HBO’s Big Little Lies Launches Hits for Michael Kiwanuka; Leon Bridges

We all know the potential value of a good sync. HBO’s breakout hit Big Little Lies has resonated with audiences — as has its soundtrack, featuring Michael Kiwanuka and Leon Bridges…

big little lies imageBy Paul Marszalek

About a year ago, Interscope’s James Evans and I sat in my car listening to some upcoming releases. One was from Michael Kiwanuka, and James was wrestling with potential singles.

One track, Cold Little Heart, was his favorite — but it took a moment to develop and clocked in at a radio unfriendly 10 minutes. Even an edit would likely be unwieldy.

But his instincts were correct — the audience has discovered the track and it’s taking off.

The success comes thanks to opening credit placement in HBO’s Big Little Lies, the limited series starring Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon..

While the audience for the show averages about 1.9 million — not huge — it has been active, sending the song up the Shazam charts, which in turn, feeds placement in streaming playlists. The song has moved 50,000 units since the show debut and Triple A Radio is now taking a second look.

Kiwanuka is not the only beneficiary.

Leon Bridges’ River has taken on a new life after appearing in Big Little Lies. The track is reacting — selling more than 40,000 singles since, with Shazam tags rising 15% and Spotify streams now totaling 21.5 million. A more granular example: KBCO added the song last week, and it’s now #4 on Boulder Shazam.

Both success stories illustrate how things have changed for radio and labels in an era with no callout research. Shazam is the new metric for audience interest and passion, and it allows someone — a music supervisor or a radio programmer — to play a hunch, and perhaps create a breakout hit out of a song that otherwise would fall through the cracks.

Filed Under: FeaturedMusicRadio and RecordsVideo


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