Ian Brown is a lucky man. And he works mighty hard to stay that way.

As well as writing and producing chart-topping records and the lead song in a long running West End musical, he has brokered deals for artistes with record companies, music publishers, book publishers, agents, brands and film companies. He has managed international artists and personally promoted the artists he signed to radio, TV and the press.
Ian has run a successful record label and small publishing company for more than 10 years and worked with the best promotional teams in the UK. Over the last decade he has been responsible for more than seven million album sales – and three million singles.

He has farmed pigs, milked cows and grown corn; he plays darts, collects guitars, has recently written his first film script and is now producing films. He is proud to be an A&R consultant for Island Records and EMI Music Publishing.

In 2011, after 10 years in the music business, he set up Mighty Village in order to bring everything under one small thatched roof.

Born a farmer, Ian Brown graduated from the Royal Agricultural College and toiled the rich Hampshire soil until the turn of the century when he took Prime Minister Tony Blair’s advice to struggling farmers and diversified. He spent a year earning his spurs in the music business, selling records by mail order and working on PR accounts as diverse as Liberty X, a series of line dance albums, ex-Deep Purple guitarist Richie Blackmore’s medieval lute project (yes, really!) and the incredible Eva Cassidy while still working part time on the farm.

In 2001 Ian set up a one-man record label in a converted garage in Ringwood and signed former King Crimson bassist Gordon Haskell. In those far-off days before The X-Factor, their first single, the landmark How Wonderful You Are came within a whisker of 2001’s Christmas number one spot, narrowly losing out to industry favourite Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman. The most requested song ever on BBC Radio 2, How Wonderful You Are charted all over the world and its parent album, Harry’s Bar, went on to sell more than 500,000 copies.

After signing critically acclaimed singer songwriter Thea Gilmore, The Dawn Of The Replicants and several American indie bands, two years later he had a hit with Erin Rocha’s Can’t Do Right For Doing Wrong. A brief dalliance with Pop, to make his daughters happy, saw him chalk up a few top 20 singles with The Noise Next Door and Blue’s Antony Costa in 2004 and 2005.

Ian finally scored a number one hit in 2006 with Sandi Thom’s I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair) which he co-wrote as Tom Gilbert, his writing name. Its success followed the innovative marketing initiative, 21 Nights from Tooting, in which Sandi broadcast 21 shows in 21 nights from her basement flat. The single sold 2.5 million copies worldwide, topped the Australian charts for ten weeks and earned Ian an Ivor Novello nomination.

But just as he achieved success the record market contracted and in spite of the evidence to the contrary, cultural commentators declared the death of the single. Once more it was time to diversify …

Applying the same techniques of careful nurturing he learned as a farmer, Ian looked for new creative ideas to foster. In 2007 he managed The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards whose album of classic pipe tunes, Spirit of the Glen, won a Classical Brit Award and sold 500,000 copies.

The following year he formed Bright Artist Management with long-time friend Sam Wright, taking on the likes of Jason Donovan and broadcaster Johnnie Walker. They discovered The Priests whose album is the fastest-selling UK debut by a classical artist and went on to sell three million copies around the world.

He also co-wrote the title song for West End musical Dreamboats and Petticoats.

Today, Ian runs his label, Mighty Village, through Universal Records and has scored a number one hit with Words For You, an album of poetry arranged by Ian and read by Meryl Streep, Terence Stamp and Helena Bonham Carter among others. Last year he plotted a course that saw Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends become the first traditional folk act to take an album into the UK top ten, featuring in a documentary for ITV and a book along the way. They played the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2011, opening for Paul Simon and Beyonce.

Mighty Village is currently executive producing two feature films and co-producing three others and has two more in development. The first – Candy Apple Red – is due to start shooting in June.

Last year the label released albums from the fantastic Lotte Mullan and the highly praised Thea Gilmore & Sandy Denny project, Don’t Stop Singing. Its latest releases include the thoughtful Crumbs of Comfort from the UK’s ‘biggest’ act Jinder; and 20 on which the incredible Kate Rusby duets with the likes of Paul Weller, Dick Gaughan, Eddie Reader, Richard Thompson, Paul Brady, Phil Selway and the Grimethorpe Colliery Band.

There’s an uplifting, heartfelt debut album due from Lana Del Ray’s guitarist Simon Johnson and a full set expected from newcomers Johnsons Vinyl Emporium, as well as EPs from Greenfield & Condor and top tip for 2013, 18-year-old Arianna D’Amato.

Ian has been married for 24 years and has two daughters. He lives in London and Hampshire where he has owned two very unsuccessful greyhounds and harbours the ambition to win the Biggest Onion competition at the village fete. His favourite record is A Whiter Shade Of Pale by Procol Harum.

Career summary

: Label owner: signings include Gordon Haskell, Sandi Thom, Thea Gilmore, Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends.
: Manager: Jason Donovan, The Priests, co-owner Bright Artist Management
: PR consultant: Tom Jones, Eva Cassidy, Liberty X, Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, Richie Blackmore.
: A&R consultant: Island Records, EMI Publishing, RCA Records.
: Songwriter (as Tom Gilbert): I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair) – Sandi Thom, no 1 UK/Australia/Ireland, 2.5 million copies sold worldwide, Ivor Novello nomination 2007. Dreamboats and Petticoats, West End musical, recorded by Jason Donovan. No Hopers, Jokers and Rogues – Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends, first traditional folk act in top ten of UK album chart.
: Arranger: Words For You poetry album featuring Meryl Streep, Helena Bonham Carter, Terence Stamp, Benedict Cumberbatch etc, no 1 UK compilation chart.
: Publisher: Thea Gilmore.
: Film Producer: Six feature films in development.

© Words – Nick Churchill


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