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A&R HEROES HONORED IN LONDON

The British A&R community was out in force for MBW's annual A&R Awards in London Tuesday, where Rob Stringer paid tribute to A&R Icon Simon Cowell and a number of rising and established stars were honored. But only after the crowd recovered from yet another “isolated incident”…

A rogue unwelcome guest momentarily disrupted proceedings after wandering into the dining room and causing a scene, prompting many jokes about Sony’s readiness for a safety scare (following the scuffle in their cafeteria last week) from Stringer. The Sony boss was there to honour Cowell with “one of the most well deserved awards in the history of the British music industry.”

Stringer started working with Cowell in 2006 when Sony merged with Bertelsmann.

“Everyone said to me, but Rob you’re from the era of Kill Your Friends, standing at the back of the Water Rats worrying about the C list at Radio 1 and whether the NME gave something a good review, instead of worrying about whether something was an absolute smash hit.

“So I met this wonderful man and I basically stood back and was the lucky recipient of hit after hit after hit after hit. These songs are pretty much the soundtrack of the last 30 years in Britain and all over the world as well.

“I was thrilled to be part of the process that brought this man enormous wealth, an enormous number of white T-shirts and an enormous number of flared pairs of Armani trousers. 

“I look around the room and see so many people who’ve benefited not just from the fact that Simon A&R’d hits, but also because he was the first person to use so many amazing writers around the world…. the sheer infrastructure of the recording industry that this man has influenced.” 

Cowell thanked everyone he’s worked with over the years, and, most notably, the three execs who restored his confidence after “the worst A&R meeting” of his life when his income for the previous quarter was a grand total of 0.

“I was lucky to find three people: Jeremy MarshNick Raymond and Mike McCormack. Nick said to me, Only put a record out Simon if it’s a hit. Mike said I was Gary Lineker—wait by the goalpost, don’t do too much work, just put it in the back of the net. And when I was whining about not being able to sign the Power Rangers because they couldn’t afford the plane ticket, Mike said, get on a fucking plane. 

“I mention that because it was about giving myself confidence—I can thank you guys for what happened in the past and then tonight I can thank everyone sitting on my table and the surrounding tables because they are the ones making the hits, not me.”

Cowell named the Syco team Anya JonesTyler Brown and Sonny Takhar (“who has decided to leave but will come back at some point, they always do”), and Stringer who “has never asked me for a business plan in his life.”

Atlantic Records won Major Label and Matt Healy from The 1975 presented his “noble” manager and label boss, Dirty Hit founder Jamie Oborne with the Sir George Martin gong. Other A&R winners included Joe Kentish of Warner Bros for pop/R&B;  hip-hop/grime went to Benny ScarrsJack Foster and artist Dave from NBR Hood; electronic dance to Mike Pickering & Julian Palmer from Columbia; alt/rock went to Charlie Christie and Theo Lalic from September Management; and the adult contemporary trophy was handed to Dominic Fyfe from Decca Classics. Rising star at Virgin EMI Lunick Bourgess was given the Trailblazer gong by boss Ted Cockle.

Publisher winners were Good Soldier and BMG; the management award went to UROK and indie label to Domino. Producer of the year was Steve Mac and songwriter was Camille Purcell.

 

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