cover story Features November 4, 2019

Team Lauv on being bold, taking risks & breaking ground in pop

Team Lauv on being bold, taking risks & breaking ground in pop

As the changes before our eyes, the future of the record business is constantly evolving as artists and their teams discover innovative models and road test new concepts.

Leading the way worldwide in the independent pop market is . His commercial breakthrough single ‘I Like Me Better’ is now 5x Platinum in Australia, ‘i’m so tired…’ is 2x Platinum, ‘fuck, i’m lonely’ is 1x Platinum and ‘There’s No Way’ have reached Gold status.

“Given Australia’s laid-back nature, there’s definitely a special connection that Australia picked up on very early in Lauv’s career. Ari’s (Lauv) clearly speaking to an audience who can relate to how he’s feeling,” Australia marketing director, Ben Godding, tells TMN.

“Australia’s connection to Lauv is further proven by the fact that Australia is now his 3rd biggest market worldwide, punching well above their weight in overall global market conditions.” 

On the streaming front, his lifetime streams have succeeded 3.32 billion, a boasting refection of the success of his innovative release schedule for I met you when I was 18.

Releasing a consistent stream of new material over seven months, he endeavoured to showcase his mix of vulnerability and diversity as an artist which has opened him up to a broader audience. 

“I’ve always been a believer that until there is mass demand for an album or larger body of work, releasing consistent music and content is the way to develop and grow an audience,” explains Lauv’s manager, Steve Bursky.

“Certainly many markets still rely on the album format to take the next step and to achieve certain goals, but the fact that he’s released so much music and built such an incredibly loyal fanbase all in advance of his March 2020 debut album sets him up for a much more impactful launch.”

Paul Trueman from the global AWAL team adds that releasing a consistent series of tracks over a long period was a forward-thinking strategy led by Ari himself. When presented with this concept, the AWAL team had to learn how to adjust their structures to assist him in the best way. 

“The challenge for the marketing team is then how to make this work in more traditional channels which has kept us on our toes,” Trueman admits.

Looking at the release trends, Australia was one of the first places to jump on board with ‘I Like Me Better’ and bring Lauv into the commercial scene, and Godding says it was all about timing and waiting for the perfect moment to service to radio. 

“Being a brand new artist, it was prudent to be a little cautious and wait before servicing commercial radio. The Spotify Chart for ‘I Like Me Better’ ended up growing exponentially over a matter of weeks and around 2 months in the time was right to push the button at radio”.

The track rose as high as #9 on the TMN Hot 100 Airplay Chart, and spent five weeks in the Top 10. It remains Lauv’s top-performing song at radio, ahead of ‘i’m so tired…’ (#13) and ‘fuck, i’m lonely’ (#25).

“Within a month of service, we already had big breakthroughs at Nova and Hit Networks and ultimately a Top 10 airplay track soon after. The speed was indeed a surprise but the success of the single wasn’t”. 

When Bursky decided to start working with Lauv, he was immediately drawn to all of the attributes that fans and industry personnel are now discovering. 

“Being bold and taking a risk was incredibly appealing to me because I feel that the market is more prime than ever to support independent music and artists who are empowered by their independence,” he explains. “And Ari’s willingness to go against the grain and take a risk, working in a way that focuses on the industry of today versus yesterday is daring and innovative.

“I think he represents the modern-day record executive. An artist that writes, records, produces, and releases his own music. I think that level of control between artist and manager paired with the ability to be nimble and flexible throughout a campaign has played to his advantage”.

With the key importance of independence and freedom of creativity front of mind, AWAL has had to make sure that all the right messaging is delivered through their promotional efforts. 

“We’ve had to overcome the perception that Lauv is more than just a streaming artist only. With an album now announced, numerous airplay successes and sold-out shows including remarkably increased venue sizes in Australia alone, Lauv is most definitely proving to be one of the biggest independent pop stars on the planet,” Godding reflects.

And Bursky admits that Lauv’s trajectory and independence have created fewer hurdles on the management front than what would normally exist in a more traditional model. 

“Given how nimble we are based on our setup and structure, Lauv has really been able to adapt to the way young fans are consuming music and content in 2019. The everyday challenge of breaking a new artist and cut through the traffic and noise remains, but I believe that our independence has made it easier to do so than we might otherwise.” 

Throughout this journey, Lauv has been authentically himself and paved his career by embracing his vulnerability and mental health. And to allow that seamless transparency with listeners he had to learn early on how to take control of his growing business and oversee everything. 

Lauv & collaborated on ‘i’m so tired…’

Lauv tells TMN that staying independent has always been of key importance.

“I’ve had to learn that I’m really insecure and I always used to feel a sense of intimidation and being judged by major companies, so I decided that I wanted to feel as free as possible to run my career the way I want to, and to make the music I want to make with the people I want to make it with. And then to release whatever I want, when I want, and be the most-free version of myself.”

And for Bursky one of the biggest things he’s learnt is how to put his clients’ mental health and balance first within a very demanding industry. 

“For us, the greatest thing we can do is support him. It all starts with a client’s health and happiness. Without that, there are no songs, there are no tours, there is no productivity. This year has reminded me how fragile this all is, and that these things must remain the priority.

“Finding that work/life balance for Ari has been one of the greatest accomplishments of this year, and I believe will set a great tone for 2020.”

is bringing Lauv back to Australia in November for the second time in 18 months for a run of sold-out shows.

Managing director Susan Heymann says it was an easy decision to bring him back so soon after seeing the reaction to the shows last year. “Even without an album out back in March last year, the entire audience sang along to almost every song in the set.

“This isn’t about the handful of songs that have had commercial radio airplay, it’s been about a steady release of new music through streaming services and consistently delivering fresh content and interesting collaborations to a growing fan base, keeping them interested and engaged.

“Which is a true testament to the business model he’s created and the team he’s surrounded himself with to bring this vision to life”.

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