A media company based on Tyneside is taking on America thanks to $9m from a group of investors including Sting.
Paul Campbell, who runs Amazing Media in Gateshead, is fast-tracking his online music business to the States following rocketing demand for Amazing Tunes, which offers up-and-coming musicians a wide platform for their work and now sees 200-300 new tracks uploaded daily from all over the world.
The 55-year-old former BBC executive, who lives just outside Corbridge, Northumberland, is launching offices in New York and Boston.
He said: “To get as big as our ambition dictates we need to become big in America. I’ve spent two years going back and forward and we need boots on the ground in North America.”
Mr Campbell, who is also a musician, set up his business seven years ago and Amazing Tunes is believed to be the first to allow unsigned bands who upload music to keep 100% of the proceeds of its sale.
Next came Amazing Radio, which gives air-time to the most popular songs, and is to celebrate its fifth birthday next month at Century House on the Gateshead end of the Tyne Bridge.
The station has proved a lifeline for emerging talents struggling in an already-saturated market and has secured major labels for acts such as Chvrches and Daughter who have both been picked up by Mumford & Sons’ label Glassnote.
The move to translate its success across the Atlantic also sees it acquire Boston-based website OurStage.com, which allows fans to vote for their favourite unsigned performers and bands to compete for touring opportunities.
“It has half a million tunes and similar ethics to what we do and patented technology that helps bands win a competition to get to go on tour with famous bands and artists,” said Mr Campbell, who used to work in London but returned to the region in 2002.
“It was when I moved back that I became more ambitious, partly because of that North East pride: six generations of my family born and brought up here.
“I’m passionate about the North East, the sense of community and being bound together as nobody else will help us.”
A number of music industry investors have helped the group raise $9m. As well as Sting, they include producer Billy Mann; music lawyer John Frankenheimer; former EMI chief Elio Leoni-Sceti and AOL founder Steve Case.
“We don’t just get their money; their enthusiasm and contacts are much more valuable,” he said.
Having made its mark early in the new media revolution, the Amazing brand is reaping what it has sown with Twitter and Facebook spreading the word, and other success stories of new names finding major labels include Alt-J, HAIM and London Grammar.
“Digital technology makes it easier and cheaper for musicians to record songs to a higher standard than ever before but there are two problems: nobody ever hears it or makes money out of it,” said Mr Campbell. “The aim was to help musicians in an ethical and fair way.
“People listen to more music than ever, for longer periods of time and on more devices. And more people are writing and recording but there’s a bit in the middle that’s broken and can’t get new music to the listener. We want to fix that and we’ve grown and grown.”
The next step in the business plan is to launch Amazing Radio in the US and Mr Campbell has had talks with a university radio station in New York.
He hopes Amazing Artists will see the company have direct input into growing the careers of the best of the new talents it finds.