'Labels need to learn patience when it comes to rock acts': Raw Power on how to break heavy bands in 2018

Craig Jennings

What does it take to break a rock band in 2018? If anyone knows, it’s Raw Power, the powerhouse management/label group behind some of the biggest and loudest acts on the planet.

Raw Power management clients Bring Me The Horizon are on the cover of Music Week this week and look primed for a rare metal mainstream breakout with sixth album Amo (RCA) when it’s released on January 25, 2019.

Raw Power have got the band there through careful planning and steadily building a huge fanbase – almost uniquely, each BMTH album has sold more than its predecessor. Raw Power founder and CEO Craig Jennings is full of praise for Bring Me The Horizon’s label RCA, but he warned Music Week that such triumphs are becoming harder to achieve, as many labels demand short-term success.

“I would imagine there have been far more rock acts dropped by labels than signed by labels in the last five years,” said Jennings. “It’s interesting, because I’ve had a lot of major labels say to me that [Bring Me The Horizon] is the archetypal way to build a rock act. I’m very proud to hear that, but the bottom line is the band has been building for 10 years, initially with Julie [Weir] at Visible Noise.

“But if a major label had put out [2006 debut] Count Your Blessings, then [2008 follow-up] Suicide Season and [2010 third album] There Is A Hell, would they have kept going with the band at that point?” he added. “Probably not is the answer, and I think that shows you major labels need to learn patience, especially when it comes to rock acts.”

Bring Me The Horizon are also a rare UK success story in the US, where their latest two albums, 2013’s Sempiternal and 2015’s That’s The Spirit have both gone gold. And Raw Power director, BMTH co-manager and head of RPM US Matt Ash is confident there’s still plenty more to come for the band Stateside, where the band is released vis Columbia.

“It is a novelty being a priority for a major label in the states as a UK rock band,” said Ash. “I don’t think there are many others, Muse aside, that can get that kind of push. We’re striving to get to that level and I think we’ve got a good chance at doing it with the team that we have.”

Muse was a rare rock No.1 album in the UK this year but Raw Power continues to find success with a wide range of acts, from The Damned to Don Broco. And, despite rock’s well-documented problems with streaming – something Bring Me The Horizon themselves say could be solved by rock songwriters raising their game – Raw Power commercial director Don Jenkins told Music Week the tide could yet turn.

“A lot of this is about streaming and the level of streaming that is going on inside hip-hop versus rock,” said Jenkins. “You look at the numbers and it’s hard to argue. But rock bands are very solid in other business sectors and a lot of these things go in cycles. Rock has been underground for a while, but it only takes one massive campaign like Bring Me The Horizon to open everyone’s eyes up, then a few new bands come through and all of a sudden you’re into a different space. Rock never dies!”

Bring Me The Horizon wrap their UK arena tour tonight at London’s Alexandra Palace.

* To read the full story on Bring Me The Horizon and Raw Power, including interviews with the band, Jennings, Ash, Jenkins, RPM artist manager Rosie Jennings and RCA's David Dollimore, get your hands on this week’s print edition of Music Week or click here and here. To subscribe and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.

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