HITS Daily Double


Epic President Sylvia Rhone’s hot start to 2019 is a showcase of the label’s star power and resilience. The roster’s heavyweights—anchored by Travis Scott’s leap to superstardom—have all contributed to the winter heat. Epic’s current success is a tribute to Rhone’s investment in the label’s flagship artists and keeping her eyes on the prize. Amid speculation about a search for L.A. Reid’s replacement two years ago, Rhone assumed command as Sony boss Rob Stringer immediately gave her the ball—and she’s been running with it ever since.

Although Epic’s YTD marketshare as of 3/14 is a middle-of-the-pack 3.2% in total activity, 3.4% in on-demand audio streams, the label has no less than four concurrent hit albums: Travis Scott’s ASTROWORLD (2.33m RTD), Camila Cabello’s Camila (1.47m), 21 Savage’s I Am > I Was (561k) and Future’s The Wizrd (355k).

Scott’s post-ASTROWORLD ascent has been meteoric. The Full Stop-repped star is leading the pack of a new generation of rappers, and he’s one of the few able to sell out arenas and headline festivals all over the world. Since launching in November, the ASTROWORLD: Wish You Were Here Tour has grossed more than $34m across 32 dates. Tickets aside, Scott’s merch sales, like ASTROWORLD itself, show no signs of slowing down.

“Travis Scott’s success was the culmination of a five-year artist-development process,” says Rhone. “I’m extremely proud of the Epic team for communicating Travis’ vision for ASTROWORLD with a unique and immersive game plan. His story was visualized by incredible videos, unique marketing activations and a robust commerce and radio plan. His first #1 hit, ‘Sicko Mode,’ defied all the rules of a traditional hit and became a global phenomenon. And to cap everything off, the ASTROWORLD tour achieved record-breaking ticket sales. Travis has become an unrivaled superstar, and we were able to follow up that momentum with #1 chart debuts from Future and 21 Savage.”

“Travis is on fire, and it’s no accident,” adds manager Irving Azoff, who knows a thing or two about career-building. “He has checked every box and worked overtime to achieve every goal. He’s an icon forever now.”

Credit EVP Rick Sackheim and his team for taking “Sicko Mode” to #1 at Rhythmic and cracking the Top 10 at Pop, an incredible feat for a five-minute rap song with three separate movements. The track also just entered new territory as one of five songs to spend at least 32 weeks in the Top 10.

“Travis Scott’s success was the culmination of a five-year artist-development process... I’m extremely proud of the Epic team for communicating Travis’ vision for ASTROWORLD with a unique and immersive game plan.”

“The beauty of working for Sylvia is her ability to guide our amazing artists to continue their artistic journey,” Sackheim offers. “Our ‘run’ this past year and a half has been just that—expanding upon the vision of our artists by opening up new avenues of discovery.”

The latest albums from 21 Savage (12/21/18) and Future (1/18) have been holding steady since release, with both charting in the Top 5 YTD. Savage persevered through an unfortunate and highly publicized immigration battle with ICE, while landing one of the biggest songs of the year with the J. Cole collab “a lot.”

Sylvia, Sackheim and team congratulate Camila

Savage’s attorney Dina LaPolt put the team together to secure Savage’s release from his 10-day detention, drawing on the relationships she’d forged on Capitol Hill as part of the group spearheading the passage of the Music Modernization Act last year. “Sylvia Rhone is a legend,” LaPolt tells us, “and seeing Epic so successful under her regime is really beautiful to witness.”

Veteran rapper Future, meanwhile, proved he’s still a brand in demand with The Wizrd, cementing his status as an album artist as well as a hitmaker. The trap icon notched his sixth consecutive #1 album with his latest set.

Cabello’s breakthrough eponymous album carried over to 2019 with a Grammy nomination and a spectacular performance of the Latin-pop smash “Havana” that opened Music’s Biggest Night in grand fashion. Cabello is destined for the upper echelon of pop stardom as she prepares her sophomore album. Camila ended 2018 in the Top 20.

Epic continues to reap the benefits of Stringer’s trust in Rhone and Sylvia’s belief in her stars. Leaning on the label’s core stable of next-gen talent, the trailblazing black female exec is showing that it’s possible to play over your weight when everyone buys into the program.