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LUCIAN'S 2016 ARTIST SHOWCASE: MORE STARS (AND PLAYERS) THAN YOU CAN FIT IN A GOODIE BAG


UMG topper Lucian Grainge gets his showcase on with (l) UMG EVP Michele Anthony, The Weeknd and Demi Lovato and (r) Jack Garratt.

Who was at Lucian Grainge’s UMG pre-Grammy artist showcase on Sunday (2/14)? It would be easier to enumerate who wasn’t. Universal corporate and international peeps, label heads and their teams and top radio, digital, media and sponsors were out in force for the lavishly appointed Valentine's Day shindig at the Ace in downtown L.A.

Sponsors American Airlines and Citi delivered for worthy causes Miles for Kids in Need and Musicians on Call.

After the customary cocktail hour—one-stop weaseling at its finest—the festivities kicked off in style with XO/Republic’s multiple-Grammy nominee The Weeknd, who saluted Lucian and company and had even staid label suits moving to “In the Night” and “I Can’t Feel My Face.”

Grainge then gave his brief but heartfelt introductory remarks, hailing the company and its component labels as “investors” in the future of music.

Next came Interscope’s Jack Garratt—who merges singer/songwriter sensitivity, one-man-band versatility and guitar-hero virtuosity in one unusual package. Garratt’s energy and talent proved irresistible, and evoked a powerful audience response.


Grainge ponders the nuances of legal marijuana with UMPG's Jody Gerson and artist Halsey and shows Sam Hunt how to throw a really big house party.

Astralwerks/Capitol’s Halsey spoke to the esprit de corps among label artists before launching into her two-song set, which included breakout “New Americana.” Capitol’s viral phenom Troye Sivan then displayed his heartthrob bona fides with two intimate tunes.

Next came another Grammy hopeful, MCA Nashville’s Sam Hunt, wielding star power galore on breezy renditions of hits “House Party” and “Take Your Time.”

UMe’s Bruce Resnikoff stepped up next to show the beguiling trailer for the John Coltrane documentary Chasing Trane.

Glassnote’s Strumbellas, currently charming their way at Modern Rock, delivered some stirring folk-rock energy in their two-song spot, which featured current single “Spirits.”

Def Jam’s Alessia Cara once again had folks on their feet, killing on #1 Pop smash “Here” and “Scars to Your Beautiful.” Her command of the stage definitely bespoke an artist becoming a star.


Grainge is a "Happy Man" with Big Machine Label Group chief Scott Borchetta, Thomas Rhett and Republic ruler Monte Lipman, and suggests a single malt to Chris Stapleton and Red Light founder/head Coran Capshaw.

Two giant hits from Valory/BMLG’s Thomas Rhett came next, “Crash and Burn” and current monster “Die a Happy Man.” Like several other Nashville stars roaming the stage at the event, Rhett underscored the pop potentialities currently blazing in the country format.

Perhaps the most disarming performance of the day came next, as Joe Jonas and his colorfully attired bandmates in Republic’s DNCE cranked up the energy level—running into the crowd, bouncing around and tumbling to the floor. It was an instant dance party, and earned a thunderous response.

Of course, when you’re warming up for The Beatles, you’d better bring it. Jeff Jones, CEO of Apple Corps, next introduced an electrifying trailer for Ron Howard’s forthcoming doc about the Fab Four, which features previously unseen (and frankly gorgeous) live and behind-the-scenes footage of the Liverpudlians who changed the world.

You’d typically pity anyone who had to follow the Fabs, but Safehouse/Hollywood/Island’s Demi Lovato is a force of nature. Her powerhouse vocals, which cruised above the stadium groove of “Confident,” were displayed even more compellingly on torch song “Stone Cold,” a marvelous showcase for her emotional intensity and peerless technique.

Grainge revels in his Demi monde with Demi Lovato, Island supremo David Massey and Safehouse/Philymack's Phil McIntyre

Rounding out the event was one more multiple Grammy nominee, big-selling Mercury Nashville troubadour Chris Stapleton, who ambled out with just an acoustic guitar and his big, soulful voice to utterly spellbind the crowd on “Whiskey and You” and the showstopping “Sometimes I Cry.”

And then it was over, and the throng of players grabbed their goodie bags and migrated to the sidewalk outside, summoning their Ubers with one hand while gladhanding with the other. There were plenty of other events to get ready for, as Grammy’s long weekend continued.

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