'We knew it would be special': Jen Ivory on UK rock icons Liam Gallagher & John Squire's No.1 album

'We knew it would be special': Jen Ivory on UK rock icons Liam Gallagher & John Squire's No.1 album

Liam Gallagher has extended his run of No.1 albums to 14 (including eight with Oasis) with the chart-topping result for his new collaborative release.

The self-titled Liam Gallagher & John Squire album (Warner Records) brings together the former Oasis singer and the Stone Roses’ guitarist. For Squire it’s his first ever No.1, following The Seahorses' No.2 result with Do It Yourself in 1997.

The Gallagher-Squire album has the biggest week one result of 2024 (and, in fact, since Take That in November last year) with opening sales of 39,395 (Official Charts Company). It performed particularly well on physical with 34,747 units sold, along with 2,180 sales-equivalent streams and 2,468 downloads. 

Although the 17,094 copies on CD was not quite as much as the 19,906 for Swing Fever by Rod Stewart & Jools Holland in the previous week, the vinyl sales of 17,654 are the biggest weekly total so far this year. In fact, that vinyl sale is already the second biggest overall for the year to date, narrowly behind the cumulative total for The Last Dinner Party’s Prelude To Ecstasy (17,965).

Liam Gallagher & John Squire is No.1 on the vinyl albums chart and the Official Record Store Chart. The campaign will get a further boost as the pair tour the album in the coming day starting at Glasgow Barrowland (March 13).

Warner Music UK’s Jen Ivory has led the campaigns for all of Liam Gallagher’s No.1 albums over the last six years. Following the combining of Warner Records and Parlophone and her appointment to Parlophone MD, she has continued to lead for the rock/alternative artists across both labels.

Here, Jen Ivory takes us inside the campaign for the collaborative record by a pair of British rock icons…

The Liam Gallagher & John Squire album has the biggest week one sales of the year – what was key to that performance, particularly as the pre-release period was only a month? 

“As this is a unique release, it was agreed that pre-release would be quicker than a normal artist campaign. We kicked it off by telling the story of two British icons – using clips with archive footage and voice-overs from both Liam and John. We then announced the first track which was backed by a limited edition seven-inch. Sky Sports premiered a whitelisted instrumental of the track, soundtracking the Boxing Day football matches. And we used a large OOH ad in Manchester, near Old Trafford, to hit the heart of the fanbase. 

“Around the album release we created individual ‘ads’ for the items in the artwork and track titles, with preview sounds of all songs on the website, across all socials and TikTok. On the website we set up a ‘store front’ with the items, and each clicked through to the preview sound.

“We also worked with the Bee Network in Manchester around the Manchester derby, with both Liam and John announcing on the tram system tannoys along with posters on buses and screens in Manchester Piccadilly, and we ran a competition for prizes. Sky Sports then premiered the video for the single, with footage from previous derbies, before closing out the show with a montage from that day's game.”

The weekly vinyl sales are huge, what's been driving that and how did you bring in fans via D2C bundles and retail exclusives?

“Yes, we are the biggest week one so far, which is fantastic. When planning the release, we always knew vinyl would be a huge sales driver for the fans. Utilising a wide range of data points and insights, we formulated a vinyl product and distribution strategy, which was designed to appeal to fans’ love of the artist and format whilst also supporting our retail partners.  

“For D2C we formulated a bundle strategy, including a wholly exclusive format that drove over 35% of total UK week one vinyl sales. Coupled with other key pre-order mechanics such as signed items, merchandise offers and ticketing opportunities, the D2C strategy went on to deliver about 50% of overall physical week one sales. 

"Our wider retail strategy has worked brilliantly, we had three additional exclusive formats which were supported by the UK's fantastic independent retailers and Amazon alike. We purposefully gave each offer and retail channel space to have a moment throughout the pre-order campaign. We were very conscious that we wanted to allow fans to make informed buying decisions via their preferred vinyl shopping experience.” 

The album was the first EcoRecord for Warner Music - how are you supporting this new sustainable vinyl format?

“We established an exclusive global partnership with Sonopress to launch this revolutionary new format. Our operations team reached out to me late last year about an opportunity in creating the world’s first EcoRecord with Sonopress and, after diving into the details with them, it seemed like a no-brainer. So many of our artists are looking for ways to share music with their fans in a much more sustainable way, and we're here to help make that a reality for them.

“Our goal was to give fans the high quality sound of vinyl without compromising on quality, but minimising carbon emissions in production. Liam and John’s EcoRecord brings energy savings of up to 85%, as it's made without using steam or natural gas, and uses recyclable PET as its base material. It's been a big success, so I hope to launch more projects like this with our artists later this year.”

Liam Gallagher now has six No.1 albums in just over six years. How significant has he become to the label and British music as one of our biggest rock stars?

“Yes, six consecutive No.1 is phenomenal! Liam is, and always has been, a huge priority for us. He kicked off his solo career with As You Were just six years ago and it was one of the most thrilling campaigns I have ever worked on. We have had a Liam release every year since then and all have been very successful. We are very proud as a label to help Liam secure his rightful place as one of the biggest artists and a true rock 'n' roll star.” 

John Squire appeared at Knebworth 22 and they then got together in the studio with Greg Kurstin. Was there excitement about that process as the record came together, has it lived up to the label's hopes given the critical reaction? 

“It's absolutely lived up to the label's hopes. I had the privilege of listening to the album for the first time with John and Liam and we all knew it would be special. It is such an amazing feeling that this record is the first No.1 for John and I know Liam is thrilled for him. I was able to see John the other day and I think he has enjoyed the process. Full credit to management – Debbie Gwyther and Sam Eldridge for Liam, Simon Moran and Conrad Murray for John – for helping drive all aspects of this campaign.”

How did you go beyond your Liam Gallagher fanbase to reach the Stone Roses/John Squire audience? Is there particular interest in his artwork for the physical music and march?

SJM's involvement allowed us to unlock live databases for both artists. When we announced the project we launched a website with a sign-up and gathered an audience of 35,000 names, which bridged both fanbases.

“John's bespoke artwork was always going to be a USP for this album. The artwork, with each track title having its own ‘item’, opened up a multitude of ways we could play with the album cover – imposing them with archive photos of the guys, creating a shopping list of track titles and faux adverts. Each item is iconic and timeless and so works perfectly on merch, transcending a standard album artwork merch piece. He's an incredible artist in all senses of the word, and he was the driving force behind all the creative.”

The live dates sold out in seconds. How is the excitement building for those shows and will that help maintain momentum for the album in week two?

“We always knew the underplays would underpin the pre-order sales for the album. Two legends in those small venues with anthemic tunes – it was always going to sell out in seconds. It's great to have the shows in week two, and the fan footage along with a Jonathan Ross performance on the weekend will obviously help keep momentum going.”

There are international dates next month – what is the global reaction to the record?

“Our ambition from the offset was to give the record the exposure it deserves especially with press, and Liam and John carried out an intense three-day international press junket in Paris last month where media flew in to speak to them. We had the likes of Rolling Stone Italy, Rolling Stone Germany, Rolling Stone France, Rock & Folk, Visions Magazine, Paris Match, Le Monde, Musikexpress, Corriere Della Sera, Moustique, La Libre, Humo, De Morgen, OOR, Telegraaf, Matin Dimanche, GQ Spain, El Pais and El Mundo all cover it and we set up additional interviews remotely with Alternative Press and Q Magazine.

“Off this strong promotional start and marketing, we are aiming to give the album a big launch with Top 20 and Top 10 targets in many of our key territories ahead of the European tour kicking off later this month. We already have a No.1 in Ireland. In the US we have had a strong start at Triple A, having the No.1 most added on the format at launch and currently No.36. This is ahead of a show at the 2,000-capacity Brooklyn Paramount in April.”

Given the huge success, what are the long-term plans for this partnership in terms of live and recordings?

“I believe there are bigger live shows on the horizon for them. As for new music from Liam and John, that decision is entirely up to them, but, of course, we will be here to support.” 

Click here to read our Liam Gallagher interview for his debut solo album, As You Were.

PHOTO: Tom Oxley


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