Richard Andrew, a.k.a. Outasight, was in a much different place just two months ago.
The singer/rapper, signed to Warner Bros. since 2009, got a call in early September from his manager Rene Mclean at RPM Management. "Would you be interested in having your song in a Pepsi commercial?" Mclean said. "Yes, I would," Outasight replied, a bit awestruck. The ensuing sequence of events was a bit of a whirlwind.
"I think I found about it on a Monday, I saw the commercial the next Monday on my laptop, and it started airing that Wednesday. It was amazing, suddenly seeing it on my TV after such little time has passed," Outasight says now. "It was like dominos falling."
The spot in question, featuring Outasight's "Tonight Is the Night," is a retrospective ad showcasing some of Pepsi's biggest music partnerships over the years, from Ray Charles and Michael Jackson to Britney Spears and Kanye West. The commercial has been airing throughout the season of "The X Factor," which had been airing Wednesdays and Thursdays on Fox and moves to Tuesdays and Wednesdays after the World Series, as well as other select Fox telecasts. The campaign is scheduled to run through February 2012, which should keep Outasight top of mind for months to come.
Since debuting on iTunes in late September, the song has sold over 10,000 downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan. During the week ending Oct. 30 the track was up 49% to 2,000 downloads. At radio, the track has been adding more requests, too. The song is bubbling under Billboard's Mainstream Top 40 chart, with 56 pop stations playing the song -- including 33 spinning it for the first time -- in the Oct. 24 to 30 tracking week, according to Nielsen BDS. Outasight also hit the road for a weeks to tour with Gym Class Heroes, a stint he had to cut short to make way for a series of high-profile appearances.
Tonight, Nov. 3, marks Outasight's "X Factor" performance debut on Fox, singing "Tonight Is The Night." Up next, a performance on The CW's "90210," whose Hollywood set Outasight called from the day before his "X Factor" debut. He's also booked to perform on Clear Channel's nationwide Jingle Ball tour next month.
"We knew we nailed the creative and the music, but we needed a great platform. As far as platform goes, Pepsi was a perfect fit for us," said Todd Moscowitz, CEO of Warner Bros. Records. "They are a lifestyle brand that reaches the same core youth market that Outasight appeals to. It's been a perfect marriage."
The sudden exposure has been a lot for the artist to process, having focused most of his music-release strategy on mixtapes and viral marketing in recent years. "There are so many ways to distinguish yourself, doing shows, doing mixtapes, or doing videos, and the label has been extremely supportive in all that process," Outasight says. "Things are really starting to whirl now. It's been a lot of hard work to get to this point, but it's fun and it's what happens. It's real. I've enjoyed it and I'm taking it all in."
The song's zero-to-60 ubiquity is just the type of music discovery Pepsi wants to enable these days. The "X Factor" campaign marked Pepsi's first big TV push in three years, and reignited a multi-decade commitment to working with new and established artists.
"Going forward, we want to become a much more integral player in the broader music ecosystem," says Frank Cooper, chief marketing officer for Pepsi's sparkling beverages. "Even with Outasight, historically what you would've done is license the track, write the check to the publisher and the record label then we go our separate ways. Here, it's a mutually advantageous, ongoing relationship where we're helping to elevate each other over a longer period of time."
Mclean, founder and CEO of RPM, said the Pepsi team came to him in search of a song that was "fresh, new and ownable. I immediately thought of Outasight and how this could be a huge opportunity to do something innovative," Mclean says.
Cooper noted that the brand also considered big hits as well as new songs. "We wanted something fun and uplifting and this thing had several hooks in it," he says. "It felt this was right, had the emotional content we were looking for this particular spot. And the right emotional content for 'The X Factor.' Once we picked it we moved very quickly."
Outasight isn't the only star Pepsi's looking to help break out. The soda brand will feature the "X Factor" season 1 winner in its upcoming Super Bowl commercial.