The biz's brightest new talents tell their stories. This week it's the turn of BMG A&R manager Dan Owusu.
Why did you choose music?
“I just love music and have always wanted to be involved in it. From the age of six or seven, I was active in church singing in the choir and playing the keyboard. My older brother was a garage MC at the time, and I would hear him on different pirate radio stations and think, ‘Yeah, I can do this too.’ He used to teach me how to construct songs and how to write hooks. I learned a lot from him and Mr Wood from Team Salut, who was a childhood friend. He taught me how to produce and engineer. In 2016, I wanted to learn the business side of the industry and venture more into management and A&R, so I applied for a course at the Notting Hill Academy Of Music, which is run by Shabs Jobanputra and Ewan Grant of Relentless Records. They both took a real liking to me, taught and mentored me, and introduced me to a new circle of people, which has helped put me in the position I’m in today.”
How easy has it been to get to where you are now?
“It hasn’t been easy at all. I definitely heard ‘No’ more than ‘Yes’ in the beginning, or the classic line, ‘Let’s keep talking and building’. The key is to believe in yourself, believe in your ability, be persistent, network and have the right people in your corner. Once you get your foot in the door, it’s down to you to work hard and take shots. Set goals and achieve them.”
What’s the key to good A&R?
“A wise man once said to me that A&R is all about identifying talent, closing deals, delivering hit records and then repeat. It’s easier said than done! I also believe it’s about having good ears and good taste. Knowing who and what you’re signing. Be a visionary – understand the vision of the artist, the sound and where it can build to. Be there as a support system for the artist.”
There’s no longer just one formula that works
Why should we be excited about new music in 2019?
“Because there are no rules, there’s no longer just one formula that works. There are a lot of exciting new acts coming through, with different sounds and cultures being introduced and accepted by the consumers. The next star can come from anywhere and that is exciting!”
What’s your one wish for the music business?
“That songwriters and publishers are given a much fairer royalty rate than what’s currently being given.”
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