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HITS Daily Double
U.K. SPECIAL ISSUE MANAGEMENT: JAMIE OBORNE

Jamie Oborne is one of the hottest British execs on the block right now, thanks to success with his artist-focused management company All on Red and label Dirty Hit. Manchester band The 1975, Oborne’s flagship act, are now certified royalty, with two U.K. #1 albums, the latter of which hit the top of the U.S. charts last year. Oborne has also signed Wolf Alice, who had a second #2 album in September, indie pop act The Japanese House and buzzing new cult quartet Pale Waves, among others. The 1975 have finished their second album cycle and are in the studio working on album three. Look out for more news on that next June. Oborne has JVs in the U.S. with Interscope for The 1975 and RCA for Wolf Alice, and he expects a deal to be signed with a permanent partner in the future.


What is your management strategy?
When I believe in an artist, the strategy is just to make sure that their vision is executed and amplified without anyone fucking with it, basically! Aside from that, I make sure each of my artists’ creative and business world, as well as their emotional and spiritual side, is looked after. The kind of artists that I’m drawn to are those for whom music is their world. I often say to the team in the office that our careers are going to span different artists, but these kids who entrust their work to me have one opportunity to get it right. So I take really seriously the principles of management and my ethical duty to the artist to nurture and protect them and further their careers and creative pursuits.

What is the role of a manager in 2017?
It’s a pioneer, guardian, a sounding board, and someone you can rely on to tell you the truth when you’re surrounded by people who agree with everything you say. The more fruitful management relationships I have are brutally honest and built on mutual respect. I’m a terrible liar and I’m terribly honest, which does cost me opportunities sometimes, particularly when I’m trying to sign a new artist!

Has the dominance of U.S. acts on streaming services had an impact on what you do?
Find stuff because you love it, not because you think it’s going to stream well. After all, we’re dealing with a subjective art form, so using your own subjectivity is probably a good idea. It would be a disaster if I started choosing artists just because I wanted to make money.

How do you tell artist stories and build loyalty with fans in 2017?
I think it’s about identity-led marketing campaigns and having something that is real to start with. I’ve noticed recently that people want real stuff, things they can hold, touch and experience.

How about ambitions for Dirty Hit and All on Red?
I want to be the place that artists want to sign to, and where they feel respected and empowered, and I want it to exist for a long time. [The 1975 frontman] Matthew [Healy] will probably end up running this company, and I’ll be cheering him on from the boardroom!

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