LoveRenaissance, also known as LVRN, only has 10 acts on its roster. The tight-knit, black-owned music company — run by first-generation immigrants from Ghana, Nigeria, Trinidad, and Jamaica — dedicates time to a small group of rising artists instead of going after superstars. “It’s just more fun that way,” says president Tunde Balogun. “We get to know each other, and nobody’s a know-it-all.”
In recent months, LVRN has designed bespoke release campaigns for 6lack (who sent out hot sauce and launched an augmented-reality chicken shop) and Summer Walker (who rolled out her new EP, Life on Earth, through socially distanced events including a laser-tag game and a drive-up UFO crash site). It partners with Interscope to offer artists the promotional and financial muscle of a major label while being able to stay indie at heart. “We’ll always be selective, but we’re not scared to find new talent and sign more eventually. We just don’t ever want to get to the point where we’re collecting artists rather than serving artists,” LVRN’s marketing and brand partnerships head Sean Famoso says.
So far, LVRN has enjoyed getting in at the ground level, meaning that they’re particularly interested in artist development — instead of signing an already-established act with a big name.
Toward the end of 2019, LVRN client Summer Walker’s first album, Over It, earned the biggest female R&B debut in more than a decade. During the pandemic, Walker rolled out her Life on Earth EP through a variety of outer-space-themed marketing tactics — one event encouraged fans to drive to a site where a secret radio frequency unlocked an early listen of the album, while another had fans play laser tag in protective suits. LVRN’s Grammy-nominated artist 6lack, meanwhile, released his album 6 Pc Hot and coordinated robotic deliveries of hot sauce to fans’ houses.
LVRN is now thinking beyond the industry it began in. Famoso, Balogun, and LVRN’s three other co-founders, Carlon Ramong, Justice Baiden, and Junia Abaidoo, are also queuing up film and TV projects — expanding their storytelling beyond music. One show in the works centers around black kids who discover that “in a certain realm, you can use your complexion as social currency,” as Famoso puts it.
It’s about “understanding people’s passions and what they’re best at, and pushing them along the way,” explains Famoso. “Junia mentioned, a couple months ago, that he wanted to write a book, and I’ve been on his ass about writing his book. I’m not gonna write that book, but I’ll market it. It’s always a collective effort.”
The quintet believes music companies’ growth depends on their ability to branch out. “We approach everything like dreamers, always asking, ‘Why can’t we?’ In 2020, there are very low barriers of entry,” Balogun says. “Our business plan for the future is to have multiple verticals. I should be able to help my artist make an album, make their film, license and sync the music from the album, and go to Amazon and get them an Audible book if that’s what they want.”