On Tuesday night at the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles, a sold-out crowd full of recognizable TikTokers and tastemakers greets Trevor Daniel.
The 25-year-old emo-pop purveyor has found himself lingering in the industry eye as a shining reflection of the current business model: get traction on SoundCloud, amass a following on TikTok, ink a fat deal. Daniel is signed to Alamo, music-biz veteran Todd Moscowitz’s subsidiary label through Interscope. His breakout single, “Falling,” has garnered more than 350 million streams on Spotify alone, and inspired remixes by Summer Walker and Alamo labelmate Blackbear. (The track sits at Number Eight on Spotify’s weekly global chart, and Number Six in the U.S. — sandwiched between the Weeknd and Post Malone, respectively. He also has more than 27 million worldwide monthly listeners on the platform.)
Daniel has become a label priority, as evidenced by Interscope CEO John Janick and EVP Joie Manda’s attendance at a Sunset Strip club on a school night. Universal Music Group ended 2019 as the label group with the biggest market share, and Interscope appeared victorious as the UMG label with the highest percentage of said share. Some of Interscope’s top 2019 earners included Lady Gaga, Eminem, Billie Eilish, and Juice WRLD. The connecting factor here, aside from star power, is vulnerability. All of these artists prove that emotional authenticity is more compelling to today’s consumer than braggadocio, and Daniel fits in comfortably as a part of that pack. And much like Eilish and Juice WRLD, he blurs the lines of categorization; he’s a little bit rap, a little bit R&B, a splash of pop, and a pinch of alternative. Onstage at the Roxy, he’s styled like a hip-hop star, sings earworms like a pop star, and is backed by a drummer and a guitarist like a rock star.
The evening’s set covered a lot of ground, with Daniel breezing through an hour’s worth of material. He first jumped into the crowd for “Paranoid,” weaving through a sea of sweaty adolescents and holding hands with attendees before forming a cross between a prayer circle and a championship-game football huddle — a mass of limbs that pulsates to an almost tribal rhythm. At closing time, he leaves fans with “Falling,” which also warrants a hop into the crowd, but this time his guitarist augments the track with a searing solo. The crowd knows every word, and the lights go on by 10 p.m. Everyone’s a winner (including the kids with curfews), and Trevor Daniel is here to remind you of that.