The already highly-publicized IFPI Global Music Report that was released yesterday had some interesting Canadian content beyond that of the placement of Justin Bieber, Drake and The Weeknd in the top Ten of Best-Selling Artists of 2015.
The weighty tome also included a full chapter on the remarkable success story of The Weeknd. It began by noting that “one of the biggest artist stories of 2015 was multi-talented Canadian singer, songwriter and producer The Weeknd, who became a huge breakout star with major hits such as 'Can’t Feel My Face,' 'The Hills' and the very appropriately named 'Earned It.'
“While great music is the bedrock on which every artist’s career is built, The Weeknd’s international success shows that careful planning and long term commitment from both the artist and the team around them are absolutely critical.”
The report explained that “For the release of his third album, Beauty Behind the Madness, featuring guest appearancesfrom Labrinth, Ed Sheeran and Lana Del Rey, in August last year, both artist and label had serious ambitions to grow his success much further.”
It quoted Andrew Kronfeld, executive vice president, marketing at Universal Music Group, as saying ““Our job is to take artists who are doing well in one part of the world and internationalise their success. The Weeknd was already well known in the US and Canada and we knew that with the quality of Beauty Behind the Madness and a carefully thought out campaign we had the perfect opportunity to build on that globally.”
When the soundtrack to one of the most highly anticipated movies of last year, Fifty Shades of Grey, was being put together in 2014, The Weeknd and Universal Music knew that it was an ideal platform to expand awareness of his ground-breaking music to new parts of the world.
The story notes that the placement of “Earned It” as the lead single from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack was a real breakthrough on the road to international domination. The song hit number one on iTunes in 47 territories, reached the top ten on the singles charts in almost a dozen countries, including hits for the first time in the UK (4 in singles chart), New Zealand (7), and Sweden (7) and most impressively was nominated for an Academy Award.
“As soon as 'Earned It' came out we could see just how big a global audience The Weeknd was attracting,” says Kronfeld. “The song was such a massive hit in so many different countries that it was the spark that set him up to reach so many new fans internationally.”
The story also notes that “'The Hills' and 'Can’t Feel My Face' followed as singles and the campaign to break The Weeknd moved into a higher gear with extended worldwide touring and promotion, including a deal with Uber in The Weeknd’s home town of Toronto which gave Uber users the chance to meet the artist and attend his sold out show.
By the time Beauty Behind the Madness was released in August The Weeknd’s fan base had become so global that the album hit the top ten in over 10 national charts and topped iTunes in more than 80 countries.
Beauty Behind the Madness was Spotify’s most streamed album of 2015 worldwide, contributing to The Weeknd’s total to date of well over a billion streams on the service, and in addition to his Oscar nomination for "Earned It" The Weeknd began 2016 with two Grammy Awards for "Earned It" and Beauty Behind the Madness. “The Weeknd has always been incredibly cool,” says Kronfeld. “Now he’s incredibly cool and the newest global superstar.”
More Canadian content in the IFPI Report came in a chapter on Music Cities that made mention of Toronto and Mayor John Tory.
The report noted that “Cities around the world are increasingly realising the economic potential of music alongside its long acknowledged cultural and social benefits. IFPI’s national affiliate Music Canada campaigned for Toronto to leverage music to benefit its economy based on the strategies deployed in Austin, Texas. It pointed out that Austin is much smaller than Toronto, the hub of Canada’s recording industry, but that the US city was using music far more effectively to generate jobs, taxes and growth.
“The campaign secured the engagement of City Hall and the Mayor of Toronto, John Tory, has put leveraging music at the heart of his political agenda. This successful campaign prompted interest from other cities around the world, looking for a “roadmap” so that they too could tap into the power of music.
As a result, in 2015 IFPI and Music Canada published their The Mastering of a Music City report. It sets out simple steps that policymakers worldwide can take to help develop their music economies. “
As the Report pointed out, this document has provided a strategic blueprint for many cities around the globe.
It also quotes Mayor Tory on the topic: “Growing our music industry is key to driving economic growth, job creation and investment. A city’s passion for music is important in attracting talented people to visit and to stay. The Mastering of a Music City report reinforces in my mind the real potential of what supporting the music industry can do to transform and grow a real 21st century city.”