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Terra Firma and Guy fundamentally believe at the core of everything is A&R, music and artists. There is nothing without that.

GATFIELD TO EMI IN NICK OF TIME

Veteran Label Exec Given EMI A&R Reins by Hands

Music industry vet Nick Gatfield, newly named President of A&R Labels, North America and U.K., EMI Music, finds HITSRoy Trakin begging to duet with him on “Come On Eileen.”

Joining EMI brings you back to where you began your music business career in 1985.
I look at EMI as my music business DNA. I’ve always had affection for the company. When I sat down with Guy [Hands] and he articulated his vision, then you start looking at the assets of the company, the quality of the artists, as well as the key staff, and the opportunities are huge. EMI has already started addressing the issues in the music industry that everyone will eventually have to. They’re just doing it before these changes are forced on them.

How important is technology in terms of the music business' future?
I believe it’s massively important that you allow consumers to access music in whatever way they want to experience it. There has been a great deal of emotional reporting regarding the private equity acquisition of a music company—that its motivation doesn’t fit in with the ethos of a record label. Terra Firma and Guy fundamentally believe at the core of everything is A&R, music and artists. There is nothing without that. The delivery method of that music, allowing consumers to access it in many ways, is at the core of making the business as viable, strong and broad as it can be.

You were at the helm of Island U.K., breaking artists like Amy Winehouse and Mika worldwide.
Amy Winehouse is a good example of how the Internet empowered word of mouth, particularly in the U.S. There was a radio story in America, but not a massive one. It was a record that grew from a fervent digital campaign, phenomenal PR and then just took on a life of its own. It wasn’t driven by multiple hits but by a quality album. It’s absolutely raw and pure passion, something people relate to. Music generally reaches the U.K. consumer much faster than anywhere else in the world. More music is bought here by a larger percentage of the population, and it has a higher level of importance for the U.K. psyche. Extraordinary artists like Amy and Duffy are being broken out of the U.K. very quickly, but I can see the same process happening in the U.S.

What’s the first order of business when you start at EMI?
The first is instilling confidence in the existing artist roster, which is incredibly important, reassuring those stars that the new EMI is incredibly viable and music is at the heart of what we do, assuring that our artists are comfortable with the model, understand what it’s about and see its advantages. Of course, the second is bringing in new talent.

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