'He has the attention of the US now': Lewis Capaldi's publisher BMG on the singer's breakthrough

'He has the attention of the US now': Lewis Capaldi's publisher BMG on the singer's breakthrough

As Lewis Capaldi's debut album becomes the fastest-selling in the UK this year, his publisher BMG has told Music Week about the star's "unique" gifts.

Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent (Virgin EMI) has sold 68,987 copies in its first week so far, according to the Official Charts Company. 

The 22-year-old Scot was signed to BMG by US-based senior A&R director Justin Polokoff.

"[Polokoff] found him really early and was super excited about it," explained Shani Gonzales, co-head A&R, frontline publishing, BMG US and co-head writer services, BMG UK. "He immediately thought that this kid had a unique voice – one of the most incredible voices he had heard in a long time – and was expressive about how he could bring him into our fold.

"Things started happening fast and from the label side getting competitive, the publishing side also got incredibly competitive. But one of the things that was very important to Lewis and his team was that they wanted to have an American presence, and also wanted to make sure they were signed to a company that had a global perspective.

"One of the things that we did that I believe set us apart was that we were able to get a few of our heads from every territory on the phone with his entire team to help close the deal as it got competitive. It was a total group effort from the US to the UK and everyone else that joined in from around the world to help get him signed."

He's unique. He can connect to youth culture and he's still a classic songwriter

Shani Gonzales


Capaldi's online antics have won him an army of fans on social media, including two million followers on Instagram. Combined sales of his breakthrough smash Someone You Loved, which topped the UK charts for seven weeks earlier this year, have topped one million and he has sold out a UK & Ireland arena tour for March 2020. 

“He’s unique,” said Gonzales. “He can still connect to youth culture – and that is pervasive when you look at the charts in the UK or US – and he’s still a classic songwriter, so we can place him with any kind of producer and he rises to the occasion. The producers of [Someone You Loved] – TMS – are signed to us out of the UK, so it’s a great story for us all around.

"The best time to be putting out an album is when you're coming off of this kind of success so it set it up perfectly. He has the attention of the US now – that kind of success story in the UK sets up the right marketing story for the US because it comes with a lot of credibility. In my opinion, American people look to the UK to give us the Adeles, the Ed Sheerans and the Sam Smiths and to me he's like another version of that."

Read Music Week's interview with the singer-songwriter's manager, Ryan Walter, plus read Ted Cockle, president of his label Virgin EMI, outline his hopes for the artist.  

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