Northern Quarterz; the artist agency with 4 million YouTube views and counting

Hitting over 4 million views on a music video is enough to bring attention to anyone working behind the artist involved.

By Manchester's Finest | Last updated 3 December 2018

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I had a chat with Bilal from Northern Quarterz to discuss what it’s like running an artist agency outside the capital and what they have planned in the near future.

So what’s Northern Quarterz all about?
Northern Quarterz is a 360 Talent and Entertainment company based in the north of England. In my opinion the North of England has been lacking when it comes to entertainment. NQ was created to give talented and hard working creatives the platform to flourish and make the most of their potential. We try to accommodate the needs of individual artists whether it is management or on the label side.

Who set it up?
The founding member was the CEO Adex, who started it as a collective vision originally based around a radio show which many individuals contributed to. Everyone involved used their expertise to help it grow with the core of the team remaining the same throughout. The team consist of DJ Win (Head of Music & Events/Director), Bilal Harris (PR & A&R) and Solomon (Director).

Which artists do you represent?
Currently we represent Aitch and Zeph but we have another artist called Vee in development and are working on announcing another artist soon, as well as furthering the careers of manchester based producers Pezmo & Whyjay who are instrumental to what we do.

Who should we be looking out for in 2019?
Zeph is working on his debut EP which is sounding really promising so far, We’re pushing Vee to work on building his sound which is an exciting process and outside of us there are a few artists within Manchester and the north of england which were really excited about. Artists such as K Don, Tunde, Ayo Britain, Culps, Just Banco, Nemzzz, Wez and Graft are artists were keeping a close eye on in 2019.

How have you found breaking through in to such a competitive industry? What’s the secret to making it work?
Having an insight into the industry through knowing certain key figures we quickly identified that although there are a lack of opportunities in the northern cities, it is almost an advantage if you make the most of the opportunities you do get. We’re strong believers in organic growth and don’t really rely on spending heavily on marketing unless we have already broke the artist. In this day and age quality of work and consistency of release are the two things that every artist needs in order become successful. It’s easier said than done but it’s something which we have seen work on numerous occasions.

How do you find being Manchester based, is it an advantage not being in London?
Manchester is a big economic city however in terms of opportunities in the music industry it is still very much in the trail of London or even Birmingham. However, we do not look at this as a disadvantage instead it allows us to focus on what’s really important and paint our own story in the way we want, away from the hustle and bustle of the London based music industry. We still have to play ball to some extent so there are a lot of trips down to London which we have to indulge in.

What’s been the biggest struggle in getting to where you are at now?
A lot of it is based on mentality, the way we work is we like to continually keep on top of things which can be very demanding on artists, especially when they don’t understand why certain things we ask them to do are necessary. The lack of competitiveness in manchester can make artists not realise their full potential by failing to be prepared at all times, this is something southern artists are used to with the competitive nature in London.

How do you rate Manchester’s music scene, especially against other Northern Cities?
In terms of northern cities we are definitely leading the way with the recent success of Geko, Bugzy Malone and IAMDDB, there are a lot more artists starting to emerge from the city, not even taking into account Manchester’s historic relevance with Tony Wilson’s Factory Records and the success of bands like Oasis. Manchester is definitely the North’s shining light.

Who do you rate in Manchester scene?
First and foremost the producers Whyjay, Pezmo and two4kay three very underappreciated pivotal parts of the growing Manchester scene also Sami visuals the videographer behind many artists videos. In terms of artists K Don, Just Banco, Culps, Tunde, Ayo Britain, MB26 and Alize there’s many more but those are the stand out ones at the moment.

What’s the biggest achievement so far?
4 Million Views on Straight Rhymez, but we got an announcement soon which is actually what we are most proud of but until that’s confirmed and announced its 4 Million Views.

If you could work with Manchester artists past or present who would it be?
Bugzy Malone, Just Banco or Tunde

What advice have you got for anyone wanting to get involved in the scene?
Make yourself useful, create value in whatever way you can and study the game, understand what you’re getting yourself into.

Where do you see the label in the next 2 years?
Having a big impact on the UK scene with minimum 2 charting acts and a roster full of successful artists. A nice creative hub near the middle of Manchester for artists to come and create and for us to take meetings and plan for future projects.

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