Manchester’s reputation as a musical ‘oasis’ was cemented long before the city bred the superstars of the same name. This was the city that spearheaded a music scene so stirring, it transcended the charts and became a cultural movement.
Of course, that was a long time ago, now. Even the most ardent ravers still clinging to their bucket hats for dear life will surely confess that the heady days of Madchester and 90s rock ‘n’ roll are behind us and are never coming back.
But that doesn’t mean the planet’s greatest musicians have stopped turning to the city for inspiration. Sure, they might not look over to The Hacienda or Dry Bar for ideas anymore. But they do keep consulting a little office space in St John’s.
You might not know it, but down an unassuming side street in Manchester’s city centre, a small team of digital creatives are quietly spending their days assembling digital platforms for the biggest stars in music today.
It’s a place called Modern English.
Since setting up over a decade ago, Andy Hirst’s business has blossomed into the go-to brand for digital work in the music sphere – amassing an envious collection of star-studded case studies.
Modern English began in creative technology and digital production through music and ended up working for media agencies. The team fine-tuned their processes in line with the music industry boom and ultimately hit a groove.
Previous work includes Facebook apps for Elbow, Kylie Minogue and a host of others, e-commerce stores for The Smiths and New Order, and an app for The Charlatans (who played a gig in the Modern English office to launch it), as well as playing a pivotal role for local businesses during the pandemic.
The agency hosted United We Stream alongside Mayor Andy Burnham and Warehouse Project founder Sacha Lord (raising funds for Nordoff Robbins charity in the process), whilst helping fresh brands get off the ground mid-pandemic; supporting The Blues Kitchen with a brand spanking new website.
Proudly Mancunian the brand may be, but Modern English’s work goes far beyond the borders of the M60. Much business has spanned the Atlantic, incorporating a wide variety of digital production work for an ever-growing list of glitzy clients.
Projects have ranged from working on facial recognition technology for pop star Dua Lipa, to live streaming gigs for Black Eyed Peas and Lil Simz, various Spotify and Apple Music connected apps for the likes of Britney Spears and The Beatles, to building a playlist discovery tool for Warner Music in NYC called Topsify.
The team steered an award winning virtual campaign to announce Foo Fighters’ world-stopping headline slot at Glasto in 2017, and last year collaborated with Capitol Music in LA and NASA to launch an award winning AI experience set to the music of Beck’s latest album ‘Hyperspace’.
More recently, Modern English launched the website for legendary group The Rolling Stones and their new flagship store on Carnaby Street. This was before collaborating with Sony Music on behalf of legendary singer-songwriter Alicia Keys, creating a bespoke URL to mark the 20th anniversary of the Grammy Award winner’s iconic debut album, Songs in A Minor.
The agency has also worked alongside Warner to launch the site for Use Hearing Protection – an exhibition which pays tribute to the early days of Factory Records and the era during which Manchester took on a new, iconic form.
It isn’t just the work that’s continued flooding in, though. The accolades have kept coming, too. Modern English is pretty much a permanent fixture at the Prolific North awards every year nowadays, with Andy himself being listed in the 42 under 42 by Insider Media in 2019.
Yet, despite all the big names and coveted trophies, Modern English has done “next to no PR” during its first decade in business. The brand’s reputation of delivering high-end projects at speed has spread mostly via word of mouth, snowballing with every passing week.
In the space of just a few years, the team have gone from getting “dribs and drabs of website and film work” to sharing office space with Pixies manager, doing work for Mick Jagger, and becoming mates with Mark Lanegan.
Quite the transition.
Naturally, the pandemic has presented a tough period for Modern English, as it has for almost every local business. But the future remains bright – with a number of secretive but “very exciting” projects apparently in the pipeline for 2021 and beyond.
These include a physical box set for a major artist, a 30th anniversary campaign for a world-renowned group, and a big AR project that could potentially be worth a staggering £1 million.
“Moving ahead, we’ll be leaning more on the creative side of the business,” owner Andy explains.
“Modern English has always been about creating new firsts and never resting on your laurels. It’s that attitude that got us through the pandemic.
“We’re looking to do more groundbreaking creative work like we’ve done in the past, being as innovative and future-thinking as we can.”
It seems the agency is only destined to get bigger: both in structure and reputation.
Madchester might always be recognised as the apex of music in the city. As a region, we may never be looked at in quite that way again.
But to suggest Manchester is no longer the influence it once was is naive. Indeed, the city is still setting up soapboxes for the top talent just like it was 30 years ago. Sometimes in a digital way.
A little Mancunian agency called Modern English is rolling out an online red carpet for the planet’s creatives every single year. And millions are watching.
Manchester and music. There must be something in the water…
Consumer watchdog orders Tesco to make Clubcard prices ‘clearer’ in stores
Tesco is to start making Clubcard Prices “even clearer” in stores across the UK after a row with the leading consumer watchdog.
The supermarket‘s Clubcard loyalty scheme has more than 20 million people signed-up nationwide, making it one of the most popular of its kind on the market, by far – but over the coming weeks, members will start to see changes in the way Clubcard Prices are displayed when they’re shopping in Tesco stores.
That’s because, the retailer has been told to make the prices “even clearer” by the UK’s leading consumer watchdog.
It’s all to do with unit pricing, as Which? had said that Tesco’s decision not to display this on its Clubcard offers could, essentially, be breaking the law.
According to BBC claims, Which? reported Tesco to the regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), in June of last year, as competition rules state that unit prices could be seen as “material information”.
This means that they’re something most people would need in order to make an informed decision about how to get the best value from what they by.
But while Tesco apparently said at the time that Which?’s claims were “ill-founded”, it looks to have changed its tune now, as the supermarket’s bosses have this week announced that unit prices will now be displayed in stores.
Consumer watchdog Which? said the supermarket could be breaking the law unless it displayed ‘unit prices’ / Credit: The Manc Group
Tesco’s UK CEO Jason Tarry said the retailer is “working harder than ever” to help make sure customers get “great value” when they shop in stores nationwide.
“We want our customers to be able to see just how well these offers stack up,” Mr Tarry said.
“If you are in store, you will now start to see that the way that we display our Clubcard Prices will not only show the total price, but also the unit price of the product (by volume or weight), to allow a direct comparison of the price per unit between the Clubcard Prices offer and the price of alternative products.”
The changes will start being introduced in all UK stores over the coming weeks / Credit: Tesco plc
Mr Tarry claims this is something Tesco’s been “planning to do for some time”, and is “pleased” the retailer is now ready to make the change.
He continued: “Over the coming weeks, these changes will appear in all our stores, as our colleagues update millions of price labels on the shelf edge, and we will also be adding these unit prices to our Clubcard Prices deals online.
“It may be just a little extra help, but we know that every little really does help at the moment.”
Featured Image – The Manc Group
Six cult Manchester restaurants beat stiff competition to scoop coveted Deliveroo awards
Six of Manchester’s cult-favourite restaurants have beat out stiff UK-wide competition to scoop prestigious awards.
It’s official… the results of the 2024 Deliveroo Restaurant Awards are in, and six of our city’s most-popular and best-loved eateries have been announced as claiming coveted prizes, after the food delivery service’s loyal customers voted with their hearts – and stomachs – for their favourite local establishments.
Deliveroo‘s annual Restaurant Awards honour the best independent food businesses across the UK and Ireland, with everything from local burger joints, to neighbourhood sushi restaurants, and all the dishes, cuisines, and flavours in-between celebrated.
Slap & Pickle, Double Zero Pizzeria, and Mughli are among the local restaurants in Manchester that fought off competitors across the North and Midlands to take a title.
Six cult Manchester restaurants have scooped prestigious Deliveroo awards / Credit: The Manc Group
Gourmet burger restaurant, Slap & Pickle, takes home the top regional gong as ‘Independent Restaurant of the Year North of England & Midlands 2024’ after fans casted their votes online to help decide the winners.
Then, a further five restaurants were recognised in the region’s best cuisine awards – with winners including Burgerism for ‘Best Burger & American’, and Unagi Street Food & Sushi for ‘Best Japanese’.
A total of 60 honours were up for grabs in this year’s Awards.
Over 66,000 votes were cast by hungry Deliveroo users over a two-week period to crown all the cuisine-led winners, from ‘Best Thai’ and ‘Best Burger’, to ‘Best Pizza’, ‘Best Chicken’, and beyond.
Each local eatery beat stiff competition to clinch their coveted titles / Credit: The Manc Group
James Tabor, who is owner of Slap & Pickle – which is based in Manchester city centre street food hall, Society – called his businesses’ win an “incredible start” to the year, and said he is “absolutely thrilled” to take the 2024 title.
He added: “We’ve been proudly serving our burgers to communities across the North since 2018, and we are grateful for our loyal customers and partners – like Deliveroo – who have helped us on our journey, so this win and recognition means the world.
“As we continue to expand and seek new adventures across the UK, you never know where we’ll be popping up next.”
The Manchester winners in the Deliveroo Restaurant Awards 2024 are:
Independent Restaurant of the Year North of England & Midlands 2024: Slap & Pickle
Best Burger & American in North of England & Midlands: Burgerism
Slap & Pickle, Double Zero, and Mughli are among the Manchester winners / Credit: The Manc Group
As all the 2024 winners were announced today, Deliveroo’s founder and CEO, Will Shu, commented: “I say it every year, but the standard of finalists and winners for this year’s Restaurant Awards has been incredible, and i’ve had the pleasure of meeting a number of restaurant owners to hear about their stories, food, and the positive impact they’ve had on their local communities.
“We are proud to partner with such an brilliant array of dedicated restaurants to deliver food from around the world to doorsteps across the UK and Ireland.