Alan McGee, the man behind Oasis, and Julian Richer last month floated their record label Poptones, which has a valuation of £14m. They met after McGee, 39, left Creation Records, which he co-founded. Richer, 41, started his hi-fi business, Richer S

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Alan McGee: Late last year, Julian and I got involved in this website called Clickmusic and around the same time I started thinking I'd just had enough and there was no point in carrying on at Creation any more. Sony's attitude to the internet was really starting to destroy my faith in music, so it was time to make a break. I went to this Clickmusic dinner party, and the first person I met was Julian. I told him I was going to get a new thing together some time in the next year, and he said he would be interested.

Alan McGee: Late last year, Julian and I got involved in this website called Clickmusic and around the same time I started thinking I'd just had enough and there was no point in carrying on at Creation any more. Sony's attitude to the internet was really starting to destroy my faith in music, so it was time to make a break. I went to this Clickmusic dinner party, and the first person I met was Julian. I told him I was going to get a new thing together some time in the next year, and he said he would be interested.

I had taken Creation to its logical conclusion. I should have left in 1996 after the Oasis concerts at Knebworth because aesthetically, we had achieved everything, the biggest group in the world, the biggest concerts. But when you're taking phone calls from Tony Blair and Nelson Mandela, your ego says you should stay, and it's one of the hardest things in life to move on from situations like that.

At the time of the party, I was in every newspaper and it was all a bit much. The last thing in my head was to try to do a deal, but I hit it off with Julian because he said something like: "Don't worry, today's papers are tomorrow's chip papers." We had dinner two weeks later, as I was extricating myself from Sony. We went through a few different ways of going about our plan before we hit on the particular vision of Poptones.

I knew of Julian as a maverick, someone who wouldn't kowtow to the major retailers. He was used to breaking the rules. He was also very much on my wavelength. Sony puts out lots of rock-and-roll bands and Julian sells CD players, but he's a lot more rock-and-roll than anyone there. We have both been successful and we had a good instinct about each other, so that cuts out two years of getting to know each other.

Though I had a lot of success between 1994 and 1999, in many ways it was a very depressing time because I got so far removed from the music. My original vision was just to put out records I liked, but by 1988 I had realised it wasn't just a hobby any more; it was a real job. After Sony bought a 49 per cent stake in 1992, the next five years were a rollercoaster. There's nothing wrong with selling millions of records and I enjoyed being number one, being famous and having the best albums, but I didn't enjoy the corporate stuff and handshaking. It's not to do with the music. You might as well be general secretary of the Labour Party.

It took me 10 years to get my first number one hit. The internet seems more immediate but 98 per cent of our business initially is going to be retail. My brother-in-law asked me: "What exactly is Poptones? Is it an internet record company?"

When I left Creation, I made these big statements about how telecoms companies would buy up the record companies and the way we knew the record business was going to change for ever. That has merged into people thinking we are an internet record company, which we're not. The difference is that now I don't have to phone anyone and say: "Can I put an MP3 release on our website?"

Poptones is a brand about coolness, about integrity, and we can turn to whatever facet of entertainment we want. At present I'm running club nights every Wednesday in Notting Hill, in London, and 500 people are turning up but they can only let in 150. Julian comes to them and he's brilliant. If I'm in Paris and he happens to be there, I'll take him to see Primal Scream and he's totally cool and the band love him. He loves the romance of music, the magic. He fits right into my world and I hope I fit into his.

He's genuinely kind, a lot more polite than me, and one of the most generous human beings I've met, though there's definitely a bit of devilment in his nature and he can be quite caustic. He affords me space to let go and be me. He is incredibly astute - you don't get that successful by fluke.

The man is excellent at coming back to me; we're both very busy people but as yet we have never failed to return a call. We both have a "things to do" list for each day, although Julian's bit of paper is a lot bigger and the writing is a lot smaller than mine. The irony is that we're working in a digital age, yet that's how we work so we never forget stuff. I seldom turn up at the wrong place at the wrong time. We formulated a plan earlier this year for Poptones, and so far we are only about four weeks behind where I thought we would be in December. If anything held me back, it was probably Malcolm McLaren and his campaign to be London's mayor. I love him to pieces but with that, my life was knocked over the head with a frying pan and it shifted my focus.

We're back on track and I'm talking to several artists who want to sign to the label. I have started to learn about the stock market because Julian's given me good tips. What we're trying to do is to create a brand that specifically identifies itself with being cool and stylish. The way you attract superstardom is not to set someone up and suddenly sell 10 million records. What you do is to create a foundation of values with a long-term vision and eventually you get the superstar. We've started as a record label but, with the whole digital thing taking off, we might end up in films.

 

Julian Richer: Alan and I had never met before last December when we were invited to a dinner party for celebrity shareholders in the dot.com business Clickmusic. I had read he was leaving Creation and going freelance and I couldn't believe this guy was coming to dinner. I couldn't wait to meet him. The chance of meeting someone when the time is right is quite small. Bob Geldof and Richard Branson were invited but they didn't show, so it was just six of us: Rob Devereux and Becky Lancashire of Clickmusic, me and the boss (my wife) and Alan and Kate, his wife.

Alan and I started to chat. He asked me about Knutsford, over which I had had a lot of publicity, and it was a great story. I had been keen for some time to get into other businesses but what made me excited was that someone of Alan's calibre was available. Typically someone in his league would be running a company.

I had always dreamt of being involved in the record business and we both saw the opportunity. Our idea was not to try to found a dot.com; Poptones is going to be a traditional retailer. But we were aware of technological developments and knew that a small record company could be more receptive and move much quicker. Alan didn't want to get involved in a corporate; he wanted to be the only one to make a decision. We wanted to be flexible and fast on our feet.

I thought there could be an easy way into the stock market early on through floating on AIM. I spoke about it to Mike Edelson, the entrepreneur and investor who has come on board as our non-executive chairman, and he felt our idea was certainly a very attractive vehicle. The point was that we could raise public money much more quickly that way, because clearly if it's your own cash on the table you're limited.

We have similar values on organisation and discipline, even though we are both anti-establishment. We're both rock-and-roll but also traditional; we come from different industries and politically we come from different places, but I feel very protective towards Alan and he's become like a brother. I felt he was vulnerable after getting out of bed with a corporate and he needed a partner who wouldn't let him down.

Alan and I talk most days. I see myself there on call for him and I want to be a sounding board. We're not two people sharing a desk in an office; Alan has done that already, and I want to bring other things to the party.

I will never be able to run a record label, but I want to fill in the holes and give Alan the commercial support. He knows I am in this for the long-term, for a few years, and I want to have as much fun as possible. The last thing I want to do is interfere.

Alan is just a really straight-talking guy, full of common sense. He's a legend and yet he's so humble, ordinary in a nice way. I would never have got involved in the record business without someone good as a partner, as I'm old enough to know that you can only do one big thing in life yourself. To meet Alan when he had just left Creation - you don't get a better opportunity than that. It was a dream come true.

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