EMI leaders on the Music Week Awards win: 'A career highlight - utterly brilliant and very special'

EMI leaders on the Music Week Awards win: 'A career highlight - utterly brilliant and very special'

EMI triumphed in the Record Company category at the Music Week Awards – a big win for the label headed by co-presidents Rebecca Allen and Jo Charrington.

The victory at the sold-out ceremony reflected success in 2022, including No.1 singles for Lewis Capaldi, a global smash for Sam Smith, blockbuster sales for Taylor Swift, a debut album from Aitch, catalogue momentum for Queen and the huge hit for Elton John & Dua Lipa with Cold Heart, which continued its chart run.

Following the rebrand that brought back the EMI name as a frontline label, the new era truly arrived last year when Capitol merged with EMI in the UK – a move that also brought in Jo Charrington as co-president.

The label won the coveted Music Week Awards Record Company trophy on Wednesday (May 24), the day that Lewis Capaldi officially secured the fastest-selling album of 2023 so far with Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent (77,259 sales up to the end of Tuesday, according to the Official Charts Company). 

EMI was the No.1 label of 2022 based on OCC data, and it has so far maintained its market leadership in 2023. Just a few days ago, Music Week revealed a big signing that should significantly bolster that performance in Q4 – Take That.

EMI executives were out in force to celebrate at our biggest ever edition of the Music Week Awards at Evolution London in Battersea, including EMI North president Clive Cawley, Capitol MD Tom Paul, EMI MD Lucy Dann and A&R SVP Rich Castillo.

While the label presidents were in LA, they were kept informed of developments at the ceremony and were able to celebrate the victory. Speaking to Music Week following the awards, they shared their pride in the result for EMI. 

"In a week where the label lands the biggest week one of the year with Lewis Capaldi, to win the prestigious Record Company Of The Year at the Music Week Awards just feels so utterly brilliant, and very, very special," said Rebecca Allen. "Definitely a career highlight for me. 

"It’s been quite the journey for the label over the past couple of years, and it’s only because of the team’s hard work and their continued belief in the incredible artists we work with, that this has been possible. I cannot thank the team, the artists and Jo Charrington enough."

“I am over the moon for us all to have won label of the year,” said Jo Charrington. “Joining EMI just over 12 months ago and bringing the Capitol team with me has been a huge gear shift that everyone in the label, as well as our artists, has embraced. Becky’s energy and support has been incredible. 

“We’re ambitious for our artists and executives and winning this award definitely sets the tone for our future together.”

Here, Clive Cawley and Tom Paul further reflect on the achievements of EMI, look ahead to the fresh crop of music stars, and discuss the plans for the iconic label…

Congratulations, how does it feel to collect this award?

Clive Cawley: “It feels pretty amazing, I’m quite surprised. We do work hard, but we didn’t anticipate this.”

It’s good timing, too, collecting this award on the day Lewis Capaldi’s Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent is officially the fastest-selling album of 2023 so far…

CC: “It’s not bad, is it? Lewis is going to do well this week. We’ve had Sam Smith recently and Metallica [who both went to No.1] – we’ve got a varied roster, shall we say?”

It just feels so utterly brilliant, and very, very special – definitely a career highlight for me

Rebecca Allen

How does Lewis Capaldi’s strong performance match your expectations?

CC: “It’s about where we thought it would be, without sounding arrogant. He’s a huge artist, he’s on the way up still, which is incredible really after his first album.”

Ticket sales are strong for Lewis Capaldi too…

CC: “He works hard, he wants to do it. He knows his audience and he connects with them really well.”

How do you expect the album to perform beyond this No.1 result?

Tom Paul: “It’s the biggest week one of the year, and it’s going to run through the rest of the year. There’s plenty more to come from it.”

Can you describe working on the Taylor Swift Midnights campaign last year?

CC: “We’ve worked with her for a long time. She gets better and better. She’s the biggest artist in the world. Incredible.”

What would you say about the new era at EMI?

TP: “This is a good start isn’t it? It feels exciting, it feels fresh. We've got loads of amazing new artists coming through, and we've got extra attention on all the returning artists as well. We’ve got Caity Baser, Mae Stephens, Mae Muller breaking through, Olivia Dean, and then we’ve still got Sam Smith, Lewis Capaldi, Elton John, Metallica, so it feels like we've got a really good balance.”

CC: “Queen as well. We've got a heritage roster that’s amazing, an [artist] roster that’s fucking great. We’ve got a very solid company, I would say.”

EMI's team including Clive Cawley with the Music Week Award for Record Company

Breaking acts is tough these days, how have you done it with those you’ve mentioned?

TP:  “It's just finding an artist that the whole company is passionate about and getting all the lever points across the label to go for the same cause. When you're all fighting for the same thing, then you can't lose. Also great artists, great management – that's simple.” 

CC: “It’s a collective will and passion that actually makes things work. We've got that, thankfully.”

How was it working on the Unholy campaign?

TP: “It was 50 days at Spotify Global No.1, Grammy winning, No.1 in the US and the UK for four weeks. Sam's a phenomenal artist, and to underestimate Sam is a mistake. We've got some amazing new music still coming through. We've just crossed 40 million adjusted albums globally.”

What’s changed since Capitol moved into EMI?

TP: “Merging with EMI, they've added so much, we’re delighted.”

CC: “In terms of working collaboratively, Tom’s Capitol team actually worked on the Metallica record, so we’ve merged it all in really well.”

How is EMI North getting off the ground?

CC: “I’ve got EMI North, yeah, I’ve just started that this year. It’s early days, I'm hiring staff, I'm forming partnerships in local areas in Leeds. It’s going to take a minute but the intention is good, in terms of empowering and upskilling the regions and just getting the music industry out of London.”

TP: “It’s super-important within the whole EMI family as well.”

The launch of EMI North got a positive response, too, didn’t it?

CC: “It went down very well. I got one negative comment on Instagram saying something like, ‘It’s a record company token gesture.’ But it's not. I'm from Yorkshire, so it's quite close to my heart and [it’s important] that it works.”

We’re ambitious for our artists and executives and winning this award definitely sets the tone for our future together

Jo Charrington

EMI was brought back a few years ago with a company rebrand. How important is EMI as a cultural force in the UK?

TP: “If you just look at the history of it, then there's almost no label that is more important. So to be working under that umbrella is a complete honour, we're just proud to [be part of that].”

CC:Queen were on EMI originally, and they’re on EMI now. Part of the EMI North [initiative] was because EMI is such an amazing brand. It stands for Electric and Musical Industries. It’s the strongest label brand in Britain, I think.”

How closely do you work with Universal Music Recordings on Queen?

CC: “We work with UMR for all our catalogue – Elton John, Queen. And catalogue is very important to our frontline releases. You start with catalogue before you put a new record out, like with Metallica.”

Do you feel like you're building the next generation of catalogue with albums like Lewis Capaldi’s debut, Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent?

CC: “Hopefully, yeah!”

TP: “It’s in the Top 20 every week.”

CC: “It’s had more weeks in the Top 10 than anything, I think [beating Ed Sheeran’s Divide, it managed 78 consecutive weeks in the Top 10 – a record for a solo artist]. So, yeah, we have to build new catalogue.”

What else have you got coming up this year? 

TP:Olivia Dean is a real label favourite – an amazing voice, amazing artist, amazing songs. She's got her album coming out next month. Mae Stephens has had a massive global hit with If We Ever Broke Up. Caity Baiser is selling [lots of] tickets already.”

CC: “We’ve got new signings – at every stage of artist development, we've got them there.”

Finally, what would you say about the two EMI co-presidents who lead the company, Rebecca Allen and Jo Charrington?

CC: “They’re fucking great!”

TP: “I’ve worked with Jo for 14 years. I was her work experience and her PA, and now she's my president. She will be absolutely chuffed. Those two are very different, but they bring such an amazing energy to the label when they come together. And I think that's made all the difference.”


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