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ON RECORDS:
10 ROOKIE PICKS
TO CLICK


As I.B. Bad mentions in his latest column, the business has become increasingly reliant on new acts and their breakthrough first records. And while we continue to follow the activity of The Weeknd on Republic and WB’s Royal Blood, both of whom hit home runs with their first big radio singles last year, 10 newcomers have caught our attention. This is not meant to be an all-inclusive list and is in no particular order, just some things we like now, so if we didn’t include one of your favorites, please write us about it and we’ll post some responses online.

Rachel Platten (Columbia): The magnificent mass-appeal track “Fight Song” broke from one station in Baltimore when Platten was an unsigned indie act. The Columbia team swooped in and signed it before anyone else could get in the room. Now everyone is catching on, and Ms. Platten could have one of the signature songs of 2015. Manager Ben Singer, who also has the red-hot Andy Grammer on S-Curve/Hollywood, is lined up to have quite the year.

BORNS (Interscope): Signed by the new John Janick administration’s Aaron Bay-Schuck, this red-hot new act gained major attention online before gaining additional momentum from a recently launched radio campaign. As one of my UCLA students told me at class this week, “I heard this band on a Spotify playlist and then began playing it over and over again.” Hmmm, a new way to break artists? Of course it is—if you have a song as electrifying as “Electric Love.”

James Bay (Republic): U.S. A&R maven Rob Stevenson and VP Ben Adelson get the collar for this U.K. act, whose debut album recently topped the U.K. charts in its first week. Many (including us) are touting James for this year’s Best New Artist Grammy, and Monte Lipman and his team are committed for the long term with this brilliant new artist. “Hold Back the River” is growing each week at three formats. We expect this trend to continue.

Elle King (RCA): Jon Pareles of The New York Times recently wrote of this edgy up-and-comer, “She has Adele’s determination and Joan Jett’s stomp, Brenda Lee’s high-voiced bite and some AC/DC shriek.” Having just released her debut album Love Stuff and single “Ex’s and Oh’s,” Elle will join the aforementioned James Bay as the opener on select dates of his sold-out tour before hitting the festival circuit this summer.

Courtney Barnett (Mom+Pop): An Australian songwriter and compelling performer, Courtney has been described as a female Ryan Adams because of her wit and clever turns of phrase. Not glamorous like Chrissie Hynde when she first appeared, but just as real and just as smart. Credit for the signing goes to A&R legend Michael “Goldie” Goldstone, who first mentioned this powerful new act to us.

In the Valley Below (Caroline/Capitol): These L.A.-based modern rockers managed by Pete Galli were signed by the new Capitol team early in the Steve Barnett era. The sexy, haunting “Peaches” is the sleeper surprise on an Alternative radio chart dominated by superstar releases. It’s been percolating since Rob Cross at Sirius XMU found it and began a radio story that spread to Laszlo in K.C., Hamilton in Portland and Nik Rivers in Buffalo, then exploded when Kevin Weatherly and CBS Radio came aboard.

X Ambassadors (KidinaKorner/Interscope): Alex da Kid, who scored so prominently with Imagine Dragons, now has another absolute giant on his hands. The new single “Renegades” and the band itself are being used in the current Jeep Renegade TV campaign. The sales reaction on iTunes has been immediate, and radio play is now about to fill in quickly. Ready, set, GO!

Leon Bridges (Columbia): Managed by Michael MacDonald and signed to a pub deal by Sony/ATV, this Texas-based throwback soul artist took SoundCloud by storm late last year, earning north of a million plays post haste for his timeless sound. The 25-year-old was featured on iTunes New Artist Spotlight last month and has made a serious name for himself in the blogosphere. After wowing audiences at SXSW, he made his network TV debut on The Late Late Show and has tour dates lined up through August.

Zella Day (Hollywood): This Arizona-born singer/songwriter with a rootsy pop sound has been described as a happier Lana Del Ray. Then again who isn’t? Zella is one of the most

blogged-about artists of the year, and her controversial Playboy spread is garnering even more chatter. New single “High” will continue the breakout story.

Jeremih (Def Jam): This young rapper came out of the blocks at full speed with the #1 hit “Birthday Sex” and the giant multi-format smash “Don’t Tell ’Em” featuring YG, which won the 2015 iHeartRadio Music award for Hip-Hop/R&B Song of the Year. Jeremih also appears on Natalie La Rose’s smash “Somebody. “Tonight Belongs to U,” the second single from Late Nights: The Album, is impacting Rhythm and Pop now.

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