Exclusive: Columbia and Neon Gold Co-Sign St. Lucia in First Joint Venture Deal
Exclusive: Columbia and Neon Gold Co-Sign St. Lucia in First Joint Venture Deal

In accordance with a label deal signed in December 2010, Columbia Records and independent specialty label Neon Gold have co-signed New York electro-pop artist St Lucia. The signing is first multi-album deal for Neon Gold, and the first co-signing deal for the joint venture.

EPs and album campaigns for St. Lucia, the project of Johannesburg native Jean-Phillip Grobler, will be handled primarily by Neon Gold, while Columbia, in partnership with RED Distribution, will provide assistance. As reported previously on Billboard.biz, the 2010 arrangement included an upstream deal, in which Columbia has first pick of artists signed to Neon Gold.

Neon Gold Signs JV with Columbia

Derek Davies started Neon Gold, which releases primarily singles and 7"s, when he and co-founder Lizzy Plapinger were in college at NYU and Vassar, respectively. The New York/London-based label's previous releases include those by artists like Passion Pit, Marina and the Diamonds, and Ellie Goulding. Today, he and Plapinger work out of the RED offices.

"We're very much a DIY, independent-minded label, but we work with big, pop-sounding artists who have gone on to have success on a much larger scale, so while we do work with a very major-label sound, it was important for us to find a label that shared our independent mindset," Davies says of the partnership. "Sure, Columbia led U.S. labels in sales last year, but they're doing it with credible, authentic acts like Foster the People and Adele. They very much fit in our wheelhouse; it felt like a natural home for us."

It's been over a year since Neon Gold and Columbia signed a label deal. So why the wait? "It was about being patient and finding the right first artist to launch the venture with," says Davies. "When we came across St. Lucia last summer, we immediately knew he was the perfect artist to graduate to album releases with."

"[Davies and Plapinger] have an incredible talent and passion for finding new and exciting artists really early on," says Columbia A&R manager Andrew Keller, who met Davies while he was still at NYU. Keller says he had read Davies' music blog, which informed their relationship. "Their entrepreneurial spirit and vision for what they want to do made me--and Columbia--want to help them transition from singles and 7-inches to a full-album label, so they can nurture their artists' careers in the long term."

St. Lucia will release a self-titled EP this spring, with a full-length due out by the end of the year.

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