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Major award shows will return “rain or shine” in 2021

The Grammy Awards, one of the earliest dates in the annual calendar for music awards, will be happening in January 2021 “come rain or shine, Covid-19 vaccine or not,” say organisers.

The 63rd edition of the US-based awards show is scheduled to take place on 31 January and will be broadcast on CBS at 8 pm ET.

Organisers say things will be “a little different” at next year’s ceremony but have not yet revealed details about the show’s format.

However, Harvey Mason Jnr, the Recording Academy’s interim president/CEO, offered some insight on what to expect at the 2021 show back in June during an interview with Variety.

“We are simultaneously developing three plans for what the show would look like: One is the traditional show with the full crowd, two is a limited crowd, and three is no crowd, and there’s creative around all three of those ideas: how and where we would film it. But none of them involve changing or postponing the date,” said Mason.

“We are simultaneously developing three plans for what the Grammys would look like, but none involving postponing”

Mason also said the Grammys are looking at hosting the awards at the Staples Centre (cap. 20,000) in LA with a limited audience, though it seems “increasing unlikely”. The one thing he guarantees is “a spectacular show” that, no matter what, the show will be executed fully live, with no pre-recorded segments.

Across the pond, organisers of Britain’s annual music awards show, the Brits, have said the event will return next year on 11 May instead of its usual date in February and will be broadcast on ITV.

Organisers say they consulted with the music industry and show partners Mastercard, ITV and AEG, and made the decision based on safety and logistical considerations.

“We believe that this move will give a fairer opportunity to all artists, as well as ensuring a mix of huge domestic and global superstars that annually attend and perform at the show,” the Brits statement reads.

Speaking about the decision to move the date, Geoff Taylor, chief executive at British Phonographic Industry and Brit Awards said: “We want to make sure that the Brits delivers the outstanding production levels, superstar performances and live excitement that make it the biggest night in music.

“We want to make sure that The Brits delivers the outstanding production levels, superstar performances and live excitement”

“We believe that the best way to achieve this in 2021 is to move the show back a few months to May, and we are already at work planning a spectacular event that will remind us how important music has been in getting us all through these difficult times.”

The awards show held its 40th edition before the pandemic hit in February, which took place at the O2 (cap. 21,000) in London, where it has been held every year since 2011.

Major award shows that have taken place during the pandemic include MTV’s VMAs (August, US), the Country Music Awards (September, US), the Mercury Prize (September, UK) and The Billboard Music Awards (October, US) and have not yet revealed details about 2021 ceremonies.

Still to come this year is the American Music Awards, which will air on 22 November in the US at 8 pm ET on ABC and plans to “bring fans together with surprising musical performances and celebrate the artists who make it happen”. Additional details regarding the production of the show will be announced at a later date.

Also, the UK’s Mobo Awards, which has celebrated music of black origin since 1996, is due to return after two years off. Founder Kanya King told Capital Xtra in an exclusive interview that the ceremony would return in an “exciting and dynamic” way before the end of the year. Further details about the ceremony are yet to be revealed.


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Sam Fender tops March’s Radar Station chart

British singer-songwriter Sam Fender, the 2019 recipient of the Brit Awards Critics’ Choice, tops the table for March, with former Nashville star Lennon Stella holding strong at number two and Mexican-American soul singer Omar Apollo coming third.

IQ’s monthly Radar Station chart uses an algorithm to identify the fastest-growing new artists by analysing data across a number of online platforms, including Spotify, Facebook, Songkick and Last.fm. Last month’s chart-topper was electronic and acoustic fusion artist Still Woozy.

Newcastle, UK-born indie singer-songwriter Sam Fender first came to attention in 2017, when his single ‘Play God’ earned him a place on the list of nominees for the BBC’s Sound of 2018. Fender went on to release his debut EP Dead Boys in November 2018.

This year, Fender won the Brits Critics’ Choice award, joining past winners Adele, Florence and the Machine, Ellie Goulding and Sam Smith. The singer recently announced he will be playing alongside Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Laura Marling in London’s Hyde Park on 12 July.

Fender won the Brits Critics’ Choice award, joining past winners Adele, Florence and the Machine, Ellie Goulding and Sam Smith

Fender is embarking on a European and UK tour this month, ahead of summer festival appearance at Glastonbury, All Points East, Isle of Wight Festival, Lollapalooza and Down the Rabbit Hole, among others.

Canadian singer Lennon Stella of Nashville fame has maintained her position at number two in the Radar Station chart. Stella released her latest single ‘Bitch (takes one to know one)’ on 15 March. The singer has explained that the song is about “girl power” and aims to reclaim the pejoratively used, gendered insult.

Stella is currently touring in the United States, following the release of her debut EP Love, me last year.

Soulful singer-songwriter Omar Apollo released his first EP Stereo in May last year. The bilingual singer, born to Mexican parents in Indiana, has recently moved to Los Angeles and is touring extensively throughout the United States.

The singer, real name Omar Velasco, makes the trip to Europe in June, with dates planned in Norway, Germany, the UK, Spain, France and Belgium.

See the full chart, along with links to artists’ Facebook pages and booking agency details, below.


This monthLast monthArtistCountryAgency
16Sam FenderUKCAA
22Lennon StellaUSCAA
316Omar ApolloUSParadigm (USA), Coda (UK & Europe)
415CrumbUSGround Control Touring (USA), ATC Live (Europe)
59Dominic FikeUSUTA
67JpegmafiaUSParadigm (USA), WME (RoW)
738Polo GUSN/A
846Samm HenshawUKCAA
914Tierra WhackUSUTA
104IdlesUKParadigm (USA & Canada), Coda (RoW)
1112DuckwrthUSICM Partners
1296Boy HarsherUSSwamp Booking (Europe), Ground Control Touring (North America)
1417Jade BirdUKCoda (UK), Paradigm (USA)
1718Soccer MommyUSHigh Road Touring (North America), ATC Live (Europe)
1829Flora CashSEParadigm (Americas), UTA (RoW)
2032Jakob OgawaNorParadigm (Americas), Primary Talent (RoW)


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Futures Forum: Soapbox Sessions

The Soapbox Sessions saw various experts present 15-minute, TED-style, quick fire presentations, across a diverse range of subjects including environmentalism, grassroots venues, touting and meditation.

Maggie Crowe OBE, director of events and charities at BPI, took to the stage first to reveal the inner-workings of the Brits and its evolution from a small, non-televised event to the UK’s answer to the Grammys. “We’re up for new ideas,” said Crowe, referencing the “lunacy that goes on in the Brits world.”

Next, A Greener Festival’s Claire O’Neill offered ten tips for an eco-friendly life, stating that “the entire fundamentals of the touring industry are not sustainable.” O’Neill promoted reusable cutlery, public transport, vegan eating, water sharing and an environmentally conscious approach to narcotics, “always choose a local dealer,” she joked.

Ticketmaster’s Ben Tipple explained the principles of content marketing – being relevant and valuable. Tipple described content as the “fun stuff” between marketing and journalism that “tells a story”. The initial stages of Fyre Festival’s content marketing was “actually really remarkable,” said Tipple, noting that the infamous festival sold on content alone.

Radio 6 DJ Steve Lamacq stepped up with Music Venue Trust’s Mark Davyd to stress the importance of grassroots music venues. “Local communities are built around these venues and new bands start to form because of them,” said Lamacq, who estimated he had attended “somewhere in the region of 5,800 gigs” in his life.

“Local communities are built around grassroots venues and new bands start to form because of them”

The second round of soapbox sessions kicked off with former ticket tout Ken Lowson, who said that “ticket bots are toast” and spoke of how a hallucination featuring Obi-Wan Kenobi persuaded him to stop scalping and instead serve the fan.

“The death of the newsfeed is here,” said Harry Willis from I AM POP. Willis explained that promoters can push ticket sales, send links to upcoming shows and gain fan data through messenger, stating that the immediate nature of communication is “essential in the live space.”

“You can’t control everything, often things do go wrong,” admitted production manager Sara Maria Kordek, who gave top tips on ensuring smooth production. Maintaining trust, empowering your team and trusting instincts are key, said Kordek, who spoke of production as a puzzle: “combine all the small details and check every piece fits to make the show.”

Finally, Buddhist monk Gelong Thubten said that people are “more desperate than ever” for mindfulness and meditation techniques, as “the systems we created to make life simpler are making it more complicated.”

Thubten dispelled myths surrounding meditation, which is more about choosing thoughts than removing them. Through mindfulness, “you become the boss of your own reality,” said the monk.


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Updated: How the agencies stacked up at the 2019 Brits

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Little Mix as being represented by CAA worldwide. The band are actually represented by John Giddings at Solo Agency outside North America. IQ apologises to Solo for the error.


Artists represented by talent agencies WME Entertainment and Creative Artists Agency (CAA) took home five and six awards, respectively, at last night’s Brit Awards in London.

The O2 Arena (20,000-cap.) on 20 February played host to the British music industry’s biggest awards night. Hugh Jackman opened the show with a rendition from the actor’s hit film The Greatest Showman. Calvin Harris performed a medley featuring Rag’n’Bone Man, Sam Smith and Dua Lipa, with other performances courtesy of Pink, Jorja Smith, the 1975 and Jess Glynne.

CAA was the biggest winner of the night, with six separate artists receiving awards, including the respective best British and international female solo artists, Jorja Smith and Ariana Grande. The agency represents both artists worldwide.

Other triumphant CAA acts were Ed Sheeran, winner of Brits global success award (represented by CAA for UK and rest of world), Dua Lipa for British single (North America), Little Mix for British video (North America) and Sam Fender for Critics’ Choice (worldwide). Solo Agency represents Little Mix outside North America.

CAA were the biggest winners of the night, with six separate artists receiving awards

Acts represented by WME were also successful on the night, with four artists scooping up awards across five categories. Calvin Harris, represented by WME’s David Levy in Europe and Joel Zimmerman worldwide, enjoyed double success on the night. The Scottish DJ won his first-ever Brit Awards, for best British producer and British single, which he shared with Dua Lipa for ‘One Kiss’. Dua Lipa is also represented by WME’s David Levy in Europe.

The agency also has the international male solo artist and British male solo artist on its roster: Drake (worldwide) and George Ezra (North America).

Paradigm agent Marty Diamond saw success with two artists, representing both best British breakthrough act Tom Walker and Brits global success award winner Ed Sheeran in North America.

Primary Talent’s Matt Bates and Paradigm Agency’s Mike Mori make up the team representing double Brit award-winning the 1975, as the band took home British group and Mastercard British album of the year.

See a full breakdown of 2019 Brit Award winners below.


British Male Solo ArtistGeorge Ezra13 Artists (UK, RoW); WME (North America)
British Female Solo ArtistJorja SmithCAA
British GroupThe 1975Primary Talent (UK and RoW), Paradigm (North America)
British Breakthrough ActTom WalkerCoda (UK, RoW), Paradigm (North America)
International GroupThe CartersLive Nation
International Male Solo ArtistDrakeWME
International Female Solo ArtistAriana GrandeCAA
Brits Global Success AwardEd SheeranCAA (UK, RoW), Paradigm (North America)
British Artist Video AwardLittle Mix ft Nicki Minaj ‘Woman Like Me’Solo (UK, RoW); CAA (USA)/ ICM (UK, RoW); (Maverick (North America)
Best British Producer Calvin HarrisWME
British SingleCalvin Harris & Dua Lipa ‘One Kiss’WME/ WME (Europe); CAA (North America)
Mastercard British Album of The YearThe 1975 A Brief Inquiry into Online RelationshipsPrimary Talent (UK and RoW), Paradigm (North America)
Outstanding Contribution to MusicP!nkMarshall Arts
Announced in December 2018 - Critics’ ChoiceSam FenderCAA


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‘We’ve been stepping up for years’: Brits’ #MeToo moment

Performers and awards nominees used last night’s Brits, the UK’s leading music awards ceremony, to express solidarity with the global campaign against sexual harassment in the entertainment industries, with both male and female artists donning white roses in support of the Time’s Up movement.

Ellie Goulding, who presented the award for best international female solo artist to Adwoa Aboah, summed up the mood when she said: “It’s so amazing to see so many people tonight wearing the rose. We’re very proud to be women, and actually I think we can all agree that we’ve been stepping up for years.”

The “stepping up” comment was a pointed reference to Grammys chief Neil Portnow, who caused a furore last month when he told women they needed to “step up” if they wanted greater representation in the music industry, leading to calls for his resignation.

Dua Lipa, who took home both the best British female and British breakthrough artist prizes, similarly used her acceptance speak to highlight women’s role in music.

“I want to thank every single female who’s been on this stage before me that has given girls like me – not just girls in the music industry, but girls in society – a place to be inspired, to look up to, and that have allowed us to dream this big,” she said. “Here’s to more women on these stages, more women winning awards and more women taking over the world.”

“Here’s to more women on these stages, more women winning awards and more women taking over the world”

Artists of both sexes, including Ed Sheeran, Paloma Faith, Stormzy, Rito Ora, Sam Smith, Little Mix, Rag’n’Bone Man, Cheryl Cole and Liam Payne, Emma Bunton, Jess Glynne and Kylie Minogue, wore the roses on the red carpet (and Faith was later seen berating a confused Royal Blood for their conspicuously bare lapels, telling them, “You should be carrying these, in camaraderie with women”).

Also notable was the level of success for non-white artists, perhaps reflecting the greater number of “BAME” (black, Asian and minority-ethnic) members of the judging panel following 2016’s #BritsSoWhite debacle.

In a surprise result, black grime star Stormzy beat Ed Sheeran to the best British male and best British album awards (for Gangs Signs & Prayer), with Kosovar Albanian-origin Lipa the only other artist to pick up two gong. American rapper Kendrick Lamar, meanwhile – known for his politically charged lyrics dealing with black empowerment – took home the best international male prize.

A full list of winners is below:

British album of the year
Stormzy – Gang Signs & Prayer

British artist video
Harry Styles – ‘Sign of The Times’

British breakthrough
Dua Lipa

British female solo artist
Dua Lipa

British group

British male solo artist

British single
Rag’n’Bone Man – ‘Human’

International female solo artist

International group
Foo Fighters

International male solo artist
Kendrick Lamar


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#BritsNotSoWhite: Awards revamp judging panel

The Brit Awards has announced a major overhaul of its voting system in response to this year’s controversy – dubbed #BritsSoWhite – over the lack of ethnic-minority nominees in any of the major categories.

In the biggest-ever shake-up of the 1,200 members who make up the awards’ voting academy, hundreds of former voters will find their names no longer on the list in a bid to increase the ethnic and gender diversity of the Brits’ judging panel.

The new voting academy, says the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), which pushed for the change, is 52% male and 48% female – compared to 70–30 for the 2016 awards – and 17% “BAME” (black, Asian and minority ethnic); up from 15% in 2016.

“I believe that as a result of these changes the Brits will be better equipped to reflect the diverse nature of Britain and British music”

Ged Doherty, BPI’s chairman, says: “I’m really proud that we’ve taken firm action to refresh the academy to ensure that it keeps up with trends in music and society at large. I believe that as a result of these changes the Brits will be better equipped to reflect the diverse nature of Britain and British music.

“There’s been a long-held myth that Brits winners and nominees are decided by industry executives in a smoke-filled room, but the simple truth is that the awards are voted for each year by a 1,000-plus-strong voting academy made up of experts drawn from all areas of music.”

Adele dominated the 2016 Brit Awards in January, with the most wins in 21 years.


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