Jamal Edwards: you can still be very creative with very limited resources
A view from Jamal Edwards

Jamal Edwards: you can still be very creative with very limited resources

Jamal Edwards, MBE, digital entrepreneur and founder of media platform SBTV, on how mindset, imagination, inspiration and bravery are far more important than any budget...

The best examples of creativity are so often the result of an exciting and unexpected partnership. Bringing together talent from different areas, genres and disciplines is always inspiring, and the energy that it brings delivers exciting and unique results. 

Risk taking

It’s not always about budget. First and foremost, creativity is about passion and ideas.

SBTV is often remembered for its early collaboration with Ed Sheeran. Until this point we were primarily focused on giving a platform to grime acts and rap/hip-hop MCs. Understandably, putting Ed, who was then unsigned and unknown, on the channel was a huge risk for us both.

But at the heart of SBTV we have always been about showcasing brilliant talent, whatever the genre, so I felt instinctively it was a risk worth taking. The video got more than 8m views and it was a real game-changing moment for us both. That moment also taught me that self-belief and being brave enough to take calculated risks are critical to success.

The grime genre has continued to thrive and embrace creativity. Skepta’s video for That’s Not Me, which was filmed on a micro budget, caused a media storm and has already had more than 5m views – sometimes all it takes is a good idea to capture everyone’s imagination.

Skepta featuring JME - #ThatsNotMe

Recently, I visited Kenya with Save The Children, for Action 2015, and met a kid called Victor who used YouTube to find dance moves from across the world and teach them to his friends in the slums of Kibera.

He inspired me, because he reminded me you can still be very creative with very limited resources. It’s not always about budget. First and foremost, creativity is about passion and ideas.

My inspirations are diverse, all the way from Vashtie Kola to David Beckham. The people who inspire me do their thing and they do it in their own way, very well. For example, Google’s James Howard, who sadly passed away this year, created amazing projects like ‘Inside Abbey Road’, and he will be deeply missed by everyone he worked with.

Creativity has evolved in the new era of entrepreneurs and it has never been stronger. People are going out there and doing it for themselves.

Creativity has evolved in the new era of entrepreneurs and it has never been stronger. People are going out there and doing it for themselves – the kids of today are growing up feeling inspired by the 90s generation of entrepreneurs who have proved that the traditional career path is not the only one open to them.

Opening doors

Inspirational figures like Nick D’Aloisio, James MacLeod and Joe Carnell have proved to a whole new generation that it is OK to think: if they can do it, why can’t I?

What’s exciting is that you don’t have to be a content publisher to get creative and try out your new ideas. Social media can be a great tool and platform for creativity. Take memes, for example – they’re fun, but they also level the playing field for everyone, creatively, as the content is just recycled and repurposed.

The digital age has opened up new creative possibilities for people, regardless of age or circumstance.

At SBTV, we were one of the first platforms to knock on record labels’ doors with a creative new way fans could enjoy the music they loved.

Multiplatform options

The industry has since been presented with even more new, disruptive ways to market music, with apps like Dubsmash and Flipagram becoming a key part of reaching out to audiences. The same can be said of traditional media publishers, which are looking to partner social-media platforms and messaging apps to keep relevant to an ever-changing audience.

In today’s ‘brand-wary’ environment, a creative multiplatform approach that cross-pollinates content is vital.

And brands should never be scared to try new things and ride the wave of entrepreneurial spirit – because you never know what you might create, or the change you might inspire.