interviews

JLS target streaming breakthrough as reunion boosts live business

Modest! Management’s Sarah Gallagher has told Music Week that the JLS comeback has “surpassed everyone’s expectations”. The boy band have returned after eight years with a new album for BMG and a tour promoted by SJM, which launched at The ...

Rising Star: Producer CeeBeaats

The industry's brightest new talents tell their stories. This month it's the turn of producer CeeBeaats... What first led you to making beats? “My mum inspired me to make beats and sparked my interest in production from the age of 9. She’s a singer, songwriter and producer. I was always intrigued by her basslines and infectious melodies, which I incorporate into my own music today. I also grew up around a lot of music that has inspired me from the era of the ’70s all the way to the 2000s with artists and producers such as Timbaland, Scott Storch, DJ Premier, J Dilla, Brandy, Mase, The Whispers, 112 and lots more.” How would you describe your journey to this point? How straightforward has it been? “I’ve actually found my journey to be such an amazing experience. My supporters have been nothing but loving and supportive of everything I do. Even when I’ve been in studio sessions with different artists and producers, they’ve been nothing but nice and treated me with respect, so I’ve enjoyed my journey so far. No journey’s ever smooth sailing but I wouldn’t change it for the world.” It’s already being said that you’re paving the way for female producers in the UK, how does it feel to hear things like that? And how important is the job you have to do? “Oh wow, I’m extremely honoured and grateful to know that it’s being said that I’m paving the way for female producers. From the very beginning of my career, it has been immensely important to me to inspire and motivate other women to make beats and be fearless. I also want women as well as men to know that they can do it too. It’s never too late!” It's immensely important to me to inspire and motivate other women to make beats and be fearless CeeBeaats Can you describe what you bring to the table as a producer? What’s your process?  “I’m very versatile as a producer. I produce different genres such as pop, Afrobeats, UK rap, drill, trap, R&B, hip-hop, Brazilian funk, lo-fi and more. My process as a producer is to make sure that the beat is infectious, unique and memorable. For example, when I co-produced Woi by Digga D, I wanted the melody to be catchy. I had the same intention when I produced the first beat in AJ Tracey’s Fire in the Booth, Part 3, and these are the combinations I use in all of my beats to make them distinctive and enjoyable.” Now you’re establishing yourself more and more in the business, what have you learned about the industry and what do you want to happen in the future? “I’ve learned that it’s okay to be unique and different and It’s good to experiment with your sounds and not be afraid to stand out. I’m so grateful that I’ve been accepted as a producer in this light. In the future, I want to work with more of my dream artists, have a plethora of the records I make go on to achieve platinum-selling status and to keep on being innovative and pushing boundaries.”  Browse the very latest music industry jobs on the Music Week jobs page.

Centre Stage: Mark Davyd

Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd’s monthly deep dive into live music’s biggest issues... I am writing this month’s column fresh off the back of the two incredible days of networking, community and engagement that made up this year’s Venues Day, the annual national gathering of grassroots music venues. The physical, in-person event at Earth Hackney was an astonishing affirmation of the strength and resilience of the sector. Over 700 delegates from more than 400 venues came together for the first time since the pandemic to share their stories of how they managed to survive. Eighty-three per cent of them had faced imminent permanent closure during the crisis, representing not just the loss of businesses and livelihoods but, in many cases, their life’s work, their passion, and even their homes. In the end (and yes, I know this may not yet be the end, but it’s certainly a better place than we have been since February 2020), less than a handful were actually closed. Of the 700 facing no future, only four were actually lost. To describe the atmosphere in that room as electric would be a massive understatement. There was huge sorrow, obviously, for people lost to the virus, for the awful but unavoidable decisions on staffing, friendships, partners, that many had to make to get through this crisis. But this was matched by the sense of a community that had done the right thing – for themselves, for each other, and for the towns and cities that value them so much. We have to take some radical steps to keep the sector healthy Mark Davyd Delegate after delegate stopped me to tell me how astonished they were to survive, how they had made it through, how grateful they were to be part of a live music community that truly values the impact that music has on all our lives. It was hugely cathartic. There was a real feeling of release in the room; that we were back, we had made it. And a deep appreciation that we had done that because of who we are, what drives us, and how that unites us. The reality is that our sector is emerging from this crisis carrying a level of debt never even possible to imagine for the grassroots sector – over £90 million in unpaid, and possibly unpayable, bills to landlords, service providers, loan companies. The fight to get the sector through this crisis may be over, but the fight to restabilise it and take it forward has only just begun. The UK has an almost unique asset in its grassroots music venues. It is one of the most extensive networks of touring in the world, almost entirely independently run, these days on a not-for-profit basis by people who just want to see the best new music in their communities. It supports the development of thousands of new artists every year, a vast conveyor belt of talent unmatched by almost any other country in the world. Our grassroots music network brings forward this incredible potential with almost no investment at all from the recorded and publishing industry that go on to turn it into world-beating and chart-dominating artists. Long gone are the days of tour support budgets and ticket buys. When the new and breaking act plays the first night of their first tour in Guildford, the artist and the venue are forming a partnership, taking a leap of faith with the audience and, hopefully, starting their long journey with a single step. Grassroots music venues sold £129m of tickets in 2019, a huge percentage of it to see acts nobody knows or likes. Well, not yet. To sell those tickets, venue operators invested £169m into live music, a £40m loss at the bottom of the talent pyramid to create a £5.2 billion industry at the top of it. The crisis hasn’t told us anything new about this sector, it has told us what we already knew. If we want to keep this sector, if we want it to become sustainable, resilient, to tackle issues like access, diversity, inclusion, climate change, we have to take some radical steps to keep it healthy. Our second event of Venues Day 2021 took place online, and it proposed real solutions to the practical challenges this sector faces. Simple ones achievable in the short term: an end to business rates, slash VAT on grassroots ticketing, a songwriter licensing system that is appropriate and works, a tax system that rewards research and development instead of punishing it. A long-term issue that won’t go away, and that we have to resolve to ensure we make our grassroots network the best in the world: taking ownership of the freehold of these venues so that they aren’t simply lost to development and gentrification. All of these things are achievable. They simply require the whole UK music industry to recognise the incredible value of what we have and genuinely get behind the sector. Not just with words but with actions. We have a world class £5.2bn per annum industry with a £40m a year problem. That’s just 0.7% of our total annual value. Or to look at it another way, 0.8% of the current market value assigned to Spotify. I believe we can solve these issues and emerge with a stronger grassroots sector. One that not only continues to supply the talent pipeline on which we rely, but actually improves conditions for the grassroots artists, staff and audiences that are investing their own time and money into our industry. Considering what we have to lose, and the tiny percentage of the value of our industry required to avoid that outcome, it would be incredibly foolish to sit on our hands and hope for the best. There is a bright future for the UK’s grassroots music venues – if we choose to make it.

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