SBTV managing director Isaac Densu has told Music Week that the company will continue to “take risks” as it seeks to boost a new generation of music industry talent.
Densu (above, left) was speaking at the Music Week Awards, where the late SBTV founder Jamal Edwards was recognised with a special award. Densu, who joined SBTV as chief creative officer in 2016, accepted the award alongside Brenda Edwards (above, right), who paid tribute to her son on stage.
“Jamal was a true force of nature and being in this room today fills me with so much joy and pride, knowing how much he loved the music business and everybody that’s in this room,” Edwards said. “Jamal lived for and believed in British music in its fullness and thrived seeing artists from varying genres and disciplines including off-screen talent, break down barriers. We are a nation rich in talent and ideas, and we must continue to support the next generation to break through, and must continue to be risk takers for diverse ideas and voices to break through.”
Backstage, Densu spoke to Music Week about his plans for the business, emphasising his intention to continue the work Edwards started since posting the first video on SBTV in 2007.
“Jamal never ceased to amaze me, he was always breaking barriers and was always an innovator,” said Densu. “Though he’s no longer with us physically, it feels like he’s innovating from afar and I just hope that I can continue to honour his legacy.”
“It’s an incredible feeling to be in a room with the incredible people that he had worked with in his [industry] journey,” Densu added. “It was really emotional and it gave me goosebumps, I know he’s smiling down.”
Here, Densu, a former Channel 4 commissioner, talks more about what the future holds for SBTV…
Looking ahead, what are your immediate plans for SBTV?
“Jamal set a very clear mission statement for the business and spending so much time with him over the years just made everything truly clear [to me]. We will be continuing with SBTV, we will be relaunching his staple formats, F64s, A64s, Warm Up Sessions, Producers House and focusing on what he truly loved, which was showcasing talents from all backgrounds and all walks of life and all genres.”
How can the music industry help and support SBTV?
“It would be great to just be in contact with everyone and continue the relationships that Jamal built, to water and nourish the seeds he sowed and watch them sprout and flower. The most important thing I can say is that Jamal built his career and became the innovator he was by taking risks, betting on and believing in people where others couldn’t see it initially. I hope that, as a music industry, we don’t lose that and that technology doesn't replace tastemakers. Hopefully [companies] can still invest in tastemakers, trust those voices and not succumb to a technological world where algorithms determine what is a hit or not.”
I hope that technology doesn't replace tastemakers in the music industry
Isaac Densu, SBTV
SBTV’s impact on music culture in the UK speaks for itself, but which aspect of that are you most proud of?
“The one thing I’ve always loved about SBTV is that it takes risks. It has always tried to look for what sound is coming next and who’s going to be big. Jamal had an incredible talent for seeing the future and I saw him do that on a day-to-day basis, whether that be first hearing J Hus, Dave, Stormzy or K-Trap… the list just goes on and on and on. For us, it’s just about continuing that, keeping our ear to the ground and ensuring that the voices that don’t necessarily get heard straight away are heard by us and that we can lift those voices up to the higher echelons of our business.”
Finally, what’s your message for any young people aspiring to make it in music?
“SBTV is here for you, for all the young creatives on screen and off screen, especially off screen. Jamal was very, very driven by connecting with new A&Rs and new journalists and new people, maybe even social media stars, anyone that just had a love for music. He was very eclectic and took in all those minds, eyes and ears out there. SBTV is a business that wants to incubate talent, help people grow and reach the next stage in their career.”