Our Favorite Signing Stories • 2013


Label: Stoney Creek Records
Management: Stephen Linn/Broken Bow Music Group, 615-306-9407
Booking: Kevin Neal/Buddy Lee Attractions, 615-244-4336
Publicity: brittany.perlin@ dashboardmedia.biz
Web: http://parmalee.com

Perhaps no other band has such a remarkable—and violent—signing saga. Parmalee lead vocalist and guitarist Matt Thomas, along with his brother Scott, cousin Barry and best friend Josh, grew up in and around eastern North Carolina where they built a large and loyal fan base. When music industry peers urged them to move to Nashville, the quartet set up house there in an RV, developing a writing and recording relationship with New Voice Entertainment’s David Fanning. It was he who introduced the band to Broken Bow Music Group’s Benny Brown who was impressed with the demos and wanted to schedule a showcase. The band were suddenly hit with a calamity, however, when, one night after a show, Matt and Scott were robbed at gunpoint. Shots were fired. Scott, who had a concealed weapons permit, fired back. He sustained three wounds that left him in a coma, with a five percent chance of survival. Miraculously, due to tremendous fan support (for medical bills) and encouragement, Scott made a full recovery and played a crucial rescheduled showcase, which led to the band inking with Stoney Creek.

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Bleach Blonde
Label: Rise Records
Management: Mike Bachta and David Lovett / Working Group Management
Publicity: Mike Cubillos / Earshot Media, [email protected]
Web: http://thebleach blonde.com
A&R: Sean Heydom

Danny Stillman’s first band, Drop Dead Gorgeous, was signed to Portland, OR’s Rise by virtue of a badgering campaign executed through Myspace. “We had our fans email Rise Records and a couple other labels,” divulges the vocalist. After two albums, the rockers were upstreamed to a major, but the experience was less than they’d hoped. “Majors tend to spend money in the wrong places,” Stillman contends, noting they never surpassed their recording costs. “We like Rise because they’re strict with their budget and don’t overspend.” While negotiating their new four-record deal, they managed to work a proposed six exclusive T-shirt designs down to four. Stillman’s advice for unsigned artists is to network like crazy. “It’s like six degrees of separation,” he declares. “Don’t underestimate the power of social networking. That’s really your biggest tool.”


Label: Dim Mak Records
Publicity: John Ochoa / MSO, 818-380-0400 ext. 231, [email protected]
Web: http://fb.com/useproxy
A&R: Steve Akoi / Dim Mak Records

Russian beatmaker Proxy first shook listeners with his own label, Mako Records. When Turbo Recordings caught wind of his massive sound through Myspace in 2006, they snatched up the Eastern sensation. With that deal handling distribution in all territories except America, they needed to fill the gap. Dim Mak, Steve Akoi’s label, closed that space. “Steve Akoi is a fan, which makes things much easier,” offers Proxy. “He is a man I have great respect for. He made a great label with his signings and the team there is superb.” Most importantly, aligning with a label that specializes in his genre was key. “Luck plays a factor, too,” he advises, “but you have to make your own luck!”

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Label: Kill Rock Stars
Publicity: [email protected]
Web: http://handssounds.com
A&R: Portia Sabin

It takes more than hard work to build a career. An artist or band really must take stock of what they’ve been doing so far and evaluate what is working—and what is not. Says Hands frontman Geoff Halliday, “We started realizing playing every week wasn’t getting us where we wanted to go. That’s when we got serious about putting together a team with a publicist and a manager.” The act also began working with The Windish Agency to handle bookings, who Halliday partly credits for having label Kill Rock Stars [KRS], enter the picture. Hands was placed on a bill with fellow Windish clients, Milagres, who were already signed to KRS. It was at that show that the burgeoning Hands landed on the label’s radar as the company’s people showed up early enough to catch its set, which led to a contract.

J. Sol_WPJ. Sol
Publishing Company: Imagem Music USA
Management: Crowd Control Agency
Publicity: NA
Web: http://reverbnation.com/jsol
A&R: Tunde Balogun

Just a few months ago, Brooklyn singer-songwriter J. Sol found himself signing a worldwide co-publishing agreement with Read & Write Publishing/Imagem Music USA along with producer Arch Tha Boss as part of an ongoing project with Ludacris. The publishing deal, though J. Sol did not disclose many details, will span multiple years. This is the first time J. Sol has had a publishing deal and he says, “It takes a load off you. You can be more creative now. In the past, I’d have to schedule studio sessions, find a producer.”


Halo Circus
Label: Manimal Vinyl/Badlands Records
Management: Regime Inc. / Ivory Daniels, Mike Renault, Matthew Hager
Booking: CAA / Jeff Frasco
Legal: Lapolt Law / Dina Lapolt & Katrina Bleckley
Contact: 76stepsmusic @gmail.com
Web: http://halocircus.com
A&R: Paul Beahan

Matthew Hager is a veteran of the music industry whose songwriting and production resume includes work with Duran Duran, Simply Red, Mindi Abair, Mandy Moore and many others. Allison Iraheta was a teen sensation (American Idol) and released one album for Jive/BMG. Their pairing materialized when her guitarist David Immerman asked Hager’s publisher if they could write together. The two wrote a song and the rest unfolded like something out of a movie. But these industry vets wanted to avoid the typical pitfalls. “The truth is a lot of major labels can’t afford to listen with their heart,” says Hager. “The majority love Allison’s voice but they want her to sound like Pink or cut songs by other people. I told her, ‘You’ve already been through the machine. You don’t have to do that.’ This is a band, and every time we play we get new fans.” Their signing with Manimal Vinyl came through John Taylor of Duran Duran. He knew Hager from their work together on a David Bowie tribute album. Taylor was friends with the label owner and recommended he give Halo Circus a listen. Paul Beahan did just that, catching a show at L.A.’s Hotel CafО. He signed them shortly afterward.


Run River North
Label: Nettwerk Music Group
Management: Pat Magnarella, Kyle Griner, Keith Lazorchak / PMM, Inc.
Booking: David Levine / WME
Legal: Steve Plinio / Greenberg Traurig, LLP
Publicity: Penny Palmer/[email protected]
Web: home.runrivernorth.com
A&R: Rachel Cragg

Los Angeles indie-pop sextet, Run River North, took a practical approach to writing, recording and promoting their debut album. Focusing on recording one song and releasing an accompanying video per month, the act figured that in a year they would have a 12-song full-length to distribute. Halfway through, however, they garnered attention from Honda, were surprised with a booking on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and signed to a label. “Since we didn’t have a space to record, we thought it’d be funny to record in our Hondas,” says frontman Alex Hwang. “We were hoping somebody from Honda would see the videos and a couple of people we knew worked at the ad agency. They bumped the video upward to the higher-ups and Honda began a campaign with us.” Trusting in their managers, who they initially met through a festival booking with Anberlin (as Kyle Griner managed them, as well), Run River North signed on with Nettwerk and set to work on their debut release with esteemed producer, Phil Ek.

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