Let the music play

Glen Yearwood hit the right note when he launched darkerthanblue.com, a site devoted to black music

Glen Yearwood hit the right note when he launched darkerthanblue.com, a site devoted to black music

What is darkerthanblue.com?
Darkerthanblue.com is the home of black music; it is a leading UK youth brand that is accessed through a variety of media and channels.

How did you come to set it up?
The business was set up by myself and co- founder, Everton Wright, who is now brand director of the business. Everton and I have been friends for some years. He ran a design consultancy and successfully advised Sony music on a number of their fledgling brands, such as Jamiroquai and Des'ree. I worked as a consultant for a well-known blue chip Internet consultancy. We both held in common an entrepreneurial drive and an undiluted love for black music. In 1999, we felt the time was right to exercise a number of theories that we held about what was wrong with the selling and marketing of black music in the UK. The relatively small barrier to entry meant the Internet was ideally placed to explore this.

What have been the highlights since you set up two years ago?
Achieving a £10m evaluation when investor sentiments toward business-to-consumer start-ups had changed. Building the business from scratch to 20 staff. Being recognised by the Confederation of British Industry and 'e-league' observers as a top-30 European brand. And finally, working with and discovering some of the best names in Black music, Jill Scott, R Kelly and Craig David.

What is the biggest barrier to the success of your site?
The day of clarity came when we had to stop thinking like a dotcom and become a normal business with the same rigorous measurements and controls. And we had to concede that we needed to prioritise higher-margin revenues, such as our brand equity. This meant taking the brand to our users in shops and clubs and mobile communications.

Has the recent negative market sentiment toward dotcoms given you a rough ride?
No. It merely confirmed strategically that our management is on the right course.

What would you be doing if you weren't running a Web business?

I don't see myself as running a Web business - everything about darkerthanblue demands real-world business discipline. The web occupies a small part of our holdings.

What are the worst and best Internet ideas you have ever seen?
The ideas that attempt to talk to users as a nebulous mass. The best ones are those that hit your passion centres, such as sport and music. My favourite is bluenote.com for the Jazz heads.

How many hours a week do you work?
Hideous amounts - love it!

What is your definition of success?
Converting paper money into cash - and leaving a bit of a legacy for my children.

Any advice for budding Internet entrepreneurs?
You've left it too late. Try wireless platforms.

CV: Glen Yearwood

  • Studied Economics at Manchester University
  • Sold media space 1987 to 1991
  • 1991 - 1993 Carat (media group head)
  • 1993 - 1995 Wrote a novel in South Africa
  • 1995 - 1997 Yearwood Media (own company)
  • Currently co-founder and CEO of darkerthanblue.com

    Yearwood's top five sites

  • Bluenote.com perfect for all the jazz-heads out there
  • FT.com to give me my daily injection of business information
  • urbanentertainment.com blaxploitation films in flash animation
  • 360hiphop.com an all-round excellent music site that combines African-American politics and music
  • spurs.co.uk the official Tottenham Hotspur's website

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