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Breaking into the Music Industry w/ Nick Halkes (XL Recordings) Wrap-Up

We’re back with the third and final instalment from our music industry masterclass with Nick Halkes, and a wrap up of the talk in full. Nick is currently the manager of Liam Howlett (The Prodigy), Stanton Warriors, DnB dons Bad Company UK, Ministry of Sound-signed One Bit and more. He is also a member of the Reach Up crew who are bringing their disco/boogie soundtrack to Blue Dot, Bestival and Festival Number 6 this summer. Furthermore, since we shared the first part of this video, his ‘Trailblazers’ podcast with Eddie Temple Morris has launched, which aims to explore the lives of electronic music pioneers. At the time of writing, they have covered Gary Numan, Mary Anne Hobbes, DJ Zinc, Daniel Miller and more. We’re big fans and, if you have any interest in electronic music, we recommend you subscribe right away. Don’t forget we offer a range of music industry courses here at Point Blank, including our new BA (Hons) in Music Industry Management, which will be launching in a year.

In part one, Nick describes the first part of his history in the industry. His story begins in Portishead, Somerset where he started out as a mobile DJ as a young boy. Moves to London and New York were the stepping stones and risks needed to get into the world of music professionally, and in a short space of time, he was listening to unreleased Michael Jackson records on boats on the Hudson!

For the second part of his masterclass with us, we pick up where we left off last time, with Nick in NYC. He brings us along on his journey back to university, Easy Street Records to City Beat, Club Promo to A&R and finally to the formation of XL Recordings and the discovery of Liam Howlett and the Prodigy.

For the final instalment of the talk, Nick branches out from XL and tries his hand at making a record, plus we follow his behind-the-scenes career across the many labels and artist management roles he has inhabited over the years.

Kicking off part three, Nick introduces the track he produced with Richard Russell under the name Kicks Like a Mule. ‘The Bouncer’ is almost the perfect time capsule for how rave and hardcore were so ubiquitous in the early nineties – with a hardcore break over a loose, rolling bassline – and the pair even performed on Top of the Pops. Making music was always a side-note for Nick, however – a way to mess around and have some fun with a mate. And despite the success he had found with XL (signing some huge tracks like SL2’s ‘On a Ragga Tip’ and House of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’) he continued to make moves in the industry, being asked by the MD of EMI at the time, Clive Black, to start a dance-music side-label, which became Positiva Records – now celebrating 25 years in existence.

Positiva had its first big hit from an unlikely source with Reel 2 Real’s ‘I Like to Move It’, which went to number one in several countries across Europe and sold over a million records worldwide. Nick went on to start Incentive Records through Ministry of Sound and from there the hits kept rolling in. Always evolving, Nick moved into publishing and artist management, which in 2005 grew to include The Prodigy once again after the release of ‘Invaders Must Die’, and that has been his main focus ever since. He also gives a rundown of his podcast series and the club brand Reach Up.

Big thanks to Nick for going into such depth. You can follow him on social media:

Guest masterclasses like this one are something we strive to bring students of all of our classes and recent examples include Shan McGinley visiting our radio students. Check out our courses in these subjects and beyond at each of our schools in LondonMumbaiLos AngelesIbiza and online. If you have any questions, please call a course advisor on +44 20 7729 4884.

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