Iggy Azalea has been dominating the summer, holding down the top two slots of Billboard’s Summer Songs chart for an uninterrupted nine weeks with “Fancy” and a guest spot on Ariana Grande’s “Problem.” A third single (“Black Widow,” featuring Rita Ora) and an appearance on mentor T.I.’s comeback single, “No Mediocre,” also are scaling the charts. But can she translate early radio ubiquity into a sustainable career? After all, for every summer breakout like Bruno Mars or Katy Perry, there’s a Carly Rae Jepsen or Gotye that can’t quite make that next leap.
There already have been two votes of confidence. Vin Diesel recently revealed that Azalea, 24, filmed a cameo in Fast and Furious 7, due in 2015. And on July 24 MTV named the former Wilhelmina model host of a revived House of Style on MTV.com. The eight-episode run premiered Aug. 4 and will culminate with Azalea’s appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 24 and, two nights later, a House of Style VMA fashion special. The MTV gig is a natural fit for the artist, who was featured in print campaigns for Levi’s and Revolve before The New Classic, her Def Jam debut, arrived in April. Her unprecedented success as a white female rapper and growing clout on tour -- she will headline Budweiser’s Made in America Festival in Los Angeles and the iHeartRadio Festival in Las Vegas -- suggest a promising future.
“She speaks to an audience who hasn’t had an opportunity to have someone really represent them,” says Rene Mclean, founder of music branding-management agency RPM. “At first, hip-hop was super urban, but rap is for everybody now. She was very strategic in the way she set herself up with the ASAP Rocky and T.I. affiliations, doing records with Steve Aoki, and she ended up with a new arsenal.”
Based on her projected royalty rates from two big radio hits and a sold-out tour of clubs and theaters, Azalea will likely pull in $3 million to $5 million in earnings in 2014, sources suggest. And an attempt to leap to the next level is imminent.
Cara Lewis, Azalea’s agent at Creative Artists Agency, says the first leg of a 2015 arena tour already is being routed, and talks are underway with potential brand partners to integrate into the tour. “Iggy’s management team is comprised of all women, and we are in sync as a group when it comes to long-term visions and choosing the right partners,” says Lewis. “There is a lot of attention from the beauty genre, including makeup, hair and skin products.”
"We have in the works multiple promotional, marketing and media opportunities designed to solidify her status as one of today's biggest stars," says Steve Bartels, CEO of Def Jam Recordings. "On the brand side we're vetting and presenting deals that are a creative match."
Branding experts estimate that Azalea could command mid- to high-six-figures for the right campaign, and potentially more as her stock grows. “Over the past three months, we’ve gotten more inquiries [about her] than any other female artist,” says Ryan Schinman, CEO of music licensing and entertainment marketing firm Platinum Rye. “She’s not as controversial as Miley Cyrus, and she would make a terrific spokesperson for the right products.”
As for the flap surrounding Azalea’s credibility as a rapper, with Nicki Minaj recently throwing shade at the BET Awards about writing her own verses? One major artist manager says that won’t trickle down to the rising star’s business appeal.
“When you look at a lot of pop superstars, Rihanna’s not known to be a songwriter but she has incredible credibility when it comes to fashion and being able to move the cultural needles,” says the source. “To fans and brands, I don’t think that matters much.”