Tomorrow (May 21) Island Records’ One Love Covid-19 Relief Auction in aid of NHS Charities Together and Feeding America takes place.
Those lots include everything from a pair of stilettos from the personal wardrobe of Amy Winehouse (pictured) to a VIP tour of Abbey Road Studios and handwritten lyrics from the likes of Annie Lennox, Jon Bon Jovi, Portishead and others.
The idea for the auction came from Island’s London office, and here the label’s UK President Louis Bloom and SVP Records and Promotions Steve Pitron talk to MBW about pulling the project together and about life at Island in lockdown…
HOW DID THE AUCTION COME ABOUT?
Louis Bloom: There was definitely a collective thinking from the label quite early into lockdown that we wanted to do something to support all the people who work for the NHS and keyworkers, who have done, and continue to do, so much for us during these challenging times. Then it just took a moment to figure out what format this would take.
Steve came up with the idea of an auction, which felt unique and very Island. Immediately we got together a taskforce, shout out to Holly, Charlie and Shane, but this is honestly the whole of Island Records coming together, working around the clock to pull this thing together. Calling it the One Love Auction felt right.
Steve Pitron: We asked our artists to come up with some cherished items from their personal collections, as well as money can’t buy experiences which we could put into the auction.
Then we needed a host, someone who would be able to pull this off and make it as big and as fun an event as possible. Billy Porter was the obvious choice, his global reach is enormous. We’d hung out at the Universal BRITs afterparty and seeing the reaction he got when he turned up, we knew he’d be perfect.
Incredibly, he said yes straight away. He and his team have been a real dream to work with. They’ve been so giving of their time.
WHAT WAS THE REACTION LIKE FROM THE ARTIST/MANAGEMENT COMMUNITY?
LB: The reaction has been overwhelming. We were genuinely touched that everybody we approached jumped at the chance to be part of this – not just artists and managers associated with Island, but other labels, artists, photographers and brands reached out to us to contribute in any way they could.
“It’s been amazing how the auction has struck a chord with everyone and the support across the industry has been fantastic.”
Louis Bloom, Island Records
The press and online coverage has also been incredible from the moment we broke cover, and it was a real coup to score a slot on Graham Norton’s BBC One show, where Billy gave the auction a big push. It’s been amazing how the auction has struck a chord with everyone and the support across the industry has been fantastic.
WHAT’S THE BALANCE BEEN LIKE BETWEEN LOGISTICAL NIGHTMARE AND INSPIRING EXPERIENCE?!
SP: I think that perfectly sums this up!
I’m not going to lie, it’s been an intense few weeks pulling this together but it’s also been a lot of fun. We are so grateful and proud of all the hard work the Island teams have put into this to meet the deadlines.
It’s also been fantastic working so closely with Darcus [Beese] and the team at Island US, as well as Monte and Avery [Lipman] at Republic who have helped make this a truly global, family affair. Everyone has come to the table with bags of energy and ideas.
ANY THOUGHTS ON HOW MUCH YOU HOPE TO RAISE?
LB: We’ve already reached over £65,000 since we launched last Thursday. I’d love to think we can reach £100,000. That’s the goal.
FINALLY, LOUIS, CAN WE GET A FEW QUICK THOUGHTS ON WHAT IT’S BEEN LIKE RUNNING A LABEL THROUGH THESE TIMES?
LB: Like everyone else, we have had to quickly adapt to working from home, with staff, artists and managers all in unique situations. Working out how to finish albums, videos, working around cancelled tours and lack of face-to-face time.
For a lot of artists this has given them time back and is enabling them to work on new music, so the plus side will hopefully be a richer release schedule for everyone in the coming months/year.
“Thankfully the demand for music is still there. People’s habits might have shifted, but the demand for new and old music remains strong, and you could say is even more important than ever now. “
We should also remember how fortunate we are to be in a business and at a company [Universal] where we can continue to make music and carry on. [Universal Music UK boss] David Joseph has been incredibly supportive and reassuring and has shown great leadership throughout. Lots of people in other industries have lost their jobs so it gives you that extra sense of responsibility to do the best work you can.
Thankfully the demand for music is still there. People’s habits might have shifted, but the demand for new and old music remains strong, and you could say is even more important than ever now.
This has also given us all an opportunity to rethink how we work moving forward, do we need to be in the office all the time? Are flexible hours more productive? It’s thrown up loads of questions. What it has shown is that we’re all in this together. It’s a great leveller for all of us: artists, managers and the team at Island.
One final thing, the main event is tomorrow, Thursday 21st May at 1pm ET, 6pm BST. Head to oneloveauction.com to register. Please get your credit cards out and get bidding.Music Business Worldwide