The label’s efforts paid off: Last week, “Rumors” (which Reed produced) debuted at No.4 on the Hot 100, becoming Lizzo’s highest pop chart launch and his third hit. in the top 5. These successful debuts are the latest testimony to Nice Life’s fruitful relationship with the artist, having signed her in 2015 in a joint venture with Atlantic Records. While some labels may have abandoned Lizzo in the years since before she had a chance to explode, patience is the guiding philosophy of Nice Life, which prides itself on having a long-term approach. end of artists’ careers.
Reed – an artist, songwriter, and producer himself – is familiar with the pressures of being a creator in the modern music industry. In 2013 he released an album under the performance name Wallpaper on Boardwalk / Epic, followed last year by Bedroom, published by Nice Life under its own name. In addition to Lizzo, he has written and produced hit tracks for an impressive roster of artists, including Jason Derulo, Pitbull, Twenty One Pilots and Fifth Harmony.
These experiences informed Reed’s work as CEO of the label. In February 2020, Nice Life began incorporating unrecoverable mental health funds into its artist deals, and also retroactively extended them to the rest of the list. “I always try to help our artists live better and feel better,” says Reed, whose perspective extends to the label’s artist development philosophy: giving artists the ability to breathe and to breathe. grow, but also know when to grow.
“I like to try to bring my experience … I challenge them to improve themselves, to also know where to draw the line and to try to be a kind and supportive partner at all times.”
Reed formed the label with his manager, Nice Life COO Larry Wade, in 2014 after Atlantic CEO Craig kallman and senior vice president A&R Brandon davis asked the men if they had ever considered creating a label. Having worked as an artist, producer, and songwriter for years, Reed wasn’t sure he was “made” to be an executive, but put aside his reservations and took the plunge. It wasn’t long before he realized that Nice Life could become a vehicle for his center-left sensibilities.
“I realized that the philosophies that I had as a music maker, that the label would actually give me the opportunity to build a platform around these ideas,” Reed explains. “Let’s give voice to artists who maybe wouldn’t otherwise, find people who not only make things happen musically, but who have something to say and drive really different narratives.
After bringing Reed’s friend and former roommate Bradley Haering as managing director in 2015, the label signed Lizzo, who had a loyal following but needed the right team to help take her career to the next level. “With Lizzo, just when we all met her, her personality and presence was just plain undeniable,” recalls Haering, who was promoted to label president this year. “You sit in a room with her for five minutes and you’re like, ‘Yeah, let’s go. I’m here to help in any way I can. ‘”
In addition to the label, Nice Life also has a publishing arm whose roster includes songwriters Nate Mercereau, Tele, Bigman, Billy Lemos, Cara Salimando, DJ Stanfill, King Garbage and Tom Peyton. The publishing industry often intersects with the label side: Mercereau recently launched How So Records, an imprint under the Nice Life banner, through which he signed the emerging artist St. Panther. Elsewhere, Tele (born Steven Cheung) did production work on both “Truth Hurts” and “Rumors” for Lizzo.
While acknowledging Lizzo’s mega-star potential, Reed, Wade, and Haering also believed in the power of slow building, and they took their time cultivating her fan base.
“These three years that he has built his tour, from [her] first show in LA, Stormzy opening at Echo, less than a year later to headlining the Echoplex, less than a year later to headliner [the] Founded and continues to build its platform and audience, ”says Haering.
On the recording front, Nice Life and Atlantic released a series of Lizzo singles starting in 2016, including future mega-hits “Good As Hell” and “Truth Hurts”, but it only exploded. when this last piece was used in the Netflix Film Someone great in 2019 – a placement that coincided with the song’s now iconic “DNA test” lyrics catching fire as a TikTok meme.
Once the song blew up, Atlantic performed what Reed describes as a “full turn to the left,” going from working on Missy Elliott’s track “Tempo” to putting her full weight behind “Truth Hurts,” which ultimately reached number 1 on the Hot 100 in September 2019. The success of this song, in turn, gave “Good As Hell” – originally released in March 2016 – a “second life,” Reed says.
The rest of Nice Life’s roster includes several emerging groups: LA indie-pop group (and Atlantic joint venture) The Marias, who released their debut album, MOVIE THEATER, in June; the psych-pop singer-songwriter Junior Mesa, whose EP, Freak show, was released in August; St. Panther, the singer-rapper-producer who signed in partnership with How So Records from Mercereau; and singer-songwriter John-Robert (signed in a joint venture with Warner Records), whom Reed calls “reminiscent of Jeff Buckley.” Similar to Lizzo, Reed is also A&R and producer for a number of these acts, bringing his production prowess to tracks by John-Roberts, Junior Mesa and other signers.
Lizzo, the label’s most popular artist by far, recorded a total of 3.2 billion US on-demand streams, according to MRC Data. His top three Hot 100 singles – “Truth Hurts” (# 1), “Good As Hell” (# 3) and “Rumors” – topped Billboard’s R & B / Hip-Hop song tally, while “Good As Hell ”and“ Truth Hurts ”also peaked at No. 1 on Pop Airplay. His first album, Because I love you, reached 4th place on the Billboard 200 in September 2019.
The first album of the Marias, MOVIE THEATER, peaked at No. 176 on the Billboard 200, No. 22 on Alternative Albums, No. 35 on Top Rock & Alternative Albums, and No. 12 on vinyl albums. Additionally, the album’s first single, “Hush”, reached No. 3 on Adult Alternative Airplay, No. 33 on Alternative Airplay, and No. 26 on Rock & Alternative Airplay.
Based in Los Angeles, Nice Life has a total of 10 employees, four of whom were hired during the pandemic. Despite the small staff, Haering calls the tight-knit team a “small army” compared to the small crew they were launched with in 2015.
Lizzo naturally remains a top priority for the label, which is currently strategizing around releasing new tracks leading to the debut of their next second studio album. While noting that their overall strategy with the singer remains to “do as much of Lizzo as possible,” Wade says they are also looking to be a bit more deliberate with future releases.
“Now it’s a little more ‘Okay, we have to be really intentional and thoughtful about how we post and what we post, more than normal just because of the eyeballs that are on her now.” , he said.
Elsewhere, Nice Life is scheduled for a September 10 release for John-Robert’s upcoming single, while Junior Mesa is currently working on new music to be released later this year or early next year. Meanwhile, The Marias will embark on a U.S. tour starting September 22, while the label hopes to organize full-scale tours for John-Robert, Junior Mesa and St. Panther, whose first major tours were canceled once the pandemic struck last year. .
On an executive level, the label recently signaled its intention to synchronize more with the hiring of Madeline Ziecker, who was appointed Creative Licensing Director late last year.