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Los Angeles singer-songwriter Ricky Montgomery has signed with Warner Records, Billboard can exclusively announce today (Feb. 5).

The L.A.-born artist began playing music when he moved to St. Louis, Missouri at fourteen. After posting clips of humorous original songs on Vine, he gained a following that encouraged him to release the Caught On The Moon EP in 2014 — and to move back to the West Coast.

A debut full-length album, Montgomery Ricky, followed in 2016, but when interest in the project stalled, Montgomery pivoted to writing and performing in the indie band The Honeysticks. In 2018, he took a break from the industry, and was just about to give up the idea of being a professional musician — when all of a sudden, he found himself in the midst of internet stardom once again. In July 2020, Montgomery Ricky cuts “Line Without a Hook” and “Mr. Loverman” blew up on TikTok, and suddenly the labels were knocking.

“I went from having zero label interest ever in 27 years of life to having regular conversations with virtually every single major label A&R in a matter of 5 months,” he tells Billboard. “It was absolutely dizzying, and still is.”

Meanwhile, Montgomery, 27, worked on showcasing his own TikTok savviness (and relentless sense of humor) through reaction videos, “dueting” with and highlighting fans who use his songs. Since joining the platform in July 2020, he has amassed nearly one million followers, and 20.4M likes.

By the time autumn rolled around, Warner Records emerged as the battle royal champion, and they put pen to paper with Montgomery in December 2020. “We have been fans of Ricky’s for some time, and were blown away by how he has taken his already sizable audience over the past year and expanded it into one of the most passionate and quickly growing fanbases in music today,” says A&R Analysis senior director Sean Stevens, who signed Montgomery alongside A&R evp Nate Albert. “There is a classicism and authenticity to what he does that is inescapable,” Albert adds. “I think it’s exactly what the world needs now, and the world seems to agree.”

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Montgomery’s first release with Warner is a reimagined version of “Line Without a Hook,” now with the addition of pop singer-songwriter Mxmtoon (aka Maia). Montgomery connected with Maia after seeing her perform one of his songs on Twitch; he was thrilled to learn she used to watch his Vines back in the day, and the collaboration came together quickly.

“Line Without a Hook” evokes the lilting vocals of ’00s emo pop heroes like Never Shout Never and Hellogoodbye, and the eclectic instrumentation of London’s Fanfarlo. As with many of Montgomery’s songs, the lighthearted lyrics refer to a deeper, more complex theme. “The song presents itself as a love song,” Montgomery explains, “but it’s really me using the space of that song to capture the emotion of finally feeling like I was the one in control of my own life.”

Another revamped version of a Montgomery Ricky song is already in the pipeline, and Montgomery plans to begin work on his next album soon. “I can honestly say that I couldn’t be happier with where I ended up,” he asserts. “Needless to say, it feels pretty great.”

Watch the lyric video for “Line Without a Hook” featuring Mxmtoon below.

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