The chairman of this year’s Brit Awards has said offering the artists creative control of their performances was the key to the ceremony’s success.
In previous years, artists have been asked to perform their most famous song, rather than one or more of their choosing.
“We were listening to the artists and amazing stuff happened,” said Brits chairman David Joseph.
However, the viewing figures remained stubbornly low.
An average live audience of 3.8 million watched this year’s ceremony, climbing to 4.3 million when those watching on catch-up services were added.
“We handed over creative control to the artists because watching the same person doing the same song you’ve seen 20 times can’t be shared and can’t travel,” Joseph told the AMP London conference.
The format of the award was freshened up for 2020, with extra stages. fewer categories and more live musical performances.
“I told the artists, ‘you are not restricted to how long your performance is. You can genuinely do whatever you want. If you want to do 15 minutes, you can do 15 minutes. If you want to do three, you can do three.'”
Stormzy’s performance ended up clocking in at 10 minutes as a result of his choice to use the extended run time.
“ITV initially thought I had gone absolutely insane and was perhaps working for the BBC,” joked Joseph, who is also the CEO of Universal Music.
“But the artists loved it. And the credit that I’ve got to give is to the artists – because you can give anyone seven minutes or 10 minutes. It’s what they do with it. And everybody stepped up.”
This year’s Brits saw Billie Eilish sing her James Bond theme live for the first time.
Her performance of No Time To Die has since been watched 14 million times on YouTube.
UK rapper Dave was also praised for his politically-charged performance, which Joseph describes as “career-defining” and has since racked up 2.7 million YouTube views.
Joseph added: “For the younger artists who’d never done big shows before, we put them on at the start. It was something they asked for because they’d be less nervous than doing it an hour-and-a-half into it.”
Mabel and Lewis Capaldi were among the performers who took to the stage early in the night.
But, he explained, ITV initially asked whether more mainstream names could be included on the bill.
“When I talked to the broadcaster they said, ‘Who have you got?’ And I said we had Stormzy, Dave, Celeste, Lizzo, Billie Eilish, etc etc.”
“And they said to me, ‘Well what about…’ and I unfortunately can’t say the names. But ‘What about blah and blah’. The sort of people you would probably watch a lot on Ant and Dec’s programmes. Nothing against Ant and Dec, but it was very prime time and [ITV] didn’t understand these artists.
“But they were very thankful afterwards.”
The Brit Awards ceremony is chaired by a different industry figure each year, so Joseph will be succeeded by someone else for the 2021 ceremony.