|Intro||British entrepreneur and author|
Jamal Edwards MBE is a British entrepreneur, author, and the founder of the online urban music platform SB.TV. Born in Luton, England on 24 August 1990, Jamal spent his early years there before moving to Acton, West London where he lived with his mother Brenda, stepfather Patrick and younger sister, Tanisha.
In 2019 Edwards set up Jamal Edwards Delve, a project aimed at refurbishing and reopening youth centres.
As a child he was introduced to stage school by his mother Brenda Edwards, who placed fourth in the second series of The X Factor. His mother wanted him to pursue acting and drama, however he aspired to be successful in the music industry. He attended Acton High School and enjoyed subjects ICT and music. However, he struggled to attain the grades he needed for college, and as a result, had to study for an extra year. He then attended Ealing College where he received a BTEC Diploma in Media Moving Image. During his school years, he started rapping and would film videos with his friends that would then be posted on YouTube. These videos would eventually become his business and the beginning of SBTV. Jamal worked at retail chain, Topman for 4 years whilst he ran SBTV in order to financially support himself.
Edwards is the founder of SBTV - an online media platform to discover emerging artists. It launched in 2006 and has helped to launch the careers of many artists including Ed Sheeran. As of 2019, the SBTV Youtube channel boasts over 1 million subscribers.
When Edwards was 15, he was gifted a video camera. He began to film friends on his estate, rapping and performing and would upload them to his YouTube channel. From there, he created the channel SBTV and uploaded all subsequent videos there. Edwards’ rap name at the time was ‘SmokeyBarz’ which owes to the acronym SB in the channels title. After he left school, he worked at clothing company, Topman whilst continuing to make videos for his channel. His videos began to increase in popularity with the views in the hundred-thousands. As this happened, he was able to quit Topman and solely focus on SBTV. Initially, the main focus for the channel’s content was the grime dance music scene, however Edwards expanded this and began to explore other musical genres.
Edwards started to film artists ahead of their emergence to mainstream markets, such as filming Jessie J's first acoustic video outside of her personal YouTube channel. Edwards soon developed a reputation for capturing music artists before they gained widespread popularity such as Stormzy, Ed Sheeran, Dave, Emeli Sandé, Rita Ora, Krept & Konan, Yungen, Mic Righteous, Nines, Tori Kelly, Bugzy Malone, Mist, English Frank, Aaron Unknown and Cadet.
SB.TV filmed the first online interviews for notable US talent including Bruno Mars, Trey Songz, Janelle Monáe and Tyler, the Creator.
In 2011, SBTV was featured in a Google Chrome advert which caused the name ‘Jamal Edwards’ to be searched more than a million times. The ad also caused the SBTV site to crash due to the traffic it was gaining and became the second-most popular UK Youtube video that year.
In 2016, SBTV linked with the youth-focused news service, Press Association to expand into more of a mainstream multichannel video. Over the years Edwards constructed collaborations with some of the world’s biggest stars, conducting the first online UK-based interviews with Drake, Nicki Minaj and Wiz Khalifa.
As well as his online platform, Jamal released a headwear collection on Topman (his previous place of employment) with American Freshman. The collection featured a limited editions of snapbacks and bucket hats that were designed by Edwards himself.As part of the GQ Heroes series in 2019, Edwards hosted an open forum discussion with Adwoa Aboah on mental health.Edwards walked in the Hermès:Step into the Frame catwalk show at London's Nine Elms.
In 2019, Kurt Geiger revealed Edwards as one of the faces of its 'Characterful Style' campaign for AW19. Later that year, Edwards was also announced as one of the faces of the Primark AW19 collection, celebrating 50 years of the brand.
In 2013, Edwards released an ebook, ‘Self Belief: The Vision: How To Be a Success on Your Own Terms’. His book achieved success and was the number 1 bestselling ebook series according to iBooks.
In 2019, Edwards directed the Chelsea FC remix video of grime artist Capo Lee's 'Style and Swag'. The video featured players including Callum Hudson Odoi, Ruben Loftus Cheek, Ngolo Kante, Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi.
Jamal Edwards Delve (JED)
Securing funding from Google and the Wellcome Trust, in 2019 Edwards founded Jamal Edwards Delve (JED) a grassroots youth-centre project. As of October 2019, Edwards has refurbished and reopened four youth-centres in Acton. As of December 2020, more than 150 people have engaged across the four centres.
In 2018, Edwards was announced as the first ambassador for Mercedes Benz X-Class, through his ambassadorship Edwards launched his own YouTube series JE:SELF-BELIVE and JE:WHAT'S YOUR DRIVE. Edwards is keen to inspire other creatives and entrepreneurs through his vlogs, exploring the challenges and dreams of a true entrepreneur of the digital native era. The vlogs will present an unparalleled insight into Jamal’s busy life, featuring artists, broadcasters, filmmakers, social influencers and more as he travels around London and the UK showing off his pick-up truck.
In 2020, Edwards announced a partnership with the Department for Education, a three-part campaign encouraging young creatives to consider undertaking an apprenticeship. The partnership involved the grime MC P Money.
Honours and awards
- Edwards was awarded an MBE in the New Years Honours list in 2014 from Elizabeth II, for his work in music and his business, SBTV.
- Edwards featured in the ES Power 1000 - London's most influential people 2013: Deal makers, Tycoons.
- In 2014, Edwards was listed as number 2 in The Guardian’s ‘The top 30 young people in digital media’.
- On 12 September 2014, TIME Magazine named Edwards as one of their 'Next Generation Leaders'
- In 2015, Edwards was awarded the Best New StartUp from Virgin Media and Virgin StartUp.
- Also in 2015, Edwards was named in Debrett's list of the 500 most influential people in Britain in the New Media section alongside YouTube vloggers Zoella and Alfie Deyes.
- In 2016, Edwards was named in the Forbes 30 under 30 list in European media.
- In May 2016 the British Interactive Media Association (BIMA) inducted Edwards into its Hall of Fame. Edwards was recognised for his contributions to the online music industry for creating the SB.TV music platform.
- Also in 2016, Edwards was named in GQ Magazine's 100 Most Connected Men Of All Time.
- Edwards was named as one of the Maserati 100 in 2016, a partnership with The Sunday Times to recognise one hundred game-changing entrepreneurs who are innovators in the business world.
- Edwards was chosen to be the ambassador for the youth charity, The Prince’s Trust in 2013. The charity is run by Prince Charles to help young people to set up their own businesses.
- Edwards has received an honorary MBA from Luton & Bedfordshire University.
Entrepreneurial, philanthropic and mentor work
Edwards visits schools to inspire young people on their future, and is an ambassador for the online site, Creative Entrepreneurs.
In 2014, Edwards helped launch the Queen’s Young Leaders Programme with an image of Edwards, Prince William and Prince Harry captured by a Twitter mirror.
Edwards also works to raise awareness surrounding mental health. In March 2017, he made a documentary with The Guardian about male suicide where he spoke to his childhood friends who suffer with mental health. Later that year, Edwards continued his work and explored mental health in the music industry. Jamal filmed another documentary titled ‘Jamal Edwards explores mental health in the music industry’ and posted it on SBTV.
Edwards has been open about his own struggles stating in an interview with Music Week ‘Anxiety comes over me at the most random times. I wanted to create awareness. As much as music is my entry point, I feel a responsibility to talk about these other issues. I wanted to get people talking to each other and they have been, I’m happy."
As well as his documentary work, Edwards has collaborated with the mental health charity CALM, and has written a column which discusses the issue for the online site, The Book of Man.