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2019 TOP 50 ALBUMS
It's that time of year. (12/11a)
2019 TOP 50 STREAMS
What comes after X? (12/11a)
2019 MARKETSHARE:
SHOCK OF THE NEW
They got a name for the winners in the world. (12/10a)
NEAR TRUTHS: YEAR-END WRAP-UP, PART 1
Guess who's on top of the heap...again. (12/10a)
MERCK'S MID-YEAR NUMBERS
The buying spree sees results. (12/11a)
EGGNOG!
Ours is mostly bourbon.
MISTLETOE!
Delicious in salads.
CHESTNUTS!
Ours are roasting, but it could be these slim-fit jeans.
WEED!
An entire Christmas tree made of it. Is what we want. for Christmas.
Blighty Beat
EMERGING ARTISTS: INDEPENDENTS
11/25/19

JADE BIRD

After hitting #10 on the U.K. charts with her self-titled debut album in April and attracting plenty of support at media and streaming services, Jade Bird has emerged as a key British talent this year. She signed to Glassnote directly in the U.S. at the beginning of 2017, and has spent the last two years writing and touring the world with a strong team on both sides of the Atlantic.

Glassnote President Daniel Glass gives special mention to her management team, Roy and Sam Eldridge at UROK, whom he describes as a “privilege to work with.” Glass continues: “They have a global perspective and are omnipresent. They are extremely involved and thoughtful in recording, touring, promotion, radio and the digital world. They are responsive seven days a week, which is why we’ve been so productive with the growth of Jade Bird’s career.”

Bird’s biggest run of U.K. headline shows culminates with a date at London’s 2k-capacity Shepherd’s Bush Empire at the end of November, following sets earlier in the year at BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend, Glastonbury and All Points East, amongst others. She’s recently been in the studio recording new music, including sessions with Lucy Dacus and Linda Perry, and has been embraced by the country/Americana community, performing onstage with legends Sheryl Crow and Dolly Parton, as well as Grammy winner Brandi Carlile and contemporary Maggie Rogers.

Glassnote U.K. MD Liz Goodwin tells us that Bird is “one of the most exciting modern artists to emerge from the U.K. in years. Her music crosses many genres, which is demonstrated in the diverse range of streaming playlists she’s featured in across the world. At U.K. radio, Radio 1, Radio X and Absolute have given her their highest possible levels of support so far, so her music sits comfortably alongside Sam Fender, Lewis Capaldi and Billie Eilish when it comes to airplay.” Americana radio support, alongside her streaming profile, has helped establish a foundation in the U.S., which brought Jade #1 status at AAA—a feat that only five female solo acts have achieved since 2010. “This demonstrates that her music really is for everyone who just loves listening to great songs,” Goodwin adds.

After a European headline tour that continues into March next year, the ultimate ambition is “to break Jade at the highest possible level across the world. We all believe she deserves to be a global superstar with a long and successful career,” Goodwin asserts.


FREYA RIDINGS

Pianist, singer and songwriter Freya Ridings hit #3 on the U.K.’s Official Albums Chart with her debut in July, which followed a slow-burn development strategy that has seen her become closely watched on both sides of the Atlantic. She was signed to Good Soldier in 2016, not only for her “totally unique voice” but also her “fantastic” songwriting and performance skills, says company head Christian Tattersfield. “She really seemed to me to be the classic British artist with wide global appeal,” he adds. Ridings was signed by Charlie Moss, who co-A&Rs alongside Alex Gilbert.

Thanks in part to a placement on popular British reality TV show Love Island in 2018, Ridings broke onto the scene with her self-penned “Lost Without You,” which peaked at #9 on the U.K.’s Official Singles Chart last October and hasn’t left the Top 100 since. Multiple syncs in the U.S., where Ridings is signed to Capitol, and a cover version on America’s Got Talent by Kodi Lee in September resulted in the track recently finding an audience in the States too. Tattersfield tells us that she has now racked up over 250m album streams globally and shifted 24k tickets for her U.K. tour in November, including a date at the 5k-capacity Hammersmith Apollo in London.

Prior to her album release, Ridings had another Top 20 hit in the U.K. with “Castles,” written with Daniel Nigro (Carly Rae Jepsen, Lewis Capaldi), which peaked at #16. Her self-titled album followed in August.

Good Soldier also takes care of publishing, and management is by Joe Munns at Patriot. Following a U.S. tour with Hozier in October, and her headline U.K. dates, Ridings will spend January and February 2020 on the road throughout Europe. “We are hugely ambitious for Freya, but it’s early days; she’s the quintessential career artist, and that’s how we’re approaching everything we do with her,” Tattersfield concludes.


DAVE

London-born rapper Dave has managed to achieve that tricky feat of achieving both commercial and critical success thanks to a combination of conscious lyrical writing talent alongside mainstream credibility. He was signed to label and management company Neighbourhood at the end of 2015 and has since released four Top 10 hits, including last year’s #1 “Funky Friday” f/Fredo. In March, he charted at #1 in the U.K. with his debut album, Psychodrama, which spanned issues such as politics, race and abusive relationships. It was crowned winner of 2019’s Mercury Music Prize in September for being a “moving, musically sophisticated work that demands total attention from the listener.” Dave played two sold-out dates at the 5k-capacity Brixton Academy in May, followed by a summer of festival appearances, including Glastonbury, where Stormzy brought him onstage during his headline slot, and a North American and European tour in October and November.

Dave is the first artist signed to Neighbourhood, which is run by former Island Records A&R Benny Scarrs and manager Jack Foster. Method Music founders Sam Evitt and Jack Street are partners in the company, and distribution is handled by Universal. As detailed in an interview with MBW earlier this year, Scarrs and Foster came across Dave while watching YouTube videos and stumbling across his freestyle for SBTV. “We hadn’t seen a rapper that good from the U.K. ever,” says Foster. “Some of the things he was saying were things I hadn’t really heard rappers from the U.K. rap about; he actually connected with you, there was meaning and 
emotion straight away.”

The development plan for Dave focused on building a strong foundation of fans and respect, which included key moments like his freestyle for BBC Radio 1Xtra and a gradual-release strategy, spanning two EPs—Six Paths in 2016, which charted at #76, and Game Over in 2017, which reached #13. Singles included state-of-the-nation diatribe “Question Time,” which won an Ivor Novello last year, and collaborations with a host of contemporaries from the British rap scene. Those spanned AJ Tracey, J Hus, MoStack and Fredo, as well as Nigerian artist Burna Boy and Drake, who remixed and featured on Dave’s track “Wanna Know” for his OVO Sound radio show.

Psychodrama was announced within two weeks of the album dropping with the arrival of its first official single, “Black,” in which Dave discusses the reality of racial and social inequality. Despite little time to build up preorders, the album emerged victorious in a fierce chart battle with the fifth set from Warner act Foals. The ambition now is to further the success across Europe, Australia and the U.S., and Dave is branching out into the acting world too, with a key role in Netflix series Top Boy, for which he’s contributed two tracks to the soundtrack.


IDLES

While IDLES smashed their way into mainstream consciousness in 2018 with the arrival of their second album, Joy as an Act of Resistance, the band and managers Mark and Lucy Bent have been working together for 10 years. It all stepped up a gear when they self-released a debut album, Brutalism, together in 2017, and engineered a live strategy around that with the help of agent (and Mark’s sister) Natasha Bent at Paradigm. “It started with booking a 30-day tour around when the album would come out, where anywhere from 10 to 50 people came to see them,” Natasha explains. “But what happened is, the band would play a date and the next day the tickets would bump up because people would drive to the next show. By the end, we had to upgrade our Cardiff date, which was at the very end of the tour, because everybody wanted to get tickets to the show. It was around then that we definitely noticed something happening amongst the fans that was undeniable.”

International promoters came on board early, and Partisan signed the band in January 2018, before they went into the studio to make JAAAOR. Discussing the decision to sign them, Partisan MD Zena White explains: “They had a great live strategy, empowering a growing fanbase which they listened to and nurtured in the most organic way. Jeff Bell [GM International] and I were fans, but it wasn’t until our President, Tim Putnam, heard Brutalism and immediately understood how relevant IDLES are, way beyond the genre boxes that others were putting them in. After that we were all in.”

A show at London’s Village Underground in November 2017 sealed the deal. White continues: “Flying to London to see them was like a religious experience. We weren’t sure whether they could do well in America until that point, but they absolutely blew the roof off—the entire band were crowd-surfing—and when the lights came on, no one moved. I saw a lot of industry there too, all equally stunned; that just doesn’t happen in London. Tim turned to me and said, ‘They’re that band.’ We went straight to their attorney’s office the next day to increase our offer.”

At the beginning of September last year, IDLES charted at #5 on the U.K’s Official Albums Chart with their second record, which was helped along by a BBC Radio 1 playlist add, an opening slot on the new series of BBC TV show Later…With Jools Holland and a Breakthrough nomination at The BRIT Awards. Since then, JAAAOR has won an Ivor Novello and was nominated for the Mercury Prize. A packed crowd welcomed them to Glastonbury’s Park Stage over the summer, and they’ve now sold 130k tickets across the world for headline tours. In London, they play the 10k-capacity Alexandra Palace in December, which sold out within 24 hours.

Discussing the factors behind their impressive breakthrough story in a musical climate that’s not exactly primed for punk, White points to the band’s songwriting skills and cultural and political cachet. “Guitar bands have a long history of speaking to power, and IDLES do that exceptionally well,” she says. “However, seemingly what is cutting through given the current climate are artists that have depth and an actual message, regardless of what instrument they are using. JAAAOR sought to start a social and political conversation within a cultural context, and in my opinion that’s been achieved. A healthy musical landscape has space for all genres, and the artists making great music that are the most relevant to the context of people’s lives should in theory always cut through whatever else has been popular.” Ambitions going into next year and beyond include a new album, bigger shows, conquering the U.S., Central and South America and “continuing to be at the forefront of relevant rock acts of our generation,” White notes.