'We made sure the foundations were laid': Relentless GM Ben Coates talks Tom Walker's breakthrough

'We made sure the foundations were laid': Relentless GM Ben Coates talks Tom Walker's breakthrough

After a strong opening week at No.1 for his debut album, Tom Walker has achieved sales momentum for What A Time To Be Alive (Relentless).

As revealed in the latest issue of Music Week, it’s the second biggest UK debut of the year behind Lewis Capaldi. And it’s still hanging around the Top 20 after four months.

“We made sure that the foundations were laid over a three-year period across all areas, including working with Mark Collen [EVP, international operations] and his team on a strategic international plan,” Relentless GM Ben Coates told Music Week. “This meant that when promo and marketing moments happened later down the line they had maximum impact.”

That long-term growth included a hit last year with Leave A Light On, a track that helped Walker end up a winner for British Breakthrough Act at the BRITs. The single has sales to date of 1,158,962, according to the Official Charts Company.

“From the end of 2018 into album release, things really accelerated; big TVs at the end of the year, into a new single at the top of January, followed by a very concentrated period of activity around the BRITs Breakthrough campaign that focused the efforts of the full team and in turn created some big moments,” said Coates. “Everything that happened through that period was made possible by the solid foundations that we're established in the years that preceded it.”

A reworking of the track featured the Red Hot Chili Pipers on a busking session that went viral.

According to half-year sales from the Official Charts Company, What A Time To Be Alive was No.8 overall (167,718 sales). It’s sales to date now stand at 180,443 (24.7% from streams).

“It was mixture of more traditional retail and streaming initiatives combined with lots of fresh content - new mixes, visuals and of course promo and touring,” said Coates of the label’s strategy to maintain the album’s chart performance. 

To read Music Week’s report on evolving campaigns for debut artists, pick up the latest issue – or subscribers can click here.

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