and CD prices. We then obtained all these [MCs] out and in for recording classes, after which went spherical London accumulating extra freestyles [for Split Mic] from individuals who knew individuals.


Break up Mic blew up after it was launched in 2004, throughout your first 12 months of college. How did you get from there to A&R?

We did a bit [on Split Mic] in ID Journal. I left my e mail within the article, and 5 or 6 A&Rs contacted me. Two individuals who helped me on the time have been these photographers who documented grime tradition, Tim and Barry. Tim was good mates with a man referred to as Richard Antwi, and mentioned: ‘This man’s a lawyer, you need to go and see what recommendation he has for you.’

I went to satisfy Wealthy and we clicked straight away. And from that second on, he was at all times accessible, at all times constant, at all times supportive. Wealthy defined there was a man at Ministry who was very within the tradition of storage and dirt, and that was Ben Cook dinner.

“Wealthy was at all times accessible, at all times constant, at all times supportive.”

Wealthy additionally launched me to Glyn [Aikins], Darcus [Beese], Dan Stacey and others. I went to all these conferences and obtained requested 100 questions and requested a couple of of my very own again, after which I went to satisfy Ben. And he was like: If you need a job, I’ll provide you with a job, however you’ve obtained to drop out of uni as a result of this isn’t a part-time factor.


You are taking that job and start moonlighting as a BBC Radio 1Xtra presenter a month later. How do issues find yourself for you at Ministry?

In 2006/2007, I obtained referred to as right into a room at Ministry and advised: ‘Now we have to alter your job.’ It was defined to me that the world I existed in now not had worth on the firm.

My position was modified to this consultancy factor; it was solely a few months later I realised that was all truly a redundancy course of.


That’s a tricky break for somebody who give up college to dive into that job a 12 months earlier than.

It was, nevertheless it taught me numerous issues. Considered one of them being that who and what I’m comes with conditional love on this aspect of the music {industry}.

“It taught me that who and what I’m comes with conditional love on this aspect of the music {industry}.”

I realised: ‘Being black, being from this world, has a sure sort of worth solely when there’s an economic system round it. I’m going to must trip that practice, as a result of there’s no consistency right here. There’s no security web.’

I used to be 23 and had solely seen a handful of people that regarded like me make a ‘file label job’ work.


What was your psychological response to that Ministry rejection?

I nonetheless believed I used to be good at my job, and I nonetheless liked music. And to be honest to Ministry, they have been by no means an artist-led label on the time.

I’ve since found that the {industry} is lined with the corpses of people that have been in my scenario, who couldn’t maintain on to [their label jobs] by means of drum & bass, or storage, or grime – regardless of the scorching sound was on the time.

After Ministry, I began consulting at Sony Publishing. That got here by means of Matt Chalk who’s a pressure of nature and an incredible technical A&R who I learnt an enormous quantity from. Kind of the primary file I introduced in [to Sony] was Rihanna’s Umbrella.

I shortly learnt how one can examine unpublished information, and after I heard the Umbrella demo, I phoned the supervisor of Kuk Harrell in Atlanta, and found [Harrell was unsigned and] had a share of the file.



So that you’re a junior UK publishing A&R marketing consultant, who discovers and brings in a share of one of many greatest information on the planet. Have been you conscious of how seismic that was?

No I wasn’t. Not till Rak [Sanghvi, then Sony Publishing UK boss] threw a celebration celebrating the signing. Just a few years later Rak and Matt Chalk took me to the Groucho and gave me a plaque. And it was a bit like, ‘Yeah, I imply, cool. However I solely obtained about a couple of hundred kilos for a couple of months of labor.’

I didn’t take any of it personally; I used to be there to scout, and that’s what I did.

I didn’t take any of it personally; I used to be there to scout, and that’s what I did. And different good issues occurred: I met Ed Howard who labored there, who’s a cool man and we clearly reconnected at Atlantic afterward.


After that have at Sony, how did you keep within the sport?

I used to be nonetheless DJ’ing and presenting exhibits on 1Xtra, and I nonetheless had this £500 [per month] consultancy with Ministry.

I used to be hanging in there as a result of I used to be slowly creating this woman referred to as Sadie Ama. I obtained a superb demo of hers referred to as Fallin on the Radio 1 playlist, I obtained her within the 2007 BBC Sound Of… ballot. Matt Chalk helped me out a bit together with her however no-one else at Ministry referred to as me again for a few 12 months.

At many factors Richard [Antwi] dedicated to me present. He at all times picked up the cellphone and at all times made the time to assist me how and the place he may, even by means of private {and professional} points.

Due to that I really feel like Wealthy performed the largest position in my {industry} profession. I wouldn’t have stayed within the sport if it wasn’t for him.


Was anybody else serving to you round this time?

Salaam Remi. I barely keep in mind how I linked to him; if something, it will’ve been by means of my pal Amber Davis [then working at EMI Music Publishing]. However he gave me wonderful recommendation that I’ve at all times carried.

And Cameron McVey; he won’t even keep in mind me, however he made time for a session and it blew me away. I couldn’t consider I obtained certainly one of my favourite producers of all time in Salaam and one of many UK’s most profitable songwriters, Cameron, along with this artist [Sadie Ama]. That in itself gave me confidence.


How did you and Richard then staff up as companions at Ranges?

Wealthy was a G, and all of us regarded as much as him. Within the credit of Adele’s debut album she writes: ‘Due to Wealthy for spreading the phrase from earlier than the start.’ And Richard was the start of so many issues.

It was so essential for me to see somebody, particularly as a black man, who may choose up the cellphone and discover a method to hook up with execs, artists, or producers… and even have these individuals returning his calls! A day with Wealthy may begin with a gathering with the top of a label, right into a lunch with an artist, to assembly up later to go to a grime rave, then leaving that grime rave to go to Stone Love vs. Bass Odyssey within the hood. After which we’d stand up early the subsequent day to work and go once more.

“I used to be like: ‘Wealthy, mate, I ain’t obtained a job. In fact I need to be concerned!’”

Wealthy mentioned to me someday: ‘I need to begin one thing new. I don’t consider you may simply be a administration firm, or only a label, or only a publishing firm on this new {industry}. I’m going to name it Ranges; do you need to get entangled?’ And I used to be like: ‘Wealthy, mate, I ain’t obtained a job. In fact I need to be concerned!’

Then we signed a JV with Man [Moot] at EMI for our [Levels] publishing firm, and I used to be again on a wage.


What was the primary massive breakthrough second at Ranges?

One of many first issues we revealed was Sporting My Rolex, by Wiley (2008) – which was the file that kicked off the assumption that British black music may have hits on this technology. The man who produced it, Bless Beats, is a pal of mine from my space. He got here to our little Ranges workplace with Wiley to play it to me the day after they made it. And I went: Oh my gosh, that is huge.

At the moment Ranges solely had a publishing and administration firm, not a label. [Boateng says he set up a meeting between Asylum, Bless Beats and Wiley, with a view to releasing the record as a Levels/Asylum JV. In the end, it was a No.2 hit… on Asylum.]

Round a 12 months later, I get a name from Lohan [Presencer] at Ministry, and he says: ‘We actually need to get again into information.’ That dialog finally spun right into a JV with Ranges, and our first signing was Wretch 32, who was my favorite MC.

Wretch was and is greater than a rapper – he’s an artist, a songwriter, a superb performer and extra. He was being managed by the wonderful Zeon Richards. The primary file we made collectively was Traktor, Wretch’s breakout hit, and we signed it to Ministry [via the JV] in July 2009 for £15k.



Wretch went on to have chart-topping hits, and Ranges was a profitable enterprise. Why did you in the end determine to maneuver into the world of main labels at Atlantic?

One factor occurred that modified quite a bit for me. That 12 months [2011, when Wretch 32 had three Top 5 hits and a Gold album] I mentioned to Lohan: ‘It’s going to be wonderful when Wretch will get nominated for the Brits.’ And he laughed. He mentioned: ‘Alec, primary: We’re impartial. And quantity two: Wretch is a rapper. It ain’t gonna occur.’

I didn’t see that as a criticism – he was giving me the tough actuality. However it made me assume: ‘I don’t need to work with artists who’re pretty much as good as this, and never have them celebrated as a lot as they deserve due to the scenario they’re in. I’ve obtained to go perceive this main label factor.’

I assumed: ‘The following time I meet an artist who I consider is as nice as Wretch, in no matter I’m in a position to present, there are going to be no limitations.’ So it’s humorous how proficient and related Wretch was to one of many subsequent formidable artists I met not lengthy after [Stormzy].


So how do you find yourself at Atlantic?

One of many individuals who made me need to go to Atlantic was Ed [Sheeran], who I’d recognized for some time – he even stayed on my couch in 2009. Being round Ed, after which him signing to the one that gave me my first job [Ben Cook, who was at this point at Asylum/Atlantic], was fascinating.

Ed was one of many first pop artists I’d seen actually perceive the artistic worth of the black music scene. He knew that his relationships with Sian [Anderson], with JME, with Sway, with P Cash, enabled him so as to add experience, and to be embraced in what was then probably the most potent and thrilling world in UK music.

“I don’t consider Ed Sheeran turns into Ed Sheeran with out what the black music scene gave him.”

I don’t consider Ed Sheeran turns into Ed Sheeran with out what the black music scene gave him. You may say he acknowledged and recognised the worth of that [era’s] black British tradition earlier than any of the labels did. None of that takes something away from Ed’s expertise, by the best way, which is phenomenal.

I ended up becoming a member of Atlantic in Might/June 2013; Max [Lousada] employed me, giving me my first main label job. One of many first artist conferences I had was Jess [Glynne]. It was me, her, Sam [Eldridge], and Max, and we have been there for a few hours, speaking about music, producers, voices and many others. All of us actually hit it off.


There was a fast run of success for Jess: Her options with Clear Bandit, Route 94, and Tinie Tempah all hit No.1.

It was mad. Jess was an assistant for Kwame Kwaten at ATC not tremendous lengthy earlier than the [Clean Bandit track was released]. She’d by no means even performed a correct headline stay present. We at Atlantic have been sitting there wanting like geniuses!

However for each Briony [Turner] and I there was strain to take care of the success. There was strain on Jess too, to [develop] a stay present, a profile, and to change into an actual artist proposition. She labored her arse off to get there. Sam [Eldridge] was good, giving her the liberty and safety to be herself, which the UK music {industry} on the label aspect hasn’t at all times excelled at, particularly with feminine artists.

Max was at all times concerned from the beginning, and Briony is an excellent A&R, so I knew together with her and I working collectively the music was going to be nice from that perspective.



The Stormzy story was attention-grabbing as a result of that groundbreaking debut album in 2017 was fully impartial, however within the background, you have been pulling A&R strings – together with introducing him to Frazer T Smith.

I got here throughout Stormz in late 2013. Somebody tweeted a video of him at like 2am: this pressing, hood, humorous, cheeky MC with chilly flows jumped out and I used to be like, ‘Who the hell is that this?!’

First time I met him, he walked into Atlantic, and we had this free-flowing dialog about music and life which went on for hours. Stormz liked Wretch as an artist, and he was asking a great deal of questions on Wretch’s course of, songs, producers, constructions, studios, engineers, ideas.

He additionally requested me a great deal of questions on Ed [Sheeran], and advised me he had all these wonderful concepts for songs he needs to make someday – certainly one of which was Blinded By Your Grace.


When do you know he was particular?

I don’t know anybody extra in love with music than Stormz.

He’s undeniably an incredible MC, a star, and he was at all times going to change into an incredible author. However one factor actually stands out. Stormz had a mini-tour occurring, and I went to the Manchester present which was at Gorilla. He was nice however the present was a bit untidy, as a result of Stormz had a DJ and a band, and he was attempting to hop between the 2 – a really formidable thought for somebody at that stage of their profession.

I had a practice to catch again to London, however I missed it, as a result of Stormz mentioned he’d converse to me after he’d spoken to his tour supervisor in regards to the present. I swear he sat with that man for 2 and a half hours, speaking intensely about how they have been going to repair the present and make it nice.

I knew that if he utilized that seriousness to all areas of his profession – which he did and does – his expertise would do the remaining and he’d go all the best way.



Didn’t you concentrate on signing him to Atlantic Information?

Yeah, nevertheless it was very apparent as soon as Stormz’s good pal, the super-smart Tobe [Onwuka], began managing him that they’d an entire new perspective in the direction of the standard music {industry}, and have been constructing a enterprise [#Merky] themselves.

In some ways Stormzy’s debut album popping out on Atlantic would’ve obtained in the best way of that.


Is it right that you simply launched Stormzy to Ed Sheeran?

First I obtained him along with Wretch in 2014 on a remix of a Jacob Banks monitor. And after that Wretch was like: ‘That’s the man proper there. He’s obtained it.’ Stormz himself would be the first to say how essential Wretch’s existence has been in his profession.

Just a few months later Ed messaged me and was like, ‘I heard you signed Stormzy.’ And I used to be like, ‘Nah. However you two ought to defo join.’ We tried to rearrange a time for them to satisfy up however Ed was away, however some time later [Sheeran] was again from one thing and messaged: ‘Carry him to my home?’

We frolicked and people two simply fell in love. As completely different as they appear to be, they’re kindred spirits and share so many human qualities.


Whenever you have been serving to Stormzy with A&R on an impartial debut album, did you realise that you simply have been immediately serving to create a venture that was a menace to the market energy of the most important labels? Wasn’t that conflicting?

Sure and no. No, as a result of I’ve at all times understood my job to be nurturing artists – that my service is to the artwork. If [major labels] don’t present a wedding the artist wants, that doesn’t fully cease my job. And I’d be mendacity if I didn’t assume [the relationship might eventually benefit] Atlantic, as a result of Stormz was and is a vastly formidable artist.

“Everybody who mentioned Stormzy couldn’t do it with out them was mistaken. He was proper.”

Stormzy had the chance to make his debut album as his greatest self, in the best scenario, independently, and everybody benefited from that.

I’ve learnt extra from Stormzy and Tobe about the way forward for music than I’ve learnt from your complete ‘skilled’ music {industry}, to be sincere. And what in the end ended up occurring off the again of all of that was his Glastonbury headline efficiency – after one album!

Everybody who mentioned Stormzy couldn’t do it with out them was mistaken. He was proper.


Stormzy did, in fact, finally signal to Atlantic Information UK for his second album by way of a #Merky JV. At that time, with you as a rising A&R star, Atlantic had by no means regarded nearer to black British music. After which the Ben Cook dinner factor occurred. Earlier than we get into that, how did you charge Ben as an A&R through the time you labored with him?

Once I gained the A&R Award [in 2019], I couldn’t settle for it with out thanking Ben. I actually worth A&R, so anybody who’s good at it, I maintain extremely. Ben understands, and may apply, the job of A&R higher than anybody – by way of figuring out when an album’s incomplete, what wants an edit, if one thing’s under-produced. And he can establish stars. By way of osmosis, I learnt quite a bit about A&R by being round him, each at Ministry and Atlantic.



Let’s discuss his exit from Warner and Atlantic. How did that play out out of your perspective?

There was an image, a screenshot, of Ben at this get together years earlier than that somebody had proven to fellow members of workers, and people members of workers have been understandably very upset.

There was numerous dialogue and the method went on for some time with many twists and turns, till Ben lastly misplaced his job [in October 2019].

“In hindsight there are numerous methods it may’ve been dealt with higher.”

It was a tough environment, with the potential of the image simply popping up wherever. Truthful play to these [employees] who have been affected, all of us nonetheless managed to get our heads down and ship for the artists whereas this was occurring.

In hindsight there are numerous methods it may’ve been dealt with higher, and a few apologies have been made [to the Atlantic team] for that.

Was the Ben factor the primary race difficulty [in the UK music business] that wanted motion? Positively not. Was it the primary one I’ve seen undergo a disciplinary course of? Sure.


It’s been almost two years because it occurred. Wanting again, what are your ideas on all of it?

I’m disenchanted on the reality it wasn’t the teachable second it may’ve been. Had that occurred, there might even have been the chance Ben may nonetheless be in his job.

A label boss dressing in blackface as a tribute to his favorite artist was actually clumsy, and the lack of expertise of the offensiveness and racist historical past [of blackface] was the deeper downside. Blackness shouldn’t be a commodity; it’s individuals’s proud actuality. It’s my proud actuality.

“I’m disenchanted on the reality it wasn’t the teachable second it may’ve been. Had that occurred, there might even have been the chance Ben may nonetheless be in his job.”

In my humble opinion, the industry-wide nervousness round speaking about race and race points was an enormous think about how the Ben factor all performed out.

That’s a lot clearer to see in a post-George Floyd world – submit the black squares and the funds. We should always all simply speak and hear extra!

What helps with these discussions is having extra [diverse groups] of individuals in all rooms. We are able to see numerous constructive change throughout the entire {industry} within the brief time since [2018]. Had that been the case again then, it might need allowed the Ben scenario to be dealt with in another way.


You converse for nobody however your self. However do you see a method again for Ben Cook dinner within the mainstream music {industry}?

In fact. Nobody on earth shouldn’t be going to need forgiveness for one thing someday.

I spoke to Ben about what occurred on the time and we obtained previous that specific difficulty – he’s a human being who did one thing silly. I feel the world can transfer on from it.

“Nobody on earth shouldn’t be going to need forgiveness for one thing someday.”

It’s the courtroom of regulation and God that make the judgements that matter. I’m studying that we shouldn’t base an excessive amount of on anything in between by way of how we deal with individuals who make errors.


You left Atlantic shortly in spite of everything of that, and have been revealed earlier this 12 months because the co-President of 0207 Def Jam. The setup there provides you the liberty to largely focus your time on A&R. It’s typically mentioned that being promoted to the only President of a label can hurt the power of good A&R individuals to proceed to zone in on their greatest talent, as a result of they’re distracted by all the operational stuff.

Fully; I’ve seen it occur to individuals I do know properly. I knew I needed to form my subsequent transfer round what I’m greatest at – and I additionally had to verify I wasn’t getting used as ‘the black PR answer’ to any conditions. I’m fortunate that I learnt many nice issues from the perfect within the enterprise, in each division, at Atlantic.

Placing apart among the points there – which, by the best way, weren’t and aren’t distinctive to Atlantic – so many individuals at that firm have been simply actually good at their job. I’ll always remember watching the [Ed Sheeran] Multiply marketing campaign from the start; it was like, bloody hell – this can be a navy operation!

Now, as 0207 Def Jam, we’re the latest main label. Some may assume that comes with a sure stage of strain, however I don’t purchase into that: I actually consider we’re solely pretty much as good as our artists and their music. And our artists are nice, so if we are able to be sure that they’re working at their greatest, we could have success.


How did you tempt Stormzy over to 0207 Def Jam?

It was similar to, ‘Let’s stick with it.’

I sat Stormz and Tobe down and advised them what was occurring, and so they simply cracked up. They have been like, ‘You’re daring, mate!’ After which it was, ‘That is chilly; let’s do it.’

That was one dialog, we perhaps spoke about it a couple of times after. The legal professionals did their factor after which a couple of months later it’s us, Alex, Lucian [Grainge] and David [Joseph] within the signing photo.

Stormzy’s obtained the identical ambition now as he had all that point in the past once I first met him. What’s most essential to fulfilling that ambition is the music, the artwork. That does 90% of the work. And that’s in the end the case with all of the campaigns I’ve ever seen do properly on this {industry}.


You’re leaping into enterprise with Common Music UK boss David Joseph with 0207 Def Jam. Why do you assume that relationship will work?

I at all times admired the best way David believed in Alex [Boateng] and inspired and empowered him every time they interacted. The issues Alex heard from David, that stage of perception, I by no means heard about myself within the firms I labored for.

All you hear about Common from the surface is how aggressive it’s, the way it’s dog-eat-dog. When individuals at Atlantic and Warner discovered I used to be going, they might say: ‘You’ll hate it there! They [the Universal labels] attempt to kill one another!’ And it’s like, properly, my twin brother has been there 10 years, and he’s managed to outlive it and keep sane. So perhaps I’ll be okay [laughs]?

“When individuals at Atlantic and Warner discovered I used to be going to Common, they might say: ‘You’ll hate it there! They [the Universal labels] attempt to kill one another!’ And it’s like, properly, my twin brother has been there 10 years, and he’s managed to outlive it and keep sane. So perhaps I’ll be okay?!”

One massive factor for me was after Glastonbury [2019], David [Joseph] despatched Stormzy a handwritten letter, very heartfelt and human, thanking him and congratulating him on this massively essential cultural second. He included a print of a file they’d each been speaking about months earlier than on the Brits.

I do know now for a incontrovertible fact that David thought Stormzy was in a long-term cope with Atlantic when he did that. He simply did it to recognise the achievement, and I actually revered it.



What do you positively not need 0207 Def Jam to be?

I simply need to do our greatest to deal with individuals properly. To be void of among the ego-led method that may include main label life.

The extent of self-importance on this enterprise is loopy typically; I’ve actually seen artists arguing with executives on the cellphone about what position they’ve every performed in that artist’s personal profession.

“The extent of self-importance on this enterprise is loopy typically; I’ve actually seen artists arguing with executives on the cellphone about what position they’ve every performed in that artist’s personal profession.”

That’s mad. I get it, although: I feel numerous that’s to do with environments at main labels creating paranoia or anxiousness in workers members, who really feel they must current their worth, on a regular basis, to whoever their boss is. The type of management we need to construct places no worth on that sort of environment.

For our staff it’s like, please don’t hold telling all people what you probably did on a venture, or why you’re so good at your job – show it, do it. Let’s actually add worth. We’re going to be small and intimate sufficient as a staff to have the ability to know that stuff anyway, particularly from the best way the artists really feel about our enter.


Above anything, what do you need to obtain with the label?

Timeless music, artists that matter, and the concept that individuals preferred us present. That’s it.

And… I’m looking for the best approach to say this. And to do it with out being a knob. There. I do know it’s the music {industry}, however you actually, actually don’t must be a knob.


This article originally appeared in the Q2 2021 issue of MBW’s premium quarterly publication, Music Business UK (pictured), which is out now.

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