LP

LP

Michel Comte

On Thursday (Sept. 22), L.A.-by-way-of-New York singer-songwriter Laura Pergolizzi, 35 -- better known as LP -- was awarded a platinum sales plaque in Athens, Greece, celebrating the runaway success her song "Lost on You" in the European country. The award preceded sold out concerts Friday (Sept. 23) at Athens' 4,000-person Technopolis venue and Saturday (Sept. 24) for 2,000 people at the Principal Club Theatre in Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city. All in all, not a bad first trip to the Mediterranean nation.

If you're not familiar with "Lost on You," you're not alone: Stateside, the track's influence has so far been relatively minimal. The song's six-song parent set, the Death Valley EP (released June 17 on Vagrant/BMG), has sold 3,000 units in the U.S. according to Nielsen Music, missing all Billboard charts. But in a stunning turn of events, the Cradle of Western Civilization has rocked LP's career into a major upswing, proving an ideal (albeit unexpected) launching pad for success in the European market, and making the swaggering mid-tempo "Lost on You" the fourth-most Shazamed song in the world -- consequently topping a number of international sales and radio charts at time of publishing. 

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When "Lost on You" first caught the ear of Panagiotis Loulourgas -- head of international and A&R manager at the Greek record label Cobalt Music -- back in February, he had a feeling the song would resonate with the local market, but had no idea how right he was. After locking in a foreign licensing deal for the track, Loulourgas took the song to radio to see if it could catch fire.

It did, and fast. In Greece, it typically takes months for a song to make its way into rotation on radio, even for the world's biggest artists. (For example, Loulourgas says it took more than a half a year for Coldplay and Beyonce's "Hymn for the Weekend" to become a hit in the country.) But for "Lost on You," Loulourgas approached key radio stations before the official servicing even began, introducing LP through her songwriting credits, which include Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, Cher and others.

The response was unanimously positive, he says, and early airplay led to widespread public Shazaming, which led to yet more airplay and more Shazaming. Soon the track had raced up Shazam and radio charts nationwide, holding its position at No. 1 on each for 12 and 22 weeks (and counting), respectively, earning it the unofficial titles of being Greece's song of summer and, really, the year. 

"It's the feeling of the track, it's everything. It touches you..." says Loulourgas, trying to explain the song's appeal to his country's audience. "From the very first moment, whenever I played the track, everyone is like, 'What's that?' It's an easy track for us, everyone likes."

While most in America might first think of Greece in terms of its ongoing financial and refugee crises, or of its ancient civilization, for much of Europe the country is a top summer-vacation destination. So as "Lost on You" began hitting radio in March, tourists were just beginning to hit the beaches. And when they left, they took a fondness for the song home with them. 

Growth began first with nearby countries Turkey and Romania. Then Italy got onboard, which Jeremy Maciak (SVP Creative BMG) said legitimized the track's expansion by adding a major music market into the fold.  At press time, "Lost on You" had topped local Shazam charts in Greece, France, Italy, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and Switzerland. It currently tops iTunes sales charts in Italy, Poland and Switzerland, ranking in the top 10 in seven other countries, and shows great potential for growth in numerous other territories.

Regional remixes have also helped boost growth. In Russia, for instance, the "Lost on You" Swanky Tunes & Going Deeper Remix is currently No. 12 on the iTunes sales chart, only there slots down from the original. Meanwhile, LP's U.S. team pushed out live performance videos across the foreign territories, securing an appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers and an acoustic studio session to further fuel interest, before releasing an official "Lost on You" video that Maciak says is currently averaging about 300,000 plays a day. 

Following a handful of recording contracts that have come before, this overseas success is a good early sign for LP's new home at Vagrant and provides welcome momentum leading into the Death Valley follow up full-length that's in the works. At this point in her career, the musician has weathered her fair share of ups and downs in the music industry, with a decent number of label deals that haven't stuck.

Her Forever for Now album that was released on Warner Bros. in 2014 was her only long-player for the major, as well as her first album in 10 years (charting No. 132 on the Billboard 200 and No. 2 on Heatseekers Albums, selling 16,000 units to date, according to Nielsen Music). That was was preceded by deals with Island Def Jam and RedOne's 2101 imprint that never quite panned out, as well as early releases on Lightswitch and Koch Records.

But Vagrant is showing aptitude to work the pop-rock project, capitalizing on good luck and potential where it comes. And part of what LP's manager Ian McEvily says has been key to their success in Europe is the indie label's ability to stay flexible and move quickly where opportunities arise. 

McEvily explains: "Overall Jeremy's and my biggest thing in getting this going was to be able to remain nimble -- which from a manager's standpoint is fantastic and doesn't always exist within a corporation -- and learn as we go and adapt, because neither of us had this experience where it was breaking out of Greece before. So it was learning from territory to territory, and then understanding how quickly we had to make decisions based on having a hit during vacation time."

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While managing a summer campaign in Europe has proven fruitful for "Lost on You," Maciak points out despite the good fortune that's come their way it hasn't been simple. As beneficial as the continent's summer vacationing has been, he says each territory takes its vacation at different times, creating "an interesting logistical nightmare" to their impact strategy together, considering each culture's summer schedules. 

"[Italy] made Greece not seem like such a one-off, and made people really focus on, 'Wow, this might actually be something,'" says Maciak. "The more Italy started to go, that's when France looked to their left or right, and they knew that they had something working ... and were the next to fall. From there, once France started to react, the rest of Europe outside of the U.K. -- which we hadn't really began to focus on -- really had no reaction other than to start to follow suit."

Naturally, LP is making the most of it. Aside from her Greece shows this week, her current European tour includes visits to Italy, Romania, France and the U.K., where she will perform a sold-out show to 350 people at Bush Hall in London before any radio servicing in the country has begun. Maciak says the plan is to shape this success in Europe into as compelling a case as possible for support in the U.K. and Australia, and then finally North America. 

"Because of having so much experience being disappointed at commercial radio in America, with their adherence to Shazam as the be-all end-all research, we wanted to take this as far as we can ... so our case is air-tight," says Maciak of their strategy moving ahead.

He continues, "The Shazam metric has become such a defining factor of success at radio. I think I speak for everybody on our team [that] we felt really strongly about continuing to build that number. And we're actually working to do try to do some promotion there or engagement with Shazam itself because the song is just really prompting people to get out their phones and find out what it is -- which is an exciting quality."

For LP, this unexpected avenue for success feels like a testament to her craft. 

"I believe this shows the true power of a song," she says. "In this day where the volume of songs is so high and the music outlets have a finite number of spots, getting traction wherever that may be, it's crucial to follow that passion and nurture it. I think my team and I have done that and have seen the growth in such an awesome way. I'm playing Athens to 4,000 people tonight, and just four months ago that would've felt like an impossibility."