Ray Paul

Ray Paul

The Playmaker Group

Ray Paul is the Creative Director for The Playmaker Group - founded in 2010 and specialising in music, media and events. Extensive experience and knowledge of the industry combined with an unrivalled passion for music has led to PMG working on some of the most groundbreaking moments in popular music and culture.

Where are you based?

The Playmaker Group are based in West London, but operate globally

Where do you work? What do you do?

We are a creative solutions company, specialising in content, events and consultancy.

What are you listening to?

I am currently listening to the incredible new album by Samory I (a Jamaican artist produced by the incredible Winta James).

How do you discover new music?

Currently we produce the BBC Introducing show on 1Xtra and have access to the BBC uploader which is an amazing tool for undiscovered artists who can upload and we listen to it, then play the best ones.

What formats do you usually listen to? LP, CD, Cassette, Digital, Streaming Services? Why?

I still listen to CDs (I have over 100k, so it’s very dependent on the mood I’m in!), I definitely spend most of my time streaming and will occasionally pick up a vinyl to play, but it has to be something special! Most of my listening is done on a journey so headphones or a car usually suffice! I definitely prefer the sound and feel of analog but I love the convenience of digital!

“The excitement of sharing music has always been inside me. I think it is so important to have good “shepherds” that can be trusted musically and share the info, regardless of who you are.”

Where do you do most of your music listening?

For work it would be at home on the computer, socially it would be on headphones on the tube or in my car. I seem to enjoy older, more comfortable music that I am used to on my Flare Audio in-ears – the feel and sound of them are second to none – I enjoy warmth, texture and generally good feeling of listening to music that enhances my mood. I like to listen to potential tracks for radio in three settings – first on the computer, then in the car, then in the studio to get the range of sonics for any given track.

How do you find and listen to pre-release music?

We are fortunate to work with a range of artists and have done for 30 years, particularly in the Caribbean music world, and often get asked our opinions on forthcoming work. It is definitely one of the perks of the role, and we were recently recognised by being awarded a Grammy for our A&R work on the 2023 winner in the Reggae category: Kabaka Pyramid’s “The Kalling”.

As a music professional this is the ultimate accolade, but as a music fan just to hear and experience the music so early in its creative process is a part of the role I cannot put into words.

What are your frustrations with listening to music digitally? Any benefits?

The sheer volume of releases matched by the unfortunate variance in the quality of the mixing and mastering. It can put you in acertain space and then you have to adjust quickly and take other factors on board whilst listening.

How do you keep track of everything you are listening to?

Mentally, it’s in two departments in my mind – those that are personally for my consumption and listening, and those for an audience on any of the shows. Once I have those in my head it isn’t difficult to know what has sparked a feeling inside me and that is usually the catalyst for a return visit to a track!

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Do you tip other people off to new music? How?

Always! The excitement of sharing music has always been inside me. When I was at BBC Radio 1Xtra we used to have the DJ’s come in and speak to staff to put them onto new tunes and vice versa. I think it is so important to have good “shepherds” that can be trusted musically and share the info, regardless of who you are.

Anything you want to “promote”?

Our work leads us to be alongside some pretty cool and extremely talented people – I want to put people onto Alewya – an incredible artist that we tour manage whose level of innovation always astounds me. We manage a producer called Wize, who is as comfortable making Pop beats as he is making deep Reggae hooks – he is a star in the making. We cannot wait for the new Damian Marley album which is forthcoming and we are proud to produce three national radio shows – BBC Introducing on 1xtra for the best new music, the official UK Afrobeats chart show and the legendary garage outfit The Heartless Crew. all different, but all very important in their own way.

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