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ELTON ON FOR GRAMMY TRIBUTE. WHAT ABOUT THE BIG SHOW?
Wonderers are wondering. (12/15a)
G-EAZY, EM LAND
Damn. (12/15a)
LUIS FONSI ON "DESPACITO" DOMINATION
The Grammy nominee discusses his worldwide smash. (12/15a)
RAPINO TO RE-UP
His vision is 2022. (12/15a)
MORE GRAMMY SECRETS
The biz talks committee.
NOT PIZZA AGAIN!
Seriously, can we order something else?
A BIG FAT DEAL
With a gigantic check. Soon.
WE'RE ON TWITTER
You follow?
Blighty Beat
SPOTIFY CROWNS SHEERAN
12/5/17

Ed Sheeran is the king of Spotify in 2017 after being named most streamed artist globally and in his home country as well. Fellow WMG act Dua Lipa also scores high in the U.K., as do Little MixColdplay and Stormzy

Two British acts make the list of Top 5 most streamed artists in the U.K., with Atlantic star Sheeran at #1 and Little Mix (Syco) at #3. Drake is #2, Eminem #4 and The Weeknd #5. Similarly, when it comes to top females, Dua Lipa is the only Brit at #1, followed by RihannaAriana GrandeTaylor Swift and Beyoncé. On the list of top males, three U.S. acts are sandwiched between Sheeran at #1 and Calvin Harris at #5: Drake, Eminem and The Weeknd.

Sheeran also wins on the album and singles stakes, with “Shape of You” the top performing track and Divide the most popular album. The only indie act mentioned below is Stormzy, whose ADA-distributed debut, Gang Signs & Prayer (#Merky), is #4 on top albums with 123.3m streams to date.

Top Five Artists in the U.K.

  1. Ed Sheeran (Atlantic)
  2. Drake (Island)
  3. Little Mix (Syco)
  4. Eminem (UMG)
  5. The Weeknd (Island)

Top Five Females in the U.K.

  1. Dua Lipa (Warner Bros.)
  2. Rihanna (Virgin EMI)
  3. Ariana Grande (Island)
  4. Taylor Swift (Virgin EMI)
  5. Beyoncé (Sony)

Top Five Males in the U.K.

  1. Ed Sheeran
  2. Drake
  3. Eminem
  4. The Weeknd
  5. Calvin Harris (Columbia)

Top Five Groups in the U.K.

  1. Little Mix
  2. Coldplay (Parlophone)
  3. The Chainsmokers (Sony)
  4. Arctic Monkeys (Domino)
  5. Imagine Dragons (Polydor)

Top Five Tracks in the U.K.

  1. "Shape of You" Ed Sheeran
  2. "Despacito" remix by Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee f/Justin Bieber (Polydor)
  3. "Castle on the Hill" Ed Sheeran
  4. "Unforgettable" French Montana (Black Butter)
  5. "Galway Girl" Ed Sheeran

Top Five Albums in the U.K.

  1. Divide Ed Sheeran
  2. More Life Drake
  3. Starboy The Weeknd
  4. Gang Signs & Prayer Stormzy (#Merky)
  5. Ed Sheeran

Most streamed U.K. artists worldwide

  1. Ed Sheeran
  2. Coldplay
  3. Calvin Harris
  4. Dua Lipa
  5. ZAYN (RCA)

 

U.K. MIDWEEKS: SHEERAN BACK ON TOP
12/4/17

It's a battle between Atlantic and Syco on the U.K.'s Official Singles Chart this week with Ed Sheeran currently sitting at the top spot with a duet version of “Perfect” (Atlantic) f/Beyonce. Over on albums, U2 are heading for an 11th #1 with Songs of Experience (Island). 

Should “Perfect” hold on to its place, the track will bring Sheeran's total number of weeks at the top of the singles chart in 2017 to 15. After winning the X Factor Sunday, boyband Rak-Su released their debut charity single, “Dimelo” f/Wyclef Jean &Naughty Boy (Syco). It’s #1 at iTunes—will the track have cracked the Official Charts Top 10 by Friday?

... Read more

BRITS CRITICS HONOR JORJA SMITH
12/4/17

Rising British star Jorja Smith has been crowned winner of 2018’s BRITs Critics’ Choice Award, becoming the second indie artist to win. The accolade comes after an eventful year for the young singer who has collaborated and toured with Drake.

Smith released her debut EP, Project 11, in 2016, Vevo funded her video for early 2017 single “Beautiful Little Fools,” and she sang with Drake on “Get It Together” from his More Life playlist.

The award will be given at the BRITs nominations launch on 1/13.

... Read more

U.K. SPECIAL ISSUE: DARRYL WATTS
12/4/17

Interview by Rhian Jones

UMPG U.K. 
has had new leadership in Mike McCormack as MD for just over a year, during which time the company has signed hitmaker of the moment Steve Mac, as well as rising stars Harry Styles, Dua Lipa and Jonas Blue and writer Ed Drewett. McCormack credits his A&R team for the impressive roster, notably including Creative Director Darryl Watts, who’s been with the pubco for 17 years. Significant signings during his tenure include Johnny Marr’s share of The Smiths’ catalog, Joy Division’s catalog, New OrderBastilleYears & Years and pop writer/production trio TMS. He also looks after the day-to-day of Mac, who co-wrote Sheeran’s huge hit “Shape of You” as well as Top 10 songs for Clean BanditRita OraP!nk and Liam Payne, and was named Songwriter and Producer of the Year at the A&R Awards in November. Projects Watts is looking forward to launching over the next year include Rex Orange CountyDermot Kennedy and Frances, who has been writing with Meghan TrainorJess Glynne and SG Lewis. Mac, meanwhile, has been in sessions with Kodaline, Years & Years, Bastille, CHVRCHES and Jonas Blue.


What do you look for in new signings?
Even though the way in which people consume music has changed radically in the last few years, it’s still about voices and songs that resonate with the public. Add on to that charisma, work ethic and a decent manager and you’ve got a meaningful shot at a career.

What is the role of a publishing A&R in 2017?
As a publisher now, there are so many opportunities out there, whether that’s writers, artists or catalogs. The bar is that much higher song-wise than it was, because more than ever we’re competing with the rest of the world. So it’s harder to cut through, but the rewards are that much greater when you do.

Aside from increasing globalization, are there any other trends or developments in the U.K. music business you’ve noticed over the last year?
A lot of pure songwriters are now getting record deals. If people are looking at having global hits, then plainly they are going to go for people who can write global hits. We’ve got an artist called Grace Barker, who co-wrote Jonas Blue’s “By Your Side” and has recently signed a record deal with Polydor. It takes a special sort of writer to be able to do both, so to have someone like Grace is fantastic. 

Are you optimistic for the future of the U.K. music business?
By nature, you have to be an optimist to be an A&R person.

U.K. SPECIAL ISSUE: PHIL CHRISTIE
12/3/17

Interview by Rhian Jones

Since Phil Christie 
took the helm as President of Warner Bros. U.K., the exec has re-established former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher as a solo artist with one of the fastest-selling albums of the year, hit #1 with returning act Royal Blood and developed Dua Lipa into one of Britain’s hottest new pop artists. Christie was promoted after spending two years as Head of A&R at the Warner imprint. When announcing his new title, boss Max Lousada hailed the “inspiring executive” for his fresh perspective and deep respect for artistry. Christie was previously A&R Manager at Warner/Chappell, where he signed London GrammarBen Howard, Tom Odell and Royal Blood. New acts on the way from Warner Bros. next year include urban producer Steel Banglez, U.K. country artist Catherine McGrath and established electronic band Crystal Fighters, who will make their major-label debut. In addition, Brighton band The Magic Gang will release an album in April, and Christie is excited about the potential of young singer/songwriter Ten Tonnes. And look out for the return of Muse in 2018.


What is your strategy for Warner Bros.?
Aside from finding great artists and continuing to have hits, the main focus is to keep evolving the way we operate, put out records, market artists and have success. In a fast-changing landscape, it’s so important that you also change. If you’re static and repetitive, you’re in danger of falling behind. My main cultural ethos is to keep changing, carry on looking for new ideas and bring in new faces so that we keep the feel of the company young. 

What do you look for in new signings?
A voice that moves me, authenticity and great songs. Something I find myself coming back to is artists that have a strong sense of their own identity and personality in order to be authentic on social media, which is such an important part of how we are promoting artists. 


And Liam Gallagher is a prime example of that.
Yes, Liam absolutely has a sense of his own identity. He’d fallen out of people’s minds a bit, and our main role has been to remind people how entertaining he is and also how great his voice is when it’s paired with brilliant material. You could say that Liam was inactive after Beady Eye, but actually he’d built this amazing Twitter following and a rapport that was powerful and entertaining. 

His album was one of this year’s fastest sellers—what were the other factors behind that level of success?
As well as Oasis’ core fanbase, we were selling Liam to young people who haven’t been fans of Oasis or haven’t bought their records mainly due to age. That is reflected in the fact that his album was the fastest-streaming alternative rock record of all time in week one. The reason artists in the U.K. urban scene like Stormzy and Skepta were bigging him up was because they feel an affinity with the working-class-hero mentality that Liam represents. So it caught a bit of a moment. The record is good, so the reviews backed up the noise around him and gave people confidence that it was a great record to buy. 

Dua Lipa hit Top 5 with her debut earlier this year. What’s next for her?
There are still quite a lot of roads left in the campaign for her debut album. “New Rules” is only beginning to hit the states, so there are territories around the world where we have yet to peak with her. We’re using this debut album as a springboard to have a continued series of hits, and the opportunity to do it is huge because she’s now connecting on a global level. The goal is to make her into one of the biggest female pop artists in the world. 


In a fast-changing landscape, it’s so important that you also change. If you’re static and repetitive, you’re in danger of falling behind.


What challenges have you experienced in the U.K. music industry since you took the helm at Warner Bros.?
There is challenge and opportunity in how fast the business is changing since I took over—not only in terms of chart rules and the way that streaming has impacted the chart, but also in the way people consume music. We’ve moved to a consumption-based chart, and that is pretty significant.  It means we’ve had to work in a constantly evolving landscape. 

Where do you see the most exciting opportunities for artists and labels in future?
Visual content. We mustn’t forget the power of a traditional music video if it’s good, but the growth area is in short-form content and all that can be. We’re in the business of telling stories, and people are consuming music with visual. We need to be stronger in that space. 

What are your ambitions?
I want Warner Bros. to be synonymous with great music, great campaigns and significant artists. I want it to be a respected and innovative label.

POLYDOR RULES CRITICS' CHOICE SHORTLIST
11/29/17


UMG U.K.
label Polydor has two out of the three acts in the running for 2018 BRITs Critics’ Choice award with Mabel and Stefflon Don. Jorja Smith, who has self-released to date, is the third contender. The winner will be announced on 12/4.

...Read More

U.K. MIDWEEKS: GOTTA HAVE FAITH
11/20/17

Paloma Faith is eyeing her first U.K. Official Albums Chart #1 while a sales flash has pushed Morrissey's 11th album to #2 at the midweek mark. Rita Ora, meanwhile, is challenging Camila Cabello for #1 over at the Official Singles Chart.

Faith’s fourth album, The Architect (RCA), has a lead of 4,000 combined chart sales ahead of Morrissey's Low in High School (BMG). Our Generation, the debut SYCOalbum from Britain's Got Talent winner Tokio Myers, is sitting at #3. The new live album Wembley or Bust (RCA) from Jeff Lynne's ELO shines a little love at #5 right behind Sam Smith’s The Thrill Of It All (Capitol).

 ... Read more

KANO HEADS DOWNTOWN
11/17/17



Downtown Music Publishing
 has inked one of the founding fathers of the Grime genre, prominent U.K. songwriter/rapper Kano. Kano is the first signing to Downtown from Daniel Lloyd Jones, who joined the company in August as head of A&R in the U.K. 

Kano's Made in the Manor broke the Top Ten U.K. albums chart following its 2016 release and was nominated for a Mercury Music Prize. Along with future releases and collaborations, Manor is included in the publishing deal with Downtown. 

Kano is set to be featured again in series three of Top Boy, which Drake is executive producing, and will air on Netflix in 2019.