Chairman/CEO Sony Music U.K. and Ireland Jason Iley Lays It Out

There’s been talk this year about the lack of breakthrough U.K. acts and stagnancy of the charts. What’s your response to that, and how do we
measure success going forward
Unfortunately, across the industry, I’m not sure we have released good enough new records this year. I hear a lot of A&R execs blaming streaming for the lack of breakthrough artists—if the records were good enough, they would be streamed. So I’m not sure we’ve actually “lost” any new acts this year as a result of streaming. ZAYN’s “PILLOWTALK” (RCA) and Little Mix’s “Shout Out to My Ex” (SYCO) proved that point; they bucked that trend, and they both went straight to #1. These records were good enough. With the right songs and the right campaign, you can still have hits. Going forward, Sony Music is going to continue to break new acts, such as Rag’N’Bone Man (Columbia) who is having a hit in pretty much every European territory—the “simple” reason being that he is an incredible artist, with great songs.

Sony U.K. has undergone a staff overhaul recently. What’s your vision for the company, and how do your new hires tie into that?
The vision for the company is exactly what it has been for the past few years: to invest in the best A&R executive teams, and to continue to invest in great artists. That’s why we have brought Ferdy Unger-Hamilton across; he has an amazing track record for breaking artists and developing talent. We’ve also partnered up with Black Butter, who have been having enormous success with Zara Larsson whilst building their label, as well as Insanity Records, who have recently had a #1 album with Craig David. That’s also why we invested in Ministry of Sound Records. We believe in Dave Dollimore and Dipesh Palmer as two of the best A&R executives in the industry. They bring with them some incredible artists, such as Sigala and London Grammar, as well as new acts such as Louis Berry and Moss Kena.

How positive do you feel about the future of the British music business and why?
I feel hugely positive about the British music industry. Sony’s charts are currently incredibly strong. We’re investing in new artists and execs, and the streaming landscape looks positive for artists and the whole music industry. On top of that, British artists like Calvin Harris, Adele and Mark Ronson are selling records on a global level. So I’m not sure what
there is to be miserable about!