Raising Voices – Career Spotlight Riki Bleau, Since ’93 Records, Founder & Co-President


Career Spotlight

Riki Bleau, Since ‘93 Records, Founder & Co-President
Discover more about Since ‘93 here.

Riki started Since ’93 (formerly Avant Garde music) in 2009 (the label is now part of Sony Music) encompassing successful publishing, record and management divisions. He began his career in 2002 as Head of Music & Promotions at ‘Channel U’, a music channel focusing on UK hip-hop and grime, and has since nurtured the careers of talented artists such as Krept & Konan, Labrinth and Naughty Boy.  

1. How did you first get into music publishing?
I was first introduced to the concept of publishing in 2005/6 by Tim Blacksmith and Danny D whom I met when I was working at Channel U. They suggested [that] if I ever found someone I wanted to sign I should let them know. One day I was doing a talk at a youth centre in Hackney, which I would do from time to time, to encourage youngsters to channel their passion in music and inspire hope. The music teacher at the centre was the same age as the young people I was talking to [and] happened to be [singer-songwriter and composer] Labrinth. It was very early in his career; he had an early draft of ‘Let the Sun Shine’ and others that later would be hits. Shortly after, Labrinth became my first publishing signing.

2. What do you love most about your job?
I love the freedom to be creative, helping shape & build careers for and with talented young people. 

3. Is there someone or one company experience that has particularly inspired you? A career champion or inspiring team?
I’ve been inspired by the hustle and entrepreneurship of the likes of Russell Simmons, Jay-Z and Master P.

4. What (if any) particular challenges have you faced so far in your career? How did you get past these?
The first challenge is entry, as in getting into what I call ‘the real business.’ It took time to charter that part of the journey, with the biggest challenge being information and access. It is different now to when I was first coming through because there are more people of colour who are in the business who you can see, to reference what they are doing or to be inspired by. But when I was coming through, there weren’t loads of examples that you were able to point to. Definitely not people you necessarily knew in the industry, so access was one of the biggest stumbling blocks and challenges. 

Then I would say being a black man coming from humble beginnings, navigating this journey, had several other challenges. Overcompensating for what I didn’t have in terms of formal education, contacts, as I didn’t have family or friends who [were] in the music industry who could give insight, which would lead to at times questioning if you are not good enough or if people will accept you for who you are. I was extra mindful of how I presented myself, who I associated with or letting people know where I was from to avoid being stereotyped and not taken seriously. These negative narratives can create blockages to your progression.

5. What top 3 tips would you give to someone just starting out in music publishing or taking their career to the next level?
My top 3 tips would be: Work hard, don’t cut corners & stay focused. Stick to your strengths and understand that your own personal experiences and you personally are unique and so is your view on music. You are the specialist, and no one is as much of a specialist on what you know as you are.


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