“If I didn’t have Angel on lockdown, she would just put it on SoundCloud. I wake up every day in fear of that happening.”
That was Nicola Carson, Angel Haze’s manager, speaking presciently to Billboard in November about her client’s desire for fans to hear her debut LP, “Dirty Gold.” And sure enough, after Haze leaked the set on SoundCloud on Dec. 18, Carson and Republic Records hastily agreed to release it digitally on Dec. 30 in the United States and the United Kingdom. The set debuts at No. 15 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart with sales of nearly 1,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
“As you can imagine, the phone didn’t stop ringing for awhile,” Carson told Billboard a few days after “Dirty Gold”‘s release. “The conversations happened very quickly after it went up, and we reached a resolve which worked for everyone.”
Getting the album out within the calendar year, which Haze tweeted was part of a verbal agreement with Republic, came at the expense of some of the setup necessary to launch a new artist — especially one whose goal is “to be colossal,” as Haze told Billboard in November. “Dirty Gold” missed out on iTunes home-page promotion (iTunes employees were on vacation the week of Christmas until Jan. 6), a simultaneous physical release (coming “as soon as we can,” Carson says) and advance support from radio.
But lead single “Battle Cry,” produced by Greg Kurstin and featuring guest vocals from Sia, started getting play on BBC Radio 1 the week of the album’s release — not to mention supportive tweets from Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz and Paramore’s Hayley Williams. An official music video will be filmed next week.
“In the business of breaking new artists, we cannot rely on a cookie-cutter approach,” Republic told Billboard in a statement. “It’s great to have artists like Angel who break the mold.”
“It’s done everything I’ve intended thus far,” Haze told Billboard after the album arrived. “I’m just ready to take it and make it bigger.”