Who are we?
Xploded Music is a UK based record label distributed by Universal Music Group - set up in late 2018 by Cris Nuttall and Matt Cadman, former founders of All Around The World (AATW) - one of the UK’s most successful independent labels over the past 30 years.
The current Xploded roster includes a diverse range of chart-topping acts including N-Dubz, Loud Luxury, Ben Nicky, Armin van Buuren, Darren Styles, PBH & JACK, Armand van Helden, DJ YUKI, Sunset Bros, VIZE + more.
All Around the World (AATW) was formed in 1991 in the backdrop of the northern rave scene – Blackburn became synonymous with the warehouse parties of the time and Cris Nuttall, having previously worked at Phonogram and being the owner of Blackburn’s largest record shop, became a magnet to young talent looking to release their music
Teaming up with Matt Cadman, former A&M and BMG employee, together they signed a few acts who went on to enjoy top 20 success in those early days.
Love Decade had hits with So Real, Is This a Dream and I Feel You and provided the hit version of New Atlantic’s I know. Control had the topical Dance With Me (I’m You’re Ecstasy) hit the top 20. Mix Factory’s Take Me Away became a massive track and enjoyed chart success before becoming one of the UK’s most sampled tunes of the time
N-Trance were signed at this time and they were to provide, what is still, one of the UK’s most loved dance tracks in Set You Free which stayed at number 2 for 6 weeks, going platinum in the UK and becoming a hit in Europe and Australia.They followed that with a string of hits including Stayin’ Alive, a contemporised version of the Bee Gees classic, featuring KLF rapper Ricardo Da Force, which again hit the UK number 2 spot and became an even bigger hit internationally
N-Trance’s success continued for a few years and took AATW to greater heights in the late-90’s when they were joined with other successful chart acts in Bus Stop (Kung Fu Fighting), Porn Kings (Up To No Good), DJ Supreme (Tha Horns of Jericho), DJ Flavours (Your Caress) to name just a few
Around the turn of the millennium, Cris and Matt started to get into the World of compilations with a host of albums made for ILR stations. These were specific to local regions in the north and featured a style of dance music which was forcing it’s way into the local club scenes.
Although these albums were essentially for very specific areas and only promoted upon the local station – they so perfectly hit the spot of what the public wanted, they went into the national charts - the sales in such limited regions were so high that when the Rock FM album came out, one staff member of HMV Blackburn commented that it was a bigger album for them than Oasis, which at the time was the biggest thing in the UK by far.
After constant struggling to get national radio to support AATW tracks due to their northern groundings, and in a World where 95% of the UK music industry is in London, Cris and Matt made a decision to stop concentrating on that avenue and to simply sign the tracks that they knew were big in their World – this proved to be their smartest move and was the beginning of what was to become the biggest dance movement in the UK for the next 10 years – Clubland!
Over the next few years AATW was to have top ten success with Milk Inc, Kelly Llorenna, Ultrabeat, DJ Aligtor, Scooter, Flip & Fill, N-Trance, Inaya Day, T2, Cascada, Liz McLarnon, Ice Cube, Frankee, DJ Casper, Dannii Minogue, LMC amongst a host of others – creating an AATW catalogue which included 60 top ten hits and almost 200 hit record.
This success fuelled Cris and Matt’s ambition to launch a range of compilation albums which were to go on and sell a combined 20 million units under the name Clubland. There were numbered editions, the x-rated X-Treme series, a hugely successful hardcore series and various offshoots – all mainly fuelled by the success AATW was having with hit singles throughout this time.
Other compilation brands were created such as DanceMania, Workout Mix and Floorfillers – on a slightly different tip to the ground-breaking Clubland series – again with fantastic results – all having number one albums over this period
It wasn’t just compilations that were showing the popularity of AATW’s music with Cascada selling a million artist albums; Darren Styles, Ultrabeat, Flip and Fill and Kelly Llorenna also having hugely successful albums.
In conjuction with SJM, Clubland started it’s own live tour with 3 Arena Tours selling-out some of the UK’s biggest venues and becoming a focal point for the thousands of Clubland fans to see a host of acts on the very biggest stages
In 2008 AATW set-up it’s own TV channel, the still-successful, Clubland TV – initially borne out of a frustration at the lack both radio and TV support for AATW music – which was still regarded with some discomfort in London and never gaining the amount of exposure for such big tracks as one could have expected
Clubland TV was then joined by the purchase of Channel U (which was to become Channel AKA) an essential fore-runner in bringing the grime scene, mainly a London phenomenon, to the mass audience of TV. Eventually a portfolio of four channels, which still operate today, was run from AATW’s Blackburn office
As we reached the end of the decade, it was clear that Clubland had, to a certain extent run it’s course in terms of creating big hits and it was around this time that AATW signed N-Dubz, a London grime/ hip-hop act that had been released from their deal with Polydor
They became perhaps the biggest band AATW ever had with big hit singles and even bigger albums – selling 2 million units over a fairly short period before seeing two members, Dappy and Tulisa go on and have big careers and number 1 singles post-N-Dubz
AATW also looked to take other A&R sources under it’s belt – financing and working with 3 Beat Records who became a great source of hit material whilst the two companies worked together. Top ten singles for Alexandra Stan, Alyssa Reid, Inna, Duck Sauce, Agnes, Sigma, Sak Noel, Skepta, Martin Solveig, Philip George and Fuse ODG followed over the next few years
In 2012 Matt & Cris were asked to take on duties as Managing Directors of Universal’s compilation division (UMTV) – a role which they fulfilled for 2 years and allowed them to have success with other styles of music including huge albums for Motown, Pop Party, Dreamboats & Petticoats and create new concepts for NOW, the UK’s biggest compilation series
Since 2014 AATW continued to have chart success and indeed, it was in this period that they had their two biggest-selling singles with Starley’s Call On Me and Lost Frequencies’ Are You With Me – both million-sellers and just last year another huge hit with Loud Luxury’s Body
In 2017 it was agreed that AATW’s former-partner since 2008, Universal, would take up their option to buy AATW and that came to fruition with Matt & Cris obliged to stay on with AATW until 2018 to ensure a smooth transition and AATW became a part of the huge Universal Music portfolio
To sum up AATW it was a fabulous 20 plus years… selling over 20 million albums, 35 number 1 compilations, having 90 top 20 singles, 12 number 1 singles plus the creation of an entire dance music culture as well as success for artists and genres very disparate to Clubland.
However, Matt and Cris are not finished yet…
Out of the ashes of AATW comes the flame that is Xploded Music- with Cris and Matt still at the helm alongside A&R Manager James Hill, plus a host of the original AATW staff – The alliance with Universal continues insofar as they handle Xploded’s distribution.
Xploded Music will carry on the sensibilities of seeking out hit records whilst the industry changes, grows and evolves in the 21st Century