Dua Lipa’s Manager TaP Music’s Ben Mawson: Exec of the Week

After 15 months, album single “Levitating,” which last October received a remix from DaBaby, finally topped Billboard’s Pop Airplay & Adult Pop Airplay charts. It’s Lipa’s latest feat after winning the Grammy for best pop vocal album this March, and it’s helped Mawson earn the title of Billboard’s Executive of the Week.

Looking ahead, Mawson is excited about TaP’s new ventures in sports and fashion, both of which will help expand upon the music brand’s global mentality and reach.

“Levitating” has finally topped the Pop Airplay and Adult Pop Airplay Charts. What key decisions did you play in making that happen?

We made the decision early on to continue to promote “Levitating” as a current record despite the fact that it had fallen off the chart (it moved to the recurrent chart). Mike Chester [Warner Records’ executive vp promotion], who heads up the radio team on Dua, has been an incredible force between her radio and chart success — as ambitious as us and constantly helping drive things forward.

He told me he knew this record had not reached its full potential from a chart perspective, and the data corroborated that point week-after-week. He saw this as a once-in-a-career opportunity to strike as radio stations were now programming “Levitating” in power rotation where it had only reached sub-power previously. What’s really amazing is the fact that this record has very little burn with audiences after being out since March of 2020.

The success story of Future Nostalgia seems to have no end in sight. How have you managed to keep momentum through and now beyond a pandemic year?

I think one of the most important things was adapting promo and visual creative to feel original and exciting, despite the restrictions that came with the pandemic. With every remote TV performance, Dua collaborated with TaP’s in-house creative team to push boundaries and make the performance feel special or different. Once we had access to wider testing and COVID compliance tools, getting back to creating more videos and large scale content like Studio 2054 allowed us to feel more comfortable creating a bubble for work to continue. The success of the Studio 2054 livestream, still the biggest livestream by an artist of all time, is still bringing in new fans across the globe and enthralling Dua’s fanbase.

What lessons or strategies from this rollout and campaign did you learn or try that you will apply to future projects?

Being reactive in a smart way and fluid with plans as things change.

Having a global management team really paid off many times over. We are lucky to have four offices in multiple territories, including key ones in the U.S. and UK, and our approach is always an international one, covering as many different territories — with their different needs — at once. This also means we are able to hand off to work as needed across time zones in order to meet deadlines.

Our strategy of getting as much done internally within our TaP management team whilst being supported overall by the label, Warner, helped minimize the white noise and enabled us to really focus on navigating new ways for Dua to interact with fans while also telling her story. It’s not a new way of doing things for us, but this pandemic reinforced our approach.

What has been the biggest challenge about managing through a pandemic?

Navigating COVID restrictions around production and travel [and] keeping artists and the TaP team safe and happy [while] finding innovative ways for artists to connect with fans.

Finding work life balance, generally a problem in this job, and livestream/Zoom/digital performance fatigue.

How has management changed during your time in the business?

A lot more moving parts to manage within the artist ecosystem whether it be new tech platforms, new ways of monetization etc.

Tackling mental health challenges with the rise of social media and online trolling. We prioritize keeping our artists and our staff healthy and safe and continue to work on expanding our efforts industry-wide.

What’s a change you’d like to see, or hope to help make happen, in the business as we return to some sense of normalcy?

I would like to see more diversity in the music business across all roles. We are starting to see more women in executive positions, but it is a very complex picture and once you look at it through the intersection of race, gender and opportunity, you see how far we have to go. For example, recent surveys show that women hold around a third of decision-making roles in the executive ranks but this figure drops significantly when we are talking about women of color.

I’m not just talking about who runs the labels but all aspects of the industry that supports the music-making process. We need to look at who gets to be in the studio, who is on the photoshoots, and how they come by these opportunities in the first place. We see the same scenario play out in the studio where the stats on women in production roles are just woeful, particularly for women of color.

Black artists make up 37.5{1a2a5022a52b7f44d3c003be9afa129e2349806f3225e736ca8b1c4309d27447} of the U.S. popular charts and rightly, Black artists are also demanding Black representatives. Hopefully the days of the industry being a place just for people with the ‘right’ background and connections are numbered.

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