How hitmaker Joel Corry triumphed as a debut album artist with Another Friday Night

How hitmaker Joel Corry triumphed as a debut album artist with Another Friday Night

Joel Corry has been a consistent hitmaker over the last five years, including the huge No.1 Head & Heart (Atlantic/Perfect Havoc), which has 2,678,116 sales to date in the UK.

But in 2023, the DJ and producer showed that he’s about more than just streaming hits as he graduated to the album format in some style. Another Friday Night (Asylum/Atlantic) is Joel Corry’s debut album, although it’s effectively a greatest hits too.

Released digitally in July and physically in October (when it peaked at No.5), Another Friday Night was again issued in a deluxe vinyl version this month. With 75,305 sales to date (Official Charts Company), including 3,664 physical copies, 500 downloads and 71,141 sales-equivalent streams, Another Friday Night is on course to be the biggest debut album breakthrough of 2023. 

“It's definitely the fastest-selling dance album of the year in the UK at the moment, which is a really impressive stat and an amazing headline for Joel,” Atlantic marketing director Sam Spencer told Music Week. “[Especially as] this audience doesn't tend to consume this music in an album format.”

Another Friday Night has spent 22 weeks in the Top 75 albums and is fast approaching gold status, having gone silver last month.

“Joel’s success has been a real team effort,” said Spencer. “At the label you have Damian [Christian] and his promo team, as well as Alex Harris, Luna Cohen-Solal, Liz Goodwin, Tomas Fraser, Luke Tipping, Liberty Wilson and, of course, [co-presidents] Ed and Briony who are very hands-on. And we work extremely closely with his brilliant management team, Charlie Arme, Neil Hughes and Russell Eslamifar, and have a fantastic relationship with Adam Griffin and Robert Davies at Perfect Havoc. And special shout out to the OG – Tristan Parsons.”

The album was complemented by singles chart entries this summer including Dance Around It with Caity Baser (121,352 sales), Drinkin’ with MK and feat. Rita Ora (70,096 sales), and current single Hey DJ (49,493 sales), which departed the chart during the Christmas season. Like 2020 smash Lonely (No.4 peak, 1,296,509 sales), Hey DJ is a Corry single that doesn’t rely on artist features or DJ collaborators.

Corry also featured on 0800 Heaven with Nathan Dawe and Ella Henderson. The Top 10 single has 390,319 sales to date.

Here, Sam Spencer and A&R director Kevin Christian-Blair take us inside the story of the first phase of Joel Corry’s incredible career so far…

How would you reflect on Joel Corry’s journey to this point, following his 2019 breakthrough?

Kevin Christian-Blair: “It's hard for any artist to shake off a reality TV title, especially from the Geordie Shore era, and transition into a fully-fledged artist. That's quite a rare thing to do. But his determination, talent and drive has really got him there. When I signed Joel with Perfect Havoc at the time, who are a really great partner, to flip a classic garage record and turn that into the most Shazamed record [Sorry] in the UK ever due to another reality TV show, Love Island, was a beautiful way to start it off. The hit run after that first single was really impressive and really incredible. With the artists that we brought into the fray – MNEK, Raye, Charli XCX – it was constantly refreshing the rulebook. It was during a pandemic era where people needed lifting; he was providing the public with party anthems that they can put in any setting in their life, post-pandemic as well. So it's been an amazing collection of records. I'm sure Joel was also surprised at how far it's gone, and how much we've connected with the public over the last couple of years. It's an amazing thing.”

He’s a popular character and seems to have the right attitude towards building a music career…

KCB: “100%. I think you'd find that within the label a lot of people work extra hard for him, because he's such a nice, genuine person. You'll find that across the board – if you speak to agents, they say the same thing. If you speak to nightclubs, if you speak to TV people, it's all the same sort of rhetoric of what a gentleman he is.”

SS: “It also reflects the fact that he is able to sell an album product. I don't think there are many DJs in the world that have a fandom like that. The [dance] audience doesn't inherently listen to this music in an album format. So the fact that he's been able to build up a fandom and transfer that into a following for his music, it just shows how much of a lovable personality he is and how people are invested in him, as well as his music.”

Do you think of this as a debut album or a greatest hits?

SS: “The album was always to wrap up this meteoric rise and the last four or five years of Joel Corry, and then allow Joel to move on to the next phase and what we've got for the next couple of years. It certainly is a combination of greatest hits and it had three new records on it. On the day that we released the [physical] album, it had something like 4.5 billion streams on the album, which is kind of crazy.

“The way that we approached it was, if Mariah Carey defrosts for Christmas, Joel Corry defrosts for summer. We looked at his catalogue streaming and that really takes a lift over the summer period, particularly across Ibiza season. So with that in mind, we came up with the strategy of, let's soft release the digital product at the beginning of summer because there are already all these hits out there. And then let's bookend it at the end of summer with the physical product drop – drive the pre-order through the summer and have a couple of hits. We looked at that physical release week as the peak week for the album to try and get it into the Top 5, which we did.”

So the digital-first roll-out helped you build this towards an official release for the dance audience?

SS: “Yeah, we switched up the release rate. Joel, in previous years, had maybe done two or three big singles per year. As we started this summer campaign, we wanted to really up the release rate and have beats across the summer. That was about listening to what's working in the market, being nimble, changing direction, and looking at the sonics that were working this summer. It was just being a bit more reactive with music across this crescendo to the end of the album campaign.”

KCB: “We always knew that there was an album to bookend it. So maybe compared to the past tempo of releases, it seemed like we were doing a lot more. But it was all part of a plan to pull it all together, get as many releases out there as possible with some clubbier, different textures, different sounds as we progress into the new era. There was the previous Joel Corry, piano house lockdown era and some new fresher takes on what's happening in dance music.”

So you were tapping into new trends and using the various platforms to build these summer hits?

SS: “Yeah, definitely. That’s a real credit to the team here as well, we have to give a particular shout out to Alex Harris and Luna Cohen-Solal from the digital team, who have really helped Joel find his tone of voice on TikTok and learn how to connect the records there. And  this faster pace of release rate wouldn't have been possible if Joel hadn't been up for moving forward with his content and modernising his approach to social media. So that certainly helped us drive the overall awareness and excitement of the record online.” 

KCB: “As we move into an even more digital world – and it is the same for the biggest artists in dance pop music as well as the embryonic artists – everyone has to figure out their tone of voice and utilise the platforms to drive their records and have fun.”

SS: “The beauty of dance music is that it does have an ecosystem on Tik Tok and SoundCloud. I don't think it's any surprise the amount of dance music that we saw charting over the summer, and still charting now.”

With the physical edition in October, three months after the digital release, how did you create the momentum for a Top 5 chart peak?

SS: “Joel is one of the hardest-working artists that we have the pleasure of working with here, and he was the real driving force behind this. The guy literally doesn't stop. I'm sure if you speak to anyone in the team, it is a super-impressive work rate. He worked pretty tirelessly in the lead-up to the album. Across the week one, the marketing team, the digital team, the promo team – shout out to Damian [Christian] in the promo team – all created a jam-packed schedule for him of in-stores, out-stores, radio promo, traditional promo and online promo, that meant that he was all around the country with the concept of Another Friday Night. He was trying to have the Another Friday Night vibe every night of the week, which was getting quite intense by Wednesday of week one! 

“We’ve been to a lot of Joel gigs and a lot of club gigs, and it tends to be your classic young adult clubbing audience. But what we saw with all of these in-stores and out-stores was just how much of a family name he was with parents and children coming along. The shows were a bit earlier in the evening, they were under-14 shows, so it brought in this different audience and it showed that parents were playing the music with their kids and the kids were enjoying it as well. It was a bit tight at the end of the week to land in the Top 5, but everyone dug in and I think we landed it by under 100 sales [Another Friday Night was 61 sales ahead of The Weeknd’s The Highlights]. So we came out of that one feeling good.”

KCB: “Also, you'll never see an artist hanging around more to go and speak to all the fans, natter away and sign anything. He will talk to anyone, take a picture with anyone, he will not let anyone down. He actually takes that quite personally, he very much appreciates the opportunity to meet and connect with fans, which is really endearing.”

How would you say Joel Corry’s sound is evolving as an artist and DJ?

KCB: “It's definitely evolving in the sense that it's getting faster. At its core, I think it's always going to be either uplifting or emotional, and that's where he wins the most. So it's experimenting with the faster pace of things, the club edge that is really prominent now, but also making sure that it has that emotional element so that people can really connect with it at a deeper level. That's what Joel is all about.”

What do you think about the dance scene in general?

KCB: “Just before the pandemic, it felt like we were on the cusp of dance [returning to the charts]. Meduza was the first act that really blew up and went into a new dance era with hits. Since then, it's been evolving, and the pace of these releases is more relentless than ever. But it is a really healthy ecosystem of faster dance, trance, really hard techno SoundCloud stuff, and it’s resonating even more so in Scotland and Ireland and other places. The regional dance [scene] is so healthy and it's such an exciting time for anyone within dance to play with any form of the genre, or get involved with new trends, sounds and sonics – that's what makes it really exciting.”

How has Joel Corry performed in terms of exports for Warner Music?

SS: “Of the 4.7 billion streams Joel’s racked up, 3.6 billion of those are coming from ex-UK. So that is a very significant export for us as Atlantic UK. It's reinforced by his relentless live touring footprint, travelling the globe 365 days a year and playing these hits to everyone. That's not showing any sign of slowing up, he’s been in Ibiza for the last three summers and long may that continue. He's now got the brilliant live footprint and touring schedule, backed up by an album that's racking up millions of streams, hopefully for years to come.”

KCB: “He is willing to go to every part of the earth to play his records and connect with new fans.”

Subscribers can read our Hitmakers feature with Joel Corry here.


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