Following a stellar performance last year, BBC Radio 6 Music's Lauren Laverne returned to host the Music Week Awards last night (April 26).
Here, we present the speech in full.
Lauren Laverne: "Good evening ladies and gentlemen. It’s an honour and a thrill to be back to host this year’s Music Week Awards. My name is Lauren Laverne.
"I must say, staring out at that sea of beautiful faces tonight is incredibly moving. And not just because I can see at least three people who I still owe money to, as part of that record deal I signed back in ’97. Hi guys, always quickens the blood to see you.
"No, it’s moving because I’m here with you - the dream weavers who bring the music we love into our lives. Whether that’s on record, on air or live in concert. Thank you for that, and thank you for being here tonight for this glorious celebration of all that you do. A very warm welcome to you.
"People say that the music industry is a cruel place to work. I have to say despite 20 years in this game (woman and girl) I have never found it to be so. There are some good people around. I’ll always remember a former A&R man of mine. On his last day on the job he very touchingly left me a note. I unrolled it. And was able to treat myself to a taxi home. So kind.
"It has changed a lot of course. There was a fair bit of excess around in the old days. One guy I knew back in the ‘90s had actually re-created the Ziggy Stardust album cover - the alley itself - inside this vast entryway to his home. With the actual phone box from that iconic cover shot. Twenty years on things have changed. If you’re working in music you’re more likely to live in a phone box than own one. But things are getting better and we’re here to celebrate that.
"Last year’s event was a brilliant, bacchanalian baptism of fire for me. I never dreamed I’d share a stage with Dallas Austin, Michael Eavis and Sir Len Blavatnik, much less the same stage on the same night. I don’t know who was most intimidating (who am I kidding of course I do, and so do you). How will we top that experience tonight? As we all know, anything can happen at the Music Week Awards and I think we’re all in store for an equally surprising and exciting ride as we celebrate an incredible year for our industry.
People say that streaming will do for music what Facebook and Twitter have done for media. Give it away for free and put fascists in charge
"Here are just some of the highlights this past 12 months has brought us.
"Spotify was listed on the New York Stock Exchange, with a closing valuation of $26.5 billion. A fantastic figure, although of course it comes in a lot lower if you take it with ads.
"2017 marked the third year of consecutive growth for the music industry, thanks to the surge in streaming subscriptions. People say that streaming will do for music what Facebook and Twitter have done for media. Give it away for free and put fascists in charge. I’m kidding. Make it instantly accessible, and shareable amongst a global community.
"The BPI revealed an uplift in album sales of 9.5%. 135.1 million albums across all formats. Ed Sheeran’s ÷ was a big part of that success, of course. Congratulations to Ed and his team. I hope that Sheeran HQ are mindful of the fact that we all have a lot riding on his continuing success. I trust that we can pull together to help on that front. We can all contribute. I have some ideas for example. I’m a bit concerned about the album titles going forward. Ed has obviously set quite a strong brief with all the symbols so far. So I’ve workshopped a few possible titles he can use going forward. Cue the still.
"First up, to keep up with the mathematical theme Pi Constant is the obvious contender. Could be a great marketing opportunity – potential partnerships with all the top brands Pie Minister, Fray Bentos, Ginsters. Possible guest vocal from Mr Kipling?
"Hashtag. This is an obvious one for Ed and his millennial audience. Of course, Ed’s team may be understandably cautious around hashtags. We all remember where we were when #Sheeranalbumparty started trending.
"The Irony Mark! This is a real punctuation mark; invented in the 19th Century as if the Victorians knew what a fucking nightmare Twitter was going to be. I’d quite like Ed to re-popularise this symbol just to make my life easier.
"Finally how about /''? I quite like it. Could be about the either/or complexity, nuance and avoiding stereotypes. Or it could just be about having a piss. Depends which way the songs go. Room for a punkier vibe if Ed is interested.
"Just some thoughts.
"Another record breaker this year was Luis Fonsi’s Despacito, which became the first video in YouTube history to surpass five billion views. An incredible achievement. Five billion! As any parent here tonight knows that means that track is at least five kids’ favourite song. So well done Luis.
"The Gender Pay Gap has been a hot topic this year. The bad news is that Women working at British Major labels earn an average of 33% les per hour than men. The good news? The BPI, Sony, Universal, Warners and Kobalt have promised to introduce new initiatives to tackle the status quo. Which is pleasing but also a bit ironic because the entire problem with the status quo is that everyone looks a bit too much like Status Quo.
The bad news is that Women working at British Major labels earn an average of 33% les per hour than men
"Speaking of vastly male dominated industries it’s been another interesting year for those of us working in music radio. Our world continues to be a hotbed of cutting edge innovation. BBC Radio 1 recently made headlines for deciding to “extend the weekend” by starting its weekend schedule on Fridays. I mention this tonight because I know that those of you working in other areas of the music industry are much too hardworking and dedicated to have ever considered clocking off before 6pm on Friday afternoon, returning fresh faced and ready for business to at your desk at 8.30 come Monday morning. Could this radical, new, heretofore un-thought of “extend the weekend” concept ever spread beyond radio to other parts of the music biz? Only time will tell. But hats off to those crazy dreamers at Radio 1 for showing us average Joes how to think outside of the box.
"And let’s not forget the Live Events sector, which is booming. 2018’s festival season is already underway. The Arcadia team are staging their first standalone festival in London in just a few weeks. The event is being held at the city’s Olympic Park in Stratford.
"I for one am excited, as always to see a new festival. I’m also pleased to see the stadium moving with the changing times. Of course the Olympic Park will always be synonymous with London 2012, which we all remember so fondly. Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony and the emotional high of Super Saturday were great moments of unity for our country. I think it’s fair to say times have changed. The Queen skydiving, Kenneth Brannagh playing Isambard Kingdom Brunel, a moving and correct tribute to the Windrush generation and 2000 nurses doing a lovely dance about the NHS was just perfect for the optimism and possibility we felt in back 2012. I can’t think of a better way to bring the Olympic Park up to date than by inviting a gargantuan, fire-breathing arachnid to descend upon screaming crowds to a soundtrack of Sven Vath’s face-melting techno. Good luck, team Arcadia.
"Finally, staying with live events, friend of Music Week, O.G. Booking agent Neil Warnock celebrated 50 years in the business – any colleagues and friends of Neil’s in tonight? – with a very dashing cover on the mag. Congratulations to him. Over the years, Mr Warnock’s clients have included The Stones, Pink Floyd, Motorhead, Dolly Parton and Michael Jackson. A wildly impressive portfolio that gives me pause to offer an additional note of congratulations to Neil on not simply exploding because he is SO VERY FULL OF STORIES. How do you guys at that level keep all the tales all in? Is there some kind of gossip valve? A rumour vent? A chitchat spigot? Ribaldry stopcock? Any tips most welcome.
"But a moment to congratulate Mr Warnock on his anniversary and continued success…
"And so on to tonight’s awards…"