Yaw Owusu

Yaw Owusu

Nothin But The Music

Yaw Owusu is a Liverpool-based creative consultant. He builds projects that integrate music, culture and content production that deliver long-term impact for creatives, brands, organisations and communities. He believes that the empowerment and platforming of under-represented voices, cultures and stories strengthens and bolsters the art, media and culture we consume.

Where are you based?

The music and creative cultural hub that we called Liverpool!

Where do you work? What do you do?

I work in lots of places as I am a music and music culture creative consultant. So I work on loads of different projects across the UK although my HQ, so to speak, is in Liverpool. Right now I am working on projects for Google, PRS Foundation, Liverpool City Council, Toxteth EL8TE and a few other clients. I do everything through my creative consultancy company, Nothin But The Music. I also serve as a board member for the Liverpool City Region Music Board and Black Music Action Group and leading music talent and digital sector development organisation, Generator NE in Newcastle.

All the programmes and initiatives I work on integrate music, culture and content production that focus on delivering long-term impact for creatives, brands, organisations and communities. I truly believe that the empowerment and platforming of under-represented voices, cultures and stories without a doubt strengthens and bolsters the art, media and culture we consume.

What are you listening to?

I can’t stop listening to these songs – which aren’t the most current – but seem to just constantly stay in rotation 

  • Kendrick Lamar – Father Time
  • Dj Khalid ft Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross and Fridayy – God Did
  • Lil Durk ft J Cole – All My Life
  • Sampha – No One Knows Me Like The Piano
  • KOJ – Blue NotesThe Carters – Black Effect
  • Frank Ocean – We All Try
  • Little Simz – Gorilla
  • Michael Aldag – Socializing EP

I am also deep into the following podcasts:

  • Akimbo – Seth Godin
  • The Old Man and the Three
  • Idea Generation
  • The Diary of the CEO

I may just spend as many hours listening to podcasts as music right now, I think.

How do you discover new music?

Every way possible really; in my home my wife still plays the radio and has it on constantly during the day. She flicks between many wide-ranging stations through the day so I am always hearing new stuff plus classics sprinkled throughout. My 10 year old son and my 17 year old step-daughter are on TikTok and Youtube Shorts so I’m always hearing brand new things and artists through them. Then naturally through my work, I am always discovering new artists and new music directly through talented music creators and managers. I am also known to Shazam every now and again as I go around and hear some nice and new music.

I used to Exec produce a lot of radio shows for BBC national radio so I was constantly getting new music sent to me too. And I am still on a few.

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

I have a home office (since the pandemic) so home and work sometimes mix – so definitely a lot being listened to at home. But I would say I listen to even more music on the move. So gym, school run, on the way to meetings, travelling. It’s also where I tend to listen to more new music. In fact after I finish this interview, I am going to listen to a preview of Michael Aldag’s debut album, which doesn’t have a release date, while I go for a run.

“I have a vinyl player and a decent amount of records. About 600-700 CDs and even some tapes from back when. BUT I am a streamer. It’s easier and works better for me.”

Where do you do most of your music listening?

I definitely get a bit of music before it comes out through music creators and industry folk who may want my opinion. I love that. Through the various talent development programmes I design, deliver or support, I have the luxury to be in a position to advise a lot of creative people so I get sent music early for my opinion. 

I’m super excited for so many releases that are coming up from a range of different artists that I have heard in a LOT of mailout lists too so I am on it.

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

I have a vinyl player and a decent amount of records. About 600-700 CDs 

and even some tapes from back when. BUT I am a streamer. It’s easier and works better for me. I am an Apple Music guy. We have a decent system at home with interlinked Homepods and I have carplay in my car so music can be constant throughout.

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

I hate being sent music by WhatsApp as the labelling is a myth and it is easy to miss. I hate being sent attachments without proper labelling/metadata too because they go into my music app and it means nothing as the volume means that if I don’t listen straight away, it can get confusing. I always remember that from servicing music to radio – add your name – song title etc to the MP3. Or send links.

As a consumer, I remember the hunt for releases in record stores, which was exciting. Then reading the album sleeves and having to wait to hear the songs. Then making time to sit and listen to the album. I do miss that whole experience. Now so much music is available so I do find it hard to fully ingratiate myself in that experience because it is so easy to listen and there are so many releases.

I think I really get excited for new artists with a point of view, or generational talent who create amazing bodies of work or new and exciting waves and genres and / or just new ways of delivering work. So a new Kendrick album or forthcoming Sampha album, or someone new like TEMS getting going, or a Beyonce show, or  Jay-Z Book of Hov exhibition… or the roll out of Guvna B’s album. They capture my whole imagination and make me cherish and experience the music differently. That energy.

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

If it is released I save it or add it to my own playlist. The playlist is the realest streaming dedication hahaha. That means I’m involved.

If someone has sent me an mp3 of an unreleased track, I save it to a folder on my desktop called PENDING. That means I am always drawn to it, along with important unfinished work stuff. So I’m on it daily.

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

I’m not necessarily that person who pushing loads of music on to others. I tend  to ask who people are listening to moreso. I’m curious like that. That said, I do 

share good artists with people I think would be interested. Usually that’s professional – so me curating an event / festival or me putting forward people for financial support, opportunities or to form new working relationships. 

In my personal life, I think I do it but very informally. I’m constantly trying to get younger people to listen to ‘older’ music, which to them, is actually new music technically as they have never heard it.

Anything you want to “promote”?

Oh there’s so much – make sure you check out all the things I work on – so POWER UP and the LIMF Academy – we have just announced new programmes and cohorts which last for a year. Very exciting and very impactful.

Also keep your eyes peeled for the Google project I referred to earlier – as that is launching very soon. In terms of music, and Liverpool specifically (I need to shout about it) – very exciting movements by Michael Aldag, Girls Don’t Sync, Koj and SSJ. Honestly keep your eyes on them!

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