Exclusive: Atlantic to release Yael Naim album


Right now, the only way to get a copy of Yael Naim's "New Soul," which is prominently featured in the new Mac Air ad, is to buy it on iTunes. Alternatively, a friend in France could procure you a physical copy of Naim's self-titled album, released there last October by label Tot ou Tard.

But that will all change March 18, when Atlantic releases the album in the United States, two months ahead of schedule. Naim has been signed to Atlantic stateside since 2007.

Like Feist's iPod Nano ad-soundtracking "1234" before it, "New Soul" is racing up the charts and doing big business online. This week, it debuts at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 on Hot Digital Songs after shifting 135,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The success of the ad leaves Naim's team at Atlantic in a happy predicament. "When we signed her, we started off with this pretty much unknown girl who sings in Hebrew half the time and built our campaign around that. Now, we have to suddenly change everything," Atlantic head of international Torsten Luth says.

Luth says that while some components of the marketing campaign will change, many will stay the same. "We are going to release the same record that she released in France, with about half the songs in English and half in Hebrew," he says. "We are also going to use the original video. We want her to be able to be herself.

While still relatively unknown in the States, Naim is not a newcomer to the music business by any stretch. The French-born singer grew up in Israel and spent her mandatory military service as a soloist in the Israel Air Force Orchestra. She released her first album, "In a Man's Womb," via EMI in 2001, but left the label shortly thereafter, because, as she says, "I was young and became very disappointed in the system." Last October, "Yael Naim" debuted at No. 11 on the French charts.

Despite her history, Naim has never toured the States. "I'm excited to play over in America," she says. "When I was making the record, I never expected anything like this would happen."

A March performance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" is confirmed, and Naim will showcase at South by Southwest and in New York this spring before embarking on a tour.