24kGoldn: No. 1 Without A Tour … Yet!
Orlando Gil – Pollstar Cover Jan. 25, 2021:
24kGoldn performs Dec. 8 at the Z100 Jingle Ball Encore Show, which aired Dec. 17.
Like most 20-year-olds, Golden Landis Von Jones hates waking up early.
“Me, I’m normally a very late sleeper. Barry Weiss, the head of RECORDS, my label, called me at eight in the morning West Coast time and I’m like, ‘What the fuck is this guy calling me for right now? I’m asleep right now,’” the rising star otherwise known as rapper/singer 24kGoldn told Pollstar with a wry smile in his voice.
Turns out Weiss, a legendary label exec, had a good reason.
“He was like, ‘Yo, I know you’re normally not awake right now but I thought it would be cool because I gotta tell you you’re going to have the No. 1 song. It’s not official yet, it’s not out yet on Billboard but we’re going to have it,’” 24kGoldn says. “I was like ‘Whoa, that’s crazy!’ A couple hours later I got the texts and tweets saying ‘congratulations’ and I literally spring out of bed and I just ran around the house and I jumped in the swimming pool with my pajamas on still. KBeaZy lives there, Omer [Fedi] lives there – two of the people who worked on the song – so we all got to celebrate that together.”
24kGoldn’s “Mood,” featuring rapper/singer Iann Dior, initially hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on the chart dated Oct. 24, marking the first No. 1 single for both artists. The single was released via streaming services in July and hit alternative radio and rhythmic contemporary in September.
“Mood” has spent eight total weeks at No. 1, having ascended the Hot 100 four separate times. After two weeks at No. 1 in October, “Mood” dropped to No. 3 and then returned to the top of the chart the last three weeks of November. That month, 24kGoldn released a remix of the song featuring vocals from Justin Bieber and J Balvin. “Mood” fell to No. 2 and then was back on top Dec. 12. The single returned to No. 1 for the charts dated Jan. 9 and 16, following rankings at Nos. 2, 5 and 7.
Kevin Mazur/AMA2020/Getty Images for dcp – 24kGoldn and Iann Dior
show off their hit single “Mood” during a performance on the 2020 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on Nov. 22, 2020, in Los Angeles.
Although Von Jones has enjoyed his sustained No. 1 success over the last few months, he, like many other up-and-coming artists, faces a purely 2020-21 conundrum: How does a hot recording artist establish their touring career side without the ability to have live shows? It’s a crucial question his team – which includes WME, Active Management, Electric Feel, RECORDS/Columbia – are now strategizing.
The wildfire success of songs like “Mood” on platforms like TikTok have led to huge flashes of sudden stardom, but it’s nothing new. Perhaps the greatest example was Lil Nas X, whose 2018 smash “Old Town Road” led to his debut live performance at Stagecoach with Diplo and Billy Ray Cyrus. With the absence of live performances, that can’t happen. But this peculiar time in our world does have some advantages.
“COVID has probably been the best and worst thing that ever happened to me,” 24kGoldn says. “It’s like I get this No. 1 song that probably wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the circumstances of being in a quarantine lockdown, but I don’t get to perform … I don’t get to meet the people that appreciate the music that we made. … Every once in a while, I’ll be like, ‘I wish I was on tour right now,’ but I think everything happens for a reason. And there was a lot of good that came from dealing with this type of fast success without it being too hectic, like time to reflect and figure shit out without having to be moving around every other day.”
Part of the appeal of “Mood” is that the catchy song doesn’t fit into just one category, attracting fans of rap, pop and rock. The bop, with its upbeat vibe, contrasted with lyrics dedicated to a toxic relationship with a love interest who’s “always in a mood,” is topped off by trap beats and a great guitar riff by Fedi. In the U.S., the song is certified 2X Platinum and hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Mainstream Top 40, Rhythmic, and Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart, and it also charted across the globe.
While achieving a No. 1 single would be an incredible moment for any artist, it’s especially impressive seeing as how 24kGoldn only started writing songs a handful of years ago as a sophomore in high school.
The singer/rapper grew up in San Francisco with a Black, Catholic father and a white, Jewish mother who listened to all kinds of music at home including “classical music … pop, R&B, soul, hip-hop, oldies, blues, jazz.” He credits being raised in San Francisco’s diverse environment for influencing him artistically: “The Bay is notorious for the hyphy movement, but it’s also notorious for the Grateful Dead and the whole hippie movement. And when you combine all these different subcultures into one place, it gives you a well-rounded experience. I grew up listening to all types of music, I grew up seeing all different kinds of people from the richest of the rich to people with nothing in the Tenderloin. I just got to see so much more life and perspectives, more things to talk about in my music, to understand how people feel.”
24kGoldn got an early taste of the entertainment world by acting in commercials as a child and singing in choir in junior and high school. He says, “I was the kid singing Bruno Mars covers to the girls at lunchtime, trying to act cute. I’ve always had this thing with music, but I didn’t really have the confidence to be like ‘Yo, this is my original music, these are the songs I’m putting out’ until I got to high school and people fucked with it.” 24kGoldn praises his mentor, fellow Bay Area rapper Paperboy, for getting him in the studio for the first time and helping “me understand what it means to be an artist.”
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for dick clark productions) – 24kGoldn
rings in 2021 with an appearance on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest broadcast on Dec. 31, 2020 and Jan. 1, 2021.
With a birth name like Golden, along with his natural magnetism, a career in the limelight seems like it was fate, but he initially planned on becoming a hedge fund manager and earned a scholarship to attend the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. He explains that while music is his passion, he’s an entrepreneur at heart and there’s a part of his brain that’s always thinking about the business side of things. That instinct has carried over to giving input on business decisions in his music career.
As 24kGoldn was preparing for a move across the state for college, rapper/youth mentor Richard “Big Rich” Bougere, who is the co-founder/executive director of the nonprofit community outreach program Project Level that 24kGoldn attended, got in touch with Active Management’s Chioke “Stretch” McCoy.
“He wanted me to meet him, to look out for him and make sure that everything’s cool,” Stretch says. “So, I met him, and he played me some of his music and I was blown away. We started working [together] from there.”
Stretch – who has worked with Run The Jewels, SOB x RBE and Sage The Gemini and co-manages 24kGoldn with Electric Feel’s Austin Rosen – notes that he could immediately tell 24kGoldn was special because of his drive and the songs he’d written. “One of the songs, ‘Valentino,’ he’d already had and hadn’t released it because he was like ‘I think this song could be really big and I just want to wait until I have the right team behind me that could help me push this.’ That to me was a telltale sign this kid was going places.”
24kGoldn comments that Stretch is “like my uncle basically. Stretch just gets it. … He knows the balance between culture and commerce, which is something that I walk the line. He cares about me as a person and my personal growth and development just as much if not more than the music side of things. Knowing that you have someone like that that’s got your back just lets me be an artist more comfortably.”
The plan was for 24kGoldn to work on his music and get his degree, spending the time at college building a fanbase but Stretch explains that “things ended up happening a lot faster than we ever anticipated. … He was doing a lot of grassroots things online and in person while he was going to school. At the same time, he ended up getting a record deal with RECORDS.”
RECORDS founder/CEO Weiss says, “The first time I met with Golden I fell for his natural charm and charisma. He possessed a very cool balance of the ‘kid next door’ and star appeal, a pretty unlikely but potent combination.”
“Valentino” was released as 24kGoldn’s lead single in January 2019 and months later it organically blew up on TikTok and quickly went platinum. Stretch notes that after his breakout hit, Golden dug deep into developing his TikTok audience.
During his time at USC 24kGoldn also ended up meeting his team at WME thanks to Nevin Sanitsky, a classmate in his pledge class whose mother happened to be WME partner Nancy Josephson.
“He kept calling me and saying, ‘Mom, you have got to meet this kid,’” says Josephson, who works with clients in WME’s television, motion picture literary and talent departments. “‘He’s got this song ‘Valentino,’ they’re playing it at every frat party. This guy is going to blow up.’ Finally, we got a chance to meet. And I felt his star quality immediately. We put him in any room and people go crazy.”
Josephson introduced 24kGoldn to Peter Schwartz and WME’s music department, which also instantly connected with Von Jones and his music. 24kGoldn’s team at WME includes Schwartz, Kevin Shivers and Sarah Tehrani handling U.S. touring, with David Bradley and James Rubin on international touring.
After signing with RECORDS (a joint venture between Weiss and Sony) and Columbia, 24kGoldn ended up leaving USC to concentrate on his flourishing music career, inspiring the name of his debut EP, 2019’s Dropped Outta College. But quitting school meant moving out of the dorms and quickly needing a place to live.
“My son called me and said, ‘Mom, can Golden come live with us?’ Josephson said. “And he moved into my house,” adding that as a Jewish mom she immediately bonded with Golden’s mother. “The first night Golden was staying with us the doorbell rang at midnight and I gotta tell you my doorbell never rings at midnight. It was Travis Scott’s hair braider and he was there to braid Golden’s hair. I was like ‘What is happening?’ (laughs) Thus began our incredible summer.”
She adds, “We do have a very special relationship, needless to say. Once you’ve done someone’s laundry it’s a whole different relationship with your client.” Golden concurs, calling Josephson his “second mom.”
Rich Fury/Getty Images for MTV – 24kGoldn
drops by the MTV EMA’s “pre-game” show on Oct. 24 in Los Angeles. The show aired on Nov. 8, 2020.
Josephson notes that when he was living at her house, he’d pop into the WME office all the time and chat with the staff. “Golden has possibly one of the bigger teams. Everybody loves him because he genuinely cares. He’s curious. … He’s incredibly grateful. He takes the time to talk with people.”
Von Jones first got experience on the road by supporting Landon Cube in 2019 in small rooms such as the 250-capacity 7th St Entry in Minneapolis, followed by a support slot with YBN Cordae in late 2019 and early 2020 with stops such as The Intersection – Elevation in Grand Rapids, Mich., that sold 720 tickets and grossed $15,480 on Feb. 6, according to reports submitted to Pollstar’s Boxoffice. He also got the chance to play Rolling Loud Music Festival in Oakland and Los Angeles in 2019.
“The plan before COVID hit was for him to headline in the May, June time period of last year and we were going to headline four to 600-cap venues. Basically, taking the next step after the support tour,” Schwartz says.
24kGoldn’s team now finds itself in a challenging situation, with the pandemic continuing to put a halt to touring while his star power continues to grow with “Mood.” But both his management and agency agree that once live shows return, it’s important not to rush to the biggest venues – especially as Von Jones hasn’t had prior headlining history.
“There’s a fine line between swinging too big and not doing the numbers and you also don’t want to play too small. The artist will have been waiting for so long to actually get out and finally tour, you of course want to do it right,” Schwartz says.
“As a rule of thumb, we always try not to skip steps because it’s important to prove your value at each level. …. In such an uncertain time, there’s nothing wrong with blowing out a tour and having it sell out quickly, which we do expect to happen and then we can come back and play bigger. Golden is going to have a long career. So even though COVID has sort of lost a year or two, there’s plenty of time to build it up right. Our goal is an arena headliner before long.”
Stretch adds, “I think it’s important to build from the ground and not just say ‘I have a hit record’ and bank off that. Because you don’t want to be the artist performing your record, you want to be the artist performing your songs – that people are there to see you, not just to hear one song.
“Even if you do sell it out, yeah it sold out that round based off the success of that song or what’s happening but there was no real connection, no real growth. The thing is, you always have to learn how to perform at places like that.”
The team has multiple routings in the works, ranging from 1,500 to 2,500-cap size up to amphitheater size, along with festival appearances (that have yet to be announced) confirmed in Europe, Australia and the U.S.
Schwartz adds, “We have [dates] held for this year and into spring of ’22. … So, we really have to sort of prepare for everything and then look at the time when we can roll and go with the best plan we can. … I think our real focus is going to be gunning hard for the big looks in ‘22, when hopefully things are a little more normal, a new normal.”
In the meantime, 24kGoldn’s team is focusing on maintaining the momentum with TV appearances and releasing new music.
After the success of “Valentino,” Weiss explains that the single “City Of Angels,” which was released in March, then broke off of the Dropped Outta College EP with 24kGoldn really pushing it on his socials and TikTok.
“‘Mood” came out and was an immediate rocket ship. The team at RECORDS and I carefully chose the single with management, Golden and his team after a bit of back and forth over other great songs Golden had in his stash,” Weiss says. “We and Columbia put an urgent TikTok campaign behind it upon release and it simultaneously exploded everywhere, at every platform and by every metric after swirling for several weeks and getting its sea legs. Columbia and Sony International then took the ball and ran it all the way home.”
24kGoldn and Dior promoted “Mood” with performances on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” the MTV Europe Music Awards, the American Music Awards and the finale of the “The Voice.” The duo capped 2020 by playing “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.”
Scott Dudelson/Getty Images – 24kGoldn
performs at The Fonda Theatre on Jan. 13, 2020 in Los Angeles ahead of a headline set by YBN Corade.
“We’ve been selective with the livestreams,” Schwartz says.
“He’s had some really great looks, which all timed nicely. He’s doing a livestream with Hulu for Black History month. And there are a couple of others we have in the bag; we can’t announce them yet. But we are being selective to not over play, to show what he can do, but also keep our demand high for when we can hit the road in person.”
24kGoldn’s latest single is “Coco” featuring DaBaby, which hails from his upcoming debut full-length album, El Dorado, due out this spring.
“I think this is the best music I’ve made in my whole life. Dropped Outta College was me experimenting and making all different types of songs. Making a pop song, making a rock song, making a rap song, making an emo rap song. El Dorado is me figuring out how to put all those things together, so you get a truly unique sound,” 24kGoldn says.
Other upcoming plans include a scripted TV show about Von Jones’ life after college. The rapper known for name-dropping Chanel and Valentino in his lyrics promises that “somewhere down the line, you can definitely expect a high fashion 24kGoldn brand.”