Singer and Songwriter
Singer and songwriter Adele – full name Adele Laurie Blue Adkins, MBE – followed up her multi-platinum-selling albums 19 and 21 in 2015 with the impatiently-awaited 25, and its reception was unprecedented. 25 went straight to number one in most major markets and became the fastest selling album in UK chart history. Its lead single Hello garnered the highest ever number of YouTube views and was the first single to sell over a million digital copies in its first week in the US. The notoriously down-to-earth Tottenham-born singer trained at the influential Brit School, and her heartbreakingly soulful voice has typically been accompanied by lyrics documenting heartbreak – though she says of 25, 'My last record was a break-up record, and if I had to label this one, I would call it a make-up record... And I'm sorry it took so long but, you know, life happened'.
Controller, BBC Radio 3
'Music nut' and former Arts Council chief Alan Davey became controller of Radio 3 at the start of 2015. In this capacity he is responsible for the Proms, five BBC orchestras and the corporation's choir, the BBC Singers, as well as output at the classical music station. Radio 3 commissions more new music, and broadcasts more of it live, than any other station, and Davey is introducing a greater emphasis on drama and poetry too, to counter claims he is trying to compete with Classic FM. The son of an electrician, Davey grew up in Stockton-on-Tees and worked in the civil service, latterly at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, before joining Arts Council England as chief executive in 2008. Despite his influence, Davey apparently occupies a small desk within the Radio 3 office, and his collection of over 3,000 CDs speaks for his passion for music.
Dublin-born DJ and television presenter Annie Macmanus took over Radio 1's influential weekday evening shows from Zane Lowe in 2015 in addition to her existing Friday night slot, which already boasted over a million listeners. The influential dance music tastemaker, who began working for Radio 1 as a producer, has been credited with giving artists such as Disclosure, Jessie Ware and Jamie xx their first break, and many of these perform at her 'Annie Mac Presents' parties. In 2015 the AMP tour took in Canada, the US and Ibiza, as well as a number of venues in the UK, and the DJ also hosted sold-out Lost & Found festival in Malta. Annie Mac appears regularly on BBC 2's The Culture Show and has been tipped as a presenter for a revamped version of Top of the Pops alongside her former co-presenter Nick Grimshaw.
Singer, Songwriter and Poet
Singer-songwriter and poet Benjamin Clementine was raised in Edmonton in north London, but was discovered busking on the Paris Metro, having endured a period of homelessness. First gaining attention for a performance on Later with Jools Holland, the 27-year-old has gone on to win the Mercury Music Prize for his debut album At Least For Now and been fêted for his unique singing style and unorthodox song structure. His vocals have been compared to Antony Hegarty and even Nina Simone, and he typically performs in bare feet. Brought up by a strict, religious family of Ghanaian descent, Clementine has revealed he was bullied at school but found solace in music. He told an interviewer: 'When I sing it makes me feel like there's a reason I was born.'
Director, BBC Music
Bob Shennan is responsible for the BBC's music strategy across TV, radio and online as director of music and controller of BBC Radio 2, 6 Music and Asian Network. Shennan took up his directorship in March 2014, and BBC Music, a project of new music programmes, partnerships and initiatives, was launched the same year with an all-star recording of the Beach Boys' God Only Knows. He began his career as a journalist in commercial radio at Hereward Radio before joining the BBC, leaving for a period in 2004 to help Channel 4 launch an abortive radio project. In 2013, Shennan led his three networks to record listener figures and he continues to drive the BBC's commitment to music, showcasing the finest established and emerging musical talent across the UK. The lifelong Liverpool FC fan is also a board member of Children in Need and a trustee of the Roundhouse venue in Camden.
DJ and Producer
Calvin Harris, real name Adam Wiles, is one of the most sought-after DJs and producers in the music industry. He has had 19 top-ten hits in the UK and holds the record for the most from one studio album, surpassing Michael Jackson and making chart history. In 2015 he released How Deep Is Your Love with production trio Disciples and was named Top Dance/Electronic Artist at the Billboard Music Awards. Harris, who started making demo tracks in his bedroom as a teenager and worked in a fish processing factory to save money for equipment, has been named the highest-paid DJ in the world by Forbes for the past three years. The teetotaller has attracted tabloid attention recently thanks to high profile romances with Rita Ora and Taylor Swift.
Chairman and CEO, Universal Music UK
As chairman and CEO of Universal Music UK, David Joseph oversees all divisions of the UK's leading music company including labels Island, Polydor, Decca and Virgin EMI and the world's most famous recording studio, Abbey Road. Prior to joining Universal as Polydor's general manager, Joseph was head of artist development at RCA Records where he worked with acts including Kylie Minogue, Take That and Annie Lennox. As a former chairman of the BRITs Committee, he instigated an overhaul of the awards, and its 2012 show, featuring Adele's now legendary performance of Someone Like You, attracted its biggest TV audience in seven years. Joseph was executive producer of Amy, the 2015 documentary film about the late singer Amy Winehouse, and revealed he destroyed unfinished tracks for her third album, saying, 'It was a moral thing. Taking a stem or vocal is not something that would ever happen on my watch.'
2015 saw Ed Sheeran play three sold-out concerts at Wembley and win an Album of the Year Brit Award for for his second album x as well as an Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of the Year. He was also named Spotify's most streamed UK artist and launched his own record label, Gingerbread Man Records. Still just 24, Sheeran's rise has been meteoric: having left school at 16 and moved to London shortly after, he gigged relentlessly and never had any money, occasionally sleeping rough, selling CDs from his bag to buy food. His EP No. 5 Collaborations Project finally attracted the attention of Elton John and Jamie Foxx, and he was signed to Asylum Records, with his debut + released in 2011. It has since been certified six-times platinum.
Agent, Creative Artists Agency
As a leading agent at top talent management company CAA, Emma Banks represents acts including Katy Perry, Gossip, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Florence & the Machine. As well as building fan bases and overseeing tours for established artists, she works to identify and develop new talent such as New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde. Banks left her previous firm Helter Skelter to open CAA's London office together with fellow agent Mike Greek in 2006, and took on a roster of artists that included Arcade Fire, Franz Ferdinand and Alicia Keys. Banks has won Pollstar's International Agent of the Year Award three times, and was named one of the top 50 women in the music industry by Billboard magazine. She volunteers for music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins, chairing its O2 Silver Clef Committee.
Head of Music, BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra
George Ergatoudis has been head of music at Radio 1 since 2005, and of 1 Xtra since 2009, having previously worked as a producer for the BBC and Kiss FM as well as in music promotions. In late 2015 it was announced that he would become head of content programming at the world's leading digital music service, Spotify, in March. In his current role, Ergatoudis chairs the BBC new music stations' weekly playlist meetings, determining what a huge proportion of the British public listens to, and with over 20 years' experience in radio, he has an in-depth knowledge of contemporary music across all genres. His love for music was born during the punk revolution when he was a child listening to John Peel on the radio at night. He studied Architecture at university, but much of his energy went into starting a music fanzine. Ergatoudis has served as a judge for the Mercury Prize since 2007 and was named International Music Person of the Year at Musexpo 2015.
One third of Mercury Prize-winning band The xx, producer, DJ and remixer Jamie xx – aka Jamie Smith – went solo in 2015 with his debut album In Colour. The record, described as 'terribly hip but also deeply emotional' by Pitchfork, was also tipped to win the Mercury in 2015 and has been nominated for a Best Album Grammy in the Electronic/Dance category. As a remixer, Smith has worked with artists including Adele and Radiohead, and as a producer for Drake and Alicia Keys. Naturally introverted, he says that he prefers working alone, however. Smith's bandmates have collaborated with him on several tracks on In Colour, and their third album as a trio is due for release in 2016.
Chief Executive, Sony Music UK
Appointed chief executive of Sony Music UK in 2014, Jason Iley's impressive career spans more than 20 years in the music industry. Starting out as a product manager at Sony in 1994, Iley made a name for himself at Universal Music UK where he also worked across Polydor and Island. Whilst there he played a vital role in launching the careers of several major names, including Amy Winehouse and Keane, before becoming the president of Mercury Records in 2005 where he worked with the likes of Sir Elton John, Paul McCartney and Chase and Status. He also notably convinced U2 to move to the label after 27 years with Island. After a spell as president of Jay-Z's Roc Nation Records, Iley moved to Sony where he oversees the Columbia, RCA, Epic and Syco labels as well as a roster of artists that includes AC/DC, The Kinks, One Direction, Kings of Leon and Pharrell Williams.
In 2015, 26-year-old singer-songwriter Jess Glynne became only the second British female solo artist to have five UK number ones. As well as collaborations with Tinie Tempah and Clean Bandit, Glynne's debut album I Cry When I Laugh topped the UK charts. While far from maudlin, the album was inspired by a bad break-up – 'the most horrible situation I could have been in. It was the first girl I'd ever fallen in love with.' Coming from north London and being from a Jewish background, it is perhaps inevitable that Amy Winehouse was an influence, but Glynne spent her youth trying to mimic Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. At 15, she met with X Factor producers, but claims she decided against entering the talent contest – a decision that proved the right one: last year she appeared as a guest judge on the show.
Director, Wigmore Hall and Chairman, Royal Philharmonic Society
Born in Limerick, John Gilhooly has rapidly become one of the most influential figures in British arts administration, being appointed an OBE for his work. Joining London's prestigious Wigmore Hall venue as executive director in 2000 at the age of 27, he took on the role of artistic director in 2005, thus becoming one of the youngest elite venue heads in the world. Gilhooly had previously worked on the creation of the Excel convention centre in London's Docklands, but had a background in music venues and had trained as a tenor. He has argued against those who believe classical music cannot draw young audiences and was able to boost ticket sales 50% in his first five years in overall charge at Wigmore Hall. Expanding the range of programmes to include jazz and world music, he has said, 'Nothing survives unless it's constantly refreshed'. At any one time, Gilhooly has said, he has up to 1,000 future concerts lined up in his head.
Founder, MOBO Awards
When Kanya King founded the first MOBO Awards in 1996, with the show broadcast on Carlton TV, many believed there would be scant audience for the celebration of 'Music of Black Origin' which embraces such genres as Reggae, RnB, Hip Hop and Gospel. Today the MOBOs reach over 400 million viewers across over 200 countries and have helped propel the careers of artists such as Emeli Sandé, Tinie Tempah and Amy Winehouse. 2015 marked the 20th year of the MOBOs, and brought with it the inaugural Rise With Us season, a programme of events aiming to promote diversity within fashion, art, film and theatre as well as music, working with partners such as the National Theatre, the BFI, the British Library and Tate Britain. The youngest of nine children, King grew up in a council flat in Kilburn where her Ghanaian-Irish family was subjected to 'huge discrimination', but she took the advice of her father to 'be the best you can be', and today encourages and enables others to do likewise.
Chairman and CEO, Universal Music Group
Lucian Grainge has been chairman and chief executive officer of the world's biggest record music company, Universal Music Group, for four years, and signed a further five-year contract with its owners in 2015. UMG is the home of some of the most iconic music labels and brands in the world, and Grainge oversaw its $1.9 billion acquisition of EMI's recorded-music assets in 2012. His tenure has also seen consistently impressive revenues in the context of a declining record industry, half of which now come from digital and streaming sources. Grainge began his career after leaving grammar school and landing a job as a runner at MPC, a talent scout company. He has now been in the music industry for more than 30 years, during which time he has played an integral role in the careers of many top artists including ABBA, U2, Amy Winehouse and Andrea Bocelli. In 2014 he was also awarded an Icon Award by the Recording Academy in recognition of his contributions to the music business.
CEO, Warner Music UK
Max Lousada was appointed chairman and CEO of Warner Music UK in September 2013 and is responsible for overseeing the UK family of labels and imprints that includes Atlantic Records, Parlophone, Roadrunner, Warner Music Entertainment and Warner Bros Records amongst many others. WMUK is home to some of the country's most successful and acclaimed acts, including Ed Sheeran, Muse, Blur, Clean Bandit, Damon Albarn, Lily Allen, Jess Glynne and James Blunt as well as US and international stars such as Bruno Mars, Prince, The Black Keys, Michael Bublé and Jason Derulo. Lousada previously headed up Atlantic Records UK for nine years, building an award-winning team and a strong roster of artists, and before that was head of A&R at Mushroom Records. In June 2014, Lousada was additionally named chairman of the BRITs Committee, and his first show as chairman in February 2015 featured Ant & Dec as hosts with performances from Madonna, Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, Royal Blood, Paloma Faith and Kanye West.
Songwriter, Musician and Producer
Real name Shahid Khan, songwriter, DJ and producer Naughty Boy has collaborated with a host of artists including Sam Smith, Emeli Sandé, Cheryl Cole, Lily Allen and Zayn Malik – the latter of which mysteriously led to a notorious Twitter spat with the former One Direction singer. The lead single off his new album, Runnin', also happens to feature possibly the most famous female pop star in the world: Beyoncé Knowles. Khan was born in Watford to Pakistani parents and helped finance his early adventures in music-making with a grant from the Prince's Trust. He subsequently won £44,000 on gameshow Deal or No Deal, which enabled him to buy recording equipment. With his second album release and a further collaboration with Emeli Sandé on the cards for 2016, the rise and rise of Naughty Boy looks set to continue.
Vice-President, iTunes International
As vice-president at iTunes International, Oliver Schusser oversees its activity in over 150 markets outside the US, as well as managing the iTunes Store, the App Store and the iBooks Store. iTunes's market share is practically unprecedented, with two thirds of consumers opting for its format above others. Schusser plays a key role in Apple's dominance of the European download market and in organising its annual iTunes Festival at the Roundhouse, which aims to target a broad audience and promote diverse artists, which last year included One Direction and the Chemical Brothers. iTunes's streaming service, Apple Music, launched in June 2015 as a rival to Spotify, and saw 11 million people sign up to its three-month trial.
President of Touring, Live Nation International
In his role as president of touring at global live entertainment company Live Nation, Phil Bowdery oversees the acquisition and execution of tours for artists such as Rihanna, AC/DC and Ellie Goulding. Bowdery is a legend of the live music scene, having worked with performers including Michael Jackson, Madonna, Shirley Bassey and Stevie Wonder during his career. He first got into music as a drummer in a band, and then became a roadie for glam rock artists Mud, going on to manage their tours as their profile increased during the '70s. He says the Royal Albert Hall is his favourite venue, and one that holds 'a special attraction' for artists. At the end of 2015, Bowdery was announced as the new chairman of the Concert Promoters Association.
London-born Sam Smith has continued to clock up plaudits over the last year for his 2014 album In the Lonely Hour, winning four Grammys and two Brit Awards in 2015. Just four years ago, he was cleaning the loos in a London bar, walking home because he couldn't afford the tube. In October 2012 he featured on Latch, Disclosure's breakthrough single, and he secured his first number one in May 2013 with Naughty Boy's La La La. Smith's musical education began at a young age when his father arranged lessons with a local jazz singer, and he was encouraged to sing for guests at his mother's dinner parties. In 2015 his recording of Writing's on the Wall, the theme tune for Spectre, became the first Bond theme to reach number one in the UK, and it went on to win a Best Original Song Golden Globe in January 2016.
Managing Director, SJM Concerts
Simon Moran is founder and head of SJM Concerts, the company that co-owns T in the Park and V Festival and puts on around 2,000 gigs a year. He is also in charge of the Academy Music group of venues that includes Brixton Academy and the Shepherd's Bush Empire. In 2009, Moran's offer to promote a reunion tour prompted Take That to reform, and the result, The Circus Live, was the UK's largest tour to date – followed by an even bigger one, Progress, two years later. One of the UK's most influential music executives, Moran also owns rugby league club Warrington Wolves.
Music Director, Royal Opera House
Sir Tony Pappano has held the prestigious role of music director at the Royal Opera House since 2002 and is one of the genre's most influential tastemakers and spokesmen. The 'unstoppable maestro' has conducted a range of works at the Royal Opera House, including Mozart, Puccini, Verdi, Wagner, Shostakovich, Britten and Berg, in addition to pieces for The Royal Ballet and world premieres of Turnage's Anna Nicole and Birtwistle's The Minotaur. As the son of Italian immigrants, Pappano was born in Essex and grew up on a council estate, but moved to America at the age of 13 when he began his music career as a piano accompanist. While he worries that audiences' attention spans are on the wane, he admits that his busy schedule wouldn't allow him to sit through a complete Ring cycle, 'but I can conduct one'. In 2012, Pappano received a knighthood, and in 2015 he received a Gold Medal from the Royal Philharmonic Society.
A music legend in his own right, Sir Elton John has also nurtured many new artists, most notably Ed Sheeran, through his management company Rocket Music Entertainment Group. Having stunned his family by playing The Skater's Waltz by ear on the piano at the age of three, Sir Elton has enjoyed a long and highly successful career in music, having sold over 300 million records and won 12 Ivor Novello Awards, a BRIT Icon Award, three Oscar nominations and a Tony amongst many other accolades. Together with his husband of ten years David Furnish, Sir Elton set up the Elton John AIDS Foundation with the aim to create an AIDS-free future for everyone. In 2015 he received a prank phonecall from a pair of Russian hoaxers pretending to be Vladimir Putin, which was followed a few days later by the real Putin calling to say he would be prepared to discuss Sir Elton's concerns about homophobia in Russia, prompting David Furnish to describe the president as 'lovely'.
World-renowned music director Simon Rattle has been principal conductor at the Berlin Philharmonic for the last 17 years, but returns to the UK next year as the new MD of the London Symphony Orchestra. The role is considered one of the most prestigious in the classical music world, and reflects Rattle's reputation as a world class conductor, earned during his time leading City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He oversaw CBSO's rise to becoming one of Europe's leading ensembles, as well as its move to a new venue at Symphony Hall. Rattle, who conducted the LSO at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics, has criticised the shortcomings of London's concert halls, and will no doubt hope the orchestra finds a new home before he takes up his appointment. He is an advocate of music education in schools, which he has said will be a 'huge priority' for him when he returns to the UK.
All the latest news, discussions, events and offers from Debrett’s and receive £10 off your first purchase