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Mobos 2016: How independent artists are shaking up the music industry

By Michael Baggs
Newsbeat reporter

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Mobo nominees say the success of independent stars such as Skepta and Frank Ocean is opening doors for new artists to succeed.

Frank Ocean went to number one across the world with his album Blonde while Skepta shook up the music scene when Konnichiwa won the Mercury Prize.

The albums were recorded and released independently, without the support and finances of a major label.

Both artists are now nominated for Mobo awards.

This year's Mobo Awards take place this week at Glasgow's SSE Hydro and the nominees at the event believe Skepta, Frank Ocean and other mainstream, independent artists are changing the rules on how artists create and get their music to fans.

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"There are so many tools these days, social media-wise, where you can build your own fan base on one side but you can also put your music out without having to go down where the gatekeepers are and say, 'Please can you release this?'" double Mobo nominee Craig David tells Newsbeat.

"Instead, you make a video for a couple of hundred quid, put it out on YouTube and all of sudden you're getting more views than half of the artists who are signed to majors.

"It's a beautiful time for new artists coming through."

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image captionCraig David is nominated for two awards at the 2016 Mobo Awards

Rising star Shakka is an independent artist and he's nominated for best soul and R&B act at this year's Mobo Awards.

"It's important that we have an independent artist who is waving the flag for people who believe that it is possible to get to such heights without major label backing or investment," he tells Newsbeat.

"It's fitting that we have someone like Skepta doing it because his ethos and his personality is all about grass roots. It's about coming from an area where people don't expect you to succeed."

Katy B is nominated for best British female and she thinks that independent Mobo artists have a long history of bringing change to the industry.

"I think it always has been shaking things up, through pirate radio and the networks that are part of that culture [and] the clubs.

"I think it always has been there but it's evolving and we're seeing it in different ways now."

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Michael Kiwanuka, who is nominated for two Mobo awards, is signed to Mumford & Sons' Communion label.

He doesn't think the majors have anything to panic about.

"It's the same thing as when Napster came, if people remember that, the labels were worried about that and it collapsed," he tells Newsbeat.

"I think the lesson about that is that you just have to embrace it.

"As an artist, you do your thing but you embrace all the things that are around you that are new, that come up that you're not used to.

"That's the way you have fun and relate and survive so hopefully labels will just embrace it. They shouldn't be scared."

image copyrightNewsbeat
image captionShakka says the music industry is allowing independent artists to thrive

But Shakka, who's won the best R&B & Soul Mobo already, says the success of independent artists is a wake up call for the music industry.

"They are [scared] and they should be," he says.

"There were years when it was watered down to make it relatable or sellable but now you have conglomerates like Grime Daily, Link Up and SBTV that are telling the world it doesn't need to be.

"We have an eco-system where artists like myself can thrive without having to do whatever to make it palatable to the rest of the world because the rest of the world love it as it is."

The Mobos will be broadcast on ITV2 at 8pm on Friday

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Related Topics

  • Craig David
  • Skepta
  • Michael Kiwanuka
  • Grime
  • Music