Competition time: How everyone can be a winner in the UK music biz

Darcus Beese

The day after the record-breaking 2019 Music Week Awards was like New Years Day for the music industry in the Music Week office.

The last few Music Week Awards revellers were still making their way home and tweeting their joy as the MW staff battled through their hangovers to put the issue to bed after what everyone, winners and non-winners alike, seemed to consider our biggest and best awards yet. Everyone else seemed to have their out of office firmly on after an epic night, studded with memorable moments.

The awards showed that all aspects of the industry continue to go from strength to strength. And, as the biz moves from a recovery mindset into an era of sustained prosperity, competition – between different companies, and sometimes even with the same corporate group – is on the rise.

That generally is the healthiest of things. And, looking at the staggeringly strong range of finalists at the awards this year, it’s clear that the industry’s front-runners, like Liverpool and Man City in this year’s race for the Premier League, are pushing each other to new heights. And while Liverpool may not have won the title, that doesn’t mean their performance over the season hasn’t been remarkable.

It’s easy to pull together when there’s less at stake

In his speech, this year’s Strat Award recipient, Island Records icon Darcus Beese made the point that he’d been on both sides of the MWAs equation before. “To the winners, I know how it feels,” he said. “To the people who didn’t get anything, I know how it feels.”

And, if an industry icon like Beese can cope with both triumph and disaster and emerge as a hugely popular winner with all sides of the industry, then anyone who narrowly missed out this time should find plenty of hope for the future. After all, every category had multiple serious contenders who could have walked away with the prize.

And, in many ways, how the business copes with success will tell us more than how it dealt with the hard times. It’s easy to pull together when there’s less at stake; more difficult, but more important, to ensure that the rising tide of success lifts all the industry’s boats, without scuttling any of them.

So, as the hangovers fade, let’s misquote Atlantic’s ebullient – and never knowingly uncompetitive – Promotions Team winner Damian Christian. We may all be left in pieces the morning after a huge event like the Music Week Awards, but coming in peace remains the music business’ best option.

* To relive the best moments from the 2019 Music Week Awards, click here. For the full list of winners, click here. To read Darcus Beese's Strat winner's speech, click here. For the best quotes of the night, click here. And for the best tweets about the biggest awards in the biz, click here.

* For more on the awards, including our exclusive, career-spanning interview with Darcus Beese, see the new issue of Music Week, out now. To subscribe to Music Week and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.

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