UK Music finally has a new leader with the appointment of UK government advisor Jamie Njoku-Goodwin as the trade body’s chief executive, Music Week can reveal.
While not a hugely high-profile name to all in the music biz, Njoku-Goodwin is an accomplished behind-the-scenes operator as one of the UK government’s most senior advisers, and has most recently been working as a special advisor to Health Secretary Matt Hancock. He previously worked at the Department For Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, the remit for which covers the music business.
From October, Njoku-Goodwin will replace Michael Dugher, who stood down in January. He will form a political heavyweight left-right combination with recently-appointed UK Music chairman Tom Watson, who welcomed the new CEO to the team.
"On behalf of all my colleagues on the UK Music Board, I’m delighted to welcome Jamie Njoku-Goodwin to the team,” said Watson. “Jamie is a first-class appointment and brings renewed leadership to UK Music at a vital time for the industry.”
While welcomed by most in the biz, the appointment of Watson was criticised by a small group of senior music figures concerned – amongst other issues – over whether the former Labour Party deputy leader could command support from the Conservative government he spent so long opposing. Njoku-Goodwin, meanwhile, has strong political connections amongst policy-makers across Downing Street, Whitehall and Westminster. That could prove vital as the biz lobbies for help amidst the current coronavirus crisis and an imminent Brexit.
“His experience of working at the heart of Government will be invaluable to the industry as we make the case to ministers that our sector needs further support as we return to being a net contributor to the country’s economy,” said Watson.
“Jamie is well known to our members as he has always been a passionate supporter of music, both in his professional roles in Government, particularly whilst at the Department For Digital, Media & Sport and also as a musician himself.”
Prior to joining the government, Njoku-Goodwin worked for controversial election strategist Sir Lynton Crosby and as a political advisor for the Conservatives. He was appointed by the UK Music board after an extensive process that the trade body said attracted over 200 applicants.
While running UK Music might seem straightforward compared to being at the centre of the government’s battle against Covid-19, Njoku-Goodwin will not have the luxury of easing himself in to one of the industry’s most high-profile roles. He will lead the biz’s lobbying efforts over further support for the stricken live sector and its attempts to strike an effective post-Brexit deal that allows British music to continue to thrive internationally. Many will also want him to address a UK version of the European Copyright Directive, which the government has no current plans to implement, and help reunite the member bodies after the rows over Watson’s appointment.
"Be it through the £5.2 billion it generates for the economy, the 190,000 jobs it sustains across our country, or the symbol of British exceptionalism it broadcasts around the world, the music industry is one of our most important national assets - and something we should all be hugely proud of,” said Njoku-Goodwin.
"UK Music has a vital role in fighting for the interests of the music industry, and I am delighted to be taking the helm of the organisation at such an important time.
"There are big challenges facing commercial music, like the impact of coronavirus, the importance of copyright, and the need for more action on diversity and inclusion,” he added. “But for all the challenges, there are also huge opportunities - and I am confident that, with the right support, the music industry can be the British success story of the 2020s.”
Njoku-Goodwin is an accomplished, trained pianist and conductor, while his Twitter bio lists him as a “failed musician, onetime chess hustler, full-time politico”. His Instagram account features numerous posts from gigs and music industry events. He has a degree in music and a masters in international relations from the University Of Nottingham, and sits on the advisory boards of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and English National Opera.
The appointment means that Tom Kiehl, acting CEO since Dugher’s departure and who has proved an effective leader during the coronavirus crisis, returns to his role as deputy CEO and director of public affairs.
“I would like to thank the previous CEO Michael Dugher and Tom Kiehl for all their great work in making UK Music the force that it is,” said Njoku-Goodwin. "I look forward to working closely with the Government, music makers and music lovers to support the music industry and capitalise upon the huge potential that it offers to the UK."
* To read our recent cover story on UK Music chairman Tom Watson, click here. To make sure you can access vital music biz information wherever you are, sign up for our digital edition by clicking here.