This year will be my 32nd year in the UK music business. I have been fortunate to work with some amazing artists, to spend eighteen successful years within the corporate environment as well as nearly twelve years building and growing independent music companies. I have played in a band, scouted, signed artists, directed major label A&R departments, produced, executive produced and been a managing director of three large Record labels. I'm currently on the board of the BPI (British Phonographic Institute), the Brits Trust and chairman of the OCC (the Official Chart Company). I'm also non-exec director on three boards; Bloom FM (a new streaming service), Soundhalo (a new app that monetizes concert music) and Mission Productions (a studio-publishing production company). I'm also founding chairman of.
I was born in Highbury London in June 1960, my father was studying at the Royal College of Art from 1957-60, my mother was a model, I have an older sister Karen who was born in 1958, Dad ran the design centre in London in the swinging sixties and I grew up in Barnes, West London in a very creative environment with many artists, potters and designers constantly staying with us.
At the age of 12 we moved to a big Georgian rectory in the wilds of Cornwall where Dad was chairman of the English Crafts Council and a very successful jeweller and designer. We also had a big family retail business in Truro selling art and design furniture as well as household goods.
The household was very musical due to my Dad's love of everything from the Beatles to Pink Floyd and my Mum's love of Sinatra and Elvis Presley. My first live musical experiences were from the Edinburgh festival which we used to go to every year. George Melly and the Feet Warmers was my first concert at the age of nine followed by numerous military tattoos and various vaudeville artists. My older sister introduced me to Marc Bolan, David Bowie and Alice Cooper and my first proper gig was David Bowie at Earls Court on the opening night of the Ziggy Stardust tour, I also saw their last ever show at Hammersmith Odeon in 1973.
When we were in remote Cornwall I had little to do so I learnt to play the drums and immersed myself in music, regularly travelling to Plymouth, Bristol and London to see bands throughout my teens. My first festival was Reading in 1974 when I was fourteen, Hawkwind, Yes and Wishbone Ash were the headliners with a very young ACDC and Thin Lizzy on early in the afternoon. I saw Queen on their first ever tour in Plymouth, saw both 'Who' shows at Charlton football club in '74 and '76 and saw numerous other artists such as Led Zeppelin at Earls Court, Eric Clapton, Mott the Hoople and the Police in Penzance on their first ever UK tour.
In 1978 I went to Art College in Canterbury for three years gaining a BA degree in Architecture in the Summer of 1981. At college I joined a band as a drummer and continued to see as many artists live as possible, these included the Clash, Buzzcocks, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Talking Heads, Blondie and the Cure with Joy Division supporting.
Once we had all completed our degrees our college band 'The Thin Men' moved to London and tried to 'make it' professionally, we recorded demos for two major labels, various radio sessions for Radio 1 and had a couple of professional managers as well as playing numerous pub and college gigs, this band eventually broke up as the truth dawned on us that we just weren't good enough.
In spring 1982 and I joined a band called Zerra 1 who were signed to an independent label called Second Vision, we recorded numerous singles and had three top 10 indie hits and were regular support act for 'Echo and the Bunnymen' 'the Cure' 'U2' and 'Peter Gabriel' I left this band the following year due to 'musical differences.'
In January 1983 after nine hours of interviews I managed to get my first music job at RCA records as a talent scout, tape copier and chief coffee maker, my initial pay was £20 per week, luncheon vouchers and a bus pass.
During the next few years I worked hard and eventually had my first hit with a band called The 'Blow Monkeys' achieving a top 10 single in the UK, USA, Germany and Spain with a song called 'Digging Your Scene' as well as further hits across the UK and Europe with a song called 'It doesn't have to be this way'. Over a five-year career The Blow Monkeys had eleven top 40 hits and four gold albums with a double gold 'best of'.
In 1984 I became an A&R Manager for RCA Records where I signed 'Westworld' and had top 10 hits in the UK and Germany with 'Sonic Boom Boy'. Other signings around this time included 'Psychic TV' and Scottish band 'The Silencers' who went on to have two Gold albums in France with worldwide sales in excess of 800K.
In 1986 I was promoted to Senior A&R Manager at RCA Records and during this period was responsible for developing an 'alternative' roster within RCA. I signed The 'Primitives' who had a top 5 hit with 'Crash' in the UK and over a three year career they had 7 top 40 hits and sold over a million copies of their debut LP. I also signed the 'Wedding Present' and 'Pop Will Eat Itself' (PWEI) both bands regularly charted in the top 30 with occasional top 10 hits. PWEI inspired a whole generation of UK bands such as EMF and Jesus Jones as well as a very young Trent Reznor.
At this point I started working closely with The 'Eurythmics' co-coordinating the 'We too are one' album and overseeing The Anxious label deal with BMG. I liaised with Dave Stewart on all the Anxious music including developing the careers of London Beat who had a No 1 in 21 countries with “I've Been Thinking About You' and an alternative female fronted act called Curve. I also signed Caron Wheeler for a solo deal following her success with 'Soul to Soul' and recorded her debut album which had a top 10 hit in the UK with 'Living the Light' selling over 250,000 LP's.
After six years at RCA and at the age of 29 I was made Head of A&R for RCA Records with a staff of ten reporting to me and an £8 million a year budget. I worked under Managing Directors Lisa Anderson and John Preston with overall responsibility for 32 artists co-coordinating The Eurythmics 'Best of' and Annie Lennox's first solo album 'Diva', both became quadruple platinum in the UK. I personally signed Paul Oakenfold's 'Perfecto' label to BMG that had top 10 hits with Gary Clail and top 20 with Carl Cox. I also oversaw Rick Astley's last solo LP and helped bring Level 42 to the label as well as working closely with Deconstruction Records (Black Box, Guru Josh and N-Joi), I looked after Clannad and Eddie Reader from Fairground Attraction and the last deal that I sanctioned and negotiated for RCA was Take That.
After ten years at RCA I felt that I had achieved enough success for the corporation and wanted to personally own what I was creating and be fully in charge of how records are released so I eventually left and set up my own label Infectious Records. After a successful first year I negotiated a joint venture with the Australian company Mushroom Records which had had a lot of international success with Kylie and Jason and planned to launch a UK division of the company. In the early days the label secured territory by territory licensing deals with Pop Will Eat Itself and went from there to achieve considerable world-wide acclaim and several successful releases with Ash, My Vitriol, Symposium and Quench amongst others.
After three years of growth Infectious became a £5 million company and I was appointed Managing Director of Mushroom Records (UK) Ltd. In the first two years the company enjoyed huge success with several number one records, both singles and albums, from Peter Andre, Garbage and Ash. The company expanded its roster considerably with releases by several new signings including Muse.
Over a five year period my team and I grew the UK company into a £10 million business and in November 98 Mushroom and Infectious Records were both sold to Rupert Murdoch's News International in a deal done by the youngest brother James Murdoch. He amalgamated our group of companies with his own private independent hip hop label Rawkus records (Mos Def) and became my direct line boss for the next four years.
In an attempt to grow the business we also entered into other joint venture agreements with very different and distinctive labels such as perfecto records (Paul Oakenfold and his many varied projects), Ultimate Dilemma (run by a young Max Lousada and including the first Zero 7 album) as well as Fierce Panda (where we found and released the first singles by a new undiscovered band called Coldplay), Individually these imprints encompassed a diverse mixture of musical genres scheduled to take what was historically known as a pop label well into the Millennium.
During this time Garbage released their highly acclaimed third album 'Beautiful Garbage'. Ash achieved their first number one album, sold out a huge UK tour and had two top ten singles. Paul Oakenfold wrote and produced the big hit 'starry eyed surprise' as well as numerous big club records. Eventually after three years of solid artist development a young band I had personally signed when they were 17 finally crystalised into the successful band MUSE whose second album 'Origin of Symmetry' went platinum in the UK with sales in excess of 330, 000 and Zero 7's debut album 'Simple Things' sold 170,000 in the UK and a stunning 1.5 million worldwide.
After four years running a successful record company James Murdoch was promoted into News Corp properly and given star TV in Asia and then BSKYB to look after so Mushroom Records was put up for sale. I tried to buy it back from News Corp but had problems raising the £15 million pounds purchase price. Eventually in May 2003 Mushroom was bought by the CEO Roger Ames for Warner Music UK and absorbed into East West, a division of Warner's Brothers Records.
I was appointed Managing Director of East West Records in Spring 2003 and brought my independent company, all of the artists and all of the staff into East West Records. Within a matter of days we had signed The Darkness whose debut album sold 1.4 million in the UK and 5 million worldwide. 'Funeral for a Friend' were signed soon after and achieved very respectable sales of 100,000 in their first year of development and Blazing Squad had Two number one singles. Muse's third album went on the sell three million copies worldwide and the last artist to be personally signed under my regime was an unknown singer/songwriter called James Blunt. During this time we also changed the name of the company from East West to Atlantic Records, worked closely with Craig Kallman in Atlantic NY and credited with breaking international artists such as Sean Paul, Jet and the 'Smile' album by Brian Wilson.
In 2005 I was offered the chance to become the Managing Director of Warner Brother Records by Edgar Bronfman and Lyor Cohen. I brought with me the artists that I'd signed as teenagers i.e. Ash and Muse as well as Garbage, Timo Maas and the Nonesuch Label and looked forward to working alongside Tom Whalley.
In the first few years we had considerable success with international artists such as Madonna, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, My Chemical Romance, Green Day's 'American Idiot' album, Michael Buble, Josh Groban and Daniel Powter. Domestically we had success with the Streets, Muse, Garbage, New Order, and the Futureheads. I personally signed Gnarls Barkley who had a huge worldwide hit with the song 'Crazy' as well as signing artists such as Pendulum, The Enemy, The Foals and Seasick Steve.
Two personal highlights were signing the most successful Eurovision hit in the last ten years by a pop group called 'Schooch' as well being the executive producer and investor for the award winning film 'Control' the story of Joy Division and the suicide of Ian Curtis directed by Anton Corbijn.
I consistently delivered profits in excess of £20 million per annum during my seven years at Warner's and successfully ran a very busy release schedule supported by a strong staff of over 50 people. Having served two full terms on my contract and after various disagreements with strategy in the digital age I decided to leave Warner's in late 2008 for pastures new.
In January 2009 after spending a few months travelling in Europe and sailing off Africa I saw an amazing new band called The Temper Trap from Australia and found myself in a position to sign them and start a new independently financed record label. The first album sold a million copies worldwide and we own the Record, Touring and Merchandising rights. Infectious is now nearly five years old. We have six artists signed to the roster and these are alt-J, Local Natives, Drenge, These New Puritans, The Temper Trap and Cloud Control.
Last year alt-J won the Mercury Music Prize, were nominated for three Brit Awards and Infectious won the AIM 'Independent Label of the Year'. This year we're starting Contagious Music Publishing.
I live in West London, have three wonderful grown up children, two of whom are already in the business. I follow Chelsea football club, play tennis, golf, fish and go sailing. I take a keen interest in broader music industry matters. I've sat on many boards over the years and have been involved with The Brits Committee, AIM (Association of Independent Music) and the CSC (Chart Supervisory Committee) as well as the Brits Trust.