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Artist & Manager Awards: Bicep Recognised for Innovation

The Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) and Music Managers Forum (MMF) have revealed two final winners for the 2021 Artist & Manager Awards, with BICEP and their management team at This Is Music to receive the Innovation Award (sponsored by TikTok), and YMU MUSIC to receive the Team Achievement Award.

First established as a production and DJ duo back in 2009, Andrew Ferguson and Matthew McBriar (aka BICEP) have since blazed a trail in electronic music, simultaneously maintaining their deep underground roots while reaching audiences on a global scale. Exhibiting a maverick and pioneering spirit with their initial crate digging Feel My Bicep blog, which still attracts hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors, the duo signed to Ninja Tune in 2017, breaking the Top 20 with their debut self-titled album.

This year saw BICEP scale new creative and commercial heights, delivering a second studio album, Isles, which debuted at number two in the UK, and then bypassing pandemic-related restrictions in collaboration with Black Box Echo for two visually stunning and highly successful global live stream performances, one of which was from the Saatchi Gallery, selling thousands of tickets to fans from over 70 countries worldwide. BICEP were also nominated in two categories at the BRIT Awards for British Group and Breakthrough Artist.

BICEP are represented by London-based management company This Is Music, who this week welcomed artist manager Greg Wells (Ghost Promo co-founder and former Domino national radio plugger) and his artists Sofia Kourtesis and Logic1000. Other notable clients at This Is Music include James Ford, Jayda G, Roosevelt, Paul White and Ross From Friends.

This is Music (pictured below) have worked with BICEP since 2011, managing them from internet music bloggers to double Brit Nominees, guiding the duo’s creative and strategic approach which continues to deliver success. BICEP sold out three successive nights at Brixton Academy as well as headlining London’s Field Day in July 2021. They conclude a triumphant year with a string of UK and European shows - including two dates at Manchester’s Warehouse Project - and have confirmed a major festival appearance for 2022 at Primavera Sound in Barcelona.

L-R: Sasha Richards, Luke Williams, Oli Isaacs, Simon Gold, Lisa Marxen, Riccardo Primavera --- Image credit: Christopher Fields/SHED London

L-R: Sasha Richards, Luke Williams, Oli Isaacs, Simon Gold, Lisa Marxen, Riccardo Primavera --- Image credit: Christopher Fields/SHED London

Joining BICEP and This Is Music as 2021 winners are the 20-strong team at YMU Group Music, who will receive the prestigious Team Achievement Award in recognition both of the continued successes of their artist roster, which includes Take That, Clean Bandit, Years & Years, Friendly Fires, Hannah Wants, Jesy Nelson, Danny Howard, James Arthur, Kurupt FM, Lucy McWilliams and Navos, and the bold front-footed leadership displayed by the company in areas including mental health provision and the championing of LGBTQ+ rights.

Notable for enabling and empowering their clients to move beyond their specialised fields - YMU-related successes in 2021 included Olly Alexander’s critically acclaimed leading role in NTA-winning Channel 4 series It’s A Sin which led to a spectacular show-stopping performance of the classic Pet Shop Boys’ title track’ with Elton John at the BRIT Awards, Kurupt FM’s transition to cinema via the big screen mockumentary People Just Do Nothing: Big In Japan and the launch Gary Barlow Wines - the company has continued to lead the way in embracing new innovations.

However, in a year of reflection and advocacy, MMF and FAC wanted to draw particular attention to YMU’s range of inclusion initiatives including specific manifestos for BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and disabled colleagues, and an inspirational mental health and well-being initiative for its clients and staff.

Developed with Music Support co-founder Samantha Parker, the service offers assessment sessions for YMU-signed artists, referring them to professional support where appropriate, as well as a monthly well-being drop-in facility and a therapeutic support group for employees of the company. YMU’s Martha Kinn and Chrystal Lecointe also provided invaluable input and support for the MMF’s own updated Music Managers Guide To Mental Health.

Hosted in association with SoundCloud, the Artist & Manager Awards takes place at London’s Bloomsbury Big Top on Thursday 18th November and will be hosted by Capital FM’s Roman Kemp. Full details of the Awards can be found here.

Main image credit: Sam Mulvey