OPINION: QUESTION TIME WITH ... Ged Burke - MusicUnsigned’s director wants to give new bands a break. By Mark Tungate

Remember when you were a pop-addicted teenager, fantasising about mingling with musicians, hanging out in recording studios and listening to the latest sounds? Well, I’ve got news for you - Ged Burke got your dream job.

Remember when you were a pop-addicted teenager, fantasising about

mingling with musicians, hanging out in recording studios and listening

to the latest sounds? Well, I’ve got news for you - Ged Burke got your

dream job.

To add insult to injury, he’s also working for a music website

considered so hip that Panorama is making a programme about it. ’I’m as

happy as a pig in shit at the moment,’ Burke cheerfully admits. ’I’ve

been into music from the very beginning. I’ve got two older sisters so

when I was a kid the house was full of everything from Motown to


Burke, 35, has just become commercial director of MusicUnsigned.com,

after a year-long stint as head of sales at Miller Freeman’s


The difference between the two is that while Dotmusic is aimed squarely

at consumers, MusicUnsigned targets the music industry.

Its laudable intention is to give unsigned bands access to A&R people at

record companies. The bands pay for the privilege - around pounds 300

per quarter - but as Burke points out, the charge weeds out the serious

musicians from the time-wasters. From his point of view, he’s able to

give talented bands a break, while also earning a living.

Burke’s entire career has revolved around music. He got a telesales job

at The Express when he was 22 to fund the recording studio he’d helped

build beneath a mate’s parents’ delicatessen.

’His parents were about to retire, so the idea was to take over the

building, keep the recording studio and turn upstairs into a hotel. We

got the backing, but one of us had to work to service the loan. By the

time we lost the lease on the building, I’d been working in sales for

six months and discovered I had an aptitude for it.’

In 1990 he got a job at the BBC’s pop music magazine, No. 1, later

moving onto BBC Music Magazine and then Radio Times. He was later lured

back to The Express as senior sales executive. Then in 1997, when his

daughter was born, Burke took the gamble of his life - he resigned to

start up a yoga company.

’A friend of mine is one of the best yoga teachers in the country - he

has a lot of celebrity clients. We set up a business called Vital Yoga,

with the aim of moving into videos and TV. But for some reason it didn’t

take off. Maybe the market wasn’t ready for it.’

Resuming his sales career, Burke moved to Dotmusic, which had just

abandoned its trade magazine roots to become a consumer music site. ’I

learned a lot but after a year I was ready to move on. While I was there

I met the founders of MusicUnsigned, when a supposedly 20-minute meeting

turned into an all-afternoon session. When they asked if I wanted to

come on board, it seemed like the right thing to do.’

Burke has equity in the company, but isn’t worried about the predicted

dotcom crash.

’MusicUnsigned is a ’real world’ company that happens to use the

internet as a route to its audience. Our online directory, The Blue

List, could just as easily be a print product. We have a music

publishing arm and are planning a web radio station, SoundLocation. com.

We’re not just a website for unsigned bands. This is a solid business -

I wouldn’t be here otherwise.’

Burke on the dotcom millionaires

’I’ve been annoyed by the outpouring of envy directed at

Lastminute.com’s Martha Lane Fox. I don’t know whether it’s because

she’s successful, or because she’s a successful woman, but I do think

there are a lot of traditional broadcast and print journalists who can’t

wait to see the market collapse.’


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