Concord Label Group UK & Europe MD Fred Gillham has recalled how enigmatic Swedish band Ghost became the unlikeliest of TikTok stars.
Spotify streams of the masked rockers' 2019 single Mary On A Cross have soared past 315 million since it went viral last year after soundtracking a fanmade video of clips from the Netflix show Stranger Things.
The track, which was released on Loma Vista Recordings, part of the Concord Recorded Music family of labels, peaked at No.28 in the UK, where it has sales of 230,768 according to Official Charts Company data. As far as Gillham is concerned, the lion's share of the credit should go to the group's frontman Tobias Forge.
“Those things are so organic and so great when they happen,” Gillham told Music Week. “Tobias has such a clear vision and that moment was one which I think he was able to lean into it a little bit. But it doesn't change what his core strategy is for Ghost and what he wants to achieve.
"[Distribution partner] Universal was great on that as well and helped us with some best practices, and Loma Vista were fantastic in their creation of content and assets. We put a decent budget together and moved very quickly to lean into it in the key markets around the world."
We love these streams, but equally we need to turn them into longevity and use them as an opportunity to show people what the world of Ghost is
Fred Gillham, Concord Label Group
Ghost's most recent album, 2022's Impera, has sold 42,028 units, having charted in the UK at a career-best No.2 in March last year. Their subsequent TikTok success last summer provided a golden opportunity to further spread the word.
"The focus for us was how many of those new fans we could bring back and introduce to the world of Ghost, which is an exciting, amazing and unique place in its own right, so that was always our mission," said Gillham. "Yes, we love these streams, but equally we need to turn them into longevity and use them as an opportunity to show people what the world of Ghost is. I think we did that really successfully.”
Elsewhere, Tears For Fears’ comeback album, The Tipping Point, was another hit for the company. After a strong first week in which it moved 24,462 copies to also chart at No.2, the record has continued to find favour with the public, racking up current sales of 48,402.
"The volume we ended up doing that [opening] week was beyond our expectations and that's what happens when an incredible cultural band puts out their first record out for 17 years," said Gillham, who discusses the rebrand and management shakeup at the firm in the latest issue of Music Week.
“With the chart as it is, you can try and kind of force volume into that first week, but to see us in the Top 10 for the second week running was paramount to what that record was about and what we managed to achieve there because it didn't drop off, it stuck around. The band created a bit of a moment, because it was a real event. We're all very much still riding on that high and hopefully there'll be more to come in our partnership with the band.”
There are artists coming through now who listened to Kidz Bop when they were kids
Fred Gillham, Concord Label Group
Gillham, who joined Concord from UMG in 2019 and was promoted to his current role just over 12 months ago, also touched upon the success of the company's internationally successful kids’ music franchise, Kidz Bop, which is now in its 20th year. The brand, which has sold 22.5 million albums and generated 8 billion streams, has also expanded into new music, videos, consumer products and live tours.
“Kidz Bop is an incredible brand and what they've managed to achieve over the last 15/20 years is incredible,” said Gillham. “The transition that we've seen over the last couple of years from selling CDs at bulk, to an always-on consumption model, has been a journey that we've all learned and grown on. But the opportunity with it is really exciting.
"At its core, it remains something that parents can trust as a brand. It's introducing great songs to a young audience and it should be seen that way as a kind of tastemaker platform. It's got to the point that people respect it for what it does in that space and there are artists coming through now who listened to Kidz Bop when they were kids, particularly in the US.
“We have a great live sector in the US and Covid slightly got in the way internationally, but that's very much on the agenda going forward."