“I’ve been here about two years now and haven’t released an album yet,” Breland says, calling from a tour stop in Boston on a 7-degree morning. “My momentum is a direct result of people discovering music at their own pace, checking out playlists, and diving into all these different streaming platforms.”
DSPs have noticed. AppleMusic gave Breland his own radio show, Spotify used him to help launch a 90s country campaign, YouTube named him Artist on the Rise of 2021, and on Monday Amazon Music announced the author- composer behind viral hits like “My Truck” and “Hot Sauce” as their latest breakthrough artist. Only the second country artist to receive the designation (Gabby Barrett was the first in 2020), Breland will receive the platinum treatment from Amazon Music: High-profile placement on playlists, a featured interview on the Country Heat podcast, an Amazon Original recording session, and more.
It’s part of Breland’s goal to not only release an album this year, but to transition into one of Nashville’s most visible creative forces. He’s on the right track, having co-written and guest-starred on tracks like Keith Urban’s “Out the Cage”, Nelly’s “High Horse” and Dierks Bentley’s “Beers on Me”, Breland’s first terrestrial radio hit. . This is in addition to songs under his own name, such as “Throw It Back”, also with Urban, and “Cross Country”.
“I’ve only recently started having success on traditional radio with ‘Beers on Me’ with Dierks and Hardy, but my music has always gotten a lot of airplay. That’s the main thing I have,” says “Over the next few months, Amazon is going to help support what I’m doing and help me grow from a new artist that people are just starting to discover, to hopefully a household name.”
As Senior Music Curator at Amazon Music, Emily Cohen recalls watching Breland’s “My Truck” explode on the platform in 2020, a slice of success that saw the singer climb the ranks of Amazon Music playlists: Fresh Country at the Country Heat Playlist, on the Country Heat station, and now as a Breakthrough Artist.
“It’s a very simple thing to say, but it always starts with the music. Breland was one of the top performing artists of 2020 with ‘My Truck’ and then had one of the hottest tracks on Country Heat of 2021 with ‘Throw It Back’,” Cohen explains. “His breakout moment came in August 2021, with his flows increasing 2.5x globally from the previous month. So, as a curator, I’m always on the lookout for the hits. And Breland is definitely known as someone in our department who makes successes that our customers really appreciate.
New artist programs are a key part of streaming services – each DSP has their own take on how to showcase emerging talent. Chris Graham, Amazon’s global co-head of artist relations, says their campaign stands out for the time it dedicates to a featured artist. “Breland is going to see a six to 12 month campaign from us. This allows us to focus on more than one track or single. We plug it into all of our biggest looks that we can give an artist,” he says. “We will support him for the long term and we are committed to him. Longevity is really what sets it apart.
But Amazon Music also invests in developing new artists, especially independent artists who, unlike Breland, aren’t yet signed to a label and don’t have a support system in place. On Monday, the service officially announced its Breakthrough Development Fund, which provides financial support to independent artists in areas where their careers may be lacking: with a PR campaign, a social media team or with live streaming technology. , for example. Amazon Music quietly launched the Breakthrough Development Fund in January with “Fingers Crossed” singer Lauren Spencer-Smith. February’s recipient is Muni Long, the “Hrs and Hrs” hitmaker previously known as songwriter Priscilla Renea. (Although Renea is independent, she has more momentum than some of her peers: her songs have been recorded by Rihanna, Ariana Grande and Miranda Lambert.)
“If we look at Breland, he’s signed to a label, he’s got a strong management team, he’s got access to PR, to his social team – a very wide range of people who are able to support him. But a lot of independent artists don’t always have access to those teams,” says Graham. “So the intent of the Development Fund is to try to open that door so they can take it to the next level.”
Graham won’t disclose exactly how much money Amazon is providing through the fund. It depends, he says, on the needs of the artist. “When we talk about supporting public relations and social campaigns, these things have a different cost. So there is no fixed monetary value that we provide to each artist.
The ultimate goal, according to Graham and Cohen, is to build fans for their selected artists. Of course, this also benefits Amazon Music: the more popular an artist is, the more customers-future-subscribers will search for their songs. This is especially true for the ever-growing number of country fans streaming music. Last fall, Amazon Music’s Country Heat brand surpassed 13 billion streams since launching its first station in October 2016.
“We’ve seen a ton of success,” Cohen said, singling out Breakthrough alum Gabby Barrett. She says to keep an eye out for other up-and-coming artists, especially independent ones. “I just choose the best music, and I feel like the labels pick it up so quickly.”
Last week, January Breakthrough Development Fund recipient Lauren Spencer-Smith signed a deal with Island Records and Republic Records.