Anne-Marie was jubilant at the Music Week Awards last week.
The UK star celebrated with her team at Atlantic, as they won the Record Company of the Year trophy in recognition of the Warner Music label’s success with her own campaign along with artists including Ed Sheeran, Maisie Peters and Tion Wayne (who secured another Top 10 hit following the ceremony).
The label is led by co-presidents Briony Turner and Ed Howard, along with EVP Austin Daboh, general manager Liz Goodwin and Damian Christian, managing director and president of promotions. Christian and his colleagues were also victorious in the Promotions Team category at the ceremony following an impressive performance in 2021, the campaign period covered by the awards.
Atlantic is proud of its artist-first philosophy, and 2021 saw the label build on its singles success in 2020 with albums and other projects for returning and breakthrough stars. Hot artists include Joel Corry, another Music Week Awards guest, Fred Again.. and now KSI, who’s moved to Atlantic following his huge collaboration with Anne-Marie on Don’t Play (No.2 peak, 719,993 sales - Official Charts Company).
Here, in an interview in the immediate afterglow of their awards triumph, Briony Turner, Ed Howard and Damian Christian speak to Music Week about the new era at the label…
Why do you think Atlantic deserves this victory?
Briony Turner: “I think what I love about Atlantic is the totally diverse roster, with musical genres across the board and real marquee artists across all lanes.”
Ed Howard: “I think it's also extremely collaborative. There's no politics. We just want to be the best, break as many artists as possible. It's all in the service of the artists and that's what this is about.”
BT: “Yeah, and I would add to that we work with amazing artists and amazing management teams behind them, so big up to those guys.”
The award recognised your work with established stars such as Ed Sheeran and Annie-Marie as well as breakthrough acts Tion Wayne and Maisie Peters…
EH: “Yeah, it's also great that we've been working with Charli XCX for over 10 years and she had a No.1 album earlier in the year - that was amazing. Ed [Sheeran] obviously had a great year. No one has a year like that after 10 years in, that's phenomenal and testament to the hard work of all the team. From the new artists all the way through to the established ones, we had a fantastic year and we have our team to thank across the board.”
Damian Christian: “Tion Wayne had the first drill No.1.”
EH: “100%, amazing.”
DC: “And these guys need to take a lot of the credit, because they took over the company, they’re both from the A&R world and they've gelled everyone together over the last few years. It's been a little journey really, because in lockdown it was about trying to motivate and get everyone going. They’re both so humble, brilliant and respectful to everybody. They've led the charge, they deserve all the credit.”
EH: “Likewise, we're leaning on the experience of incredible people who have supported us, like Damian and his team. We couldn't do that without everybody that works at the label.”
This award reflects success in 2021, was that your first full year working together as co-presidents?
BT: “It was our second year…”
EH: “But with the pandemic, it feels like six months. Briony was actually on maternity leave when she got appointed to the role, so I feel like we’re just hitting our stride.”
Tell us about some of the acts you’re excited about like Fred Again…
EH: “Fred Again.. has an amazing future."
BT: “We love Fred. We signed Fred about four years ago now. He was working on a lot of artists across the roster. And when I first met him, we were just like, ‘He's such a mad talent’. I remember going to the studio, there was a bunch of kids in the studio and I was completely intimidated because it was the creme de la creme. And in that moment, I remember thinking, I've got to do everything I can to fucking sign this guy because he's just the best in class. He was sitting there playing virtuoso piano and it was like one of those moments where you just know that you're in the presence of someone truly special. He took a minute to really formulate what his artistic direction and sound was going to be, and we supported him in that journey. We couldn't be prouder of him. He's just sold out 28,000 tickets in an hour in the US. So he's on fire there.”
EH: “We’ve had 100 hits with him as well, with Ed [Sheeran] and others, as a producer.”
You’ve been joined by Anne-Marie and Joel Corry tonight to mark this achievement…
EH: “Joel’s had seven consecutive No.1s at US dance radio. That’s almost as many Music Week Awards as you’ve got [Damian].”
DC: “It’s actually nowhere near [laughs].”
EH: “He’s on an amazing path, it’s great to see.”
BT: “He’s got amazing energy and he’s just a great human. Across our roster, we have fantastic artist talent and fantastic people.”
You’re on a bit of a roll, what are you excited about for the rest of the year?
BT: “We’re really excited about the Nathan Dawe record with Ella Henderson [21 Reasons], that has a massive sample in it and it's setting up super well to be one of the big records of the summer.”
EH: “We're about to kick off with KSI as well, who’s a massive signing. We're super proud of him. We've had great success already [on Anne-Marie single Don’t Play]. That will be amazing.”
Damian, you’ve already been working on KSI as a promotions team [Warner’s ADA partnered on the BMG releases]...
DC: “We’ve been plugging KSI for a while. That's been a really good story, because when we first got hold of him there was no interest from media, they saw him as a YouTuber. But we managed to turn that around.”
BT: “Maisie Peters is on tour with Ed Sheeran, she's doing amazing things, turning heads and converting audiences. So we're really excited about what the future holds for her. Her current single Cate’s Brother is an absolute banger as well.”
DC: “Mahalia as well…”
EH: “Mahalia’s on tour, smashing it.”
Mahalia is another long-term development story…
DC: “That’s something about Atlantic…”
BT: “We're all about artist development and long-term careers. We stick with them for however long it takes.”