24 February 2015

Chapter 14 – The phone call

 So, in the last chapter I was telling you about Muff Winwood, the then Vice President of Sony UK, and why I was making a bee line for him. Well, Muff and Lincoln Alias (founder of the label) were responsible for signing some great artists to the label, including Sade, Des’ree and Jamiroquai to name just a few. These were the days when acts were signed and developed … this means they were signed, and were then given time, money and breathing space to write, and figure out their direction along with the guidance and help of the label.

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Back in the day it wasn’t unusual for acts to release quite a few albums before they even came close to hitting the big time – and this was acceptable collateral damage. Artists such as; The Stones, The Beatles, David Bowie, Radiohead, Queen, Pulp, Nirvana, U2, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Blur and Red Hot Chilli Peppers all took their sweet time before they hit the ground running, and in some cases it took years. Note: If you’re reading this and you have no idea who some of those artists are that I just mentioned, and yet you do know who ‘one direction’ are, then shame on you! you better go have a listen and save your soul while you still can : ) 

Unfortunately times have now changed. Labels can no longer afford to invest money into long term development projects.  Now, often when artists are signed they are expected to make the money back (with hit records) on their debut album. In many cases if they don’t recoup their advance, they are dropped like a hot potato. If this was the case back in the day, think of all that great music we would have missed out on! it also makes you wonder what great music we might be missing out on today … no Bowie, no Queen, no Beatles??!

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I guess you could argue that with the arrival of youtube, there’s a level playing field now – anyone can achieve worldwide recognition and that’s true, but also it’s worth noting that; it doesn’t matter how talented you think you might be, developing your craft/sound/musicianship takes years – and that level of devotion is born out of a love of music. For that reason alone, anyone just looking for overnight stardom might well enjoy some flash-in-the-pan success but (and this is just my opinion) they will never come close to achieving a long term successful career in music.

This is the reason why I had sought out Muff Winwood; he was a musician himself and he had a reputation for helping and establishing artists. All I had at this point were a handful of very commercial pop songs that I’d written with Jed, and a back catalogue of ‘Jodie’ songs that had never seen light of day. I knew I was going to need help, time, and guidance but I also knew that getting into bed with a major label could be well dicey, so if I was lucky enough to be picked out from a pile and if I did go down this road, it would have to be with someone I felt I could trust. I needed to be taken under somebody’s wing and I was praying to the universe, that somebody might be Muff Winwood.

The following week Muff called me. We had a short but sweet conversation, during which he invited to come into the office for a chat – I hung up very calmly and ran screaming all over the house.