In December 2012, I first exclusively reported that Emblem3, the reggae/hip-hop-influenced pop trio that came in fourth place on "The X Factor" U.S. in 2012, was getting a record deal with Sony Music. On January 9, 2013, Sony Music made the official announcement that Emblem3 has been signed to three Sony Music labels:
- Mr. Kanani, a new imprint from songwriter/producer Savan Kotecha, who has co-written hits for several artists, including "X Factor" U.K. alumni One Direction and Cher Lloyd
- Syco Music, the record company co-owned by "The X Factor" executive producer Simon Cowell and Sony Music
- Columbia Records, the wholly owned Sony Music label that is headed by co-chairmen Steve Barnett and Rob Stringer
Emblem3 consists of 16-year-old Keaton Stromberg, 19-year-old Wesley Stromberg (who are brothers) and 20-year-old Drew Chadwick. Their hometown is Sequim, Washington, but they currently live in Huntington Beach, California.
Columbia will market and promote Emblem3's first album, which will be released under the labels Mr. Kanani/Syco/Columbia in a partnership between all three labels. The album is expected to released before the end of the 2013; the album's title, songs and release date are to be announced. Emblem3's first Sony Music album will be the first release from Mr. Kanani. Kotecha will be the executive producer of the album.
According to a Columbia Records press release, other collaborators on the album will be Benji and Joel Madden (Good Charlotte), Jack Antonoff (fun.), Carl Falk and Rami Yacoub (One Direction, Nicki Minaj), Peter Svensson (The Cardigans), John Feldman (Gold Finger) and Kool Kojak (Ke$ha, Nicki Minaj).
Kotecha and songwriting partners Falk and Yacoub have written several One Direction songs, including the singles "What Makes You Beautiful," "One Thing," "Live While We're Young" and "Kiss You." Kotecha's collaborations with Lloyd include her hit songs "Want U Back" and "With Ur Love."
Anyone who watched "The X Factor" U.S. in 2012 could see that Emblem3 was Cowell's favorite act in the Groups category, which he mentored that year. It's not too surprising that he has made sure that Emblem3 is working with all of these hitmakers, since One Direction and Lloyd were the biggest-selling "X Factor" acts in the U.S. and worldwide in 2012.
In the U.S., One Direction is signed to Syco/Columbia, while Lloyd is signed to Syco/Epic. In 2010, One Direction came in third place on "The X Factor" U.K., and Lloyd came in fourth place. One Direction has become the biggest "X Factor" act worldwide, with No. 1 hits and sold-out tours in several countries. By the end of 2012, One Direction had sold more than 15 million albums, singles and DVDs worldwide, according to Sony Music.
So far, none of "The X Factor" U.S. alumni who are signed to Sony Music has had a hit on Billboard's Hot 100 songs chart. We'll have to wait and see if Emblem3 will be the first act from the show to have a hit on the chart.
I first told readers of this "X Factor" blog about Emblem3 in my coverage of "The X Factor" U.S. auditions in Oakland, California, on June 17, 2012, when Emblem3 auditioned with the group's original song "Sunset Blvd." I noted that the group (whose name I could not reveal at the time because it was spoiler information for TV viewers) gave one of the best auditions that day. I said in my review that I could tell that Cowell wanted to give the group a record deal right then and there. Six months later, this prediction has turned out to be officially true.
Even though almost all of Emblem3's "X Factor" performances were as a vocal group that did cover songs, in real life, all of the members of Emblem play instruments and write original songs. They repeatedly reminded people of this during the show when Emblem3 would be called a "boy band" similar to One Direction.
Emblem3 is managed by Jared Paul at Frontline Management, which has a deal with "The X Factor" U.S. to sign several alumni from the show.
Kotecha commented in a press release: "I was so impressed by the talent and energy of the Emblem3 boys that I had to work with them. I'm looking forward to helping them fulfill their creative vision and working with the amazing Syco and Columbia team who, in my opinion, are the best in the business!"
Emblem 3’s Westley Stromberg added: “With our new teammates at Columbia and Syco and along with Savan, I hope we can not only produce some empowering tunes, but also impact other people in a positive way and maybe help brighten things up a bit. Music is all we`ve ever wanted to do – and this is what we love to do.” Stromberg added, “Simon Cowell was an excellent mentor and we were proud to have him as ours. We hope to keep a good relationship alive with him not only as business partners but as friends.”
Cowell stated: “Wesley, Drew and Keaton are complete stars. They have a great attitude, are fun and genuinely love music. They deserve this and I’m really pleased we are continuing working together.”