Big Loud Records Launches Global Expansion With Australia’s Own Johnno Keetels

15 September 2023 | 11:12 am | Ellie Robinson

“The team at Big Loud know that the Australian country music landscape is booming.”

Johnno Keetels

Johnno Keetels (Supplied)

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Powerhouse country label Big Loud Records has announced its global expansion, with the independent company establishing presences in Australia and the UK (as well as growing its home base in Canada).

Local legend Johnno Keetels will be leading the fray Down Under as the Australian arm’s label manager, following his ten-year stint in Universal Music’s media room. In a statement given to Countrytown, he called his momentous addition to the Big Loud family “an absolute dream”.

“The opportunity to work alongside Seth [England, CEO], Brianne [Deslippe, SVP of Global Marketing and Strategy], and the incredible team at Big Loud was just too good to pass up. The roster of artists being curated at Big Loud is truly world class, and the chance to work with those artists to grow their footprint in Australia and New Zealand is something that I'm really excited about.

“The team at Big Loud know that the Australian country music landscape is booming, and they're committed to being part of the immense growth that the industry is experiencing here. My passion is to grow the impact of Australian country music on a global scale - to see more of our homegrown country artists be given the opportunity to shine in the USA, Canada, and across Europe and the UK. We have so much talent here that is worthy of a seat at the global table.”

Meanwhile, Cayleigh Shepherd has come onboard as Big Loud’s UK label manager, and Justin Clark has joined the Canadian team in the same role. In a press statement, England said of his company’s global expansion: “We started in year one with our Canadian office, and it has been a long-term goal of ours to have direct Big Loud representation in both Australia and the UK. We waited for the best strategic time, but now makes the most sense with how we’ve grown as a company. We continue to keep an eye on other emerging markets as well.”

Deslippe shared the sentiment, adding in a statement of her own: “There is so much growth potential in these markets, I feel like we've just scratched the surface. For a long time, I was the only international team member having moved to Nashville from Canada, but I've always been made to feel like a valued member of the core team. I'm excited to pay this sentiment forward and invite some more unique and different voices to the table.

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“Getting these international pipes, if you will, set up now, has never been more important or timelier for us. This is the next logical step; be ready for the ones to come and stay prepared for the ones we have.”

At the present, Big Loud’s sprawling artist roster includes the likes of Morgan Wallen, ERNEST, Hailey Whitters, Ashley Cooke, HARDY, Lily Rose and Jake Worthington.

To learn a little more about the global expansion of Big Loud, Keetels had England and Deslippe answer a few burning questions:

Why are you expanding into Australia and the UK?

Deslippe: With 25-plus artists now across multiple imprints and genres, it was important for us to have strong voices on the front lines, finding opportunities and making connections for them around the world. Having key experts in the field will be a valuable resource for our wider teams, staff and managers as well. We could not be more excited to have Johnno and Cayleigh joining us, and to be elevating Justin's role within Canada. All three are stars and have already brought so much value to Big Loud.

Do you expect to expand out beyond one person in each territory?

Deslippe: Yes, the biggest task was finding the right leaders in each territory who can support the roster, across all genres. It will be a collaborative effort going forward on how to best scale and when, but there is so much growth potential in these markets; I feel like we've just scratched the surface. 

Will you be signing artists from those regions specifically for release there?

England: Yes, if the music is great. It needs to be fantastic, something we love, and where we see growth. We work with several Canadian artists as well, and this approach hasn’t changed. It has to start with the music.

Deslippe: Potentially, yes. A few of our recent success stories have been solely within Canada, for example, and we know that what resonates in Sydney may not work in London, and vice versa. We are open to all possibilities, and we want to keep our eyes and ears open.