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CAPITOL UPFRONTS: THE TOWER GOES WEST
Steve Barnett and Team Showcase Artists at L.A. Schmoozefest

Last night (5/18) Steve Barnett and team hosted the Capitol Music Group Upfronts show at Hyde on the Sunset Strip, with mini-sets by artists Glass Animals, Tori Kelly, Allen Stone and Halsey (and a quick Q&A with the legendary Rod Stewart).

Barnett made the rounds of the large crowd during the cocktail hour, as did EVPs Greg Thompson and Michelle Jubelirer, EVP International Marketing Robbie McIntosh, CFO Geoff Harris, A&R chief Mike Flynn, Motown head Ethiopia Habtemariam, Virgin ruler Ashley Burns, Harvest’s Jacqueline Saturn and Kate Denton of branding division seventeenfifty, among other execs.

Spotted on the scene were TV superproducer and Grammy legend Ken Ehrlich, Sony/ATV co-prez Rick Krim and SVP Jennifer Knoepfle, KIIS-FM’s Beata Murphy, Scooter Braun (who manages Kelly) and Red Light’s Bruce Flohr (who manages Stone), to name but a few.

Barnett with Tori Kelly, her manager Scooter Braun, Halsey and her managers Jason Aron and Anthony Li

Video highlight reels touting the rosters and stats of CMG-affiliated units unspooled as the bubbly flowed and the hors-d’oeuvres were passed.

Jubelirer kicked things off with a few words about Capitol’s transformation in the Barnett era before bringing out Harvest’s U.K. troupe Glass Animals, whose electro-funk/indie-pop mix and art-school grooming suggested a millennial Talking Heads (and whose single “Gooey” blew up on Spotify last year). Even the most stolid attendees could be seen moving their hips.

Next came Capitol Records siren Kelly, after an intro from Denton; the golden-tressed singer/songwriter belted out first single “Nobody Love” while accompanying herself on guitar; she then brought out a keyboardist and percussionist for the powerful “Should’ve Been Us,” which earned a roar of approval. Girlfriend can sang.

Capitol’s huge-voiced Stone, rocking giant specs and unruly blonde locks, kicked out two outstanding soul tunes with a band and two backing singers; given a whole set, it’s easy to envision him blowing the roof off the joint.

Greg Thompson prepares to jam with Allen Stone and Glass Animals

The always-debonair Stewart came out for a brief interview with veteran journo (and erstwhile HITS contributor) Melinda Newman about his forthcoming project and reminisced about recording the track that ended up on A$AP Rocky’s new hit (it was a demo he recorded in 1970; he was paid in new floormats for his sports car).  A lovely new Stewart cut then played over the PA.

Astralwerks’ green-haired Halsey, who conjures a cooler-than-cool electro vibe variously recalling Lorde and Lana Del Rey, closed out the night following an intro from McIntosh. The charismatic singer was discovered via Soundcloud less than a year ago (with her song “Ghost” having earned some 5 million streams); her expressive vocals popped over the minimalist arrangements.

As attendees streamed for the valet, staffers handed out handsome bound volumes detailing summer releases and artist reach—a seventeenfifty special. Just a little light reading for your branding consideration. Another Upfronts evening was in the books—literally and otherwise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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