Blackwell Not a U2 Fan

Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, has admitted he was not a fan of U2 when he first saw them live in a London pub.

The label boss was reminiscing in a wide-ranging interview with US radio network NPR’s show ‘Weekend Edition’ on Saturday  Blackwell said: “I didn’t love the music. It was a little rinky-dink, but I believed in them.”

Thankfully for the Irish group, Blackwell followed with his instinct and signed them, sticking with them through some lean times until they secured global fame. Nowadays, though, the industry veteran mourns the loss of identity for today’s labels.

“I don’t know what record labels there are now that mean what they used to be to me when I was a fan,” he said. “For example, Blue Note Records was a guarantee of quality. They signed great musicians, and they recorded them absolutely brilliantly. That can happen when you’re independent. When it’s a major company, they can’t do that in the same way. It’s changed really a great deal, because also people don’t even see a label.”

For new artists, Blackwell advises they show patience and own rights to their music. “They can sell their music; they can market themselves on the Web. Takes a long time, because it’s sort of going bit by bit, but they can promote their concerts and they can gather email addresses or Facebook pages … and grow like that,” he said. “They don’t need to give that up to a record label, which happened in the old days.”