Universal boss David Joseph on why he won't return to BRITs role

David Joseph

Fancy being BRITs chairman in 2021? David Joseph’s revamped 2020 ceremony may have been a hit with the industry, critics and fans, but the Universal Music boss has confirmed to Music Week that he will not take on the role again next year.

Traditionally, the role of BRITs chairman has rotated around the major label chairmen, with Universal, Sony and Warner each taking on a three-year stint.

Joseph, however, was initially reluctant to return, having built the modern BRITs in 2011, when he first took on the role. As revealed in this week’s Music Week cover story, he was only persuaded to return on condition he could again revamp the awards show.

That saw the introduction of extra stages – used to spectacular effect on Tuesday night by the likes of Stormzy and Harry Styles – and handing control of the performances over to the artist. That produced memorable moments this year from the likes of Dave, Billie Eilish and Lizzo.

Live TV ratings were down on last year, as expected, but performers have already seen sales and streams boosts. And Music Week understands that, after Tuesday’s spectacular show, BRITs bosses would be keen to persuade Joseph to return next year. The Universal UK chairman/CEO, however, says he will resist temptation.

“I am only doing it for this year, 100%,” said Joseph, speaking in the current BRITs special issue of Music Week, available now. “We’ve got some things going on at the company and a lot of excitement that I really need to throw myself into. You’re supposed to never say never – but at the moment I’m saying never! But if we get it right we – the creative team, artists, all of it – then it’s time for somebody else to do it. It will be nice to hand it over to somebody when it’s in a healthy state. And a healthy state really means discovery, culture and new audiences discovering the music of the artists who perform. End of story.”

Instead of the current rotation system, Joseph used his Music Week interview to float the idea of a tendering system, where those with exciting ideas for the year’s BRITs ceremony would pitch for the gig.

“All I know is, the sense of rotation [between major labels] doesn’t necessarily [work],” he said. “The person or people who are next to do it should be chosen on the criteria of what they want to do for the show and the artists, not just because it’s a historically rotated tenure. That’s very important.

“Will Universal be part of it?” he added. “Yeah, I hope so, but the people would have to have the ideas. The BPI need to run it as a democratic process so the people with the biggest ideas to keep this thing vibrant are the people in charge.”

The BPI has yet to comment on its future plans for the role – so watch this space…

* To read the full BRITs cover story, featuring exclusive interviews with David Joseph and creative director Misty Buckley, see the current issue of Music Week, available now, or click here. To subscribe to Music Week and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.

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