'The album is the end of a campaign, not the beginning': Coda's Alex Hardee sizes up the music biz

'The album is the end of a campaign, not the beginning': Coda's Alex Hardee sizes up the music biz

Alex Hardee, agent at Coda Music Agency and this week’s Music Week cover star, has revealed that he believes the album represents the end of a campaign, rather than the beginning.

Speaking to us in light of his victory in the Live Agent category at this year’s Music Week Awards (where his speech went down in history as one of the event’s best ever), Hardee offered up his opinion on all aspects of the music business. 

Hardee currently represents the likes of Liam Gallagher, Rag’N’Bone Man, Jess Glynne, Clean Bandit, Rudimental, Bastille, London Grammar and Sia, and believes that “cycles change” in music.

“I try and argue all the time that the album is now the end of the campaign, not the beginning, because everything falls flat as soon as you put the album out,” he said. “I actually don’t know why people still release albums, unless the demand is there. I’m not sure how long they will be released in the way they are.”

Hardee went on to tell a “favourite story” to illustrate his point.

“I was round at a friend’s house,” he said. “He was playing the Bruno Mars album and his kids, aged about eight and 11, ran in and said, ‘Dad what’s wrong with you, are you obsessed with Bruno Mars? You just played 12 songs of his in a row.’ They don’t even understand the concept of an album.” 

Hardee believes that “the new wave of acts doesn’t automatically sign to labels”, opting to develop themselves first instead. Moreover, he said that signing to a major no longer guarantees success, such is the impact of streaming services on consumption and ticket sales.

You can have an A-list radio record, but without any streaming it’s not going to be a hit

Alex Hardee, Coda

“You need to have people listening to you on streaming services,” he said. “Twelve years ago, if you got on BBC Radio 1 and the front cover of the NME, you’d probably made it. Nowadays, there are about two million portals so you need a much bigger critical mass. You can have an A-list radio record, but without any streaming it’s not going to be a hit."

Hardee revealed that, in this “brave new world”, the only two figures he pays attention to are streaming and ticket sales. “It’s hard for career bands that don’t have traditional hits as well. How many albums hang around like George Ezra or The Greatest Showman?”

Coda’s founding partner Tom Schroeder praised Hardee’s “amazing ability to look at things objectively and from afar, to see trends and not get stuck in the day-to-day.”

“That’s relatively unique in the agent world,” he said.

Read the interview in full in the new issue of Music Week, out now. Subscribers can read it online here. Click here to read our profile on Hardee’s Coda colleagues.

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