The publishing house “Alpina publisher” comes a new book the book of Richard Branson “In search of innocence.” In it, the eccentric billionaire describes the events that occurred in his life since 1999 (this year was over the action of the previous book Branson “Losing my virginity”), for example, the creation and sale of airline Virgin Atlantic, fascination with the private space and pineham, friendship with Larry page and bill gates, as well as familiarity with Barack Obama. Forbes publishes an excerpt from the Chapter in which Branson recalls his return to the world of recording and show business.
By the end of the 1990s, I increasingly began to visit the uneasy feeling that modern music is passing me by. More often I caught myself on the fact that, setting records that go back to their old favorites — the Sex Pistols, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd and Bob Marley. Just then I at iteration twisted amazing album, Mike Oldfield’s “Ommadawn”.
“I honestly don’t even know who I would like to hear from new musicians,” I complained Joan. I said as banal old-timer and knew it was time to change something.
A few years earlier I sold Virgin Records to Thorn EMI company to provide Virgin Atlantic finances to compete with British Airways. By signing the agreement that I will not create a new record company for at least five years, I was forced to watch as Virgin Records continues to work — in a new form, but without me. It is clear that the company was doomed to success: engaged and talented people at the helm there was one of my first partners, Ken berry, and the new artists — Massive Attack, Soul II Soul, Daft Punk and The Chemical Brothers — moved the label forward. Virgin Records left in the market, and it was nice that the mainstream caved in under him female group Spice Girls, who won in 1997 the BRIT Awards, and that The morning sets the tone for the whole guitar music and fashion BritPop came and went. But despite this, it was kind of a shame to stay away.
Once I got the right to create a new label, I put your favorite records on Mike Oldfield and returned to the game, founded the company V2 Records. The first group with which we signed the contract, became The Stereophonics, which increasingly appeared on the posters of the festivals and in 1998 won BRIT Awards in the nomination “Best new artist”. There were new artists, which I was really interesting to listen to. We continued to nurture musicians — Moby, Elbow and The White Stripes, and I was glad to be back in the business that live and breathe.
We again caught a wave of success, but rang alarm bells and due to the fact that our business is conducted with old methods. In 1999, Sean Parker created Napster, advanced peer-to-peer file-sharing network. It has changed the attitude of consumers to the music — the abandonment of physical media that can be purchased and carefully stored, and replacing them with virtual product that can be used free of charge. Although Napster was closed in 2002, but by the time Steve jobs has already completely transformed the music business. In October 2001, after about eight months after the opening of the digital store iTunes, Apple released its first iPod. Now people became available a simple and convenient service for downloading music on inexpensive and stylish playback device.
When I was discussing the iPod with Steve, he told me that it inspired my idea originally from the 1980s. In 1886, 1st of April, I gave an interview with Music Week, which said that we secretly developed a device called the Music Box. This device allows you to store all your songs in the world, and people will be able for a small fee to download any music what you want. The interview was entitled “Bomb from Branson”. Four colossal computers located somewhere in Britain, was to store all music in the world, which meant “the end of the music industry in the form in which we know it.” I argued that scientists in top-secret laboratories, the location of which I, of course, is not disclosed, “fearing industrial espionage”, developed an appropriate technology. That night my phone was ringing off the hook — overexcited owners of record companies begged me to abandon this idea. At midnight we decided to calm them down, declaring that it was all an April fool’s joke.
When many years later I met Steve in San Francisco, he smiled and said,
—By the way, I liked that article.
—About The Music Box. I appreciated the concept. Always thought it a great idea.
When technology finally caught up with the imagination, came the iPod. So, it’s possible I unwittingly made a small contribution to the destruction of their own business. It was late, but we still tried to respond and 2 September 2005 launched its own online music store Virgin Digital and began to sell his MP3 player. We owned one of the world’s largest music catalogs, which was more than two and a half million songs for download. But smashed on Virgin Digital 20 million pounds, we realized that to counter Apple need to be as provocative simplicity, and our product was not enough — and the scale of production were not the same. When two years later we closed Virgin Digital, we had to bravely take the hit and accept huge losses.
Although the record now buy otherwise, music is music. Life has reminded me about it a few years, warm July evening in 2012, when I watched the opening of the London Olympics. Danny Boyle turned the boring ceremony “Isles of wonder” (Isles of Wonder), phantasmagoria, showing everything that is at the heart of the UK. Suddenly we, the audience, were on a crazy, rollicking rock-n-roll boat floating on the Thames, as I 35 years ago with the band the Sex Pistols. It was amazing.
When the ceremony continued at the Olympic stadium (this time with the boat not being chased by police), I was waiting for another old friend. Mike Oldfield told me that it would be, but I could not imagine how it would be unexpected. Behind the Mike with rows of hanging bells (in honor of his first album “Tubular Bells”, released on Virgin Records) and musician — as always, modest, unobtrusive — worked an incredible miracle of sound. Dancers and actors accompanied this miracle in front of a billion viewers. Then, before the athletes marched with their national flags, appeared on the stage a young singer from Scotland, Emeli Sande — her CDs are also recorded for Virgin. She sincerely and fervently sang the hymn “Abide With Me” (Abide with me), and with a subtle electronic rhythm, it sounded very modern.
All this fusion of ancient and modern was so funny, so bright that melt your heart, and the soul trembled. And what else is there music? I am incredibly proud of Virgin was in the center of this striking action, so the people together.
Despite the fact that selling music the traditional way is slowly eroding, the music industry learned to earn money in a different way: Yes, digital music has won the market, but a second wind — and highly profitable — has taken on a live stage. People were willing to pay for the experience, for the right to receive them — and we can only get them in person.
I, of course, is not as often as before, go to concerts, but festivals like still. In the mid-1990s I had the idea for a new musical event under the Virgin brand. Just to throw another festival — that’s stupid, we had something special. Once we sat and drank, and then Jackie McQuillan, referring to Jarvis Cocker of Pulp, offered me the idea to organise V Festival.
Jarvis wondered why Virgin still does not have its own festival, said Jackie.
—Really, why? This is a great idea. Only let it not be like the others, we need something unique.
The trick is to hold the festival simultaneously at two different sites: half of the musicians playing tonight, there is tomorrow, and Vice versa.
Sounds good to me. Let’s try!
A few months hosted our first V Festival in Chelmsford and Stafford. I ran into Jarvis backstage… anyway, it seems to me that with Jarvis. He was dressed as a huge gorilla that knew him not, until he is torn between the sites. Since then the festival has grown to become one of the main events in the musical calendar. I even persuaded vy ti on stage — usually to represent artists such as Paul Weller and the Stereophonics. But every time, standing in front of the audience, I realized that I’m much more comfortable behind the scenes than in front of a thousandth the crowd.
What I really like at festivals is to wander the grounds and listen to what songs the fans like. This applies particularly to the FreeFest festival, which was held by the company Virgin Mobile USA to support a charitable organization that helps homeless youth. As the name implies, the festival was free for all who volunteered to help people living on the street, and to get into the VIP box it was possible, after working 13 hours as a volunteer. Donations collected during the festival, we built a shelter RE*Generation House in Washington, which provides shelter for homeless teenagers.
At the festival, which was held at the famous venue Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland, was a very special atmosphere — every man has earned his right to the occasion, taking care of others. But that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t any fun. I could see at the bar, where I poured drinks along with Flavor Flav, and above the main stage, where I blew soap bubbles (and they were flying at the audience at the bottom), and beside me on the narrow roof landed paratroopers.
Encouraged by the success of V Festival and FreeFest, at the end of 2012 we had another case — decided to return to the Rolling Stones on stage. I’ve always loved Mick Jagger and his boys — attitude to life-for the music. Our fates are often crossed. I was pretty antsy 16-year-old teenager when I first interviewed Mick for the magazine Student. I distinctly remember going to his house № 48 on Cheyne walk, and my hands were shaking because I was dragging antediluvian tape recorder the size of half a meter by half a meter to record the conversation. He rarely gave interviews and, apparently, agreed to it only because praised the audacity pimply teenager who dared to ask questions. This interview was not the best sample of my journalistic work, but thanks to him I grew to love the stones even more.
When Virgin Records took off, “the Rolling stones” became my primary goal, and several times we were a step away from the contract. In 1975, the team Manager Rupert Lowenstein tried to get rid of me, requesting three million dollars. Bluff to bluff: I said, what do we offer four. I rushed across Europe, I’ve called everyone I could, but scraped together the required amount of money. Rupert appreciated this persistence, however, had to engage in a bidding war, and eventually we lost EMI, which raised to five million.
But I noticed the “Rolling stones” and began to record at our Studio Manor Studio in Oxfordshire. One funny case: I had to cover for Keith Richards when he’s in the Nude ran across the lawn with somebody else’s wife (such as naked), and her husband with a gun tried to catch up with them and demanded entry to the building. When Keith decided to go solo we brought him to the Virgin, and he issued us two albums —”Talk Is Cheap” and “Main Offender”.
When in 1991 “the Rolling stones” began to perform, I was determined — so this time I will not miss them. The music world has zapikali that they are old and good for nothing, but I was sure that they had in stock for another decade. And even that was too underestimate longevity Mick and company! We have developed a contract that gave us rights to their rich discography, as well as for the release of their amazing album “Voodoo Lounge”. At the party in the restaurant Mossiman, devoted to signing of the contract, I couldn’t stop smiling, and Mick looked very happy.
“Look at the teeth on you! Good thing I’m not Apple,” said bassist “rolling stones” bill Wyman.
When I sold Virgin Records in 1992, the hardest thing was to say goodbye to the Rolling Stones — and even immediately after the signing of the contract. But it did not affect my great relationship with Mick and Rupert — they were savvy businessmen and knew why I sold the company, especially as it did not bring significant harm “the Rolling stones”, and their following world tour became the highest grossing tour of all time.
Rewind the tape 20 years from now. The Rolling Stones haven’t performed together. Mick and Keith were almost at loggerheads after Keith made fun of Mick’s manhood in his autobiography “Life” (Life). But in 2012, the group celebrated 50 years — it was impossible to leave this event without attention. We went out on the Floor Dante, the impresario who worked with the “Rolling stones” all my life, since their first concerts. He tried to get the band back, and he was in need of help Virgin. It would be great just to see these guys together on stage after so many years, not to mention how to arrange the whole concert. We created a new company Virgin Live to organise a series of four shows. Two were to be held in London and two in new York. Who would have thought that the relationship that began in “the raging of the 1960s”, will last even half a century later?
Come November 29, I went to England to see the show. I met with the children, and together we went backstage the O2 Arena for musicians. When I saw them together, I was flooded with nostalgia. “Keith, you look more and more like a pirate,” I laughed. Fortunately, the joke it too funny. Charlie, as always, was unfazed, Mick still dazzling smiled happily. And Ronnie recalled Necker: he recently spent on the island honeymoon with his new beautiful wife, and a couple of times we played him at Billiards.
—It seems that twenty years have passed since I saw you all together, ‘ I said.
—Tonight is not a night of memories, Ricky, — said Mick.
When we posed for photos, clearly felt the excitement. Finally we said goodbye, because the musicians had to prepare for going on stage, and I went to his Lodge. While the group has not yet started singing, I stood and looked down at the huge crowd of spectators, and all of a sudden I got this unbearable urge to be among them. We waded through the crowd straight to the stage just in time to see Mick in a silver jacket snake skin out to the audience and begins to move in his inimitable style. Rapidly rushed “Paint It Black”, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, “Satisfaction” and “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll”. Javier Bardem in the next row depicted some kind of frantic dance, Penelope Cruz admiringly watched him. After dancing to “The Last Time” I went to his place to take a breath, hoping that the words of the song — “the last time” — you will not be prophetic. Plopping down on my ass, I once again remembered the old truth — to sit on the “rolling stones” concert is simply impossible!
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