Rising Star is our monthly column in which we meet the industry’s brightest new talents. Here, David O’Sullivan, head A&R manager at NQ, talks us through his music business journey so far…
“As we are a small team, it’s a great, fast-paced environment. I’ve gone from making cups of tea to being given lots of responsibility early on in my career, including leading on important campaigns, which has been a rewarding process. Adex is an inspiring mentor and I wouldn’t be in the position I am today without him. Working with him and the NQ team pushes me every day to perform at the highest level.”
A&R is one of the most competitive areas of the industry, why did you choose it?
“The main reason I wanted to become an A&R was the process of helping artists to grow from the ground up and contribute to their musical direction. It’s probably the most competitive area in the business, but that’s what makes it enjoyable, it challenges you to be the best at what you do, and you can’t take your foot off the gas. A great A&R is someone who has the patience to allow an artist to grow, as not everything takes off overnight. It’s a complicated process, so being there to guide artists through it is vital. Ultimately, we’re here to facilitate an artist’s vision as they produce the art people enjoy. Sometimes, if decisions don’t make sense, it’s about believing in their judgement and taking that risk.”
So far, you’ve signed acts like Jordan and Kenzo Str8Drop. How did you get those deals across the line and what can we expect from the roster at NQ?
“The power of Instagram DMs! That’s how I got in contact with both artists. However, for me, the important thing when signing artists is to have a productive working relationship and to understand each other as people. Building that bond with Jordan and Kenzo was vital! We have a really exciting 2023 roster, keeping our core of nurturing home-grown Northern talent, but also expanding internationally as we are now working with French and Nigerian artists.”
What does the rest of the UK need to know about the music industry in Manchester?
“One thing that goes under the radar is the DIY mentality the city has towards getting jobs done and coming together. The city is growing rapidly with the likes of Adex giving people like me and other A&Rs the opportunity to enter the industry, which helps find talent and build infrastructure. Manchester has a wealth of talented and hard-working artists that you will see breaking through in 2023.”
Lastly, what’s your biggest ambition?
“To continue developing artists and provide opportunities to them and upcoming professionals and, eventually, to run my own label. I demand the best from myself and am picking up all the knowledge I can. Whatever stage you’re at, you can always learn more. I’m at the very start...”
DAVID’S RECOMMENDED TRACK: Tunde – Loaf Man