Darren Styles OBE has a track record of staging events at London’s Roundhouse, including the Attitude Awards with an attendance of around 700. Two years after Style’s Stream Publishing took ownership of the UK edition of Rolling Stone magazine, 23 November saw the first Rolling Stone Awards staged in the UK. Having attended the event, Access asks Styles about his journey from being inspired to take on the magazine to bringing an award ceremony to life.
Since it was launched in 1967 in San Francisco by Jan Wenner and Ralph Gleason with the name inspired by a Bob Dylan song, Rolling Stone magazine has become one of the world’s best known and respected music publications, providing a home for the work of remarkable writers such as Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, Lester Bangs and P. J. O’Rourke. You’ve been publishing a UK edition for a couple of years, why was it the right time to launch an awards event?
“I got here as soon as I could! We have published Attitude magazine since 2016, and we built that into something of substance, most particularly through the Attitude Awards, which are huge. We have had some big names; Prince Harry, Kylie, Cher, turn up to collect awards. We were looking for a second title during lockdown and I was made aware that the UK licence for Rolling Stone had become available, and so I went chasing that. During the lockdown period Q magazine went down and its awards disappeared, and NME had gone the year before, so our thinking was that there was a gap there. Going back to the model we have with Attitude, it is multi-platform; so print, digital, online, social and live events. You generate content from your events, which builds your platforms, which builds your audience, which brings you numbers. We’re replicating that model with Rolling Stone and wanted to create an end-of-year party that was a celebration of British music.
So why choose the Roundhouse?
It’s got a fantastic music heritage. I think it is about as old as Rolling Stone. It goes back to the ‘60s, Hendrix and The Rolling Stones have played there, and then obviously it was Amy Winehouse’s home venue. We have had a really good experience working with them since 2017 with the Attitude Awards, and even during lockdown, when events couldn’t happen, we filmed a virtual awards ceremony there. We have been through hell and high water and they’ve always been incredibly supportive.
How important a part did sponsors play in enhancing the event, as well as funding it?
The two main sponsors came right into the fabric of the event. The headline sponsor, Remy Martin,created a speakeasy for a cocktail reception and after party, and built a small tasting lounge for its XO brand cognac. The other key sponsors was Volvo, which supplied chauffeured cars for all VIP guests.
Were you happy with the attendance?
It was very talent heavy, and there was strong representation from across the music industry. We had three live performances: Kenya Grace, Last Dinner Party and Louis Tomlinson, and a stellar guest list including The Chemical Brothers, Sharon Osbourne, Maisie Peters, Yungblud and Jessie Ware. We had nearly 400 people on the table plan, which is a decent size for a first-time event.
How was the operations side handled and who were the main suppliers?
Operations director Nigel Russell, who has an in-house team, oversaw the event. We have three Attitude events every year, so there’s always something going on here to be managing, as well as bespoke events that we do for clients as well. The suppliers for the Rolling Stone UK Awards included caterers Moving Venue, AV company Connect Live, Newman Displays for our signage, EFX for trophies and Showsec handled security.