UK-based independent label 3 Beat has built a reputation on releasing hit records in the dance genre consistently over 30 years.
But Founder Jon Barlow has now tipped one of the company’s emerging urban acts, Geko, to lead a new line of artist, rather than producer-led, success stories for the label.
Arabic-swing act Geko already has more than 200m audio streams to his name across all platforms, and 100m views on YouTube, without having yet had the boost of significant air time or promotion.
“In terms of someone who is making his way without support from mainstream press and broadcasters, in boxing parlance, Geko is pound-for-pound the best out there at the moment,” Barlow told MBW.
Geko’s latest track, 6:30 has racked up more than 36m streams worldwide, and is still managing more than half a million streams per week in the UK alone, where it went Silver in January. That’s despite 3 Beat taking a cautious approach to promoting the track, with a view to mounting a bigger charge for Geko’s forthcoming ‘mixtape’ of nine original tracks, titled 22, set for release in June.
With as many as five tracks set to be promoted as singles by 3 Beat, Barlow is confident that the mixtape will propel Geko to 400m career streams within 12 months of release – “a significant achievement for a new UK artist on an independent.”
“With 6:30, we didn’t push it into a daytime radio playlist place, we wanted to get a Silver record without being backed by Radio 1, Capital, Kiss and so on,” Barlow explained.
“Their sister stations – 1Xtra, Capital XTRA and Kiss Fresh – hammered it, so we got support from the respective buildings, as it were, but we knew that putting Geko into a mainstream audience would be the wrong thing at that point. We wanted to time that move with the mixtape, and we needed to do it with a track that would really put the rocket boosters on.
“We weren’t sure whether 6:30 could do more than it was doing and we didn’t want Radio 1 to turn around and say, We playlisted it and it didn’t do anything extra. So we took the rather brave, maybe crazy, decision of not pushing 6:30 any harder than we did, in order keep some currency when we go back with the new Geko record.
“6:30’s recently gone Silver in the UK and it’s still doing 550,000 per week here, so that track is easily going to do another 20m streams in the UK alone this year,” he added. “Although it’s hard to estimate a total stream count for 22 by the end of 2019, we’re confident the mixtape has tracks on it that will push Geko towards 400m career streams worldwide.”
3 Beat A&R Manager Sam Adebayo said: “I feel Geko was part of the new age Afro-swing pioneers, which is now donating the charts. He has a great sense of melodies and is an amazing storyteller through his music. All we’ve done is try to enhance what he’s already naturally doing, but on a worldwide scale. I’m looking forward to working further with him, he’s an exciting talent to A&R.”
Speaking more generally about the direction that Geko represents for the company, Barlow said: “3 Beat has built its reputation on dance hits and producers, but we’ve been talking for a while now about how we want to evolve, diversify and balance the label.
“It’s very important for our company to work with artists as well as producers and we’ve been working hard to balance producer-led projects and artist-led projects across multiple genres. I think we’ve got there in terms of the talent that we’ve brought onto the roster with artists like Geko and singer/songwriter Callum Beattie – now it’s a case of achieving that goal in terms of breaking some of these artists.”Music Business Worldwide