Transgressive's Toby L on 'sensational' streaming support for Arlo Parks, TikTok and her Amazon film

Transgressive's Toby L on 'sensational' streaming support for Arlo Parks, TikTok and her Amazon film

Arlo Parks is making an impact with her debut album Collapsed In Sunbeams (Transgressive).

With first week sales already above 10,000, Arlo Parks is chasing a No.2 finish behind this week’s frontrunner Celeste with Not Your Muse. Collapsed In Sunbeams is also performing well on DSPs with around 20% of week one consumption coming from streams.

Arlo Parks has 3,552,098 monthly listeners on Spotify, which showed huge support on the album's release day with 43 New Music Friday playlist inclusions around the world including the number one position in the UK.

Apple Music has confirmed Arlo Parks as the latest addition to its Up Next programme, which supports rising talent. 

Here, in the second part of our Q&A, Transgressive co-founder Toby L opens up about the streaming campaign, the Amazon Music film they made together and global opportunities…

How have collaborations and livestreams helped Arlo Parks during the pandemic? And what inroads has she made on streaming?

“For now at least, collaborations and livestreams are the new support tour for a breaking artist – it can really help with introducing a new artist in the early days, sharing audiences along the way. Arlo has collaborated with the likes of Glass Animals and Phoebe Bridgers for various performances online, and this has definitely showcased the breadth and range of her taste and musicality. No doubt this all contributes to people understanding her world and influences a little more, and will get reflected culturally and editorially on where her music can be discovered.

“The DSPs have been sensational, we couldn't be more appreciative or blown away by the support from each of them around the world. In terms of editorial programmes visible right now in line with album launch, Arlo is Apple Music's first Up Next artist for 2021, which started on the day of the album's release (January 29). Anyone familiar with the programme knows how widely visible, premium and groundbreaking it is for new artists, so to launch Arlo's debut record in such a way is a dream come true. The films they have made to accompany the campaign are vivid, considered and artful, and really tune into her motivations. Zane Lowe and Matt Wilkinson have been absolute champions on Apple Music 1, properly behind every single on the record, whilst playlisting on the platform has been excellent, and throughout the album release and the Up Next campaign we will see more phenomenal placements for Arlo.

“We've got some truly exciting editorial initiatives in the works with Spotify right now – all still to be announced, so we sadly cannot talk about them in further depth just yet! Spotify have been amazing throughout and were on board even before we signed her, granting exceptional support to the singles and EPs that Arlo was releasing initially through Beatnik. The visual campaign we have already constructed with them already around the album release is genuinely stunning and very prominent – working closely with their in-house marketing and creative teams, devising beautiful, bespoke photography and assets for OOH, playlist covers and socials, has been a joyful process. Editorial support across their playlists has been astonishing this past week – the New Music Friday spread worldwide on day of album release included 43 inclusions, including number one in the UK, plus top 10 in US, France, Germany, Australia/NZ, plus so many other editorially driven playlist covers. We greatly look forward to the next phase of the campaign with them. 

The DSPs have been sensational, we couldn't be more appreciative or blown away by the support from each of them around the world

Toby L

“YouTube Music have been brilliant, providing playlist covers and also stepping out as one of the earliest partners to support Arlo when she was just getting started, awarding Foundry funding for bespoke video content over a year and a half ago. For the week of release they committed to a statement OOH billboard in one of the most prominent sites in the UK, which is remarkable. Arlo lives right around the corner from the location so it meant a lot to her. We've been cooking up some further video ideas for later in the year as well, including some bespoke and curated livestream concepts.

Deezer's team have been supremely passionate and supportive to Arlo's music since early doors. Arlo recently featured on a covers project of theirs called InVersions alongside Fontaines DC and a number of other awesome acts. We're jointly brewing up some content initiatives for the rest of 2021 right now and look forward to when things open up a bit more so we can visit their Paris studio in real life. Until then, the playlist coverage and the positive energy from the team over there have once again been exemplary.

“We've also been dreaming up some high-end concepts with the team at Tidal, which we're excited to progress, whilst Arlo's relationship with Bandcamp has meant that we've seen really strong direct fan sales and support from their side. SoundCloud invited Arlo to partake in their UK Black History Month curation playlist recently and have been consistently behind her as an artist, which means that our entry points for discovery have been really well covered off. We're also Album of the Week at Qobuz, who have shown incredible coverage for the record across the platform.

“Elsewhere, TikTok have been terrific, we have some great editorial lining up with them post-LP release – the potential there is gargantuan given the power of Arlo's poetry and how that art form continues to soar on the platform. We have a lot of post-album release ideas and plans to roll out with them, we look forward to really digging in.

“On the subject of billboards for the album's release week, we committed to OOH internationally with many of the aforementioned partners, each of them with their own unique story and identity. We have worked really closely with all teams to ensure a distinctive campaign for each party, best representing their respective platform, whilst still ensuring it all fits within the defined world and vision of Arlo Parks.”

It’s significant for a debut artist to get the Amazon film on release day – how does this film tell the story of this major new independent artist?

Amazon Music made Arlo Parks one of their first ever Breakthrough artists last year and beyond playlisting, OOH and other digital marketing support, basically said to us, If you could do anything that's filmed, what would you like to do? Asking both Arlo and the team of us at Transgressive such a question is a really dangerous move, because we're basically all dreamers that work exceptionally hard to make wild things happen as regularly as we can. 

“So, that's how our Tonight With Arlo Parks film was conceived. Alongside Transgressive, I've been making films and documentaries over the last 15-20 years. I thought that it'd been a long time since the artist was at the centre of a TV format – so often they fit into the world of an existing format, and I thought it'd be cool to flip that around, basically moulding it on the classic ’60s and ’70s variety show formats that existed with people like Frank Sinatra and Cilla Black, where they would interview guests, collaborate and also perform themselves.

“Arlo felt like the right person to talk to about it, and funnily enough, as soon as the conversation started, it transpired that it was one of her absolute ambitions to make something along these lines, too. As soon as we had that chat, the treatment came together quickly and Amazon commissioned it.

“The programme was a particularly ambitious one to make in the pandemic, given the scale. There are five different stages and set-ups that constitute the format, and we had an extended band line-up with strings and brass, plus special guests such as Glass Animals, Romy from The xx and Dave Okumu, all either performing with Arlo or having a conversation. Between that and the size of the crew, we had to be extra cautious and ensure that we were well within APA shooting guidelines. We shot it in December, just before the current lockdown, and ensured that everyone on set was regularly temperature checked, not to mention sanitising hands, wearing masks and keeping to social distancing. Our on-site Covid officer was patrolling the studio all day to ensure these measures were in place and we swapped out any crew that were either at risk or had sadly tested positively before arrival to the studio. It was definitely a military operation, but everyone pulled together to make it work seamlessly, and the shoot itself felt like a very special one to be a part of.

“In terms of the final film, we're thrilled with how it turned out. We want it to feel surprising and magical to the viewer. We didn't want the cut points to be too frequent – we wanted every shot or angle to count, almost more like watching a classic film or a music video. It's a very romantic vision of how to portray music performance on camera and we hope that people get lost within the world of it. It's pretty compelling and audacious that a brand new artist releasing their debut album has a programme like this coming out on the day of release, but if there's one person that can pull it off, it's definitely Arlo Parks. Hopefully as a film, it's a document that will hold up well as a companion piece to this era in her career. Although an intense experience, it was a true honour to serve as director for it alongside my friend Louis Bhose. Hopefully we'll get to do it again sometime.”

Arlo Parks has multiple entries on Europe Music Moves Talent Chart and had booked dates in Europe. What’s the international plan for the album, including US? And how have the famous admirers of her music helped to raised awareness?

“Arlo is a truly global artist and in absence of in-person visits, our plan is to create visibility as potently as we can through the methods we all have available to us right now - technology, social media and existing media platforms that have meaningful reach. The main strategy behind every decision is ensuring that proper time and thought are committed to every photo shoot, filmed performance, live broadcast or interview so there's purpose and substance to each of them, something always distinctive. Artists can often say yes to plenty of things, but in order for them to land and resonate with people, there has to be a real message and soul at the core of it. With Arlo, there is thought behind everything.

“North America is currently a leading territory in terms of streaming and sales, which for a brand new UK artist is a rare thing. For that reason, we're making sure that it's a top priority in terms of time and focus, providing plenty of access whilst also ensuring that from an introductory perspective we're speaking with all the tastemakers first. We have lots of massive moments set to come in the US throughout 2021, which will be revealed pretty shortly.  

“Selective, strategic brand campaigns have added weight and value, too – Arlo's collaboration with Gucci is career-making in its own right, working with the great director Gus Van Sant and appearing in the campaign alongside major artists such as Harry Styles.

I cannot wait to hear these songs sung along to in packed venues and festivals... it's going to be a totally overwhelming, emotional moment

Toby L

“So the international plan for now is being run remotely and virtually, and it's a daily, ever-increasing, utterly packed schedule. Interviews, photo or film shoots, live broadcasts, all being run from Arlo's home or safe studio environments. The interest and demand is phenomenal and not being in the market physically for the first time ever isn't proving a barrier. It's been relentless, however, we're keen to provide as many people as possible their own story about the album. 

“Once the world opens up again, touring is of course the next part of the plan – and there are countless offers in the UK, America, Europe, Asia, Australasia to tend to when the time's right. Even during the pandemic, her UK ticket sales have been really strong. I cannot wait to hear these songs sung along to in packed venues and festivals... it's going to be a totally overwhelming, emotional moment.

“In regards to the well-known admirers – it's always rewarding to a musician when an artist that they love proves to also be a fan. People such as Billie Eilish, Florence Welch, Beth Gibbons and so many more have come forward to profess their appreciation for Arlo's music, which is the ultimate endorsement. Such high-profile enthusiasm has introduced so many new people to Arlo.

“All things considered, it's a truly beautiful start to things. But, really, we're just getting going.”

Click here to read the first part of our Q&A with Toby L.

Click here to read last year's cover feature with Arlo Parks and Moses Boyd.

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