249. London’s Indie Music Scene Seized His Passion for Rising Artists
Sebastian “Seb” Webber
Growing up with dyslexia on an asparagus farm outside London, he didn’t think he was all that talented. Trusting his gut—and his love of Indie music and the artists who make it—took him through dingy clubs and places he never imagined.
Sebastian “Seb” Webber is a British, Los Angeles-based, music industry executive who held the title of creative director of TIDAL, an online music streaming platform bringing indie artists and their fans closer together and giving musicians a larger share of revenue. In 2010, Webber was named as one of Billboard’s “30 Under 30.” Seb has worked with acts including Adele, Basement Jaxx, M.I.A, Peaches, Radiohead and The White Stripes. With business partner Matt Jones, Seb launched CrowdSurge, a competitor to TicketMaster, in 2006. CrowdSurge is a web-based app that cuts out the ticket agency in the selling of artist-controlled concert tickets. Early clients included Coldplay, Foo Fighters and Paul McCartney. Webber sold his shares in the company and is currently the owner of Salt Grp.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
Growing up on an asparagus farm outside London, England, Seb started devouring books about music at age 15. “I knew I wanted to do something in music. To begin with, I was in a really awful high school rock band. What I realized was, I had fun doing everything but being in the band: getting us gigs and doing the artwork and setting up studio sessions. I really found that if I can boss people around, I feel pretty happy about that. I just really get a lot of satisfaction being around incredible talented people. I learn a lot around them, and started to realize I like to support those people. So I found myself really enjoying being a bit of a roadie, doing a bit of everything. Putting together some popular house parties at a London club called Classic People—with indie rock bands and house music DJs—exposed me to some amazing artists. I just threw myself into the London music scene.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
Because of dyslexia, classroom learning was excruciating. He succumbed to parental pressure and enrolled in college, but, “About six weeks into my first year, I was offered a job at XL Recordings, an indie record label that’s home to Prodigy, Adel, The White Stripes, Radiohead and others. It’s in a tiny townhouse in Notting Hill, London. It’s not big at all, with about 15 people. My first job was to be a junior product manager reporting to the managing director. I started at the bottom and very quickly moved into the creative conversations with Richard Russell, who owns the label and signs the artists. So I just got involved in these amazing projects pretty early, like I’d go to Adel’s house when she was 16. We were making demos. I would spend time working with her in the studio.”
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“Learning to trust myself. It’s like having that sixth sense, just do it. Everyone around you may tell you not to do something, but you just have to do it. The reason why people don’t go anywhere is because they listen to the people that tell them not to do it. I’m stubborn. I just learned to trust my gut. I also learned that my gut’s not right all the time. But there’s no real harm in trusting it all the time.”
Steps to Success from Sebastian “Seb” Webber
1. Don’t do anything by halves. Trust your gut and just do it.
2. Surround yourself with talented, dedicated people and learn from them.
3. Keep yourself stimulated by doing what you love.
4. As my shoulder tattoo says, “”Never, never, never give up!”
Connecting With Sebastian “Seb” Webber
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