As Jason Iley prepares to hand over the reins as BRIT Awards chairman, it’s worth taking a moment to think about where the UK’s biggest music awards go from here.
The tradition of having the show helmed by the head of a major label, on a rotating three-year basis, has served the BRITs well. But as the demands of both running a flagship ceremony and a major music company continue to spiral, outgoing chairman Iley probably won’t be the last to ponder whether the role should be an actual full-time job. In his Music Week cover story, Iley is undecided on the best way forward, although he does say the ceremony may need a reboot.
Based on previous years, the chairman role should rotate to Universal next year, although nothing has been confirmed yet. Given that Universal Music UK & Ireland chairman/CEO David Joseph was the architect of the modern BRITs revival, moving the ceremony to the O2 and putting the emphasis back on the music, everyone in the business would welcome the chance to see him work his magic again. And major label involvement certainly guarantees access to artists and provides leverage an independent company might not have.
With the challenges of maintaining a big TV audience growing exponentially every year, the BRITs could yet benefit from having a year-round point of contact
Rotating the chairmanship also helps keep things fresh. In contrast, the Grammys – where the same two people have effectively run the show for almost two decades – shows that experience can be outweighed by a lack of diversity and the need to move with the times. But, with the challenges of maintaining a big TV audience growing exponentially every year, the BRITs could yet benefit from having a year-round point of contact able to start planning next year’s show the minute this year’s one ends.
The awards have also expanded so far beyond their traditional base, that the involvement of execs at indie labels, live music companies and publishers could also be considered. Maybe one of the big digital companies could be involved beyond the usual partnership (taken this year by YouTube Music in an eyebrow-raising deal). Or perhaps even a universally-respected artist could be persuaded to take a leading role?
Jason Iley has done a sterling job of keeping the awards relevant over his three years of sleepless nights. Whoever takes over, the BRITs will need to be wide awake to every possibility.