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Green Light in the City

Music Week Awards 2013

10 April 13 words: Graeme Smith
We speak to Anton Lockwood from DHP and Joey Bell from The Music Exchange about their nominations
Music Week Awards 2013


Over the past twelve months Nottingham has had a lot to proud of, with a growing national focus on a music scene that’s been supported and nurtured by a lot of hard work and dedication. Two proponents of this scene have just had their work recognised by being shortlisted in the 2013 Music Week Awards.

Music Week has run as a weekly mag, and more recently a website, for over 50 years. It’s one of the most respected and most influential voices in music, read by industry leaders.

The Music Week Awards are run annually to, according to its website, “celebrate and recognise the finest commercial and creative successes in the UK music industry across fields including marketing, sales, distribution and retail.”

Anton Lockwood DHP Music Week Awards

Anton Lockwood of DHP

Anton Lockwood Promotions Director at DHP Promotions is shortlisted in the Live Promoter of the Year category.

Anton started off as a promoter as a hobby when he decided that “the bands weren’t playing in Nottingham that we wanted to see.” He’s now been doing it as a full time job for over ten years.

I caught up with Anton while he was promoting a Beth Hart gig at The Sage in Gateshead. Travelling is becoming something of a way of life for him, with DHP opening its London offices and with a growth in overseas shows.

In Anton’s words, being a promoter is all about relationships, knowing who’s right to play where, and being a “professional gambler, you need to work out how much to offer [artists], how much they need, and how much you’re prepared to risk.”

And Anton knows his stuff, having previously booked the White Stripes and the Strokes to play The Social and Radiohead to play The Imperial.

But it’s not just about the big names, Anton takes pride in bringing new talent from obscurity to fame, exemplified by his work with Imelda May, promoting her first ever tour to selling out the Royal Albert Hall four years later. “To work with an artist from the start and really be involved in their development, it’s fantastic.”

No strangers to success, DHP won Promoters of the Year at the Live Music Business Awards in 2012. This year, it’s Anton’s turn to be individually nominated for an award. I asked him how it felt to be shortlisted: “I’m really pleased… this is for the whole music industry and this means a wider recognition… It’s a great list to be on.”

What’s more is that the recognition came from Music Week itself, having followed what DHP had been up to. “It’s a reflection that we’re growing, people like working with us and maybe it’s exciting to have some new guys on the block.”

The result of the award is the most anticipated thing for Anton right now. However, in the life of a promoter, there doesn’t seem to be any time stop and pat yourself on the back. Anton’s got a big schedule lined up for the Summer. “There’s Dot to Dot Festival at the end of May. I’m also very thrilled to book Jake Bugg, the biggest ever artist from Nottingham to play the biggest ever gig in Nottingham, headlining Splendour.”

The Music Exchange Music Week Awards

Joey Bell the Manager of The Music Exchange in the shop

The Music Exchange have been shortlisted in the category of Independent Retailer of the Year.

The Music Exchange has been up and running in Nottingham since 2009, providing both a way back into work for homeless people and a focal point for the music community in Nottingham.

The store is part of the Framework charity’s social enterprise branch EVE Trades, one of the many local businesses that are focused on an ethical and social mission. Joey Bell got involved with The Music Exchange after working at Selectadisc and I visited him and the store to find out a bit more.

Recently relocated to Stoney Street, in the heart of the Creative Quarter, The Music Exchange is a cozy, friendly place selling records, t-shirts, books, and all other manner of paraphernalia. But there is also a focus on local artists and different local labels get their own section on the shelves.

Joey explained how there was no such thing as a typical day there: “you never know what a day’s going to be like. Now that more people’s found us, they come in just to chat to their friends about music.” Being a small retailer, with a lack of buying power, ensures each day will be a challenge. “It’s hard to stay on top of what people want. You never quite know what’s going to be a big seller and what isn’t. Hookworms sold out nearly in a day.”

As well as being nominated by local record labels including Gringo Records, The Music Exchange put themselves forward for the Music Week award. “I felt that what we were doing was quite unique,” explained Joey. “I just wanted to say that we’re doing something in Nottingham and it’s working and we’re proud of that.”

And it’s truly something to be proud of. The success of the Music Exchange audaciously flies in the face of the trend of high street closures. Their strategy is to keep things small and personal and, above all, to be approachable. “There’s this perceived barrier of people going into record shops and thinking the people that work there are a bit snobby and look down at their choices, so we try and make it a bit more friendly and a shop for everyone.”

The shop backs this claim up by offering labels, bands and organisations a chance to takeover the shop. “It’s nice to get different groups of people coming to the shop who wouldn’t have found us unless it was a takeover.” Previously takeovers have included Hello Thor records, Spaceships Are Cool, and Gringo Records. Most recently, the shop put on a mixtape exchange. “It was just lovely, there was a 6-year-old who did a mixtape and it was just such a  mix of people. This shop was just full of people chatting all day.”

There’s plenty more to come with Record Store Day on the 20th of April, which Joey is really excited about. “It’s going to be really special this year now we’re in this new shop. We’ve got David Thomas of Pere Ubu coming, and an evening gig with Leftlion.”

If The Music Exchange were to win this award, it would mean their hard work being recognised by music industry and their peers. Perhaps more importantly, it’ll mean partytime! “We’re having a big party, but we’re not going to plan anything yet just in case.”

The Music Exchange will be celebrating Record Store Day on Saturday 20 April with exclusive RSD vinyl, in-store DJs and a spoken work performance by David Thomas from Pere Ubu. LeftLion have teamed up with The Music Exchange to host a Record Store Day party in the evening at Spanky Van Dykes with live music from The Hip Priests, I Am Lono, The Cusp and Hang. Click here for further information about Record Store Day events in Nottingham

The Music Week Awards 2013 take place on Thursday 11 April 2013.

Music Week Awards website

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