Kenny Gates

Co-founder and CEO, [PIAS]

Kenny Gates

Kenny Gates is the Co-Founder, Co-Owner, and Co-President of [PIAS], which is headquartered in both London, England and Brussels, Belgium.

Gates was just 19 year old when he co-founded [PIAS] in the early eighties.

The initial plan for [PIAS] was to be a record importation company, however, the firm later pivoted to distribution and services for fellow independents, as well as running its own in-house record labels.

Kenny Gates: Career history

Kenny Gates co-founded [PIAS] in 1982 with partner and friend Michel Lambot after they met at Lambot’s record shop. Lambot closed down his store by the end of 1982 as the pair planned to start [PIAS]. Lambot and Gates started off with the equivalent of EUR €5,000 in funding to import records from the UK.

By early 1983, though, the pair shifted to a distribution business strategy. [PIAS] distribution primarily offered marketing strategies and tools to unaffiliated music labels. They would later expand [PIAS] to include its own in-house label business.

Throughout the 1990s, [PIAS] acquired other independent music distributors and established offices throughout Europe. In 1993, [PIAS] took control of Vital Distribution, based in London, which has grown to be the UK’s largest independent music distribution, sales, and marketing company.

Gates’ [PIAS] now operates as both a distributor and service provider for outside record labels, while also running its own in-house label operation. Under Gates’ leadership, [PIAS] has come to include [PIAS] Recordings, [PIAS] Cooperative, and [Integral].

  • [PIAS] Recordings consists of eight in-house labels.
  • [PIAS] Cooperative invests in and works alongside associated labels. Co-Op, which it is often called, offers these associated labels access to the [PIAS] distribution network and provides services including manufacturing, creative resources, digital strategy planning, and analytics.
  • [Integral] is the company’s rebranded sales and distribution unit, also offering personalized marketing for associated labels and artists. The overall [PIAS] umbrella also includes music licensing for all of their related labels.

In 2021, Gates struck a strategic global partnership deal with Universal Music Group.

In the deal, Universal provided a package of funding to [PIAS] for access to [Integral]’s international distribution and services business. Unusually, UMG did not take an equity stake in [PIAS]. Gates made clear that “[PIAS] is not for sale.” The company will remain “…completely independent and completely in control of [its] destiny.”

Commenting about Gates and Lambot’s leadership, Chairman and CEO of UMG Sir Lucian Grainge stated “I have known Kenny and Michel for more than 30 years and have deep respect for their passion for music as well their openness and authenticity.

“As pioneers of the label services model, they have created enormous opportunities for independent artists and labels and established [PIAS] as a beacon of excellence in the independent community.”Music Business Worldwide

Kenny Gates In The News

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