There’s only one thing rarer than a March heatwave in the UK – and that’s a UK alternative group topping the US charts.
So Glass Animals’ slow climb to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 with “Heat Waves” is a most unusual double whammy. The song took a record-breaking 59 weeks to reach the top and, having spent three weeks there so far, is now the longest-running American No. 1 by a British group since the Spice Girls’ ‘Wannabe’ in 1997.
The band’s manager, Amy Morgan of September Management, credits the band’s success to the band’s work on three albums before “Heat Waves” became a single.
“They had built a real world and a real fan base,” says Morgan diversity. “Their live history and the many tours they’ve done meant they had an incredibly enabled and engaged community around them — and that’s really where it all started.”
Remixes, sync placements, TikTok trends, touring and eventually radio plays spreading from the band’s alternative stronghold kept the song build going, with a Best New Artist nomination at this weekend’s Grammys likely to garner even more attention.
“To get that recognition is a really big moment for them because they’ve always been outsiders and outsiders,” says Morgan. “At the core of all of this is a truly brilliant song that has connected people through a very difficult time. Because of this, the song will never go away. ‘Heat Waves’ will become timeless and live forever in its own world – and that’s a beautiful thing.”
Attention will eventually turn to the follow-up, however, but Morgan – who also runs September Publishing – says the band will be taking some time off after their tour ends to write new material rather than continue on for ‘Heat Waves” to advertise. Mother album “Dreamland”.
“The band are brilliant musicians and stopping them from making music will weaken them,” she says. “You will need a minute. It takes a while for all parts of the world of a record to be built for them. They won’t come back super fast, and that’s okay. As for the expectation, I’m not worried because I honestly believe they are some of the most talented people out there.”
Meanwhile, UK industry – which has worried for some time about the lack of international breakthroughs for new UK artists – is hoping the success will open doors for a new generation of talent.
“It’s important to me and the band,” says Morgan. “I hope [the success] making the industry think more about the potential of alternative music and getting people in the UK to invest more in the international side of campaigns. I hope this means more artists will have this opportunity – British music needs to travel to keep the UK industry healthy, vibrant and exciting.”
A little bit of the British music industry that will certainly be traveling is the boss of the British label Glass Animals. Polydor co-president Tom March will become president of America’s Geffen Records in July.
March co-president Ben Mortimer will now run Polydor alone, and there are also changes at some of Universal’s other UK front labels. Capitol and EMI merged this month under the joint leadership of Co-Presidents Rebecca Allen and Jo Charrington.
EMI has long been the UK market leader (although it lost its crown to Sony’s RCA last year), while Capitol, under Charrington and co-president Nick Raphael (who left in January), enjoyed regular international success, with UK signings including Sam Smith and 5 Seconds of summer. Now that they’ve joined forces, you can expect a focus on global breakthroughs across the EMI family, which includes Britain’s Motown label.
Featuring Capitol’s Mae Muller – who is currently enjoying a hit in the US with Neiked and Polo G on Better Days – and British rap star Aitch, who is touring the US in May, as well as EMI’s upcoming multi-genre Star Bree Runway. Runway is currently writing and recording in America and had sold out debut shows in New York and Los Angeles in May. Watch this space…
Universal is also involved in Mushroom Group’s new global venture through the partnership between Australia’s largest independent label group and UMG’s Virgin Music Label & Artist Services.
The new line-up also sees veteran UK manager Korda Marshall returning to Mushroom, where he was managing director in the 1990s and enjoyed great success with the likes of Muse, Garbage and Ash.
Marshall – a former managing director of Atlantic and Warner Records UK and most recently at BMG – is now an international director and narrator diversity The label’s idiosyncratic spirit, established under legendary late founder Michael Gudinski, remains intact.
“Mushroom was so important in the early stages of my career, so it’s great to be back in this environment,” Marshall says in his first interview since taking on the role. “Everything we’ve done is in the spirit of Michael, with the goal of taking a few risks. All we need now is some damn good music so we can roll the dice and see what happens.”
To that end, Marshall has already landed two deals – lo-fi hip-hopper Joshua Epithet and a just-signed deal with alt-rockers Demob Happy. And he is convinced that alternative music is on the rise again.
“I remember the first time guitars died—in the 1980s!” he quips. “I’ve spent my life looking around the edges, because often that’s where greatness lies, and that world is rife again for the mainstream. There’s a lot of really exciting creative stuff happening and that’s one of the reasons I’m still on the pitch and wanting to finish this deal.”
Marshall is in the process of hiring key staff in London and hopes Mushroom will add more international offices as it expands globally.
“One of the things Michael Gudinski taught us was that there’s a big old world out there,” he says. “But we’re not striving for world domination and we’re certainly not in a position to worry about market share. We’re going to find some great talent, have fun and create something really interesting.”
The Swiss fintech company Utopia is also stirring up British industry. Utopia Music has bought a number of major UK companies in recent months, including leading artist/label services company Absolute, distributor Proper Music Group and music publisher Sentric.
And Roberto Neri, Chief Operating Officer of Utopia Music, tells diversity More acquisitions are on the horizon.
“We want to bring as many companies together as possible,” he says. “Some of these will be handshake deals, others through acquisitions – bringing the industry together is important. And there is certainly more to come in the US; In order to be the No. 1 growth partner for the music industry, we have to be present worldwide.”
Despite the wave of acquisitions, Neri – also chairman of the Music Publishers Association and former EVP/head of European business development at Downtown Music Publishing – says Utopia wants to work in partnership with existing companies through its core technology platform, not in competition with them.
“We are based in Switzerland and Utopia is the Switzerland of music,” he says. “We want to be a neutral partner. We want to provide everyone with the insights from our platform and all of our service offerings.”
Utopia is committed to streamlining copyright registration, reducing administrative costs, increasing transparency and accelerating royalty payments as part of its “Fair Pay for Every Play” strategy. Neri expects to make “significant progress along this path” over the next five years and says rightsholders, artists and songwriters will all benefit.
“If we grow the whole pie for the whole industry, everyone wins and that’s what we’re focused on,” he says. “We want more money for everyone”
The new general secretary of the musicians’ union also deals with musicians’ fees. Naomi Pohl was elected this month, replacing Horace Trubridge and becoming the union’s first female chair in its nearly 130-year history.
“Unions are male-dominated, the music industry is male-dominated and our membership is probably 65-70% male,” says Pohl, who was previously deputy general secretary. “This is definitely a sign that we are moving in the right direction. Hopefully anyone who is underrepresented in the union will see this as a sign of change.”
Pohl has a busy agenda ahead of him, including campaigning for more music lessons in schools, more freedom of movement for touring musicians after Brexit and more support for the arts in the wake of the COVID pandemic. But many problems boil down to the need to increase the incomes of the musicians under pressure.
“Our members are coming through the worst years in history, so the top priority must be trying to improve pay,” she says. “Our freelancer community in particular has really suffered. We cannot afford to lose talent from the industry and I am really concerned that this is going to happen.”
The MU is also a central part of the #FixStreaming campaign to increase streaming payments for artists and songwriters, with the campaign’s proposals still under consideration by the UK government.
“The government says they are not ruling out legislation, but we are at a point where the government expects us to sit down with other industry bodies and try to find something we could possibly all agree on,” she says. “We come up with a proposal that we think industry could support.”
Pohl applauds Warner Music’s decision to follow Sony Music in removing back-payments on older record deals (Universal is also expected to take a similar step), but says “it’s not enough on its own.”
One should also get used to Pohl on the other side of the negotiating table. She will serve a five-year term, but is already considering a second term.
“I would like by then to have members feel like they received better service and are better represented by us,” she says. “I want to make the union and industry a better place to work by improving the culture. I want our members to think that we are extremely relevant to them and that we are always at the forefront to stay ahead of technological change.”
https://variety.com/2022/music/news/brit-beat-glass-animals-manager-mushroom-1235219963/ Brit Beat: Glass Animals Manager turns up the ‘heating’