Polydor's Ben Mortimer on Celeste's breakthrough and Oscars buzz

Polydor's Ben Mortimer on Celeste's breakthrough and Oscars buzz

It’s been a good year so far for Celeste.

As well as three BRITs nominations, the UK artist has the biggest breakthrough of 2021 so far with her No.1 debut album Not Your Muse (Polydor). The LP made No.10 in the overall chart for Q1 with sales of 45,393, according to the Official Charts Company.

In the latest issue of Music Week, we crunch the numbers and talk to execs from Polydor, BPI, Spotify, Transgressive and PIAS about all the Q1 breakthroughs.

Signed to Warner Chappell for publishing, sync-friendly Celeste is also getting recognition as a songwriter. Her co-write with Daniel Pemberton on Hear My Voice (from The Trial Of The Chicago 7) is nominated at the Oscars this weekend (April 25) in the Best Original Song category. The song was also in the running for a Golden Globe earlier this year.

Not Your Muse had been lined up for a 2020 release, following her BRITs Rising Star triumph. However, the impact of Covid pushed the record back to 2021 and Celeste’s team at Polydor and Atlas Artists recalibrated their debut LP campaign.

Global awareness for Celeste is building with 2,474,150 monthly listeners on Spotify. Last week she performed Love Is Back on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Interviewed for Music Week’s online Q1 analysis, David Hawkes, MD, Commercial Division, Universal Music UK, said: “Polydor’s success with Celeste and her extraordinary chart-topping debut album has been a joy to see. The whole campaign from promotions to creative has been beautifully implemented and it was also no surprise to see Celeste nominated for an Oscar and three BRITs… A real success story and, if you haven’t seen her performance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, it’s an absolute must-watch.”

Ahead of the Oscars, Polydor co-president Ben Mortimer opens up about the rise of Celeste…

How did you achieve this significant breakthrough with Celeste – and how did you overcome the challenges?

“We had to be a little more patient than usual but, in many ways, same as it ever was. A great artist, a great album, clever marketing, and a brilliantly executed promotional campaign.”

What are your hopes for the album later this year and how can you maintain momentum?

“We’re going to keep working the record. There’s brilliant songs left on there that deserve to get the public’s attention. Plus we have some exciting collaborations to come.”

How will the Oscars boost the campaign?

“It’s momentous for Celeste to be nominated for an Oscar so early in her career. It’s already been a huge boost, particularly in the US. We’re going to be putting a lot of focus around it.”

Finally, what's the general outlook like for Polydor and artist breakthroughs in 2021?

“We’re feeling great about our new crop of artists. Holly Humberstone, Baby Queen, Blanco, Shane Codd, 220 Kid and Nathan Evans are all making serious inroads. It’s a very exciting time for the label.”

For Music Week’s Q1 analysis, subscribers can click here.  

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