During an interview at Canadian Music Week, Republic Records executive VP Wendy Goldstein discussed how Toronto has become a source of global talent, why starting at the bottom is a good way to break into a record label, and why A&R is a little like psychiatry.
Goldstein shared an insider’s perspective on Ariana Grande’s “Bang Bang,” The Weeknd’s Beauty Behind The Madness track-listing and Julia Michael’s “Issues.”
On Friday 22nd at Canadian Music Week, Goldstein told Billboard contributor Melinda Newman:
“2I think there’s a reason. Toronto has a melting pot that is unique and unusual to the rest of the world, even more unusual than New York and more unusual than Chicago, than London. It’s its very own thing and artists here grow up and they’re a little freer.
The Weeknd doesn’t consider himself an urban artist. He considers himself a global worldwide artist and, because of that… they go on and make music that’s a little more free and it touches on a lot of different genres, touches people from around the world, more so than someone just coming out of Atlanta doing something very specific to Atlanta.”
The industry has changed in the past couple of years, she said, with the explosion of streaming. As an example, when Republic put out The Weeknd’s Beauty Behind The Madness in 2015 — including his first big mainstream single, “Earned It,” which landed the Fifty Shades of Grey gig when Justin Timberlake fell through — Tesfaye wanted 18 songs on the album, but she wanted 12. They compromised with 14. “I felt less is more,” Goldstein said.
“Within a year Spotify took over, Drake put out Views with 20 songs and it was massive and in the streaming world, more is more, so when we started on Starboy, I called Abel and I said, ‘Good news, how about 20 songs?’ and he goes ‘Okay,’ and the truth is in the end it ended up being 18 and he got his 18. So that is one little way that it’s changed a lot for that platform, album-oriented artists.