Music Connection's Favorite Signing Stories of 2016

MC's Favorite Signing Stories of 2016

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Tombs
Date Signed: Aug. 16, 2016
Label: Metal Blade Records
Band Members: Mike Hill, guitar, vocals; Charlie Schmid, drums; Ben Brand, bass; Evan Void, guitar; Fade Kainer, synth, vocals.
Management: Mark Vieira - Good Fight
Booking: Ron Martinez - Crawl Space Booking (for N. America)
Legal: N/A
Publicity: nikki.law@metalblade.com
Web: tombscult.com
A&R: Mike Faley - Metal Blade Records

Sometimes, being signed to a reputable label is not the be–all end–all. Such is the case for Mike Hill’s Brooklyn metal outfit TOMBS who recently completed their contract with Relapse Records—after three LP’s and an EP—and are now with Metal Blade. “We were not dissatisfied with Relapse,” Hill says. “We just wanted to test the waters and see if there’s any other opportunities out there.” Having the right team in place was instrumental. “[Our manager] had a relationship with Metal Blade. ... Lo and behold [the label was] interested and it just kind of fell together. … If you talked to me maybe five or 10 years ago I probably would just want to keep everything DIY, but today I just feel like team-building is very important.” TOMBS returns to the studio in January to prep for a Spring 2017 release.

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Ashleigh Smith
Date Signed: Nov. 16, 2014
Label: Concord Records
Management: Monica A. Young - Blue Key Management; Chris Dunn
Booking: N/A
Legal: Law Offices of R. Vaughn Gill
Publicity: Mike.Wilpizeski@concordmusic group.com
Web: TheAshleighSmith.com
A&R: Chris Dunn - Concord Records

In 2012, while finishing her undergraduate jazz studies at the University of North Texas, Ashleigh Smith competed in the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocals competition, and finished first runner-up to French-born singer Cyrille Aimee. Not winning turned out to be a blessing for the Georgia-bred, Dallas-based artist. She finished her degree, continued touring as a backup singer for R&B star Chrisette Michele and took the time to figure out her essence as an artist and authentic vibe as a vocalist. “I was raised around a lot of different kinds of music, from rock and R&B to gospel and jazz,” Smith says. “All of those things are a part of me, and I wanted to figure out a way to showcase [my diverse sound]. When I returned to the competition in 2014, I felt a lot more grounded in who I was.” Smith not only won this time, but benefited from a newly added prize bonus: the opportunity to sign a deal with top jazz label Concord Records, home to two of Smith’s idols, Dianne Reeves and Esperanza Spalding. Smith showed up for her sessions prepared, with a budget, a batch of demo’d originals and a detailed game plan. The album features six originals and four covers, including Michele’s “Love Is You.”

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