Inside your new-look edition of Music Week, we give you our very special 100-page Q4 Report, containing all the information you need to know about the biz’s blockbuster season. And when it comes to said season, one of the biggest acts set to release an album is none other than chart-smashing, besuited behemoths Michael Ball and Alfie Boe, aka Ball & Boe.
In 2016, the theatre sensations joined forces on record for the first time. The resulting album, Together, became the year’s best-selling release. Currently standing on 607,190 sales according to Official Charts Company data, it beat Little Mix and The Rolling Stones to the Christmas No. 1. It was a success many didn’t see coming – one that has had a notable ripple-effect in the industry – and it is for that reason they’re gracing our cover. Ahead of the arrival of Together’s follow-up, Together Again, the duo – alongside Decca president Rebecca Allen – kickstart our bumper Q4 Report in our Big Interview by giving us an insight into how they scored the biggest release of 2016, the deals they've made since, and how they’re working harder than ever before to make sure Together Again is even bigger.
Here, in an unread extract from our cover interview, Rebecca Allen takes us further inside their plans, and the chemistry behind this hugely successful partnership. Allen is quick to hail their friendship as a governing factor…
“I have to say that when we first put them together, they hadn't performed a lot together, obviously, and it's been amazing watching the journey of these two as they've now become such good friends,” says Allen. “They're really supportive of one another, and I think it’s been really fascinating watching that develop over the last year – and I think that’s what’s exciting about going into the second album with them. When we recorded the first album, they hadn't performed that much together and they hadn't been on this journey, and now when you listen to the second album, it’s so much tighter and it’s so much better. You can feel the chemistry with them now, so I think it's really exciting moving forward.”
Allen also stresses that the chemistry not only exists between Ball and Boe, but also the duo and their label.
“Seriously, our team love working with them,” she enthuses. “They work so hard. I think the other thing is: success didn't happen overnight for these two. This is what I love about artists like Alfie and Michael, and Gregory Porter. They aren't kids; these are adults that have spent years honing their craft. This is why they appreciate it so much more now, and this is why they work as hard as they do. And that’s such a great vibe to have around a project. They take nothing for granted. [Last time] as the project kept gathering momentum and more opportunities kept coming in and we were working so hard and they were working so hard, we had this saying last year: ‘A week of pain is a lifetime of success.' Because it was getting so crazy and we kept saying to them, ‘Please do this next thing, please do this!’”
When you listen to the second album, it’s so much tighter and it’s so much better. You can feel the chemistry with them now, so I think it's really exciting moving forward
In the interview, Allen also draws attention to how Ball & Boe appeal to a “a really strong consumer base who aren’t on Radio 1 or Capital, they’re not on streaming services, they have disposable income, they are highly intelligent people who like to go out to concerts.” In this regard, Allen believes Together Again is custom-made to appeal to – and satisfy – their audience’s sensibilities.
“The Ball & Boe consumer have high music standards,” says Allen. “The production and the arrangements are exceptional. We’ve gone to exceptional people. And I think that’s what our consumer expects: they expect high standard of music.”
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