Dan Owen on signing with a major record label

Dan Owen enjoyed a moment a few years back that most singers only dream of: after notching up hundreds of gigs on the UK pub and club scene the head of a major US label got in touch.

Craig Kallman, chairman and CEO of Atlantic Records, had heard Owen’s debut EP and wanted to talk. The Shropshire singer-songwriter flew to the States for a career-changing meeting.

Owen says: “He [Kallman] is a real music guy. We sat and chatted in his apartment and I played a few songs unplugged for him there and then, it was so cool. He showed me part of his record collection which was massive. I think he has one of the biggest collections in the world.”

Owen was in a fortunate position; such was the promise shown on his early single Made To Love You that several labels were vying to sign him.

“It was a really exciting time,” he says. “It felt like many years of hard graft paying off.”

And Owen is grafter. When an eye injury ended his first choice of career – carpentry – the accomplished blues guitarist decided to make music his life. In the early days he rang 40 pubs a day with the aim of booking a gig a night. Slowly and surely he honed his throaty blues sound and built a strong fan following.

Now signed to Atlantic and with his first album Stay Awake With Me due out in August, Owen can afford to be more choosy about the gigs he plays. Last month it was the Jazz Café, where he was promoting his new single Icarus, and on August 3 he’ll perform on the main stage at Wilderness Festival.



Owen says of the album: “It contains some fairly big moments for me. I wanted it to be a collection of the stories I have lived up to now and I think we have been successful there.”

How different was it working with a major label?

“Well the budgets are slightly different,” he jokes. “Aside from that there hasn’t been a big difference – at least not for me. It is still a collaborative creative process.”

Following the release of Stay Awake With Me Owen will tour the UK. Details to follow on his website.


Website: danowenmusic.com


Bronwyn Bidwell is an Australian journalist and editor based in London. She enjoys writing about music, books, history and popular culture.