This Friday, Ministry Of Sound will drop its first major artist release since Sony acquired the label last year. Fittingly, it’s the second album from London Grammar, whose 2013 debut, If You Wait, netted the Elephant & Castle dance imprint a No.2 chart finish. It has since gone on to sell an impressive 639,375 copies.
So how will the follow-up do in comparison? To find out, Music Week asks Ministry Of Sound managing director Dipesh Parmar to take us inside the campaign.
Read on for the full story on singer Hannah Reid’s “unique” voice, battling for supremacy in a hits-driven market and taking on Katy Perry…
You launched the campaign on New Year’s Day, why?
Having been away for such a long time we wanted to do something different from the standard generic release on a Friday. There’s a great message in the track, Rooting For You, and it made sense with what was going on globally at that time. We felt it was the right thing to do and it set the tone for the campaign, it caused the right amount of attention.
We’re days away from the album coming out now, how’s everything been going since?
It’s an interesting one, because we’ve never really had a huge Top 10 or Top 5 single chart hit with this band. That’s not the type of band they want to be, if it happens naturally then that’s great but we weren’t sat there at the outset saying, This is the record, this is our Top 5 single. We thought it was a great body of work and hopefully people will drive towards buying it because they love Hannah’s voice and the band’s songwriting. The question is, How do you deliver an artist on their second album in a hits-driven market without a hit? Those are the challenges we faced, but we believed in the band and the vocals and the songwriting and set out with the three singles we felt were most compelling for streaming and radio. These are the ones people will gravitate towards.
How confident are you about how the album will perform?
We’re feeling pretty confident about where we’re going to end up, which is exciting. The pre-order has indicated that we’re going to do hopefully more than we did on the last album in week one. It’s been up for 11 weeks and we’ve been in the iTunes Top 10 for all that time.
Are you going for a No.1 record, then?
We wouldn’t want to jinx it. We were No.2 last time on 33,000 sales for week one, so we’re hoping to do more. Where we end up will be dictated by our competitive releases, we know Katy Perry’s out that week and she’s obviously a superstar, so we’ll see. We’ve got to keep it going, we don’t want to just release the album and have a big week one and end there, we want to make sure more and more people discover this album.
What else have you honed in on during the campaign?
We just try to do things that are slightly different and not generic, to try and build this band into something unique with amazing songs. You can’t take away from the fact that Hannah’s vocal is world class. When we put the live shows up for sale they sold out within seconds. People want to come and hear and experience that vocal live. It’s unique to London Grammar and culturally very relevant.
How significant has Sony’s backing been?
Sony have as much belief in London Grammar as we do and they’ve put their backing into us via their marketing and international resource. The international resource here is incredible, obviously London Grammar are not with Sony worldwide. We had a plethora of labels organised from the last campaign and the coordination of the international team here has been second to none, I’ve never experienced anything like it.
How important is this band to Ministry Of Sound?
They’re one of our biggest priorities. It’s different for us being a dance singles label traditionally, so this record will hopefully help managers or artists gravitate towards Ministry and for us to be a home for more leftfield alternative artist development projects.
What’s a good return for London Grammar? How do you grow?
Tapping into different areas internationally, continuing the great work with the labels we have set up globally. We’re playing bigger shows than we have before and it’s about making sure we’re building on the fanbase. Obviously America is in our sights and we’re working with Rob Stringer and his team there, that’s something we want to work on. It’s not going to happen overnight, it could be something that comes off on album three or album four if we continue to release the right records.