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THE BIG 9 IN 2014

How the Labels Fared This Year; Third in a Series

 
Bartels and his dedicated staff have been lighting up the scoreboard, with most of the points coming post reorg. The label’s biggest success has been, and continues to be, saucy Aussie rapper Iggy Azalea, who has rocketed from new-and-developing status to sudden stardom and is expected to pick up a Best New Artist Grammy nomination. Def Jam has three more newcomers in the fast track: August Alsina, who won the BET Award for Best New Artist and has sold 300k of his first album; Jeremih, whose “Don’t Tell ’Em” crossed from #1 Rhythm to Top 5 Pop; and Jhené Aiko, whose “The Worst” topped the Urban airplay chart. Concurrently, they’ve done well with core artists including Rick Ross, YG and Jeezy.

Looking ahead to 2015, Def Jam will have anticipated albums from Kanye West, Frank Ocean and Justin Bieber. If West and Ocean had delivered their albums as expected, Def Jam would have had an even bigger year. Rihanna, now with Jay Z’s Roc Nation, is expected to continue releasing records through her longtime label. Additionally, Bartels engineered the signing of the coveted artist/DJ/producer Alesso and Axwell ^ Ingrosso (two-thirds of the now defunct-Swedish House Mafia) while forming a partnership with EDM mega-manager Amy Thomson.

While promotion remains in the capable hands of Rick Sackheim, Def Jam’s A&R efforts should have greater focus following the elevation of respected creative executive and record maker Dion “No I.D.” Wilson to EVP and sole head of the department. Expect further upgrades moving forward.

Def Jam has racked up an 11 Grammy noms, four for Iggy—including Record of the Year and Best New Artist—three for Aiko, two apiece for Kanye and Common and one for Toni Braxton & Babyface.

Eight months into his reign, Bartels appears to be making the most of the opportunity mandated by Grainge to reinvent the iconic brand. All signs point to this being the dawn of another golden age for the storied label.



TAGS: nograybox
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