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Blighty Beat

Helmed by father and son Roy and Sam Eldridge, UROK counts British pop superstar Jess Glynne on its roster alongside national treasure Liam Gallagher and exciting developing talent Jade Bird. The company celebrated a second #1 album from Glynne toward the end of last year, which brought her chart-topping singles tally up to seven, making her the first British female solo artist to achieve that feat. The success was followed up with a pivotal performance of her track “Thursday” at February’s BRITs, where she took a stand against unrealistic beauty standards and championed female empowerment by removing her makeup on stage alongside a group of women.

After a summer of festivals, and a support slot on the Spice World Tour, Glynne is now starting the development process for her third record on Atlantic. Expect new music to be released across the next nine months. “We really want to emphasise the scale that she’s reached, and use that to broaden out her points of reference and take risks in terms of our single choices and collaborators, and have some fun with that,” says Sam Eldridge.

Warner Records signing Liam Gallagher has transitioned from his former life as part of Oasis and Beady Eye into a bona fide solo act following the release of his #1 debut last year, which was followed up by second album, Why Me? Why Not., in September. It reached #1 on the U.K.’s Official Albums Charts, and UROK hope to build on that with a bigger international presence. Working with Gallagher’s manager (and partner), Debbie Gwyther, has been a particular highlight for Sam and Roy, who tell us that the “instructive” relationship is indicative of the way they want to build UROK going forward—empowering and supporting great people to run their own campaigns and businesses.

Discussing his ambitions for UROK, Roy says: “We just want to be the best at what we do that we possibly can be. We want to encourage our young partners to grow and develop, and grow and develop their artists, provide a brilliant service and support network for very talented artists to achieve whatever ambitions they have.” Which is why they teamed up with Anne-Marie and Gracey manager Jazz Sherman, who launched her own Hunger imprint under UROK toward the end of last year. Sherman joins other independent managers brought into the UROK fold, including Becky Richardson, radio promoter and co-founder of all-female radio station foundation.fm, who looks after developing London duo Babeheaven and alternative-pop band Flyte, and Jasmine Srih, who reps young rapper Keyah/Blue and DJ collective BBZ under her Obscura firm. 

Discussing the wider reasons behind the UROK business philosophy, Sam explains: “We don’t want to be taking on huge amounts of manager partners, but I think the ones we have are consistently providing something different and adding to the environment here at UROK. Management can be a lonely business, and having people that you can talk to who can provide infrastructure to make sure you are operating at your absolute best, and learning and developing, is what we really try to aspire to provide; that’s definitely the philosophy within the company at the moment. Something that is important to me is to be constantly challenged. In a music business that is always shifting, [it’s essential] to have people who are seeing those different ways in which that can happen, and communicating that back to you and challenging your, perhaps, ‘older’ ideas as to how things should work. Sometimes it’s about running with that, and sometimes it’s about pushing back. But that open dialogue is something that’s very important to us.”

When it comes to developing acts, Jade Bird, whom UROK signed to Glassnote and is looked after by Chris Kasa, “really exemplifies the kind of artist-development process that we want to be our focus,” says Sam. “As someone who we trusted 100% to write her own record, she’s very much a singular vision of how a 21-year-old young woman wants to present herself. It’s been really satisfying to work with Glassnote and look at that worldwide campaign from New York. From a touring perspective, it’s always so important to have an economy of scale. That disparity of where you’re playing arenas in one country and playing clubs in another is always very difficult for artists, and it’s great to work with a label where we’ve seen that consistent development across all platforms at the same level. I think it’s incredibly reassuring to the artist when they’re going around the world and seeing it growing at the same sort of level everywhere. It’s providing her with an amazing base for the future.” After hitting #10 on the U.K.’s Official Albums Chart with her debut in April, Bird took to the road in the autumn.

It hasn’t been the most fruitful time for breaking new British acts over the last few years—are there any market changes that could help make that easier? “One of the things that I like about the U.S. is that there are so many ways to market, whether it’s this radio station, that radio station, that online platform, a live plot, whatever it might be, it feels like there are lots of ways to grow your audience,” Sam answers. “In the U.K., I’d just like to see that something doesn’t get crushed at the first sign of success. I think our radio structure is not as conducive to [developing artists] as it could be.

“I’d like to see records being allowed to sit on playlists at a certain level for a while, and grow and let the artist become more and more familiar to the audience,” he continues. “Or even just go, ‘It’s too early for that’—because I think through playlisting, touring and social media, you can build a really powerful audience. Obviously, that’s not true of every pop artist; they need that super injection sometimes, but I think for other artists it’s about seeing it grow naturally, and that can take some time. But, similarly, when something feels like it’s really going, then backing it 100%. I do think everyone is learning that, though; we’re just trying to recalibrate.”