An extremely well renowned and key figure in the British music industry, George Ergatoudis has started on a new path in his career by moving from BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra to digital music streaming giant, Spotify. Making the move as recently as last month, Ergatoudis’ new role as Head of UK Content Programming will see him responsible for leading Spotify’s in-house music curation strategy as well as content programming.
Having joined the BBC as a producer back in 1997, over his 19 year stint, Ergatoudis has been credited with the championing of a number of successful British music acts, including Dizzee Rascal, Wiley, Mumford & Sons and Ellie Goulding, earning himself a much deserved reputation for spotting new music talent. Unsurprisingly he has also gained a plethora of awards and recognition along the way.
1. What was your biggest career break?
Without a doubt it was the time I spent as a trainee producer at BBC Radio 1 in 1989. I’d already dabbled in journalism and radio, but the training I received at the BBC is the true foundation of my career.
2. Have you had a notable mentor – and if so what was it about them that was so inspiring?
I have never been fortunate enough to have a proper mentor, but I learnt a lot from Andy Parfitt who was Controller of BBC Radio 1 when I first became Head of Music at the station in 2005. I valued his relentless pursuit of insight and improvement.
3. What one piece of advice would you give to the 20-year-old you?
You can never have a big enough network. Forging and maintaining relationships is a major key to success.
4. What qualities to do you look for in the people you work with?
A great team should feature a diverse range of people with different backgrounds and different strengths, but ultimately you want people you can click with.
5. Who do you admire and why?
My wife, Alexa, for putting up with me for the last 25 years and for helping raise our two sons, Joshua and Toby. We’ve also built two amazing houses together and that couldn’t possibly have happened without her incredible design skills and determination.
6. What does the future of your career look like?
I have just started at Spotify as Head of Content Programming for the UK after spending 19 years at the BBC and I am incredibly excited about the opportunities ahead. Spotify sets the pace in the music streaming world and they have a hugely ambitious and brilliant team on board. I believe that streaming is the future of music consumption and eventually everyone will join the party, but there’s a long road ahead to get there.
7. If you hadn’t chosen your current career, what would you have done instead?
I studied architecture at Sheffield University and I could have become an architect, but I knew it wasn’t my true calling and I didn’t want to be responsible for adding more awful buildings to the environment.
8. What is your biggest extravagance?
Together with my wife we’ve built our last two homes and as I’m a huge film fan I always make sure we have a great surround sound system in one room of the house.
9. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party and why? (you can invite three people – they must be alive)
Dr Lucy Worsley, because she’s lively and witty and armed full of historical nuggets about life at Hampton Court Palace which we live very close to.
Graham Hancock who I admire for his radical thinking on ancient civilisations and his belief in a “mother culture” from which all ancient historical civilisations sprang.
Matt Berry, who plays Steven Toast in the Channel 4 series Toast of London because he makes me laugh out loud.
10. What do you do to relax away from work?
I have a road bike and I enjoy cycling in the Surrey hills at the weekend. And, believe it or not, I like to listen to music.
11. If you could change one thing about Britain today, what would it be?
I don’t think the UK’s education system is fit for purpose. It’s failing too many kids, forcing too many through a one-size fits all system designed for an industrial era that we are swiftly leaving behind. It’s time for a radical re-think and a more personalised approach that will hugely benefit both individuals and the wider economy.
12. What would your last meal be? (please choose a starter, a main course and a pudding)
This is seriously tough because I’m a proper foodie. I would begin with a small bowl of fresh egg pasta with a simple butter sauce and freshly grated white truffle. My Aunty Chareclea in Cyprus is a great cook, so I’d go with her Kotopoulo psito sto fourno: basically roast chicken with potatoes cooked the Greek Cypriot way. Sadly my mum passed away a few years ago, but she was a phenomenal cook and we still have her recipes, so for dessert I would have her home made lemon meringue pie.