Normani certainly knows how to make a splash. When the multi-talented former Fifth Harmony star released her latest single, “Wild Side” featuring Cardi B, it was accompanied by a blockbuster music video that had fans and fellow artists alike fawning on social media — and helped the track debut at No. 14 on the Hot 100 this week, the highest debut in Normani’s career.
It was also the latest installment in a shrewd campaign to build a solo career after stratospheric success with the girl group, one that has included a measured, patient approach of releasing singles far apart, and teaming up with other stars — Sam Smith, Khalid, Megan Thee Stallion and others — to reach new audiences and expand her fan base. And it’s helped her manager, S10 Entertainment founder/CEO Brandon Silverstein, earn the title of Billboard’s Executive of the Week.
The success of Normani’s latest single isn’t the only recent win for Silverstein: he also manages Anitta, whose “Girl In Rio” track continues to get spins on mainstream and rhythmic radio while, three years after partnering with Roc Nation, S10 just launched a new publishing division, which Silverstein describes as “a long-term play.” Here, he discusses the rollout of “Wild Side,” the strategy he’s used to help support Normani’s career and what he sees as the opportunities in the future in his company’s new division. “We get to bring in some of today’s most exciting songwriters and support their work, while also building real catalog for the company.”
“Wild Side” debuted at No. 14 on the Hot 100 this week, the highest debut of Normani’s career. What key decision did you make to help make this happen?
The key decision that continues to pay off is to trust in Normani and her vision. She is an artist in the truest sense. She doesn’t jump on trends or rush out music. She takes her time and is intentional about exploring who she is as an artist. And each time, we see her deliver in a big way. At that point, my job is to fight to execute the vision, to pull together the various drivers — streaming, video, social, radio, press — that create a hit. And both Normani and Cardi’s fans have been incredible. Songs like these don’t happen because of one decision, it’s putting the entire team on one path, everyone working in unison, that creates this kind of cultural moment.
“Wild Side” was also helped in its first week by its music video, which received wide acclaim and high praise. What did you do to maximize the video’s impact?
Most of the meaningful decisions that led to the success of the video prior to its release included securing the budget alongside Normani — that’s necessary to create a work of this kind. Then, it was making sure we had an incredibly strong visual — and obviously Tanu Muino and Sean Bankhead completely understood Normani’s vision. From there, it was about making sure that all our partners had the tools they needed to support our efforts. And, of course, the livestream with Normani and Cardi helped kick the whole thing off and bring those two audiences together.
Almost all of Normani’s singles to date have included a feature. How does that help boost a song, and benefit her career?
Cardi wasn’t really a “feature” for Normani, they legitimately love each other and they enjoy being able to work together. In a more general sense, creating these hit singles with other great artists is really about Normani exploring her sound, building her audience and aligning with other really exciting performers. While she’s doing that, she’s reaching people who previously may not have known who she was. This means that we’ve been able to create a situation where I can call John Ivey at iHeart or Scott Greenstein and Alex Tear at SiriusXM or Eric Bradley 97.1 L.A./B96 Chicago and they all jump on the record. We’re working this single now at Urban, at Rhythmic and at Top 40 at the same time. That’s what aligning with other great artists does.
“Wild Side” is also Normani’s first single in more than a year. Why the break — and how do you use that scarcity to your advantage?
If scarcity helps, that’s great. But that’s not necessarily what we were trying to do — we’re focused on creating great music. Normani has a very strong vision and it’s worth waiting for the right thing, rather than rushing the wrong thing. Certainly, the pandemic forced us to make some changes to the timeline, but mostly it was about being patient, staying focused and allowing Normani to do Normani and create.
It’s been three years since you’ve partnered with Roc Nation. What has the association allowed you to do?
Aligning with Jay [Brown] and JAY-Z and Desiree [Perez] has opened so many doors for me as an executive, they’re wonderful partners. And Jay Brown has taught me so much. It’s a really unusual and exciting thing to be able to work with your idols.
S10 launched a new publishing wing this year. Why now, and what advantages does that provide for your company?
S10 is a full-service creative entertainment company and launching a publishing division has just allowed us to create more. We built a really gorgeous studio for our writers, a place that’s now become a songwriting hub, somewhere artists actually like to hang out. Publishing is a long-term play for me; we’re in it for the long haul. I guess the advantage is that we get to bring in some of today’s most exciting songwriters and support their work, while also building real catalog for the company.