Greyson Chance and Ellen DeGeneres
Her dancing feet on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and her role as an “American Idol” judge prove Ellen DeGeneres is a music fan. Now she is aiming for a more formalized role in the music industry.
She announced earlier this week on her talk show that she has started her own record company, eleveneleven. The first artist to be signed to the label is Edmond middle schooler Greyson Chance, 12, who was making his second appearance on her show. Greyson recently became a sensation on YouTube with his piano version of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi.”
Can DeGeneres make the leap from tastemaker to starmaker?
“She has talent, she has feel, and she has the platform. She’s the modern record company. Ellen is what a record company will look like in the future,” Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Interscope, Geffen and A&M Records, told the Associated Press.
There’s no date for the album’s release, and a source familiar with the new label told the AP DeGeneres is in talks to distribute eleveneleven through a major record company. Eleveneleven is a partnership between DeGeneres and Telepictures Productions, the producer of her hit show.
“Her openness to music and her love of music has been a great aid in us really sort of breaking our artists and exposing our artists,” Antonio “L.A.” Reid, chairman of Island Def Jam, told the AP.
DeGeneres has shown interest in highlighting new acts, and that looks to be her goal with her label. For instance, Filipino singer Charice, another YouTube sensation, got a contract with Warner Bros. Records after appearing on DeGeneres’ show.
“She can break artists on the show. She has something that I wish I had,” Reid told the AP. “The fact that she’s always expressed such passion for music naturally attracts music lovers to her show.”
Before Greyson’s initial May 13 appearance on DeGeneres’ show, his video had notched 10,000 hits; it now has exceeded 30 million.
James Diener, head of A&M/Octone Records, said DeGeneres’ new label “represents a great opportunity to expose new artists.”
“There are tastemakers and people who lead cultural thought, who lead specific audiences, but there’s not as many that reach such a wide array, and are listened to and are watched and enjoyed by so many different subsets of audiences. I believe that Ellen is one of those personalities,” Diener told the AP.
“As more artists are developed and introduced by her to (the) marketplace … she’s going to develop even more credibility as a developer of new talent.”
Grammy-winner Maxwell also suggested another benefit: DeGeneres could be a more equitable record company owner.
“(She) clearly doesn’t need the money — she’s out here looking to do the art, and I love when people wake up to just do the artist, to represent and protect the artists out there, and I think it could be a really good thing,” he told the AP.
Reid told the AP that the quality of talent DeGeneres recruits will be key.
“I think her embrace of an artist and the attention that she can put on an artist only works if an artist is an amazing artist,” he said. “As with Oprah, when Oprah decides to give attention to a particular thing … it has to be an interesting topic, it has to be an interesting book. So it’s a great platform, but the product will have to be there, the artist will have to be there, the music will have to be great.”