For Richard Andrew, who records as Outasight, things started looking up when he began talking to Warner Bros. Records in 2008. Then a relatively unknown rapper/pop act from Yonkers, N.Y., with a few mixtapes and 2007 EP Employee of the Year under his belt, Andrew was signed to an indie label that, he says today, wasn't conducive to making and releasing music.
"There was a few different labels I was talking to and Warner Bros. liked me so much that they were willing to work with this extremely stubborn label," Andrew says. "It took nine months of negotiations where I couldn't release music just to get out of it .Â .Â . That was an amazing leap of faith to begin with. I really thought it was going to be over before it started. Warner Bros. stuck with me and it's been great."
In 2009, Warner co-president/CEO Todd Moscowitz freed Andrew from the deal and added him to the label's roster. Now comes Andrew's debut, Nights Like These, a pop album that combines hip-hop, rock and soul and looks to capitalize on the success he had last year with breakout single "Tonight Is the Night." The song, released Sept. 23, 2011, was propelled by placement in a prominent Pepsi campaign, as well as spots for Pizza Hut and Honda. Andrew also performed the song on Fox's "The X Factor," a perfect storm of promotion that eventually pushed the song to No. 38 on the Billboard Hot 100. "Tonight Is the Night" has sold 1.1 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. For Andrew, the challenge going into Nights Like These was to create an album that felt both cohesive with "Tonight" and showcased more aspects of his songwriting and performance abilities.
"The one constant that's always been there has been continuing to try and push myself to get better and write better songs," he says. "For me the album is interesting because it's like a 'best of' from the past year. I didn't get a chance to sit down and say, 'This is going to be my debut album.' It's been more like a constant through time. It's been filtered and it's a good idea of where I'm at now as a songwriter and an artist."
For Moscowitz and the label it has also been important to bolster the single with live shows and consistent touring. Andrew, who has released two singles leading up to the album, "Shine" (featuring Chiddy Bang) and "Now or Never," recently came off the road following dates with 3OH!3 and Cobra Starship.
"Outasight made a true singer/songwriter album, but up until recently, [he] was a very studio-focused artist and had not spent a lot of time on the road," Moscowitz says. "It's tough to break a developing artist if they don't have a strong touring base .Â .Â . To make up for the lack of a big touring base, we definitely pushed him in the A&R process to stretch and make records that fit cohesively with the album, but that gave us more to work with for radio."
Andrew, whose next single will be "I'll Drink to That," a track he describes as "deeply personal" and "definitely more me," plans to continue to grow his tour base and release mixtapes even as the label pushes his album tracks commercially.
"Outasight will always be a song-driven artist," Moscowitz says. "We first signed him because he was such a tremendous writer and over time people will be attracted to the songs. He's genre-defying as a white kid who sings and raps but is also alternative and song-based. The beauty of the Internet is that it allows for artists to find an audience even if they don't fit in a particular genre box."••••