Lorde’s NYC A&R Man’s Lucky Day
How does a teenager from Devonport, Auckland get plucked from relative obscurity to become a worldwide chart-topping phenomenon? Once-in-a-generation talent helps, but those gifts need to be paired with music execs who have the ability to recognize and shepherd potential stars through the industry.
Enter “Wizard of Oz” of mainstream music Jason Flom, the 53-year-old head of Lava Records, recently profiled by Matthew Kassel in The New York Observer. One of the great, under-sung hitmakers of the past 30 years, Flom “arguably possesses one of the biggest pop culture footprints of the past three decades,” with a lineup of musical discoveries that include Tori Amos, Stone Temple Pilots, Twisted Sister, Matchbox 20, Jewel, Kid Rock, Sugar Ray, Hootie & the Blowfish, Katy Perry, Jessie J, and a certain “Pure Heroine.” Kassell writes: “Lately, Mr. Flom’s instincts have treated him particularly well at Lava. Last year, he signed the young New Zealand prodigy Lorde, now 18, whose debut single, ‘Royals,’ won two Grammys and was perched atop the Billboard Hot 100 for two months.”
The A&R (artist-and-repertoire) man chalks up many of his music industry achievements “to being in the right place at the right time.” He signed Lorde, for example, after finding her among one of dozens of e-mails he receives each day. (“Not sure if it’s for you but wanted to pass along,” read the note, which came from a trusted industry source and included a single link to the teenager’s SoundCloud page.) “My hope when I turn something on is that it’s going to suck or it’s going to be great,” says the man with the golden ear. “Because if it sucks I can delete it, and if it’s great I’ll call you up and say where do I find this guy?”
The rest is pop music history. Lorde’s debut single, “Royals,” sat atop the Billboard Hot 100 for two months—making Lorde the youngest solo artist to earn a U.S. number-one single since Tiffany scored the chart-topping “I Think We’re Alone Now” in 1987—before going on to win 2014 Grammy Awards for “Best Pop Solo Performance” and “Song of the Year.”
A born-and-raised New Yorker, Flom—who downs five shots of espresso each morning, dabbles in standup comedy, and is a founding member of the Innocence Project—began his career at Atlantic Records, where he briefly served as CEO in 2005, and later held tenures at Virgin Records and Capitol Music Group. Lava Records recently celebrated its “lucky 13th anniversary” (eight years at Atlantic and five at Republic) with a party at NYC hotspot Tao, where “Lorde performed to an intimate crowd that included Salman Rushdie, Usher and New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman.”
Article source: Matthew Kassel, New York Observer, October 6, 2014
Word count: 454 words
Music industry executive Jason Flom with Lorde at NYC art gallery. Photo by Carlos Castillo, August 2013.