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Signing Story: Conrad Sewell

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Conrad Sewell’s quest to become a recording artist began at an early age. “I started recording demos and sending them out when I was eight years old,” he relates. However, growing up in Brisbane, AU frustrated him. "I liked pop music, but pop was such a dirty word in Australia that I felt I had to go to Europe or America to achieve my dream." It took him a few years, but eventually he did just that.

When Sewell turned 18, he moved to the U.K. and maxed out a credit card to make a demo. “Because of that I have bad credit to this day,” he laughs. But that demo led to a record deal. “I had some success in Europe,” he recalls, “but it fizzled out.” He learned an important lesson though, one that he applied almost immediately. He explains, “I came to the conclusion that songwriting would get me to the next level. If I wrote great songs, people would take me more seriously.” There was only one problem. “Most of the songs I wrote before were pretty shitty.” Obviously, Sewell had to up his game.

He started working with the best songwriters he could find. “I learned a lot from them,” he says. Indeed, he did so well he scored a deal with Universal Music Publishing and moved to Los Angeles. There he met Jamie Hartman, who had worked with Christina Aguilera, Emma Bun- ton, Joss Stone, Jason Mraz, Anastacia and Natalie Imbruglia. Sewell raves, “Jamie was the first person to challenge me, and that made me a better writer and artist.”

“I came to the conclusion that songwriting would get me to the next level."

With strong songs, a striking image and soulful vocals, Sewell signed with Electric Feel Management, who introduced him to 300 Entertainment. “I went to Lyor Cohen’s house (founder and CEO of 300 Entertainment) and showcased for him.” Cohen is a 30-year music industry veteran with an impressive track record as a label executive at Def Jam and Warner Music Group.

“We hit it off,” Sewell exclaims. “Lyor is such a pitbull, I knew he would never give up on what I’m trying to do,” he asserts. “I felt very comfortable signing with his new label.” Since then, Sewell has become a YouTube sensation with millions of views, and toured with Ed Sheeran.

There was, however, one quirk in his ascent—his image as a long- haired pretty boy. “You know,” he says, “whatever people want to cling on to is fine with me.” More important is Sewell’s attitude and perspective. “I wasn’t ready before. But now I’m ready to be myself. I know what I want to say and how I want my music to affect people. I’m finally ready to live my dream.”