GEORGE ERGATOUDIS HEAD OF MUSIC FOR UK AND IRELAND, APPLE
George Ergatoudis studied Architecture at the University of Sheffield and went on to become one of the most influential figures in the music industry. Since graduating in 1986, he has worked for the likes of BBC Radio 1 and Spotify, most recently joining Apple as Head of Music for the UK and Ireland.
We catch up with George as he reflects on his time in Sheffield, being a “self-starter” and how his fascinating career path has been driven by his passion for music. When did you first start to become interested in music? I grew up on a diet of Elvis Presley and rock ’n’ roll thanks to my mum, while my dad, who was from Cyprus, played traditional Greek music. My musical education began on our school bus, as older kids played amazing music, ranging from Adam and the Ants to two-tone ska records. That’s when I really fell in love with music. My musical taste has always been pretty eclectic, but I was a huge fan of Paul Weller and The Jam in particular.
I knew absolutely nobody in the music industry so I had to be a self-starter. If you are passionate and focused, I believe there is always a way, but perseverance is key.” 20 YOUR UNIVERSITY | 2022/2023
Did your father being a Greek Cypriot immigrant influence you growing up? Our household was a real mix of cultures: Greek Cypriot traditions were ever-present, but my mum was from Wales and she was very proud of that heritage too. One day in my first year at secondary school, I brought some friends home and the next day at school one of them started putting on a heavy Greek
accent. I asked him why and he said, “Don’t you realise? I’m doing an impression of your dad!” Up to that point it was so normalised for me that I didn’t even realise my dad had an accent! How did you find your time at the University of Sheffield? I loved my time in Sheffield. It was an incredible place to be a music fan and I went to gigs and club nights all the time. There was never a shortage of acts to see. While I was more into the city’s underground music scene, I later discovered that I’d rented a room in the house in Crookes where Def Leppard’s lead singer Joe Elliott grew up! The Leadmill remains one of my favourite venues in the UK. But I also love Jive Turkey and the scene run by DJs Parrot and Winston. I enjoyed many nights of serious dancing! I chose to study Architecture because I wanted a subject that straddled the arts and sciences and I thought it was a perfect middle ground. While I was studying, I launched a fanzine, Babel, with a friend of mine. This enabled us to express our passion for music and get into gigs for free. I gradually realised my career had to be in or around music.