W Hotels, the modern luxury hotel chain under Marriott International’s portfolio, announced last week the creation of W Records, its in-house recording label. Akin to a “small but powerful independent label”, W Records will sign emerging artists and help them produce and distribute their tracks around the world, according to a press release.
“A record label doesn’t make sense for most brands, but W is different,” said Anthony Ingham, Global Brand Leader of W Hotels Worldwide in an email. “We aren’t afraid to step outside of what is expected of the hospitality industry.”
The entry follows W Hotels’ growing presence in the music industry with Wake Up Call, the first on-site music festival sponsored by a hotel that takes place in W Hotels around the world, including Hollywood, Barcelona, Bali and Dubai. Past performers have included Charli XCX, Martin Solveig, Angus and Julia Stone.
Ingham said that W Hotels has always been focused on promoting music, from employing a team of music experts to help shape the guest experience to hosting on-site performances in the hotels’ lobbies, or “Living Rooms”. The brand also had a partnership with Billboard on its “NEXT UP” series to promote emerging artists, and built out a series of in-house recording studios, called W Sound Suites, in Bali, New York, Barcelona and Seattle.
“W Records is different from a lot of initiatives we see in the hospitality space because its main goal is to support artists,” Ingham said. “Our guests, like us, want to see and hear what is new and next in music. With W Records, we get to have a hand in bringing the newest sound directly to our guests with exclusive tracks.”
According to the press release, W Records will seek to sign “emerging artists, and artists on the tipping point of worldwide fame.” The first artist announced on its lineup was globally influenced R&B singer Amber Mark, who released a new cover as part of her collaboration with the label as well as a rework of one of her previous songs with a music video shot at W Hotels.
“Travel has been a huge part of my life and a big inspiration for my work, so working with a brand like W, which has such a deep love of travel and a global perspective, really resonated with me,” Mark said in an email. “I’ve also seen W work with artists that I admire – like St. Vincent– so I’m excited to join such amazing company in working with the brand.”
W Hotels will provide all of its artists access to W Sound Suites, video shoot locations, production assistance, and distribution of performances and vinyl products. In return, W Records will serve as the channel through which these new tracks and music videos will be released, as well as the live venue for intimate performances in front of hotel guests and music fans.
With its new record label, Ingham said, W Hotels hopes that its music initiative will increase its in-house value with live performances and musical artist access, as well as forge connections with media influencers and promoters to access a larger audience.