Saturday, February 26, 2011


Amanda Ghost, Blunt-collaborator-turned-head-of-Epic-turned-xx-collaborator, got a broadly sympathetic profiling and interview in yesterday's Guardian Film & Music:

Sony remains confident enough in her business acumen and knack for spotting talent to enter a joint venture with her new label, Outsiders, allowing Ghost to take Oh Land, a new-school Madonna by way of Björk and Lady Gaga, with her. The Dane was Ghost's first signing at Epic, but her single, Wolf and I, will become Outsiders's first release next month, funded by Sony. Ghost continues to work with Sony-signed artists including Beyoncé, Shakira and John Legend – her co-write with the latter, Getting Nowhere, is the current single for another Sony artist, Magnetic Man, and she says it was one of only three songs she wrote during her time at Epic.
A perhaps more probing piece might have asked how far the Outsiders label is a sign of faith by Sony, and how far it's part of the settlement of her contract; certainly, it's hard to see how Oh Land would fit with the Sony roster.

And that Sony are happy to work with her artistically is surely a validation of the argument that she was a creative who wandered into the wrong part of the business, rather than a rejection of that?

Mind you, when she says things like this, you can see why someone would give her an office with a sofa and a drinks cabinet in it:
[Being an executive] was magical, and fun, and depressing, and unhappy – a multitude of emotions. But ultimately it has helped me as a songwriter and a producer and a record-label boss, because I can see what happens to the product once it's completed – how it's treated, how it's marketed, how it's sold. And it makes me believe even more in the power of content, and how important it is to get that content as air-tightly brilliant as possible before you throw it to the wolves."
Product and content, product and content; and not fans or even customers but "wolves". She can approach music and artists and magic with just as much dead-eyed contempt as anyone who worked their way up from the Capitol accounts department - despite railing against record companies thinking they can treat their business like it was selling toasters.

Her final words are fascinating, though:
"It's very important we realise why the music business is failing," she says, "and I do not believe it's because of the internet. We need to focus on the quality of the music and allow artists time to develop. All creativity should be made, I believe, outside of corporations, and be nurtured with the incredible tools we have. With publicity and television and viral and online and social media, there is no reason why you can't get that music out there – and if it's good, people will respond."
Did she believe that before Sony gave her Epic? Because if she did, why did she ever take the job in the first place? And if she really believes that creativity should be made outside corporations, why is her vanity label a Sony imprint?

Her self-chosen surname is a good one: a creature who floats between two worlds, without a firm commitment to either.