Business

George Ergatoudis, Head of Music at BBC Radio 1, Swaps Beeb For Spotify

George Ergatoudis
James Goulden Photography/Getty Images for SXSW

George Ergatoudis speaks onstage at 'How To Crack UK Radio' during the 2015 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Austin Convention Center on March 20, 2015 in Austin, Texas.

BBC Radio 1 head of music George Ergatoudis is to leave the station and join Spotify in the newly created position of head of content programming for the U.K.

In his role as head of music at BBC Radio 1, Ergatoudis held one of the most powerful positions in the U.K. music business, with his responsibilities including overseeing the top 40 station’s weekly playlist meetings and ultimately holding sway over which acts Radio 1 -- the U.K.’s most influential radio station -- would get behind and who it would shun.

In the latest RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research) figures, Radio 1 registered a weekly audience of 10.56 million, maintaining it’s long-held position as the U.K’s biggest pop network and its second most popular radio station behind AC-formatted sister station BBC Radio 2.

Radio 1's dedicated YouTube channel additionally received 1 million views per day, 85 percent of which are 13- to 34-year-olds, according to the broadcaster. Urban formatted digital spin-off station 1Xtra, which Ergatoudis also looks after, attracts a weekly audience of just over 1 million listeners.

Ergatoudis' career at the BBC began in 1997 when he worked as a producer for Radio 1 DJs Jo Whiley and Simon Mayo. From 2000 to 2005, he managed 1Xtra’s music policy and championed a fresh wave of homegrown urban talent, including Dizzee Rascal, Wiley and Ms Dynamite alongside U.S. stars Jay Z, Eminem and Kanye West. He was promoted to Radio 1 head of music in 2005.

In April, international industry conference Musexpo honored him with the International Music Person of the Year Award. Ergatoudis has also previously featured in The Guardian’s Music Power 100 list (No. 7 in 2011) and was named in the 2015 Sunday Times-Debretts list of the 500 most influential people in the U.K.

“Over the past decade, George has been a key part of Radio 1’s discovery of new music for young audiences and has continued to support British artists, giving them a platform for success,” said Ben Cooper, controller of BBC Radio 1 & 1Xtra, who wished the departing exec “all the very best for the future.”

Commenting on the reasons for his exit, Ergatoudis said: "I am leaving BBC Radio 1, the world’s greatest music radio station, to join the world’s leading digital music service and I couldn’t be more excited. There are huge opportunities ahead for Spotify and I am delighted to be joining their brilliant team. My passion for music has driven my entire career and this next step is like a dream come true."

He begins his new job in March and will be based at Spotify’s London office, where he will be responsible for leading the streaming service’s in-house music curation strategy and content programming for the U.K.

“George is one of the most well-known and well-respected figures in the British music industry, and we are enormously proud and excited to have him join us at Spotify,” said Nick Holmstén, Spotify's global head of content programming. Praising Ergatoudis’ “gifts for music curation and identifying exciting new talent,” Holmstén said he could think of “no one better to help Spotify introduce music fans to a wealth of new music and a new generation of artists that they are going to love.”