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Webbo To Champion Indies At The BPI

LONDON, UK (BPI) - UK record companies' trade association the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) has appointed Jon Webster - Webbo - as Director of Independent Member Services as it moves to further strengthen its services to the UK's thriving independent record company sector.

Webster, who helped turn Virgin Records UK into the biggest independent record company in the UK before its sale to EMI, has worked in almost every area of the UK music industry and has run small independent label Aquarian Nation for the past four years.

Working from the BPI office, Webster will also chair a new BPI Independents Committee which will be charged with ensuring that independents' interests are reflected across the BPI's activities.

BPI Chairman Peter Jamieson said, "The BPI is an industry association in which majors and indies sit side-by-side. But independents are often too time-pressured to engage fully with every industry issue. What this appointment is about is ensuring we have a heavy-hitter who is focused 100% on independents concerns at all times. Jon Webster has operated at every level and most areas of the recording industry. He is principled, straight-talking and down-to-earth. He is the ideal person to represent the independent sector at the BPI and to help us continue the process of upgrading our services to members."

Jon Webster said, "I have run what was the UK's biggest independent, and over the past four years have managed one of the smallest, so I know how difficult this market can be. What I am certain of is that during times of change it is vital that the recording industry works together to deal with the immense challenges we all face. My job is to ensure independents' concerns are at the very heart of what the BPI does, and that we deliver value to them on a daily basis."

The BPI set out its agenda for the independent sector earlier this year with a pledge to make membership more affordable and a new focus on practical business services.

BPI Director of Communications & Development Steve Redmond said, "Over the past three months our campaign to help independents compete in the new online world has proven that our approach can make a real difference. It's an approach which focuses on practical business solutions which help indies in their day-to-day business. Jon Webster's no-nonsense but often inspirational approach is ideal to take this work on and develop it."

Webster's impressive CV in the music industry began in the classic way with a two-and-a-half year stint as social secretary at Birmingham University. He started work at Richard Branson's then fledgling Virgin Retail chain working behind the counter in Hull before working his way up to manager of its flagship New Oxford Street store. In 1981 he transferred to the Virgin Records label - at the height of its success with the Human League and then Culture Club.

He was one of the team - with BPI Chairman Peter Jamieson - who in 1983 created the 'Now... That's What I Call Music' compilation brand, the world's most successful music compilation series. In 1988 he became Managing Director of Virgin Records UK. He sat on the BPI Council from 1985 until 1992 when he left Virgin.

Since then Webster has succeeded in a whole range of different areas. He invented The Mercury Music Prize as a promotion to support creative album artists. For 10 years he wrote the 'Webbo' column in Music Week, and since 1993 he has worked as a consultant to a variety of companies including Virgin Records carrying out International Marketing for Genesis, Peter Gabriel, UB40, Mike and the Mechanics and Van Morrison as well as independent artists Erasure, Babybird and Die Toten Hosen.

In 2000 he began managing D*Note and Francis Dunnery (former singer with It Bites). He runs the small internet sales label Aquarian Nation (www.aquariannation.com).

Since June 2002 he has been a consultant to clinic (www.clinic.co.uk), a London based creative communications company and has also advised such companies as Amazon.co.uk, Echo Records, Mute Records and MCI.
He frequently contributes to radio and TV programmes as an industry pundit.






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