The Brag Media
News October 27, 2015

Dossier: Panama

Former Editor

Sydney trio Panama had only performed one live show in their current configuration before scoring recording and agent deals on both sides of the Atlantic ocean. Accruing more than 1.3 million SoundCloud plays; notching up airplay on UK’s BBC Radio 1 and 2; gaining a spot on this year’s coveted Triple J Hottest 100 list, landing a sync deal in the US and topping the chart of blog aggregator Hype Machine drove interest before a showcase was even necessary.

Nathan McLay and Chad Gillard were on a winning streak when their record label/touring agency/music publisher Future Classic took on Panama in July 2012. McLay and Gillard already managed the likes of multiple-ARIA winner Flume, toured international acts like Michael Mayer, Isolée and Jacques Renault and sold out venues as part of their own musical venture, the Future Classic Djs.

Panama’s McCleary first came to the label’s attention during a trip to LA, where he was recording with Eric Broucek (LCD Soundsystem, Chk Chk Chk, Classixx). His Australian manager Monique Rothstein – who also started publicity agency Positive Feedback – flagged his debut EP It’s Not Over to the Future Classic duo, at a time when electro-pop was still continuing its stranglehold on urbanites the world over.

“We kind of heard about him at the same time as he kind of heard about us,” says McLay. “It made sense, we’d already done tours for Classix and Holy Ghost so there was a lot of common ground between us.”

Future Classic’s initial label and publishing deal with McCleary was renegotiated in 2013 to incorporate licensing and co-management, with McLay and Gillard handling A&R and international publicity while Rothstein covers local press. Around the same time Future Classic re-released McCleary’s Magic as a 12” vinyl single before releasing the It’s Not Over EP.

Future Classic declared October of last year ‘Panama Month’ in their office. The collective drip-fed content for free online, releasing the three tracks from McCleary’s second EP Always and its three remixes by Classix, Wave Racer and Cosmo’s Midnight on Bandcamp. The EP’s title track shot to #1 on Hype Machine’s singles chart, the single How We Feel made the Top 5 and Panama were listed on the aggregator’s Ones To Watch list for 2014.

“We’d never given away free content like that before,” recalls McLay. “We try to do something different for every single project, for every single campaign… We find as soon as we start doing the same thing for different projects it becomes less interesting and it has less impact.”

5,000 fans signed up for the Bandcamp release and Future Classic took that number straight into a presentation with iTunes. The groundswell had piqued industry interest abroad long before however. Lyor Cohen’s five- month-old Google-funded label 300 Entertainment was……

The above article is an excerpt only of a much broader feature in the June issue of the Australian Music Industry Quarterly. To read the full article in your free copy click here

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