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Breaking new acts is “harder than it ever was” – former Columbia boss appears on Made By Music podcast

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Ferdy Unger-Hamilton at Melomania with Sean Hannam recoding an episode of the Made by Music podcast by Cambridge Audio

The start of the year is usually when tastemakers predict who the Next Big Things will be, but former major label head honcho Ferdy Unger-Hamilton thinks it’s harder than ever for big acts to break through into the mainstream.

Discussing his departure from Columbia on the latest episode of the Made By Music podcast, he says: “We're not breaking as many acts as we should be at Columbia, but no one is at the moment.

“Acts aren't breaking – big acts that matter. People are having big songs, but big artists are not coming through. Central Cee is an exception, you know, Dave is, but he came a long time ago. PinkPantheress has done really well, Sam Fender. But it's harder than it ever was.”

In the course of his career, Ferdy Unger-Hamilton has worked with the likes of Ellie Goulding, The 1975, Haim, Take That, Robbie Williams, Rag'n'Bone Man, Foo Fighters, Harry Styles, George Ezra and Adele, to name just a few. 

The interview with Ferdy Unger-Hamilton marks the 25th episode of pioneering audio brand Cambridge Audio’s Made By Music podcast, which launched at High End Show Munich last year. The series features iconic artists – including Boy George, Jazzie B OBE, Fatboy Slim and The Cult’s Billy Duffy – talking about the records that shaped and influenced them as well as favourites from their back catalogues. 

A special episode to celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop featured comedian and presenter Romesh Ranganathan (The Ranganation, BBC Radio 2’s For The Love Of Hip-Hop) was previously released in August.

Unger-Hamilton added: “There's a lot that's good about now. As an independent artist or label, you're not held back by distribution. You don't need a truck, you don't need to press any records or CDs. You can release music pretty easily – but it's very hard for anyone who's not established to get space.

“There's some ridiculous amount of songs [released] a day. I'm going to say 100,000 – a day! I think it might even be more.”

Made By Music can be listened to exclusively on Spotify:

Ferdy Unger-Hamilton’s Music Moments:
•    The Specials – Gangsters
•    Prince – Sign ‘O’ the Times
•    Portishead – Numb
•    Bob Dylan – Up to Me – Take 1

Made By Music imagery is available to download here.