Warner Records has launched a new label as part of a joint venture with Nashville-headquartered country music startup underscore works.
The new label, dubbed underscore works recordings (and written entirely in lowercase) will “focus on discovering and developing fresh talent in the country music scene,” Warner Records’ parent company, Warner Music Group, said in a statement Monday (November 13).
The new label launches with two signings: Dipper and Wesko, two up-and-coming country music artists.
Dipper, a Texas native, developed a following on TikTok by posting covers and original songs. He recently released his debut EP, Evergreen, and his first single, She’s Got Wings.
He recently signed a global publishing deal with Bailey Zimmerman, The Core Entertainment, and Warner Chappell Music, and has been featured on Spotify’s Fresh Finds Country, Next From Nashville and Young Nashville playlists. He’s also been featured on prominent playlists at Apple Music and Amazon.
North Carolina native Wesko has developed a local audience in his home state’s music scene and on social media, and according to Warner, he “has spent the last four years playing gigs with his band… all while working a grueling full-time job as a foreman for an erosion-control company and taking a full course load at the University of Mount Olive.”
Warner Records and underscore had previously worked together on the career of country artist Warren Zeiders, the Pennsylvania native best known for his recent hit Pretty Little Poison, which hit number 11 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, and number 46 on the US Hot 100. Prior to signing with Warner, his track Ride the Lightning garnered more than 500 million views on TikTok.
“The underscore team shares the same dedication we have when it comes to artist development and building meaningful and lasting careers, making it a no-brainer to expand our partnership so we can support even more special artists,” Warner Records Co-Chairman & CEO Aaron Bay-Schuck and Co-Chairman & COO Tom Corson said in a joint statement.
“Dipper and Wesko are two genuinely talented, hard-working musicians with bright futures ahead, and we look forward to collaborating with underscore to bring even more great music to fans around the world.”
Underscore works was launched in 2022 by industry veteran Charly Salvatore, with the goal of building an artist management, development and marketing company with a roster of artists “who live a balance in both traditional music models and a TikTok-driven era”.
“The underscore team shares the same dedication we have when it comes to artist development and building meaningful and lasting careers, making it a no-brainer to expand our partnership so we can support even more special artists.”
Aaron Bay-Schuck and Tom Corson, Warner Records
Besides Zeiders, underscore has worked with Priscilla Block, who developed a TikTok following in 2020 and was named am “artist to watch” by Amazon Music, Pandora and others in 2021. The label has also worked with Dalton Dover, who debuted with the single You Got a Small Town in 2022, after delivering a number of covers on TikTok that went viral, and Logan Mize, a Kansas native with three hit singles under his belt whose career has been managed by Salvatore since 2009.
“Aaron, Tom, and the entire world-class Warner Records team have an amazing track record when it comes to breaking new acts and, more importantly, sustaining that momentum,” Salvatore said in a statement.
“They’ve been incredible partners with Warren, and there’s no one else I’d want to be running alongside as we take this exciting next step in the underscore works journey. With a deep passion for developing emerging artists, I’m thrilled to embark on this new chapter with remarkable talents like Dipper and Wesko, who are destined to captivate the world’s stage.”
Warner and underscore’s partnership comes at a time when country music’s popularity has been booming thanks to fresh exposure on social media. According to market research firm Luminate, country music experienced its largest on-demand audio streaming week in history in the week ending June 1, 2023. And 2023 also marks the first year since 1975 that no fewer than four country music songs reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100.Music Business Worldwide