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These new and developing artists remain the lifeblood of the industry, and some will go on to multi-Platinum success.
ON RECORDS:
HOLIDAY HANDICAPPING
A Baker’s Dozen of New and Developing Artists Looking at Happy Holidays
By Lenny Beer & Jon O’Hara

The holiday sales season is all about big acts. Last-minute shoppers tend to go for the big, recognizable names, making the challenge for new and developing artists even tougher than it already is. And with the recent advent of million-plus first weeks and the trend toward releasing albums deeper into December than ever before, the field has only gotten more crowded, with big records that take attention from relative unknowns.

But there's always a handful of left-field hits (some more left-field than others) waiting in the wings to steal some of the big guys’ thunder. In some cases, these are new artists whose debut albums have been set up with Q4 release dates to tap into the holiday momentum; in others, they’re developing artists for whom the stars might just be aligning now. Either way, these artists remain the lifeblood of the industry, and some will go on to multi-Platinum success.

While no one can really predict how the remaining two-thirds of Q4 will go, given the unprecedented tragedies of Sept. 11, some encouraging signs suggest that music is still a driving force in people’s lives. And though we have big projects coming from artists with previous million-plus first weeks such as the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Garth Brooks and Limp Bizkit, there’s also a vital crop of artists bubbling under with the ability to make strong statements of their own at the cash registers. Below, 13 new and developing artists to watch (in alphabetical order):

Ryan Adams (Lost Highway): Gold, the second solo set from the former Whiskeytown frontman, looks like the right album at the right time, tapping into the burgeoning rootsy Americana sound that has been gaining ground in recent months. Out since Sept. 25, Gold is just starting but is selling and building behind great buzz, great press and strong video support, especially from VH1. Look for this one to ramp up through the holidays and beyond.

Adema (Arista): With rock having already made a serious comeback on the charts, this band, fronted by Korn singer Jonathan Davis’ half-brother, is poised to make serious inroads. Adema’s eponymous debut, released Aug. 21, has already had some success, with first-week sales of 43k, but the word is spreading as second single “Giving In” continues to develop and build momentum into the holidays.

Michelle Branch (Maverick): While the Aug. 14 debut album from the teen artist who writes and plays has had a big hit in “Everywhere,” sales of the album haven’t been commensurate with the strength of the single and the exposure both it and Branch have gotten. As spins and appearances continue to build through the rest of the year, look for sales to catch up.

Coldplay (Capitol): U.K. band in the Travis and Radiohead school has seen its year-old album, “Parachutes” (released 11/7/00), revive significantly behind hot new single “Trouble,” which has already been an international hit but is now breaking in the U.S. The cumulative effect of “Trouble” and previous single “Yellow” portends good things for the months ahead.

Craig David (Atlantic): Released in the U.S. on July 17, “Born to Do It” marked a solid debut for the young U.K. dance artist and his new “Two Step” sound. While first single “Fill Me In” went Top 10 and kept the buzz alive, hot second single “7 Days” is building at radio and looks poised to trigger big holiday sales, setting David up for an even bigger 2002.

Five for Fighting (Columbia): Singer-songwriter John Ondrasik has built momentum slowly since the release of his sophomore album, America Town, on Sept. 26, 2000. Similar to Michelle Branch, sales have lagged behind airplay, especially since second single “Superman” has begun its ascent at Top 40. As the single garners more and more airplay, the cumulative effect of Columbia’s year-plus efforts working the project should pay off.

Flickerstick (Epic): After emerging triumphant on VH1’s Bands on the Run earlier this year, this Texas fivesome will see its debut album, Welcoming Home the Astronauts, re-released by Epic on Nov. 6. Building quickly at radio following loads of television exposure, this much-anticipated release should score handily.

Hoobastank (Island): This SoCal rock outfit is having a true left-field breakthrough as one of the few new acts to cut through the Q4 clutter. With “Crawling in the Dark” gaining critical mass at both Rock and PoMo radio and a video in production, the band’s debut, streeting 11/20, is looking like a bona fide smash.

Petey Pablo (Jive): Buzz building along with radio and video play for this Crossover artist, whose single, “Raise Up,” is gaining momentum as a format anthem and hitting hard for those playing it. With name producers including Timbaland involved, expectations are high that the album, Diary of a Sinner, will score out of the box upon its Nov. 6 release.

Puddle of Mudd (Flawless/Geffen): Straight outta the primordial soup and onto Fred Durst’s Flawless imprint, this K.C.-based nu-metal contingent is having a second-straight smash at radio with “Blurry,” which follows “Control” onto the rock chart. “Blurry” should peak at exactly the right time to maximize holiday sales of “Come Clean,” out since Aug. 28, and set Puddle up to be the big rock splash of next year.

The Strokes (RCA): God’s gift to rock critics reared on the Velvet Underground is making a big impression despite the weight of the “saviors of rock” label, selling since their debut’s Oct. 9 release without substantial radio play. Both radio and video spins are kicking in now, as the band tours behind massive press. Given that they’re the buzz artist of the moment, they should be everywhere by Christmas.

Tenacious D (Epic): Jack Black’s big adventure continues with the debut album from his sketch-comedy duo, released Sept. 25. Internet play for “Fuck Her Gently” has gotten the ball rolling, while great MTV support on new track “Wonderboy” is helping build the project. The album’s big rock sound—thanks in part to the drumming of Dave Grohl—should help it stand out as Black, who’s increasingly looked upon as the “the new Belushi,” raises his profile with the opening of current movie Shallow Hal.

Pete Yorn (Columbia): A great artist-development story all year, Yorn’s debut set, out since March 27, is set to heat up with new track “For Nancy (’Cos It Already Is)” taking off at radio and video. Columbia’s dogged efforts working this project throughout the year should pay handsome dividends as consumers do their holiday shopping.

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