In today’s fast-paced, algorithm-driven, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it climate, it can be hard to be patient, particularly when it comes to releasing singles. But there are many ways to finding success in the modern music industry, and sometimes patience is the best route to go.
That’s what Latto’s team, both at RCA and with her manager Brandon Farmer, founder of B. Farmer Management, decided when they made the call to put out the rising MC’s latest single, “Big Energy,” last September. The pop-laden, ’80s feel of the record — which samples the 1981 Tom Tom Club classic “Genius of Love” and nods to Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy,” which also samples that song — was a departure from Latto’s usual Southern-inflected hip-hop, which, her team felt, required a different approach. “We knew everybody wouldn’t understand her dropping this kind of record,” Farmer tells Billboard, “So it had to grow on people brick by brick.”
The approach paid off: this week, “Big Energy” climbed to No. 21 on the Hot 100, No. 5 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and No. 11 at Pop Airplay, all peaks for the record, while it’s spending its sixth week at No. 1 on Rhythmic Airplay — each of those marking a career milestone for Latto in her career. And the approach and its success has earned Farmer the title of Billboard’s Executive of the Week.
Here, he breaks down the strategy behind the rollout of the song — which is still reaching new heights six months after its release — and its crossover effect on Latto’s career, helping her reach new fan bases and show off a different side of her creatively and commercially, as well as his take on management. “I’m here to guide and advise, not to dictate their life and career,” he says. “We might not see eye to eye on some things, but at the end of the day, it has to come down to trusting each other.”
Latto’s “Big Energy” has climbed to a new peak on the Hot 100, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Pop Airplay charts and is in its sixth week at No. 1 on Rhythmic Airplay. What key decision did you make to help make that happen?
I think the best key decision for me was believing in my team. Latto is one of the best hands-on clients I’ve ever worked with. She knows exactly how she wants things to play out creativity- and performance-wise, so it makes my job a lot easier when the vision is there, and I just have to execute it. Then on top of that, the team — Peter [Edge], John [Fleckenstein] and Mark [Pitts] — at RCA have given us on the marketing, digital and press side, like Kayla Jackson, Anthony De Padua and Amanda Zimmerman, as well as the incredible radio and sales teams, definitely makes things a lot easier.
The song has been out for almost six months now and is still reaching new heights. How have you guys continued to support its growth after all this time?
Internally, we’ve always referred to this record as a brick-by-brick record, especially our A&R at RCA Records, Derrick Aroh. Meaning, we knew everybody wouldn’t understand her dropping this kind of record, so it had to grow on people brick by brick. And it’s done exactly what we said. With this being such a crossover record, we are constantly gaining new fans every second, so we just always like to present some form of new content to keep both our existing and new fan base entertained.
The song has done particularly well at radio. Was that a concerted effort?
This answer is simple to me — it’s trust. We knew what this record was going to be when we first heard and recorded it. We trust our radio promotions team at RCA to do what they do they best. Constant calls with them on what can we do on our own to connect with radio, what event should we pull up to in order to support or setting up radio Zoom interviews to touch all the radio stations. We wanted to make RCA’s job a lot easier by being as personable as possible.
With its ‘80s feel and sample, it’s a departure from a lot of her other singles. How did you want to present this differently?
When we initially heard the beat the first thing that came to my mind was, “We can trap this out and nobody would ever expect us to do it.” When you hear the beat for “Big Energy” everybody’s initial thoughts are, “This is about to be super pop.” But as you keep listening, you can tell we took it and did a complete 180, which is what we wanted to do. Latto spent weeks recording and perfecting this song with her A&R team at RCA — J Grand, Derrick Aroh and Marguerite Jones — and I would have to say it paid off perfectly.
She’s mentioned that the song took months to get cleared. How difficult of a process was it?
I mean, it definitely was a process with such a huge record to clear. It just comes down to patience with the negotiations and not rushing that process.
With the song just shy of top 10 at pop radio, it’s clearly been a huge crossover success for her. What other plans do you have to continue to push it forward now?
Right now, we are currently working on a potential remix that I feel could undeniably make this a No. 1 record overall.
What is your approach to management, especially with a young artist on the rise?
I’ve said before and I’ll say it again — it’s trust. I’ve always allowed the artist to have control over their career. I’m not their parent or puppet master, it’s not my job to control them. My job is to take what they envision their career to be and make it reality to the best of my abilities. I’m here to guide and advise, not to dictate their life and career. We might not see eye to eye on some things, but at the end of the day, it has to come down to trusting each other.