From unknown hopeful to unstoppable chart-topper: The making of Amy Shark
At 7:19pm on July 28 2016, Amy Shark received her first spin on Australian terrestrial radio. triple j’s Good Nights, then hosted by Linda Marigliano, introduced Adore to the nationwide audience, marking a seminal moment in the career of one of Australia’s next superstars.
Stuart MacQueen, co-founder and director of Shark’s record label Wonderlick Entertainment, was lucky enough to stumble across Adore one day, and soon realised it was only a matter of time before the recording industry and Top 40 radio pounced.
“I was listening through dozens of songs on the triple j Unearthed site, like so many other A&R people from Australia and overseas regularly do,” MacQueen tells TMN.
“I clicked play on Adore, and after one listen I thought the track was something pretty special. I felt like if it got to the public ears it would resonate.”
The Shark begins to surface
Adore’s traction began to escalate after initial airplay. MacQueen was well aware that time was a factor if the single was ever going to land itself on commercial network playlists.
“Adore was showing all the metrics that you would want to see before you try to move a track from a new artist to commercial radio,” he explains.
“I remember saying to Amy and her husband Shane, that if the label deal couldn’t be wrapped up very soon, then they should hire an independent radio plugger to work Adore, before it was too late.
“In the end, we signed the deal in early November and then we immediately got the brilliant Sony radio team to go into full swing.”
Adore was re-released under the Wonderlick/Sony banner and debuted on the TMN Hot 100 at #99. The single spent seven weeks pinballing in the lower half of the chart, but it wasn’t until triple j’s Hottest 100 in January 2017 that things really started to ramp up.
Placing at #2 behind Flume’s Never Be Like You in a gripping countdown, Shark went on to receive 15,000 Shazams in a single day, the largest spike in her career thus far.
The impact was seen across all of commercial radio the following week – almost every station that hadn’t already added it did so, and those that already did moved it up to high rotation.
At that point, MacQueen says, it was like “throwing the petrol can on the fire”.
Adore went Platinum on the ARIA Singles Chart within a month and peaked at #3. The track went straight to #1 on the Shazam AU chart and #7 on Spotify. Shark rocketed to #34 on the Hot 100 and continued her rise to #13.
Saying hi to the world
With the fanfare from the summer cooling down, Shark simmered over the next 12 months. A further cut from her Night Thinker EP, Weekends, was sent to radio in March, but failed to match Adore’s stature.
Weekends reached #23 on the Shazam chart, #37 on iTunes and #21 on the Hot 100 – eight frames shy of Adore’s peak.
Shark needed a genuine radio hit to take her to the next level, a track that would ward off her remaining critics and solidify her status in the commercial realm. On April 13 2018, she delivered just that.
Jaddan Comerford, Shark’s manager and CEO of UNIFIED Music Group, knew Shark was on to something special when he heard I Said Hi for the first time.
“From very early on it was clear that I Said Hi was not only a hit, but also that Love Monster overall was going to be a huge album,” he tells TMN.
“It made the process of choosing singles quite difficult, which is always a great problem to have.”
With a four-chord design and a vindicated attitude, I Said Hi blitzed TMN’s Most Added To Radio chart on its debut week and was rewarded with instant chart affection.
Shark raided the top of the Shazam AU chart and went to #1 on both iTunes and Apple Music charts.
Hi debuted at #29 in the Hot 100, and within a month, went all the way to #1, enjoying six weeks as the most played song on Australian radio.
“I was actually in Nashville with Amy where she was playing a show with Dashboard Confessional,” Comerford recalls, after hearing the news from back home.
“That was a pretty great way to celebrate!”
Winning radio over early was pivotal. Comerford points to Shark’s work ethic as a key factor in enabling label and management to successfully plug the single to all the right people.
“She never turns down an interview and the sheer amount of work she’s done in a promo sense leading up really allowed us to set the scene for the song to be as big as it is.”
Late night TV, US radio, and beyond
With the grand reception earned by I Said Hi and new single All Loved Up (#1 Most Added and #5 Hot 100 peak), Shark’s presence is slowly creeping into overseas markets.
“We have fantastic partners in RCA on the label side and of course UNIFIED on the management side, and the whole team is doing a great job of building Amy in international territories,” he says.
“We have also had some great support from Apple Music and Spotify internationally.”
Amy has already had three US national television performances with Jimmy Fallon, James Corden, and recently, the TODAY Show.
A sold-out US headline tour and a key festival slot at Lollapalooza in 2019 will add further momentum, with I Said Hi recently moving past a combined 26 million combined streams and 5 million YouTube views.
While the going may be slow for alternative-based artists, MacQueen is pleased with the inroads that have already been made so far at triple-A radio, and believes the quality of the songs will speak for themselves in the long run.
“As we all know, US radio moves at glacial speed for new artists coming from an alternative foundation.
“This all takes time and you have to stay in the trenches armed with these brilliant songs as your weapons.”