Battle Plan for a Breakout Year: John Newman

John Newman

Courtesy of Republic Records


British soul-pop newcomer John Newman bowed at No. 24 on the Billboard 200 with the stateside release of his debut LP "Tribute." Here’s how the singer-songwriter and the team at his U.S. label, Republic, did it.


After singing on Rudimental’s 2012 hit “Feel the Love,” Newman struck out on his own with “Love Me Again,” which premiered on VEVO in May and rose to No. 1 on the United Kingdom’s Official Singles Chart in July. Island Records scheduled the album for Oct. 14 in Britain, but Republic, Newman’s U.S. label, opted to hold it back. The song finally hit the states in August, via Sirius XM Hits 1which has continued to be one of the song’s biggest supporters. “SiriusXM Hits 1 led the way,” Republic Records EVP Charlie Walk says. “[VP of programming) Kid Kelly and team believed when no one else did.”  On Aug. 29, “Love Me Again” debuted on CBS Radio, before impacting at Top 40 and Top 40 Adult on Sept. 17. “We used the great stories coming from the U.K. to solidify interest,” Republic EVP of Marketing Jim Roppo says. The U.S. got a sneak peek at Tribute withan EP, also titled Love Me Again, on Oct. 14, with the single being named iTunes Single of the Week. “It was a good way to take mainstream awareness for this song and crystalize it,” Roppo says.


NBC’s “The Voice” gave “Love Me Again” a boost on Nov. 18 when contestant Will Champlin covered it. “Will smashed it—he was great!” Newman says. The song was also featured on “Dancing With The Stars” (Nov. 26) and on VH1’s Mob Wives” (Dec. 5) and a teaser for “Couples Therapy” (Dec. 19). An album preorder launched on Dec. 17, with five instant-gratification tracks (four from the EP, and one new track). Republic normally coordinates listening streams pre-release, but with the album already in stores abroad, they took a different approach. “We didn’t want to draw additional attention to the fact that the album was already out. It was sort of a dirty little secret, like, ‘Don’t tell anybody!’” Roppo explained.



The album finally dropped stateside on Jan. 7, with Republic purposefully capitalizing on the music industry’s post-holiday lull. “We hit the ground running when everyone else was still wiping the sleep out of their eyes,” Roppo says.  Working with booking agent Marty Diamond at Paradigm, Newman began a six-date stateside swing at Brighton Music Hall in Boston (Jan. 6). “People pay a lot to come to a show, so I really give them one,” Newman boasts. The next day, “Love Me Again” wasadded on Z100 and MTV, and Newman performed on “Today” and “The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon”; he hit “The Ellen Degenres Show” on Jan. 14.“For him to land three TV appearances his first week, that’s partly interest, but it’s also timing,” Roppo says. “Things are more open right now, and we’re taking full advantage.”


Republic is pleased with the launch, but Roppo jokes that there’s still “a lot of wood to chop.” Newman will return to the U.S. with a tour launching in late March, highlighted by a coveted slot at Coachella. “It will be the second wave of John Newman invades America,” Roppo says, adding that there’s a third North American tour planned for August and September. “We really have a year-long plan from when we launched in radio. We feel that strongly [about Newman], and the results really bear that out.” Newman, meanwhile, is excited to continue bringing his Motown-influenced pop back to its spiritual home. “Let’s be honest: The U.S. is the true originator of the music that has influenced me over the years,” he says. “I appreciate my success here so far, but I have a long way to go.”