Mercury Prize moments: Former winners on making the most out of the award

Mercury Prize moments: Former winners on making the most out of the award

Ahead of tonight’s (September 14) Mercury Prize award, Music Week has spoken to labels, managers and artists involved in four previous winning albums. Here they give their insight on how to make the most of taking the album prize…

Benjamin Clementine - At Least for Now - 2015
The singer’s Virgin EMI product manager, Gilbert Johnson, explains how Clementine’s distinctive croon triumphed over Wolf Alice and Florence + The Machine...
With the win, we went from selling a few hundred copies a week to 5,000 and we charted inside the Top 40. We’d been having a lot of conversations with media, but we didn’t milk it. We serviced another single, and we had our outdoor campaign running. The Mercury really helped in the US, it pushed the album over there. We didn’t chase any chart position on the first one, and [follow-up I Tell A Fly, out September 29] is exactly the same. He’s not a pop star just because he’s won a Mercury Prize, so why force it?

Alt-J - An Awesome Wave - 2012
Alt-rock boffins Alt-J are up for the 2017 prize. But five years ago they were unlikely winners, says manager Stephen Taverner…
The sales really kicked in after the ceremony, because that’s when people really listened to the album. The very next day I got up very early and starting ringing the record company and asking how much money they were going to up the marketing budget by. The label went for it big time. They were only a small independent at the time [Infectious has since been bought by BMG] and, as soon as we won it, they just went hell for leather and put their houses on it.

Klaxons - Myths of the Near Future - 2007
New ravers Klaxons were surprise winners in 2007, beating Amy Winehouse. Bassist Jamie Reynolds reveals what happened next…
The Mercury Prize has got a lot of respect, and people took us more seriously after it happened, particularly internationally. The change was on an eyebrow-raising level. We were like, We’ve won, that’s the cherry on the cake, let’s move on. Maybe we ended the campaign too soon, it was a slightly weird choice on our part. Perhaps we should have put out another single from the record and kept pushing it.

Suede - Suede - 1993
Britpop godfathers Suede won the second ever Mercury and started the tradition of giving the cheque to charity. Nude Records founder Saul Galpern tells all…
We did see a spike on the back of it, but maybe it wasn’t as enormous as people would imagine would happen. They were already a big music press band, but a lot of broadsheets and tabloids covered it. That helped. They became page three news, rather than page 25 in the music section. There was also a retail plot back then which there isn’t so much now. When we won it that definitely did help put it back front of store and front of rack.

To read the full accounts of each Mercury-winning album, subscribers can click here. To subscribe and never miss a big music biz story, click here

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