NZ Artist Spotlight: L.A.B. Eyeing North America, Europe

JPEG D2 QS 0009
Photo by: Joel McDowell

Crowded House, Lorde, Benee and SIX60 have long been representing  New Zealand abroad.

So have The Beths, Fat Freddy’s Drop and Die! Die! Die!, soulster Marlon Williams, singer-songwriters Tiny Ruins, Gin Wigmore, Tami Neilson and Ladyhawke, hip hop feminist JessB and, based in Los Angeles, pop writer Chelsea Jade and EDM artist Baynk.

Reggae band L.A.B. is to embark on its first North American sojourn, then head to London and Amsterdam where streaming figures are high.

Over the last two years, L.A.B. has become a massive live drawcard in its home market as borders closed, building up to larger venues and selling them out in minutes.

A leap to the 12,000-seat Spark Arena in Auckland worked. “We were the first show in the world, other than Donald Trump rallies, to be out and about together,” singer Joel Shadbolt recalled.

Their largest headliner, in January 2022, was at Western Springs Stadium in Auckland. Expected sales of 30,000 tickets were curtailed by pandemic restrictions but nevertheless sold 17,000 with a gross of NZ$1.7 million ($1.02 million).

A New Zealand/ Australian
run January to April shifted 72,167 tickets over eight shows and grossed more than US$4.2 million, breaking the $1.2 million  mark in ticket sales in the Australasia region for the first time.

This built up from 2021 when they won best group, album and single at the NZ Music Awards, were most played NZ act on NZ radio, voted best live act by Radio NZ, and had the top three most streamed New Zealand-originated songs on Spotify.

“It’s time to start to look at markets outside Australasia,” said Mikee Tucker founder and director of Loop, an Auckland-based live agency, artist management, record label and publisher.

In North America, L.A.B is with Mint Talent Group, repped by Ryan Owens.

“He’s brought to the table some great offers for L.A.B because they do have traction on radio and lots of Spotify, Apple and YouTube plays in the USA.”

Mikee 2
Mikee Tucke

These include spots on large festivals. This is where L.A.B shine best, Tucker said. 

“They’re a great live act. Their sound is sunny and ego-free, they just want to have fun. They’re addictive live. They’re not a band where a fan says, ‘I don’t have to see them again for a few years.’ Their strategy is a new album every year to maintain the build.”

With a mix of reggae, electronic, blues, funk and rock, L.A.B formed in 2017 from the ashes of two major reggae acts, Kora and Katchafire, and as a result already have biz supporters globally.

Tucker revealed, “We’re working with a couple of well-known acts in North America to cross- pollinate. We’ll help the act Down Under and the act will help us in the USA.”

With the live scene reactivated in New Zealand, Loop is in the 2023 southern summer relaunching its string of boutique festivals after a two-year hiatus.

The biggest is North West Festival, which has staged in picturesque wineries since 2017.

Loop also struck a deal with Australia’s Zaccaria Concerts & Touring to stage its travelling festival SummerSalt on local beachfronts.

Tucker’s global live strategy is to cross-measure data from Loop’s label and publishing divisions to identify an act’s strongest airplay, streaming and social media measures.

The label recently signed with Warner Music Australia to represent its 250-strong back-catalogue from October 1 and marquee acts as L.A.B and Summer Thieves get full promotion.

The publishing division is signed globally to Kobalt.