Member Feature: Red Bull Records - Merlin

Member Feature: Red Bull Records

The Merlin Member Feature Series is a monthly series showcasing companies from across our global independent membership of record labels, distributors, artist management companies, and other rightsholders. This month’s piece features Red Bull Records

Founded in 2007, Red Bull Records has emerged as a leader in cultivating artists with global reach. Operating out of offices in Los Angeles and London, the international independent record label has housed a genre-diverse roster of talent, including AWOLNATION, Albert Hammond Jr, Beartooth, Blxst, James Vickery, The Aces, Twin Atlantic, and more. Expanding its suite of services, Red Bull Records established its Publishing division in 2008, representing songwriters and producers such as Eric Aukstikalnis (Dolly Parton, Galantis) and LordQuest (SiR, ScHoolboy Q). The company’s unwavering commitment to artist development has resulted in Diamond, Platinum, and Gold-certified successes from culture-driving acts around the world.

“At Red Bull Records, we’re dedicated to forging meaningful partnerships with our artists that amplify their unique vision. Our ethos is rooted in a commitment to nurturing long-term artist relationships, with a focus on shaping culture through the power of their music. Innovation lies at the heart of our approach, as we continue to bring music to market in creative new ways. We challenge industry norms and strive to create our own best practice models every time. The artist is at the center of everything we do, and we believe with them as our North Star, we can’t go wrong.”

Nikki Cox, Chief Marketing Officer, Red Bull Records

Since the label’s inception, the late Red Bull Energy Drink Co-Founder Dietrich Mateschitz envisioned a paradigm of disruption for Red Bull Records. Run by a passionate team with Managing Director, Greg Hammer at the helm, the company continues to identify groundbreaking talent early on, equipped with road maps for artist-friendly, long-term partnerships. Among its first signings, the label galvanized the rise of flagship alumnus AWOLNATION. The band’s 2010 introductory EP, Back From Earth yielded what would become a generational anthem—the ubiquitous “Sail.” The single went on to receive Diamond certification and log the fourth longest run on the Billboard Hot 100 at 79 weeks. Along the way, Red Bull Records introduced listeners to its first international signing, Scottish alternative rock outfit Twin Atlantic. As the acclaimed group became arena headliners in Europe, their album Free achieved a BPI Gold certification in the UK, representing a commercial high for the band.

In 2013, Red Bull Records welcomed metalcore mavericks, Beartooth. Over the succeeding decade, they’ve gained notoriety as hard rock competitors with crossover appeal. The award-winning group notably earned a Gold plaque for their single “In Between” and has achieved over 1.3 billion career streams. In the same time, the label expanded its influence across hip-hop and R&B. Upon signing the breakout West Coast rapper and singer Blxst, his debut solo projects No Love Lost and Before You Go drew critical acclaim, topping charts and landing on tastemaker lists. Ahead of his first pair of GRAMMY nominations, Associated Press crowned him, “the preeminent voice of Los Angeles R&B” while Billboard named him their “R&B/Hip-Hop Rookie of the Year.”

Red Bull Records has propelled its roster expansion via joint venture partnerships with cutting-edge imprints, including Blxst’s EVGLE, JUNO-winning producer WondaGurl’s Wonderchild, and indie innovators Mind of a Genius. Ushering in the next generation of scene-shapers, the label has recently welcomed Jay Millian, Joony, Peter $un, JUGGER, and Chris LaRocca.

In 2023, Red Bull Records’ roster grew to fourteen acts – the most the label has housed in its history. The resulting output – six albums and ten EPs among countless singles, music videos, and campaigns from artists across the genre spectrum. Among the new signees comes South London R&B artist, James Vickery. The soulful rising talent first gained recognition with his captivating COLORS session (35M views), ahead of releasing his breakout EP Overture, with notable features including Kenny Beats and SG Lewis. As a partially deaf musician, Vickery is breaking all barriers and redefining what the next wave of UK R&B looks like. Red Bull Records will support Vickery’s vision this year with new music to come.

“It’s not just about one style of music for us, it’s about the world an artist can build around themselves. We partner with artists who are starting trends, not following them. We sign artists for the world, not just a specific territory. Our goal is to foster longevity and career success across the roster, while providing opportunities outside the scope of the traditional music industry. We’re excited for what 2024 has in store – we’re going to introduce brand new artists who are carving a lane of their own, as well as familiar voices who are reinventing themselves in ways you’d never expect.”

Greg Hammer, Managing Director, Red Bull Records

In June, the label delivered two pivotal albums from the indie/alternative side of its roster. Kicking off Pride month in the US, indie-pop band The Aces released their third studio album, I’ve Loved You For So Long. A love letter to their teenage selves, the record acted as a vessel to unearth their religious trauma, self-discovery, and queer joy in an effervescent time capsule. With over 30 million streams and counting, it clocked Billboard debuts at #4 on Alternative New Artist Albums and #25 on Heatseekers charts. The album attracted praise from preeminent titles and tastemakers including Variety, USA Today, ELLE, Paste Magazine, and more. The Aces set out on a 35-date world tour across the fall, playing in (and selling out) Japan and Australia for the first time in their careers. I’ve Loved You For So Long landed on several ‘Best of 2023’ lists including Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, OUT Magazine, among others. Next up, The Aces will perform at international festivals this summer before supporting Goth Babe on a US run in September/October. That same month, Grammy-nominated guitarist and founding member of The Strokes, Albert Hammond Jr, dropped his 19-track album, Melodies On Hiatus. Featuring brilliant collaborations with the likes of GoldLink, Matt Helders, and Steve Stevens, it received critical acclaim from the likes of Pitchfork, GQ, NME, and American Songwriter.

Throughout the summer, label newcomer and singer-songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Chris LaRocca made his Red Bull Records/Wonderchild debut with multiple EPs that culminated in the poignant album, i cried my eyes out. Executive produced by WondaGurl, LaRocca effortlessly traverses indie rock, soulful R&B, and powerhouse pop. His vulnerability on issues with the music industry, falling out of love, and finding his voice are triumphant moments on the record that have new audiences rooting for him. LaRocca sprung into 2024 with a passion project-turned award-winning short film in partnership with cinematographer, writer, and director James Arthurs. The pair brought “linger” to life, a moving visual piece soundtracked by LaRocca’s song of the same name. Finding inspiration in the life and work of Richard Crandell, the late guitarist who battled essential tremor disorder, the short sees LaRocca play an established musician from his glory days on stage, to his darkest moments consumed by tremors. Already, “linger” has earned “Best Music Video” at the Oniros Film Awards and New York International Film Awards.

In October, billion-streaming rock band Beartooth released their fifth and best-performing studio album, The Surface. Pivoting from the aggressive metal they’re celebrated for, the band explored a more accessible rock sound and hardcore fans were not disappointed. Lead singer and songwriter Caleb Shomo got vulnerable and turned ten years of depression into a new chapter of self-love and positivity. A proven success story in the label’s ability to nurture long-term artist development, the project has earned Beartooth audiences in uncharted markets and career highs. The record registered #1 debuts on Billboard’s Hard Rock Albums and Luminate’s Current Alternative Albums charts, alongside their first #1 on Mediabase Active Rock and Billboard Mainstream Rock Airplay charts for the single “Might Love Myself.” Currently, their second single “I Was Alive” is climbing the Active Rock charts as the band conquers their North American tour. With 37 of 40 dates sold out, including their first sold-out Los Angeles play at The Wiltern, Beartooth continues to prove they’re one of the most exciting bands in the metalcore space.

On the hip-hop side, Blxst made waves with two fan-favorite EPs, Sixtape 3 with Bino Rideaux and Just For Clarity 2, featuring Larry June, Terrace Martin, and more. The latter spawned the single “Passionate” featuring Roddy Ricch, which peaked at #18 on Rhythm and #23 on Urban radio charts. In addition to earning two iHeartRadio Music Awards nominations this year, Blxst toured Sixtape 3 at sold-out shows along the West Coast in the fall, capped by a packed performance at Life Is Beautiful in Las Vegas. Next up, Blxst will make his debut appearance at Coachella in April, bringing new music and special guests to the desert.

Bringing 2023 to a close, Red Bull Records launched its inaugural series “A Conversation In” which seeks to create space for underrepresented voices in the music industry through engaging panels and networking opportunities. The first topic drove awareness around the creative community with a discussion on music video production led by Tabitha Denholm (Women Under The Influence), Val Vega, Alisa Ramirez (The Aces), and Silken & Weinberg. Attracting a capacity crowd with overwhelming requests for another event, the label cut through the noise of GRAMMY weekend in February 2024 with its second edition, spotlighting the songwriting community. To hundreds of professionals from all sectors of the industry, speakers Erin McAnally (Songwriters of North America), Autumn Rowe, Nate Cyphert, Eric Aukstikalnis, Talia Rubino, and Simon Wilcox shared valuable insights, challenges, and policies impacting the songwriting business.

As Red Bull Records continues to elevate unique voices and burgeoning talent, the coming year will see more disruptive conversations, boundary-pushing collaborations, and artist development initiatives across the roster.

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