Warner Chappell's Amber Davis on Music Week Awards recognition, superstar talent and new signings

Warner Chappell's Amber Davis on Music Week Awards recognition, superstar talent and new signings

Warner Chappell has been recognised at the Music Week Awards over the years, but the top prize has eluded them – until now.

Following a strong year for the publisher with writer-artists including Dave, Raye, J Hus and Nia Archives, Warner Chappell took home the Publisher Of The Year trophy at the Music Week Awards earlier this month. It’s the first time in the modern era that Warner Chappell has won in the category.

“It's amazing,” said Amber Davis, SVP, Warner Chappell Music UK. “Warner Chappell hasn't won one with Music Week for a long time, so we're delighted.”

Davis, a popular industry figure with both colleagues and her stable of songwriters, collected the award with the Warner Chappell UK team at the JW Marriott Grosvenor House London. The triumph arrived a year on from her promotion to senior vice president, alongside her position as head of A&R, to which she was promoted in 2019.

This year also marks Davis’ first decade at the publisher, which she joined in 2014 as creative director. She has been pivotal in the signing and development of songwriters and producers including Celeste, Dave, Fraser T Smith, J Hus, Legendury Beatz, Skepta, Stormzy and Willow Kayne

The win is also a triumph for Warner Chappell Music UK’s managing director Shani Gonzales (who did not attend the ceremony). She took on the role in October 2020 and relocated to London from New York. She also maintained her role as head of international A&R. 

Warner Chappell publishing client Dave made history (alongside Central Cee) with the first UK rap song to spend 10 weeks at No.1 last year. Sprinter was the second biggest song of 2023 in the UK (the biggest by a UK act) and has sales to date of 1,460,188 (Official Charts Company).

“It's been great,” said Amber Davis of Dave’s success. “For so many of our different writers, from Dave to Raye, it's just been a really great year.”

Raye had the No.3 song overall in 2023 with her smash Escapism (feat. 070 Shake), which has sales to date of 1,595,443. The South Londoner also memorably broke records with six wins at the BRITs earlier this year.

Raye’s success follows a long-term partnership with Warner Chappell since 2016 as one of Davis’ first signings to the company. 

“It’s fantastic that we renewed our deal with her last year, we've had [a publishing partnership with] her from the get-go,” Davis told Music Week.

As well as her impact as an artist, Raye is also a successful songwriter, including a co-writing credit on the track Riiverdance on Beyonce’s new album, Cowboy Carter.

“She's incredible,” Davis said of Raye. “She's paving the way. It's just so amazing for her artist career to be accelerating as much as her songwriting career as well. She's had so many hits and it's amazing to see her being recognised as an exceptional artist in the same breath as [her co-writing].”

Warner Chappell also staged its Wireless Songwriting Camp for UK and international songwriters and producers last July. The Hennessy-sponsored camp ran over eight days at Metropolis Studios, with more than 50 sessions and 60-plus songwriters taking part.

Looking at the publisher’s latest signings, Davis is also confident about the new talent joining the roster.

Nia Archives I'm really excited about and also Nia Smith – maybe something about the Nias!” she said.

Warner Chappell has also signed songwriter and producer talent behind the current Top 10 hit by Artemas, I Like The Way You Kiss Me (286,981 sales).

“We've recently signed an incredible producer called Toby Daintree, who's got the Artemas single at the moment,” said Davis. “George [Baker] did that [deal], so we're delighted about that as well.”

The UK team has seen new appointments including Lulu Largent as senior manager.

It's a long-term approach, we go for what we're passionate about

Amber Davis

Speaking about the ethos of the publisher where she has worked at a senior level for the last decade, Davis underlined the development and support for songwriters.

“It's a long-term approach, we just go for what we care about, what we're passionate about and who we want to work with for a long time,” she told Music Week.

Of course, alongside frontline publishing deals, catalogue is a key part of Warner Chappell’s success. The publisher signed a landmark deal with the David Bowie estate two years ago – and we explored that in detail with Guy Moot, CEO and co-chair of Warner Chappell.

As well as David Bowie, Davis highlighted recent signings and renewals to the catalogue roster at Warner Chappell.

George Michael’s [catalogue] is incredible,” she said. “Emily [Foreman, senior international A&R & catalogue manager] recently signed the Scissor Sisters, as well as All Saints [Shaznay Lewis] and James Bourne from Busted, so we really put a huge emphasis on that catalogue.” 

Davis collected the Publisher Of The Year award with the Warner Chappell team, including Kate Alderton, SVP, operations & finance; Andrew Howell, head of UK sync; Thomas Horley, creative sync & marketing director; Kirsten Sharpe, senior director, creative services; Laura Willoughby, director, global creative services; Angelita Michael, UK royalties & client administrator; Paul Smith, VP, A&R & global creative; Emily Foreman, senior international A&R & catalogue manager; and Jake Smith, senior income tracking analyst. 

Darren Young, head of legal and business affairs, is also part of the leadership team at Warner Chappell UK.


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