Imran Ahmed – Spotify for artists

Imran Ahmed has a lot to gain by following his career path through several expensive brands in the British music industry. Its founder and sole owner In real life, The Los Angeles-based artist service company, which he founded in collaboration with AWAL, Ahmed has worn many hats in business in his two decades. He was a writer and editor of UK Music Weekly New Musical Express (NME); A music programmer and presenter on BBC Radio; Promoter of London Club Knight, FROG; And the voice behind the influential music blog, Abono – all this a dozen years before A&R at XL Recording, where he signed Vampire weekend, I’m Paul, And Jungle. A son of Pakistani immigrants who grew up in Essex in the predominantly white East England county, his career trajectory was not helped by a silver spoon or oxbridge connection, Ahmed is a very rare figure in the music business: a brown, self-made culture citizen. Is successful on its own terms.

Now, that success উদ্ centered on a long-standing love of music discovery driven by entrepreneurial attitudes, hard work, and creativity উদ্ derived from “other people’s experiences,” has focused on serving a new kind of music company. Part label in real life (Liv.e’s masterful Can’t wait to tell you … (A release), Part Management Shop (working with Philadelphia Electronic Soul producer / singer, The flesh of the body), And part music publisher (managing the tracks of Ascending House Music Superstar, Peggy Gow). Yet listening to Ahmed’s description, real life multidimensional business practices are a gateway to his “belief in visions” and a rethink of how the music business looks and works. That is why chatting with him is like reciting the glory of the past, like a philosophical discussion about the future.

One of the kids in a generation who practiced Michael Jackson’s dance was tapping songs from his bedroom and radio (“two fingers on the record button, waiting for Salt n ‘Paper”), Ahmed’s love for music came quickly. Her father bought a cassette player for a free cassette single, Paul Simon’s “You can call me”Which will present his A&R career:“ That [tape] Was pretty constructive, because I finished signing Vampire weekend, 20 years later. ”

As a teenager, he started selling mixtape to kids on the playground, made from the latest CD single (“I sold tapes for every pound – I thought I could make a living from music”). Until then Oasis Seen in the mid-1980s, he was completely into music: “Brittop presented a scene where I could live and be present in a world where I wanted to be a music journalist and be a part of it. All.” He went to Liverpool University and in August He first found himself in London, a freelance music writer Guardian And Face And finally, in his dream job, as an editor NME.

Like many children of immigrants, the entrepreneurial spirit was instilled in Ahmed by his parents – a father who went from driving a taxi to installing satellite dishes, and a mother who cleaned the house, both encouraging him to do what he likes to live his life because we Never had a chance “- to keep his ambitions burning. Projects started to overlap naturally. Ahmed said,” I learned something in the music game because I was in it. It’s really important to have an outlet for creativity. “So, I’ve written a lot NME, But I also wanted to be an editor one day and do a show on BBC Radio One. [In 2004 he participated as a pundit on a music poll for the famed British broadcaster, and continued as a presenter there.] “I think I’ve never been afraid to try many things.” Such a thing was going on NME’s At the monthly art-music show, the weekly party FROG, one of the London Indie-Dance Night of Aughts, a party that doesn’t just help bands like Vampire Weekend and Block party But a pre-EDM Calvin Harris E.g.

In 2005, Ahmed Abeyano also started a blog that allowed him to continue the spotlight on new music, and it caught the eye of Richard Russell, chairman of XL. Recalling Russell’s generous invitation, Ahmed said, “I want you to come and work for me, whatever you want.” “It attracted my entrepreneurial attitude. And I continued to do some radio stuff and some writing while I was at XL. But a little bit of that, I decided I wanted to throw away my label altogether.

A special insight into what Ahmed has learned from the two-story label is taking him further: his new words and the pursuit of artists. When asked about his strategy for finding new talent, he publishes a well-known list of Internet radio stations (he has a regular show) NTS), Playlists, and friends he trusts, to let him know about a great song he’s heard. “In a real sense, great artists don’t have an immediate audience – they’re a little off the field. People take a minute to grasp their heads around new things or things that have gone before. And I think it’s a way where an independent label can be really great; They can provide a platform and infrastructure and family to nurture that person, while others around the world introduce them.

This response includes three underlying ideas as to why Ahmed moved to Los Angeles in 2019 to launch In Real Life. The first two reflect the nature of the music company’s infrastructure: a business, a social. In a contemporary, interdisciplinary world where managers work on labels, wield label publishing arms, and publishers hire a staff to discover and manage new artists, launching an artist service company gives him more flexibility to find his relationships with those few artists. With what he wants to do. “There are a number of people who have reached the doorstep of freshness, talent and consciousness with whom I want to work. Only being able to work with artists next to the label was limited to me. Was established in real life so I could actually work with them in other areas of their business such as publishing or management if they have other plans for what they want to publish music.

The social infrastructure that Ahmed wants to revisit has everything to do with race. “I really wanted to keep my own company because there aren’t enough color music companies out there,” he said. “I find it amazing that single culture, straight, white and men are these companies, especially when rosters are often very diverse. I want artists not to be like all the music companies that want to work with you and in the same way. I knew. What was the only non-white voice in the room like when you were setting a record, with an artist of color, and I probably wanted to be able to more accurately reflect their wishes and find ways to promote their music outside of art conventions and white art doormen? , When Ahmed mentions the family possibilities of an independent label, he is talking about a kind of safe place that some artists may not have felt before.

So what kind of artist will appear in real life? Much like Ahmed, real life artists must be attentive and ready for the long way. “We want compelling characters, people who really have something to say, who have character-based maybe coercion and driving force and unique talents. They have an absolute conviction about their art and what they want to express to the world, how you put it in the world, how it should look and feel, and what you want and don’t want to do. Characteristic of faith and honesty, I think people embrace this day and age. People want their artists to be uncompromising. I think the reality and the raw material are now cut in a way that may not have been in the past. ”

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