Facebook Twitter Email


It’s a Wednesday in August, ­backstage at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., and Fetty Wap can’t believe he’s here to kick off a monthlong arena tour, opening for Chris Brown. “It still feels like November to me,” says the 25-year-old, shaking his blonde ­dreadlocks in wonder.

November 2014 was before the Paterson, N.J., rapper had four singles simultaneously occupying the Billboard Hot 100, and before his drug-ballad “Trap Queen” hit No. 2 on that chart. It was before the three Warner Music veterans backstage with Fetty — Lyor CohenKevin Liles and Todd Moscowitz — proved their data-driven label with partner Roger Gold, 300 Entertainment, could turn a SoundCloud track into a smash.

Founded in 2013, 300 was formed around the idea of having “the muscle of a major” while staying “nimble like an independent,” as Liles puts it. Their now-winning strategy? Tackle the listener from every angle, forgoing exclusivity in favor of saturation: YouTube, SoundCloud, Spotify, Beats — name a streaming service and they’re analyzing it, studying it and looking to use it to monetize music from their up-and-coming roster.

“We spend a lot of time with Pandora, a lot of time with Shazam,” says Moscowitz. “They’re ­incredible indicators of what’s going on.” Atlanta rap trio Migos, one of 300’s earliest signees, is the second-most-popular artist on Pandora with an average of 40 ­million streams per month — ahead of Taylor Swift.

As 300 prepares for a big fall — with a Young Thug release on Aug. 28, Fetty Wap’s debut album due Sept. 25 and growing excitement about recent Australian signee Meg Mac — the label isn’t abandoning its singles-centric approach. For viral stars like T-Wayne (whose “Nasty Freestyle” went top 10 on the Hot 100 from a Vine craze), it’s a simple matter of feeding algorithms more content by releasing new songs. “In a search bar on any of these [streaming] platforms,” says Moscowitz, “multiple things come up. So we give them multiple things.”

“I never wanted to be the ­biggest,” explains Cohen about his label goals. “I want to be the most dangerous.”