How did a little-known, unsigned San Diego singer become an overnight sensation in Australia and New Zealand? Acoustic guitarist Lee Coulter edged out such luminaries as Drake, Maroon 5 and Imagine Dragons as his new single skyrocketed to No. 1 on the iTunes Australia playlist on Aug. 8.
“It’s a San Diego win,” says Coulter, who teamed up with San Diego singer Dixie Maxwell for the recording of “We You Me.”
“It shows that not just me but anyone can record a song in their bedroom and still have it reach the top of the iTunes chart,” explains the La Costa songwriter whose music production is a do-it-yourself operation. He has made four albums since moving to San Diego in 2006 — all without the help of a recording studio.
Coulter's meteoric iTunes rise caught the attention of ABC Radio in Brisbane, Australia, The Music Network magazine and Australia’s Courier Mail, to name a few.
“You’ve gone from virtual unknown, in 24 hours, to the top of the charts — out of the blue,” marveled Steve Austin of ABC Radio Australia.
But Coulter will tell you his “overnight” success was 14 years in the making — rounds of graduation parties, weddings, bar mitzvahs, corporate events, coffee house gigs and nightclub appearances.
“I’ve even done wakes. I do it all,” says the singer, 37, who grew up in Shailer Park, Australia, just south of Brisbane. “I don’t really track my business stuff. That is probably why I haven’t become better known.”
He credits his sudden recognition to his sister, Revie Jane Schulz, who lives in Australia and whose popular lifestyle and fitness posts have attracted 173,000 followers on Instagram.
She used his new single, “We You Me,” written with an assist from Dawn Mitschele and released last month, as background music on a romantic anniversary Instagram post on Aug. 2. She then “challenged” her followers to post their own videos to the music. They did.
“We You Me” zoomed to No. 1 on iTunes Australia charts on Aug. 8. It dropped to a respectable fifth place on Aug. 9 and slid down to 89th place on Aug. 12.
But never mind, the uptick caught the attention of record producers and talent managers who have contacted Coulter. On Wednesday, he signed with an agent in Australia who handles global TV, advertising and movie placement.
“I’m still talking to (record) labels about signing with them,” Coulter said.
On Friday, he was scheduled to perform at 8 p.m. at Java Joe’s, the coffee house where Jewel was “discovered” that is now located in Old Town. On Aug. 31, he’ll showcase at EVE Encinitas.
Coulter doesn’t expect to get rich from the recent iTunes bonanza but says he gets 66 percent of the song download fees so it will pay for his groceries. To his delight, the attention also sparked downloads of his album of soulful songs, “EarthLee,” released in January.
“I don’t think I’m going to be a millionaire. … What I’m excited about is getting more attention from the industry people,” he says. “This gives me hope that you still can make it on a small scale — handmade, so to speak.”
Read more from Diane Bell's column here.