Interscope Kicks Nashville Division Into Gear With First Country Single
While shoppers were battling crowds at department stores on Black Friday, Interscope waded into the crowded country field with the online release of Dylan Schneider's "No Problem," the first single…
While shoppers were battling crowds at department stores on Black Friday, Interscope waded into the crowded country field with the online release of Dylan Schneider‘s “No Problem,” the first single the label has issued in the genre since establishing a Nashville office in 2016.
With its tingling rhythms, programmed elements and haunting counter-vocals, Schneider’s launch leans closer to such pop-influenced, crossover acts as Sam Hunt or Florida Georgia Line than traditional voices like George Strait or William Michael Morgan, and that’s a path that fits a label associated with such acts as Eminem, Selena Gomez and Gwen Stefani.
“The artists that we are looking for are definitely on that [progressive] fringe,” says Interscope Nashville A&R exec Kevin Williamson.
Whether the signing is the start of a full-fledged country division remains to be seen. Interscope originally entered the market with an eye toward exploring the creative community’s full potential and signed acts from non-country genres. It has now established headquarters in the same building as Universal Music Group Nashville and — with only two employees, Williamson and A&R exec Patrick Waters — has several unoccupied offices with room for growth.
But the label is not in a hurry, which was part of the motivation for releasing “No Problem” on Nov. 24. The move gave Schneider something to promote to his existing fan base during the holidays while he works on an EP with producer Mark Holman for likely release in the spring. Schneider’s team plans to take its time with “No Problem,” allowing it to build an online story before the label engages a promotion team for a push at terrestrial radio.
“It’s kind of our job to put Dylan to the limit where he’s undeniable,” says Joey Russ, who co-manages the artist with Sean Pace. “That’s when we’re going to take him to radio.”
Pace, who was involved in the early stages of Kane Brown‘s career, discovered Schneider online while trying to emulate Brown’s path. He spent roughly 90 nights combing through YouTube videos, searching for country covers that jumped off the screen.
“Five, six, seven pages deep into my YouTube search, I came across Dylan and thought, ‘This guy is great,’ ” recalls Pace. “I assumed he was in college. Then I reached out to him, [and] he goes, ‘Hey, can you talk to my dad? I’m like 16.’ I’m like, ‘Jackpot.'”
The Indiana-bred Schneider has opened for Chris Lane and Granger Smith, and started headlining small clubs while building his social numbers, which Williamson pegs at 700,000 Facebook likes, 632,000 monthly Spotify listeners and 25,000 Spotify followers. Schneider also signed a publishing deal with Sony/ATV through a co-venture owned by The Cadillac Three‘s Jaren Johnston.
While he’s the first country artist to release music through Interscope Nashville, Schneider is not alone on the roster. Interscope also inked Kassi Ashton in a joint venture with UMG, and The Band Perry signed to both labels. Historically, Lauren Alaina and former Interscope associate Scotty McCreery were signed by the label and marketed to country radio through Mercury after their runs on American Idol. And Loretta Lynn‘s Van Lear Rose, produced by Jack White, emerged on Interscope, too.
What develops from this point has not been entirely mapped out.
“How Interscope grows the company in this market is exciting,” says Williamson. “I certainly think in the next year or two, there are certainly some exciting things that we’re going to be doing. The artists will influence how this office grows and changes moving forward.”