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Former EMI A&R boss on the Terra Firma era

By | Published on Monday 19 December 2011

Nick Gatfield

Talking of The Observer’s interview with Nick Gatfield, if you got a moment with the newish boss of Sony Music UK you’d obviously use the opportunity to ask him about his last job, as A&R Supremo at EMI when it was being run by the Terra Firma twonks who caused such turmoil. And that’s exactly what interviewer James Robinson did.

Says a smiling Gatfield:  “It was an interesting experience but not one I’d want to repeat. You had a private equity group and on top of that, people with ‘fast moving consumer goods’ type backgrounds trying to manage the business as if it was a production line of inanimate products. Taking someone out of Procter & Gamble and putting them in a music company – it’s just an uncomfortable fit. Your ‘product’ is human beings who have opinions”.

Illustrating that set up with a nice example, he continues: “I remember someone at Terra Firma asking why the [release date for the] Gorillaz album had slipped. I said: ‘Well, you know, Damon [Albarn]’s not ready’, and he said: ‘But it’s on the release schedule'”.

As for Terra Firma’s ambitious/arrogant/deluded (delete as you wish) top twonk Guy Hands, Gatfield continued: “I will give Guy a huge amount of credit because I think some of his instincts were fairly sound [but] the business to him was far more complex than he thought it would be. You’re dealing with the psychology of running a creative business”.

Anyway, Robinson’s interview with Gatfield is this week’s compulsory reading.