As part of our new Industry Experts series, we’ll be using our industry connections to find out how the music business is responding to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) – and what our experts believe it will look like post-lockdown.
First up, we had Megan Page and how COVID-19 is impacting Record Store Day 2020. This week, we’re chatting to Music for Nations Label Head Julie Weir on the COVID-19 world.
There are very few people in the world who you meet and just go: “WOW, you are inspiring, smart, beautiful and I actually want to spend time with you!”. If you are lucky enough to come into contact with one such unicorn of a human, it is even rarer that you then get to know them and become even more impressed and in awe of them. That is the case with anyone who is lucky enough to meet Julie Weir, Label Head for Sony’s Music for Nations label.
Though deceptively youthful in appearance – the phrase ‘sparkly eyes’ was created for this queen – Weir has been in the industry for over 25 years, starting her journey working at a record store, eventually running her own club nights, before joining independent label Cacophonous. In 1998, the brave maverick set up her own label and management companies – Visible Noise and Wiseblood, respectively – to support young UK guitar bands (aw, we love her). There, she worked with acts such as Bring Me the Horizon and Bullet for My Valentine. In 2016, Weir decided to make the unprecedented leap to Sony Music, bringing her unparalleled enthusiasm and knowledge to the behemoth.
We were lucky enough to catch up with this gem of a woman soon after the UK government-imposed lockdown to see what she thought the future would hold for our beloved music business. If anyone would have an opinion and outlook not provided by a crystal ball, it would be Julie.
“What I want to happen and what I think will happen are two different paths,” Julie tells us. “For instance, what I want to happen is more collaborative work; seeing how people explode out of a period of confinement, how creativity can come from chaos (albeit lockdown chaos and restriction) and a bloody great party happening to celebrate what an outstanding industry we all work in.
What I think will happen – out of necessity and cautiousness – is a reinvention of the way we structure the celebration of music. And I think this will be led by a certain amount of social restriction (to begin with) in the live arena. Then, for the foreseeable future, I think we’ll see a lack of fan confidence (again, in some cases a medical necessity) about being in enclosed spaces.”
“What I want to happen and what I think will happen are two different paths. For instance, what I want to happen is more collaborative work.[..] What I think will happen[…] is a reinvention of the way we structure the celebration of music.” – Julie Weir, Label Head for Music for Nations.
Ever upbeat, Weir ended with the most important takeaway: that these strange times may signal a new direction for the business to take. After all, unchartered times call for an unchartered territory to be explored.
Weir concluded that while this may mean a “knock-on for live music,” the current restrictions on traditional ways of experiencing music “means an opportunity for savvy promoters.”
Thank you so much for letting us know your thoughts, Julie. Want to hear more industry opinion around COVID-19 and the music industry? Each week, we’ll be interviewing an expert in the field, so keep your eyes peeled.