NEW YORK, NY. (Top40 Charts/ Erian Records) - ERIAN RECORDS, a new independent label, is launching this month with "FLY," the new album by singer-songwriter ELIZABETH WILLS, as its initial digital and retail release.
Aspen, Colorado-based Erian Records is built on an inclusive and boundary-free vision of music, according to label founder, Melissa Wight. This vision is reflected precisely in the label's kick-off release, in which Texas and Colorado-based Elizabeth Wills collaborated in New York with a slate of hit-making co-writers and producers, including the Track Masters, Cory Rooney and Spanador, all of them known for chart-topping smashes in pop, R&B and even hardcore hip-hop. The resulting album, "FLY," is emotive and confessional, with a genuine and distinct songwriter's voice, and at the same time, competitively positioned for Hot AC, triple-A and pop radio, as well as multi-media secondary licensing.
Both Erian and Elizabeth Wills arrive at a moment when independent labels and such emerging female artists as Ingrid Michaelson, Leslie Feist and Colbie Caillat have all benefited from the fluidity of music marketing in the era of new media. Erian aims to embrace all of these paradigm shifts, Wight says, while providing the marketing, promotion and artist development functions of a traditional record label. Paradigm Talent Agency's Marty Diamond is Wills' agent for live bookings, working from Paradigm Music Division's outpost in New York. Wills has upcoming dates lined up around Texas, including Houston, January 23rd, at Warehouse Live and Dallas, February 14th at the House of Blues. A live performance on Fox 4 Good Day Dallas is scheduled for the morning of February 14th.
Album producers the Track Masters - Poke (Jean-Claude Olivier) and Tone (Samuel Barnes) - have produced landmarks of hip-hop by Mary J. Blige, Nas, LL Cool J and Notorious B.I.G, as well as pop crossovers by Jennifer Lopez, Will Smith and many others. Co-producer Alex "Spanador" Mosely pioneered the crossover of hip-hop as a member of the trio Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam. "Elizabeth is a breath of fresh air in a time when one artist mimics the next," says Poke. "Her voice is incredible, and so is the emotion she brings out in people; it's like you see her whole life in her words."
Erian Records was "born of love and necessity," says founder Melissa Wight. The friendship between Wight and Wills, who met in a circle of Colorado horse enthusiasts, deepened when Wills confessed that horse raising was not her first calling, and shared songs from two previous self-released albums with Wight. "I loved her voice, and told her she needed to play. Elizabeth described some disappointing experiences in the music business - and I told her again: she needed to play." With an immediate conviction about Wills' music, Wight arranged local bookings, including an opening spot for Dwight Yoakam, and sought sound advice about starting up a record label, most notably from hip-hop entrepreneurs and street-marketing pioneers Steven and Jonathan Rifkind, principals of SRC and Loud Records. Erian Records, Wight says, will continue to build its roster and develop music in a creative atmosphere free of arbitrary genre lines.
"FLY's" first focus track, "Sweet," is released as a digital single on iTunes and Amazon.com. The track is also released to Triple-A and Hot AC radio; it is already top 20 in play at the format-leading Triple-A station KPRI/San Diego. KSII/El Paso, KCUV/Denver and KPEK/Albuquerque have also added "Sweet" to their rotations.
Wills' compelling live shows are central to the strategy to break the album, says Wight. Wills plays regular live gigs around both of her Texas and Colorado home bases in solo acoustic and full-band set-ups. Recent promotional dates have included performances at the Radio & Records Triple-A Summit, held in August at Boulder, CO, and radio promo appearances at stations in Louisville, KY, Nashville, TN, Fort Myers, FL and West Palm Beach, FL.
Also, 10,000 free download cards have been distributed by college street teams and lifestyle-oriented accounts. Broadband platforms include AOL Music and Yahoo! Music, as well as Elizabeth Wills pages on the social networking sites Myspace.com and Facebook.com. Online marketing is being directed by industry veteran Randy Roberts, with support by NetReach.
"FLY" is representative of increasingly fertile alliances between open-minded music makers crossing the format boundaries of music: among them, Everlast, who became a platinum-selling acoustic singer/songwriter following his rap career with House of Pain; Kanye West and Jon Brion, co-producers of "Late Registration"; and Timbaland and Nelly Furtado, whose collaboration "Loose" has had a two-year worldwide run - not to mention the many R&B and hip-hop creatives whose personal favorites include Coldplay, Feist and Joni Mitchell.
"Elizabeth Wills reminded me of my favorite pop and R&B singers who write their own great material," Poke says of their first encounter in the studio. "Hers happens to land in the alternative adult format. We tried to make her music appeal to the broadest spectrum of people possible." He adds: "It was a broadening experience for us all, because we'd never worked with that kind of an artist, and she'd never worked with our kind of music, either. Music is music; at the end of the day, you have to compete with the Coldplays and the Timbalands of the world, all lined up on one album chart. If it feels good, it's good music."