MARTIN MILLS, 69
Founder/chairman, Beggars Group
$11.1 MILLION IN OPERATING PROFIT: An ardent champion of industry little guys, Mills runs one of the planet’s largest independent label groups, Beggars — which owns 4AD and maintains a 50 percent stake in labels Matador, Rough Trade, Young Turks and Adele’s launch pad, XL Recordings. He also sits on the board of indie trade groups Merlin, IMPALA and the Association of Independent Music, and chairs the Worldwide Independent Network. (In its most recent financial filing, released in July 2018, Beggars Group reported operating profit of $11.1 million on consolidated revenue — which includes its share of revenue from joint-venture labels — and $97.7 million for the year ending Dec. 31, 2016.) While Beggars secured a best alternative music album Grammy for The National‘s Sleep Well Beast (4AD) and a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for XL Recordings’ Radiohead in 2019, Mills chooses more humble highlights for the year — specifically, signing new acts Big Thief (4AD) and Black Midi (Rough Trade), neither of whom have released records for the company yet.
SOCIAL ISSUE THAT KEEPS HIM AWAKE: “The conflict between globalization and territorial defensiveness that informs everything today.”