"It's really needed!" EMI's Clive Cawley says Mercury Prize still key to building artists careers

Benjamin Clementine

The Hyundai Mercury Prize might not immediately sell “loads of records” for its nominees, but EMI’s Clive Cawley believes it reamins an important steppingstone in an artists’ career.

Speaking ahead of this year’s ceremony on Thursday (September 20), which features High As Hope by Florence + The Machine from his label on the shortlist, the MD told Music Week a nomination is still highly valued by the acts who receive them. 

“I think it’s really needed,” Cawley said. “We did Benjamin Clementine the year he won it  At Least For Now triumphed in 2015], and we had Slaves nominated that year as well. For those sort of artists who are probably not in the realm of being able to sell a million records or be like an Adele, it’s important that there’s something there that recognises them.”

He added that the win for the singer-songwriter might not have immediately yielded sales, but the long term impact was useful.

“We didn’t sell loads of records off the back of Benjamin Clementine, but it didn’t matter because it served the project well and it’s given him something to build on for the rest of his career,” Cawley argued.

“He’s established now. So the Mercury’s a good thing, it can definitely help an artist’s career in other ways [than sales for a winning album]. Suddenly you’re known and you maybe become a Roundhouse venue-sized artist for the rest of your career if you do it right off the back of it.” 

Looking ahead to this year's prize, Cawley said he had his "fingers crossed" for Florence Welch to win, adding if she did "we’d definitely try and sell more records [off the back of it]."

Get the new issue of Music Week, out today, for our analysis of the 2018 Prize’s impact on the nominees so far, include sales, social media and more.

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