Rising Star is our monthly column in which we meet the industry’s brightest new talents. Here, Rob Harrison, founder of Listen Generously, talks us through his music business journey so far…
When and where did you get your break in the music industry?
“From the age of 13, I used MySpace to contact independent artists with my ideas for their profiles. Through that, I became a friend and confidant of Pixie Lott, who was in the process of signing with Joe Kentish at Mercury. Pixie and her family generously took me along for the ride as she released music and conquered the charts, so I was able to see pop magic unfold from the inside and was immediately hooked.”
You brought FLO together in 2019, did you see their potential straight away?
“I put the band together having spent years thinking about what it would take for a girl group
to feel cool and essential again. I found potential members online and auditioned them individually. After trying a few combinations, I got Stella Quaresma, Renée Downer and Jorja Douglas together. Once they’d been introduced, it turned out that they already knew of each other. Their talent, chemistry and promise were obvious the first time they sang together – it was meant to be.”
They’ve had a brilliant start, with the BRITs Rising Star award and winning the BBC Sound Of 2023. Can they be the next big UK mainstream breakthrough?
“Absolutely. FLO are one EP in and there is already so much genuine love for what they are doing. I’m most excited for the live shows and what touring will do for them. We just put a North American tour on sale and the tickets sold out in seconds. People are inspired to see a girl group defined by its members’ integrity and commitment to excellence. Those things have allowed FLO to build trust among fans, the artist community and the media at an exponential rate over the last nine months. Scaling fast feels sustainable in part because of the team around the girls, which is made up of people who care about them reaching their potential. That includes Thori Ingles who works with me, Sam Eldridge, Tayla Dhyll and the team at UROK, MNEK, vocal coach Joshua Alamu, Artists Way PR and Island Records, to name just a few.”
What’s the ethos behind Listen Generously and what are your ambitions for the business?
“As a management company and label, Listen Generously exists to develop artists by helping create space for them to be their absolute best, in their own lane and on their own terms. As the name suggests, listening is at the core of that. How can we help each artist to better listen to themselves, and how can we better listen to them? I want Listen Generously to help important artists to create and disseminate interesting music that people want and need. I’m also working to create a diverse and inclusive culture that is safe and nourishing for all, one that artists, executives and fans are proud to be part of. When the time is right, I’d like to expand the business beyond music, too.”
Finally, if you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be and why?
“More listening across the board. We could all benefit from tuning out the noise and really listening – to music, ourselves and others, especially those whose voices we don’t often hear.”
ROB’S CURRENT FAVOURITE TRACK: Raye – Ice Cream Man