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Dayglow
Reagan Liddell

Dayglow

How does a song recorded by a teenager in his suburban Texas home become a top five alternative radio hit with over 100 million worldwide streams? These pivotal moments helped Dayglow turn “Can I Call You Tonight?” into one of the year’s biggest alternative rock hits.

Feb. 2, 2018: Dayglow Releases “Tonight” single through TuneCore

“In the recording of the song, I’m actually just, like, 17 years old,” Dayglow’s Sloan Struble says of “Tonight,” which he uploaded from his parents’ house with modest expectations. “I knew the song had potential and it was good, but I wasn’t thinking [about any] preplanned marketing.”

March 14, 2019: Plays week of SXSW showcases

Struble drew industry attention with his first appearance at South by Southwest, including from Will Hunt at AWAL. “About that time, I was emailing and talking to a lot of managers and A&R label people via my school email,” says Struble of balancing classes at the University of Texas with his burgeoning career. “I would be doing online French homework in one tab, and then the next tab is receiving these emails.”

Joanna Karaszewski

April 8, 2019: Hires Foundations as his management

In April, after his SXSW gigs and once “Tonight” reached 1 million plays on Spotify, Struble hired Foundations’ Ryan Langlois and Drew Simmons as his managers. Struble recalls phoning his parents just before flying to Nashville to meet them and his father’s unlikely reaction: “ ‘Son, you probably should drop out — you probably shouldn’t be doing school.’ ”

April 25, 2019: Emma Chamberlain shares Instagram story playing “Tonight”

The influential YouTube personality shared a video of herself dancing to the Dayglow single with her 11.2 million Instagram followers. “She’s just a fan who exposed him to that [wider] audience,” says Langlois.

Aug. 7, 2019: Agrees with AWAL to distribute debut album

Dayglow had already uploaded his debut album, Fuzzybrain, online before he and Foundations agreed to partner with AWAL to redistribute the project with two new tracks, which Simmons says “led us to breathing some new life into the record for the fans that already existed.”

Oct. 12, 2019: Performs at Austin City Limits

“I’m from Austin, and the festival here is Austin City Limits,” says Struble. “I always dreamed of playing [it], and that was my career moment ... this crazy moment where it was like, ‘Man, this is really actually what it feels like to live your dream.’ ”

November 2019: Sells out first headlining tour

In late 2019, Dayglow set out on a headlining trek, playing 500-­capacity venues to already rabid fans. “He sold out every date on the tour immediately, which again was a great sign,” says AWAL president of North America Ron Cerrito. “But then you see a sold-out audience singing the words to every song, and you immediately know that there’s a connection and a really special artist here.”

January 2020: “Tonight” sent to alternative radio

“At the top of 2020, we engaged the promotion team,” says Cerrito. “Our head of alternative, Dave Lombardi, laid out a strategy of going after the right tastemakers at the beginning and then building it from there — and he executed it perfectly.”

Jenny Alice Watts

Aug. 15, 2020: “Tonight” breaks 100 million streams on Spotify

Less than a year after hitting the 10 million mark, “Tonight” cracked nine digits on Spotify, largely due to a cross-genre appeal that made it reach listeners outside of alternative. “Someone who’s listening to a Dayglow song may very well be listening to Surf Mesa and Cardi B on either side of it,” says Simmons.

Oct. 3, 2020: “Tonight” cracks top five on Billboard’s Alternative airplay chart

Despite some initial resistance to a 2-year-old song, the streaming success of “Tonight” eventually proved too much for alternative program directors to ignore. “We could look at [Spotify] streaming playlists and say [to PDs], ‘Look, no offense, this is one of the top 10 streaming alternative songs on the market, and you’re not playing it,’ ” says Lombardi. “And that got us on a lot of radio stations.” The song finally peaked at No. 3 on the chart in early November.

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 14, 2020 issue of Billboard.