The great and the good of the UK music business came together in London last night for MBW’s inaugural A&R Awards in association with Abbey Road Studios.
Winners emerged from labels, publishers and management companies – with a good showing from both the independent and major sectors.
The finale of the night was reserved for The Sir George Martin Award, recognising an outstanding contemporary A&R figure with a track record of fostering meaningful artist and/or songwriter relationships.
The special award was handed out by Damon Albarn, whose Blur Smith signed nearly 30 years ago as a scout at MCA Music Publishing.
Other special moments included the A&R Icon award, handed to Muff Winwood by Capitol Records UK President Nick Raphael, who gave a heartfelt tribute to his former boss. Muff’s speech was warmly received by a silent Park Lane Hotel.
Elsewhere, the Artist Loyalty Award was won by Colin Lester of JEM Artists for his unbroken and unique relationship with platinum-selling UK star Craig David – who performed live with Fraser T Smith for the first time in over a decade.
Individual awards were collected by Virgin EMI’s Ashley Forbes (A&R Administrator) Dirty Hit‘s Jamie Oborne (Rock/Alternative), Ministry Of Sound‘s David Dollimore and Dipesh Parmar (Electronic/Dance), Stellar Songs’ Danny D and Tim Blacksmith (Pop/R&B) and Warner/Chappell’s Amber Davis – who, having signed both Skepta and Stormzy this year, triumphed in the Hip-hop/Grime category.
Cass Lowe was named Songwriter Of The Year while Mark Ralph won in the Producer Of The Year category for his work with Years & Years and Kygo.
There were two Publisher Of The Year awards on the night, with finalists differentiated by the size of catalogue they control.
Tattersfield and Good Soldier’s Alex Gilbert also joined Irish singer/songwriter Gavin James on stage to collect the Breaking Artist Award at the start of the evening.
Jess Glynne won the Breakthrough Artist award with her Atlantic A&R team, led by Alec Boateng and Briony Turner.
Management Company went to the house of Adele, Jamie T and Levi Lennox, September Management – but there was a special surprise before Jonathan Dickins and his team took to the stage.
The Management gong was handed out by ie:music Chairman Tim Clark, who announced to loud applause that forever more, the award would be named after his late business partner David Enthoven.
Major Label Of The Year went to Polydor Records for its work over the past 12 months with the likes of Michael Kiwanuka, The 1975 (with Dirty Hit), Ellie Goulding and – one of 2015’s biggest UK breakthoughs – Years & Years.
Independent Label Of The Year was won by Because Music (Major Lazer, Christine & The Queens, Django Django), collected by the company’s Emmanuel De Buretel and Jane Third.
The A&R Awards were voted on by a mix of specialist groups and an industry-wide panel of over 100 senior A&R figures working across the UK, US, Europe and beyond.
Expect plenty more coverage from the ceremony in the coming hours and days.
The A&R Awards in association with Abbey Road Studios – All The Winners:
The Sir George Martin Award
The Artist Loyalty Award
COLIN LESTER, JEM ARTISTS
The Breaking Artist Award
The Breakthrough Artist Award
Producer Of The Year
Songwriter Of The Year
ASHLEY FORBES, VIRGIN EMI
A&R Of The Year: Electronic/Dance
DAVID DOLLIMORE & DIPESH PARMAR, MINISTRY OF SOUND
A&R Of The Year: Hip-Hop/Grime
AMBER DAVIS, WARNER/CHAPPELL
A&R Of The Year: Pop/R&B
TIM BLACKSMITH & DANNY D
A&R Of The Year: Rock/Alternative
JAMIE OBORNE, DIRTY HIT
Publisher Of The Year
GOOD SOLDIER SONGS
Publisher Of The Year
Management Company (The David Enthoven Award)
Independent Label Of The Year
Major Label Of The Year
POLYDOR RECORDSMusic Business Worldwide