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How Dove Cameron’s ‘Boyfriend’ Led to VMA Best New Artist Success

Disruptor Records CEO Adam Alpert on working closely with the "superhuman" actress-turned-pop star.

There are many paths to stardom. Dove Cameron seems to have taken several of them at once, culminating in a breakout year so far in 2022.

The 26-year-old has already been a successful star on Disney shows like Liv & Maddie and the Descendants film series, and on stage in several successful theater productions and the NBC TV musical Hairspray Live!. And she had even hit the Hot 100 several times before this year, with soundtrack recordings to several of those Disney works.

But this year, Cameron has come into her own as a musical artist with breakthrough single “Boyfriend,” released through Disruptor Records/Columbia, which reached No. 16 on the Hot 100 in June and became a smash radio hit, reaching No. 2 on Pop Airplay and No. 4 on the all-genre Radio Songs chart. And this week, to cap off that success, she won best new artist at the MTV VMAs, joining the illustrious likes of Olivia Rodrigo, Doja Cat, Billie Eilish and Cardi B among recent winners of the honor.

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And, as Grammy speculation heats up, that helps her label boss, Disruptor Records CEO Adam Alpert, earn the title of Billboard’s Executive of the Week.

Here, Alpert — whose other clients include The Chainsmokers and Jessie Murph, among others — talks about working with Cameron, balancing her acting career with her singing career and whether a new project, with the Grammy eligibility window closing at the end of the month, could be on the way. “She’s been in the studio every day and has written so many amazing songs,” Alpert says, “So stay tuned.”

Dove Cameron
Dove Cameron accepts the award for Best New Artist onstage at the 2022 MTV VMAs at Prudential Center on Aug. 28, 2022 in Newark, New Jersey. Theo Wargo/GI for MTV/Paramount Global

This week, Dove Cameron was named best new artist at the MTV Video Music Awards. What key decisions did you make to help her get to this point?

Dove and I have been working together for about five years. A lot of trial and error and experimentation was necessary throughout that time to help reach her massive audience that originally knew her from acting. I think empowering her to be herself and write about what was authentic to her life was the best support I could offer. The Disruptor and Columbia A&R teams really deserve a ton of credit for helping Dove find the perfect people to work with. Evan Blair, her incredible producer, and her seem to be a dream team now.

“Boyfriend” blew up first on TikTok. How did you cross it over to radio, where it became a huge pop hit?

We had everything one would need: streaming velocity plus TikTok virality plus her huge audience plus the best radio promo team in the business at Columbia.

Dove was first known as an actress, as was last year’s winner of this award, Olivia Rodrigo. How do you help her balance both careers?

She is superhuman in that sense. Her team at LBI and I have worked together for a long time. It is a challenge to find enough hours in the day or even months in the year for everything, but we just find a way to make it all work. Her acting career has grown tremendously in the last few years so that only adds to who Dove’s fans know her as. Despite having two facets to her career, there is only one Dove.

You own both a label and a management company. How have both of those roles evolved over the course of your career?

They’ve blended together. We don’t really think or act differently whether we are the label or the manager. We just do everything and anything to help develop and break artists.