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“The ability to release and work this record independently, before putting the power and spotlight of the industry on it, was a great help. John’s resonating with people who are hearing him for the first time. This is one we got right.”
——CRG President
Will Botwin
JOHN MAYER’S SQUARE ROOTS
Word-of-Mouth Phenom Catching Fire
It’s a product of patience, artist development, word of mouth, label commitment and, oh yeah, some truly memorable music.

Singer/songwriter John Mayer’s Aware/Columbia Records debut, Room for Squares, has followed in the grass-roots footsteps of Train and Five for Fighting—both initially signed to Aware, the remarkable Chicago-based indie founded and run by Gregg Latterman, which have gone on to Top 40 success.

“We’ve taken the approach to be organic and let things happen in their own sweet time,” said Latterman. “We’re letting people discover this on their own and spread the word.”

Eventually, the word spread to the industry. The reaction of VH1 EVP Talent & Music Programming Rick Krim is typical: “I’ve been a fan since my EMI days. He’s great for us because he’s a song-driven artist, and he’s musically similar to other performers our audience likes.”

Mayer’s album is yet another product of the unique arrangement between Aware and Columbia, in which the indie lays the groundwork before the major’s apparatus kicks in to take the act to the next level. Room for Squares came out as an indie release last spring and was reissued by Columbia Sept. 18 at Sony’s new-artist price point, with an additional song, new packaging/artwork and a limited-edition bonus EP. Squares is selling 30-40k a week, putting it in or near the HITS Top 30, with the single “No Such Thing” a Modern Adult smash. The album has broken 300k OTC as and has shipped Gold.

Said Columbia Records Group President Will Botwin, after clearing it with Don Ienner: “The ability to release and work this record independently, before putting the power and spotlight of the industry on it, was a great help. John’s resonating with people who are hearing him for the first time. This is the kind of record we’re really proud to be associated with. This is one we got right.”

The 24-year-old Connecticut native studied at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, then relocated to Atlanta, where he garnered a local following after self-releasing a ’99 solo acoustic album, Inside Wants Out. Mayer’s success has been a word-of-mouth phenomenon, augmented by press, the Internet, television and street marketing, as follows:

      * “No Such Thing” on MTV as Buzzworthy.com, in heavy rotation on MTV2 and a VH1 Inside Track.

      * Named one of 2002’s 10 artists to watch by Rolling Stone. Upcoming stories in Blender, Spin and Alternative Press.

      * TV appearances on Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno, VH1’s Late World With Zach, Craig Kilborn and Carson Daly.

      * Music Choice concert aired on cable channels April 1-14.

      * HOB.com audio Webcast of a concert recorded at New Orleans’ House of Blues, running again April 16 and 25.

      * In the midst of a headlining tour after dates with fellow APM phenom Norah Jones.

      * Several fan websites devoted to Mayer encourage trading of concert tapes.

      * Columbia offered several tracks from the album as downloads as well as e-cards and streams of the “No Such Thing” video and Inside the Square, a glimpse at life on the road.

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