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"His lyrics are so penetrating, challenging and sophisticated...And his melodies are memorable. I'm completely committed to him."
——Ted Field, ArtistDirect CEO
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Canadian Singer-Songwriter's Video Nixed by MTV, but ArtistDirect Stays Focused on Big Picture

ArtistDirect's Ted Field knows that a little controversy never hurts record sales.

During his days at Interscope Records, he saw the likes of Eminem, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Trent Reznor ring up sales as well as headlines.

Add the artist known as Custom to Field's hit list.

"His lyrics are so penetrating, challenging and sophisticated," says Field. "And his melodies are memorable. I'm completely committed to him."

The 6' 8" Canadian singer-songwriter, whose real name is Duane Lavold, made waves last year when he was let out of his deal with Virgin Records after setting a series of allegedly harassing phone calls from since-departed exec Nancy Berry to music and sending the tape to the label's legal department.

A spirited bidding war for the completed album was won last August by Field's new BMG-distribbed label, which will release Fast on March 19. Levold wrote, arranged and recorded the album in his downtown Manhattan loft, playing most of the instruments as well.

Added Field: "We set out to convince him ArtistDirect was the right place for him, which wasn't easy considering we didn't even have a staff in place at the time."

The first single, "Hey Mister," went out to PoMo, Active Rock and College radio outlets last year, garnering more than 110 stations and #1 phones in Phoenix, Albany and Salt Lake City, among others. According to VP Promotion Dawn Hood, "The song's a hit on radio already."

The video for "Hey Mister," directed by Custom himself, is already making waves, with MTV's Standards & Practices turning the clip down for "objectionable lyrics." Sample lines: "Hey Mister/I really like your daughter/I want to eat her like ice cream/Maybe dip her in chocolate."

Adds Hood: "We're mounting an aggressive street campaign with the video."

Bypassing MTV, thentire clip is being made available on several websites, including hitsdailydouble.com which can be accessed by clicking the appropriate icon either at the top or the bottom of this story. In addition, you can access the group's electronic press kit in the same place. 

Says Exec. VP Sales & Mktg. Jim Swindel: "The approach is to let people discover Custom for themselves. We're doing everything we can to make people aware that this is a real artist with depth, and that this is much more than just a one-song album."

Placement on retail shelves and listening stations is also in the game plan, along with online and traditional street-marketing teams. The label has also hired an extreme-sports marketing company to work Custom at surf/skate shops and other lifestyle accounts.

Vice Chairman Marc Geiger says the company is utilizing its online properties to help support the act, with comprehensive viral and e-marketing plans.

"We've created several high-frequency features for the band on MP3.com, AOL and Napster," says Geiger, who points out 150,000 people have downloaded at least one of three available songs. "We're like a dog that won't let go of its bone. Now, will someone please take me for a walk?"

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