Day In The Life: Billy Grant, MD of 2Point9

Sarah Birke
Friday 07 March 2008 17:34


I wake up and reply to e-mails in the hour until my lively son, Elias, comes in and jumps on my head. Luckily, I don’t need much sleep! I used to go to the gym but we’ve just moved house and my company 2Point9 is busy so that’s gone out the window. At 7.30 me, my wife – Aisling –andElias head downstairs to have a bit of breakfast and chill out before the builders arrive.

2Point9 started in 2003 as a joint collaboration with Rob Stuart. We were working in A&R and promotions at Telstar. Black urban music wasn’t fashionable with record labels at the time and being the only people there who were into it, we could create a niche for ourselves, working with the likes of Mis-Teeq and Craig David. What we are good at is taking stuff from the street and making it mainstream but at the same time giving producers and artists freedom to do their thing. It must have been just after making Mis-Teeq’s “Scandalous” that we thought we could do this alone, so we set up 2Point9. We are a label and do management, marketing, live bookings and consultancy to other labels. Telstar went bust the year after!


This morning I’m mastering Jay Sean’s single “Maybe”. His last release, “Ride It”, went to Number 11 so we have higher expectations for this and the album in April. I’m making it sound as beautiful as it can for the format – in this case radio. We chopped a section from middle so it bumps along nicely. Myself and Rob will then hit up the DJs to get early plays on stations like 1xtra, Choice, Asian Network, Radio 1, Capital, Kiss; and our plugger starts pushing it for big airplay. If it gets “felt” by programmers they will hopefully add it to their playlist. I quite often pop down to Choice FM and BBC Radio 1Xtra –where my wife used to work – to see DJs and have a chat to the programme director Laura about what’s coming up. I like doing a bit of everything. As a junior I trained as a classical pianist at the Royal College of Music, was a programmer at British Telecom, ran the Labatt’s Husky dog rally for a sponsorship consultancy and DJed before getting into this.


We moved our offices to a cheap set-up in the pollution zone that is Staples Corner. I’m rarely in the office, as you can do everything on a Black- Berry. I’m an ardent Brentford and England football fan and I don’t think I even told anyone when I went off to watch the World Cup in Germany for three weeks as I was on the BlackBerry the whole time! On the way to meet our marketing and distribution guys from the company Absolute, I have a messenger battle with Rob about the sleeve of “Maybe”. Our choices differ somewhat. With Absolute we’ve developed a new way of working together. As opposed to us paying them for their services plus giving them a cut of the profits, they cashflow the marketing and then take a cut of the sales and performance income. It lightens the financial burden which is great. Last year was rough as we spent a lot on a Rishi Rich album that didn’t do well. It’s a producer album and didn’t have a strong concept it needed – Timbaland gets a load of famous people, for example. But we re-mortgaged our houses and changed how we do business by creating new industry models. Absolute is one. We also created a label with Jay Sean called Jayded. He has more of an investment in his album which breaks down the label/artist mentality. It’s amazing how quickly artists stop demanding cabs and business flights!


I grab lunch on the fly and head to a meeting with J. We’re gathering a team of producers and finding artists and projects to do together. This guy is a singer, good looking, early twenties. He was about 13 when I first met him and he’s done a lot since then. I’m fanatical about British music. We have the best scene, kids on the street always developing trends from dubstep to bassline. Unlike the US, Britain is a small, proactive anti-society type of place. It makes keeping up tricky, I have to constantly keep my eyes and ears to the ground and listen to the kids. Awhile back everyone was saying black music was over with radio’s shift to rock. I was saying, “Well, people are still dancing right? Still listening to music? So, it’s not dead, it’s just the way they’re consuming that has changed.” Urban music is not just black. All this originally comes from black music; soul, reggae and hip-hop. But in the UK urban music is made and listened to by black and white people.


I have a conflab with Sunship and Charlotte about “Love on the Rocks”, a track Ministry of Sound want to sign. He’s an original member of The Brand New Heavies and producer of Craig David; she’s a great singer, great girl who was in Soul II Soul. We talk about them writing some more material and discuss possible vocals for the track as she’s busy writing. We still have a fairly small roster of artists. Jay Sean is our big focus, but we’re developing a soul-jazz singer called Laura Holding. We also have the Robbie Williams of the Punjabi world, Juggy D.


I pop down to the video shoot with Jay Sean. He’s doing two videos back-to-back for “Maybe” and “Stay”. We’ve hired a very cool apartment in Brick Lane from this couple; you know the sort, warehouse style, bare walls. One video is all about going out with a girl, cheating, smashing the place up and then a bit of snogging to make up, some semi nakedness and Porsches being driven around. Hanging out at filming is a bit dull – Rob does all that – but I like to come down to say hi. I usually try to get home for 6pm so that I can see my little one before he goes to bed and then spend time with Aisling before finishing some work from the day. I don’t want to sound like a workaholic but it’s easier to get things done when there are no phones ringing.

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