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Mike Smith heats up Mercury
LABELS n BY TIM INGHAM
Hugely respected A&R exec Mike Smith has been hired by Mercury Records – and believes he and former fierce rival Jason Iley will make an “unbeatable team”.
Smith will join the Universal company in September. Hired in a newly-created role as president of music, he will lead a Mercury A&R team that has enjoyed huge recent success with Chase & Status and Noah & The Whale.
“I was proud to get the call from Jason and David [ Joseph] - Mercury is an amazingly strong label,” Smith told Music Week. “But there’s also an opportunity there for an A&R man. I look at other labels across the industry that have an awful lot of new artists on their roster – I think there’s a bit more scope within Mercury to break new acts.”
Smith left his position as MD of Sony label Columbia in April – where he did battle with Mercury president Iley over the signatures of Arcade Fire, Gaslight Anthem and more.
Iley told Music Week: “A&R executives as good as Mike are very far and few between. He’s incredible with artists and his knowledge of music is phenomenal. When Mike’s sitting with an act, there’s a very good chance he’s going to sign them.”
Said Smith: “I’m hugely impressed with Jason – he’s one of the most tenacious deal closers out there. I really believe that the mixture of our particular strengths will make us an unbeatable combination.”
Mercury 2012: MD Clive Cawley, president Jason Iley and president of music Mike Smith
EXECUTIVE CV MIKE SMITH 1988–1991 Talent scout, MCA Publishing Signed: Blur, Levitation Scouted: Smashing Pumpkins
Signed: Gorillaz, White Stripes, Doves, Starsailor
1992–2000 A&R Manager, EMI Music Publishing Signed: Elastica, Supergrass, Teenage Fanclub, Guy Chambers, The Beta Band, The Bluetones, Blur (again), Avalanches
2000–2002 VP A&R, EMI Music Publishing
2003–2005 Senior VP/Director A&R, EMI Pub. Signed: Kasabian, The Libertines, Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, The Zutons, Embrace, Scissor Sisters
2006–2012 MD, Columbia Records UK Signed: Calvin Harris, Mark Ronson, Ting Tings, Miles Kane, Paul Epworth, The Vaccines, Katy B, Ryan Adams, Band Of Horses
Smith added: “The label that I set up at Columbia is unfortunately very different to the one I left behind. It’s much smaller. Sony has dramatically reorganised in the past 12 months.
“A full service label at Mercury – with the full complement of promotions, press, radio, TV etc. – is very attractive to artists; they want to know that they’re signing to a label that doesn’t have to share [resource] with others in the group.
“Without question the major label system can still sign and break artists better than
Sony artists set to shine at iTunes Fest
Sony Music-signed acts will make up over half of all headliners during September’s iTunes Festival at the Roundhouse, London.
iTunes will host 30 dates of music across the month, with headliners already confirmed including One Direction, Olly Murs, Labrinth, JLS, Usher and Rebecca Ferguson.
“We contributed 16 artists to last year's bill and look set to top that this time,” Sony Music UK & Ireland executive VP Nicola Tuer told Music Week.
EMI currently has four affiliated artists confirmed (Emeli Sande, Noel Gallagher, David Guetta and Norah Jones), with two each currently announced from Universal and Warner. n Full iTunes Festival feature: Page 16 & 17
anywhere else - and I’ve got no doubt Universal can do so better than any other major.”
Meanwhile, Vertigo’s Clive Cawley is promoted to MD of Mercury, reporting to Iley, as Elliot Taylor moves from Universal’s central sales team to become Mercury commercial director. Rachael Paley returns to the label as senior marketing manager after two years at Rhino and Warner.
“We’re moving into an incredibly exciting stage for Mercury in the second half of the year with records from Jake Bugg, Gaslight Anthem and SubFocus,” said Iley.
“Furthermore, 2013 could be one of the best years Mercury’s ever had, with new records from U2, Metallica, Arcade Fire, Noah & The Whale, Chase & Status and Nero. It’s the most exciting period in my entire career at Mercury.”
VERTIGO OR VERTI-STAY?
Mercury president Jason Iley is keeping his cards close to his chest over the future of Vertigo. The imprint recently parted company with MD Paul Adam, now at Global, whilst label manager Clive Cawley this week moves into Mercury.
When asked what Vertigo’s ultimate fate would be, Iley told Music Week: “That will be a decision made by Mike [Smith] in the future. Mike’s come in to be in charge of A&R… what he decides to do with Vertigo is something I’ll be in discussions with him and Clive over once Mike gets started.”