Music Producers Guild Honors Daniel Miller
Daniel Miller, the founder and chairman of Mute, will receive the Outstanding Contribution to UK Music Award at this year’s Music Producers Guild Awards, which take place on February 9th 2011 at Floridita, in London.
Since its launch in 1978, Mute has grown from Miller’s one-man operation into an international record label and publishing company with an artist roster that includes Depeche Mode, Grinderman, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Goldfrapp, Maps, Richard Hawley, Erasure and recent signings Josh T. Pearson, S.C.U.M, Polly Scattergood and A Place To Bury Strangers. This consistent balance of quality pop, forward-thinking electronica and sonic experimentation has given the label a long history of Number One chart successes in the UK, US and Europe.
As the innovator and inspiration behind Mute, Daniel Miller has championed and supported many artists and musical genres that might otherwise have been overlooked. It was this forward-thinking approach to the music business that led the Music Producers Guild to choose him as the recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award, which once again is sponsored by music licensing company PPL.
Steve Levine, chairman of MPG, says: “The Outstanding Contribution Award acknowledges those who have made a significant contribution over a long period of time to the success of the UK music recording industry. This may be a producer or engineer, but it can equally be a manager, an A & R person or even a great artist.
“We have chosen Daniel as our 2011 recipient because he has long been a supporter of independent creative talent as well as a frequent early adopter of new studio technology. His work has helped develop the careers of recording artists who might otherwise have been overlooked. People who really make a difference for the better are fairly rare in the music industry. Daniel’s example is even more relevant in these difficult times for the business and therefore his contribution to the industry is live and real.”
Born in London in 1951 to Austrian actor parents who came to Britain as refugees during the Nazi period, Miller spent his youth making standard 8 movies and dabbling, with little success, in school rock groups.
After studying for a diploma in film and TV at Guildford School of Art (1969-72), he worked as an
assistant editor and editor in TV and advertising, before travelling and DJing across Europe. In 1976 he was intrigued enough by the new musical movements emerging from London and New York to return home.
The convergence of punk and electronica, fuelled by the increasing availability of cheap synthesisers, opened up a whole new realm of musical possibilities. While punk was about guitars, Miller believed the synthesiser to be the ultimate instrument. In 1978, with a KORG 700S keyboard and a TEAC four-track recorder, he recorded his first single as The Normal and set up Mute to release it. Called TVOD, it was backed with ‘Warm Leatherette’, a futuristic collision between JG Ballard and Kraftwerk. He initially planned a minimum pressing of 500, but Rough Trade offered to distribute the single nationally, persuading Miller to press 2,000 copies.
Thus Mute was born, but Miller still had no ambitions to become a label boss. It was only when he was introduced to Frank Tovey of Fad Gadget that the idea of releasing other artists on his label really blossomed.
In 1980, Miller met Depeche Mode and it was at this point that the label really took off. No contracts were signed, only a handshake agreement on a record by record basis. This groundbreaking arrangement epitomised the artist-friendly ethos of the post-punk independent scene. “Nobody had a contract, nobody had a manager, nobody had a lawyer,” Miller recalls. “And it was all based on a 50/50 profit share.”
Throughout the 1980s, Mute expanded its roster at a deliberately careful pace, growing in accordance to the needs of its artists. By signing partnership and licensing deals with labels in Europe and America, Miller built a network that brought alternative rock and left-field pop to the mainstream without diluting its independent spirit. Mute also launched a catalogue label, The Grey Area, as an archive for historically important artists who were not originally on Mute, and entered into joint ventures with the avant-rock label Blast First and dance imprint Rhythm King. The latter became prime movers in the emergent house music boom with acts such as Bomb The Bass and S’Express, whose ‘Theme from S’Express’ became the first Number One single on Mute’s family of labels in 1988. Mute also distributed early releases by the Sheffield electronic label Warp and, in 1992, set up its own underground techno label NovaMute. The Britpop boom of the 1990s ushered in a lean period, which lasted until 1999 with the release of Moby’s album ‘Play’. This grew slowly from a modest success into a 10 million selling phenomenon and since then the label has continued to build on Mute’s long history of commercial and critical success.
2010 saw the label return to its independent routes and announce a new structure where recorded music, publishing and an artist/producer management company are brought together under the Mute name.
As a record producer, recording artist and head of Mute, Miller has always remained true to his vision of artistic freedom, adventure and experimentation. Despite running a successful company he still finds time to host a monthly show on Radio Eins in Berlin, and occasionally still plays minimal techno sets as a club DJ.
Daniel Miller will be presented with his Award at the 2011 ceremony on February 9th. Now in its third year, the Music Producers Guild Awards 2011 will once again collaborate with the BRITS to present the winner of its Producer of the Year category with a BRIT Award for Best Producer.
There will be 13 categories in total, including Producer of the Year, Recording Engineer of the Year, Mixer of the Year, Mastering Engineer of the Year and the Joe Meek Award for Innovation in Production.
Sponsors of the 2011 Awards 2011 include PPL, Prism Sound, SADiE, BPI, Shure, British Grove Studios, Joe Meek International and Deep Recording Studios. Further sponsorship opportunities are still available for this event and any company that would like to play a part should contact Sadie Groom at Bubble & Squeak. Telephone: +44 (0) 01442 877 850. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets for the Awards are now on sale and to reserve a place please telephone Sadie Groom.