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I.B. BAD ON A VIBRANT BUT BIFURCATED MARKETPLACE
What's growth got to do with it? (1/19a)
BRUCE GIVES OBAMA
A SEND-OFF SHOW
How fitting is that? (1/19a)
BBC RADIO 1 HOSTS FUTURE STARS
...including DIY up-and-comer Jorja Smith. (1/19a)
THE PRESIDENT-ELECT ON STREAMING
Political performance battle A companion piece to the SNL cold open. (1/19a)
GRAMMY BATTLES
Trophies, performers, rules and more.
Q1'S FIRST BIG SURPRISE
The return of a star.
STREAMING SPIKES
Explosive growth and the changes it's bringing to the biz.
CHANGES AT THE TOP
Is another major about to have a new head?
Blighty Beat
BBC RADIO 1 HOSTS FUTURE STARS
1/19/17

We were especially wowed by one standout star at BBC Radio 1’s Future Festival in London, where the station hosted sets from a diverse range of acts expected to have success over the coming year at its Maida Vale studios.

... Read more

U.K. MUSIC CHIEF STEPS DOWN
1/18/17

Chief of U.K. government lobbying trade body UK MusicJo Dipple, is to step down in June 2017 after five years as CEO. A replacement is currently being sought. Dipple joins a number of recent leadership changes across the British trade bodies.

 ... Read more

NEW SIGNINGS: POLYDOR, SYCO AND INFECTIOUS
1/18/17

There’s been three additions to the rosters of UniversalSony and BMG in Blighty of late as Hannah Jane Lewis joins Polydor5 After Midnight (pictured) sign to Sony and The Sherlocks join Infectious.

... Read more

BBC RADIO 1 PLEDGES MORE PLAYLIST SPACE FOR BRITS
1/16/17

After facing criticism for not playing enough homegrown acts, BBC Radio 1 has pledged a commitment to playlisting three singles for up to six new U.K. acts. The idea is by the third they’ll have risen the ranks to its A List. 

There was just one British act in BBC Radio 1’s Top 10 songs played last year (“I’m In Control” (Island) by Aluna George f/Popcaan), with another 17 in the Top 50, which was 36% British overall. Of those 18 U.K. acts, nine fall under the Beeb’s “new” category with no album yet released. 

“It’s no secret that the wider music industry, of which Radio 1 forms an important part, struggled to break any U.K. artists in 2016,” playlist boss Chris Price told British trade title Music Week. “This is about Radio 1 taking a leading role in trying to fix that issue. We should continue to play a part in breaking U.K. artists at home and on the world stage.”

The initiative joins efforts from the Official Charts Company, which has changed the streaming conversion rate for one sale on the singles chart to 150 streams from 100 in the hope of achieving less stagnancy after a rather boring 2016 for High Street Kensington. 

 

U.K. CHARTS: TWO SINGLES SET
A NEW RECORD
1/13/17

Ed Sheeran has topped Adele and Drake with first week sales and streams in Blighty as his two singles rack up 421k combined sales, making the British star the first act to debut at #1 and #2 on the Official Singles Chart.

“Shape of You” is Sheeran’s third #1 single while “Castle on the Hill” enters at #2. The former tallies 227k combined sales (137k downloads, 13.4m streams) while the latter has 194k (120k downloads, 11.07m streams). Together the tracks top Adele’s first-week 332k total with “Hello” (XL) in November 2015 and individually top the 8.9m streaming record set by Drake with “One Dance” (Island) last summer.

“Human” (Columbia) by Rag’n’Bone Man is #3, followed by Clean Bandit’s “Rockabye” (Atlantic) at #4 and “Touch” (Syco) by Little Mix at #5. “September Song” by new Island act JP Cooper jumps nine places to a new peak of #7, followed by “Call On Me” (AATW) by Starley at #8 and “You Don’t Know Me” (Polydor) by Jax Jones and Raye at #9.

Over on the Official Albums Chart, You Me At Six couldn’t hold on to their midweek #1 peak as Night People (Infectious) lands at #3. Little Mix take the helm instead with Glory Days (Syco) spending a fifth week at the chart summit. Pete Tong’s Universal-released dance compilation, Classic House, stays at #3 as George Michael’s Ladies & Gentlemen (Epic) rises seven places to #4. David Bowie’s greatest hits set Legacy (Parlophone) is up 13 places to #5.

After Sheeran revealed his third album ÷ that’s set to arrive on 3/3, its predecessor, x, races from last week's #47 to #8, marking its 78th week inside the Official Albums Top 10.

 

SHEERAN KEEPS ADDING: 3/3 RELEASE FOR ALBUM
1/12/17

After sharing the tracklist on social media Wednesday, Ed Sheeran’s third album, ÷ (pronounced divide), has been officially announced with its arrival set for 3/3 through WMG's Asylum/Atlantic (Ben Cook’s imprint in the U.K.). Pre-orders start Friday.

÷  is described as “an array of beautifully orchestrated and emotive ballads, impassioned raps laid over hip hop beats, timeless acoustic guitar masterpieces and innovative, idiosyncratic pop music.”

Benny Blanco (RihannaThe Weeknd) executive produced alongside Sheeran with further production coming from Johnny McDaidMike Elizondo and Steve Mac.

Its first two tracks received a monumental welcome this week as “Shape of You” broke the Spotify record for one-day streams with over 7.9m—more than Adele’s “Hello” (XL). They have a combined tally of 137m streams across Apple, Spotify, YouTube and Deezer over six days. Both singles have peaked at #1 on 128 iTunes charts worldwide and the accompanying lyric videos were Sheeran's biggest-ever with 10m combined views in the first 24 hours and over 60m hits to date. 

Sheeran already has two multimillion-selling albums under his belt with debut + and follow-up x. He's rumoured to be headlining Glastonbury and news of a headline tour is expected to be announced by the end of the month. 

 

U.K. MARKETSHARE 2016
1/12/17

The marketshare figures for how the British labels fared in 2016 are in, with Jason Iley's Sony and Max Lousada's WMG improving, while David Joseph's market-leader Universal is slightly down. Ted Cockle's Virgin EMI is still the top performing imprint, followed by the RCA Label Group, newly helmed by David Dollimore. Read on for the stats, as well as a few determining factors.

Numbers are calculated using the AES (Album Equivalent Sales) metric. That comprises physical and digital album sales, track equivalent albums (where 1k streams = one album) and also include budget albums. 

Highest riser Sony U.K. ended 2016 at 24.3%—up 2.0% on 2015 —thanks to big sellers from Elvis Presley, David Bowie and Little Mix, as well as the acquisition of previously independent label Ministry of Sound in August. RCA takes second place in the individual label group tally with 8.0%, while Elvis label Sony Music CG is third at 7.6%.

Warner U.K. is up 0.3% year-on-year to 17.5% in 2016, with Coldplay and Jess Glynne (released in 2015) its biggest album sellers, as well as a Parlophone-released Best Of Bowie. Atlantic is its market-leader at 5.0%.

UMG U.K. is still way ahead of the pack at 35.0%, but is down 0.3% on 2015. Ball and Boe's Together, issued by Decca, was its surprise year-end blockbuster, selling 512k over the course of eight weeks to take third place on 2016's best-sellers, and accompanied by Justin Bieber and Drake in the Top 10. Virgin EMI rules the individual label group at 11.0% (down 0.2%), with Island at 6.6% and Polydor 6.3%.

What Sony gains the indies lose: independent companies took 23.2% last year, down from 25.2% in 2015. 

SONY UPS STAKE IN SYCO
1/11/17

Freshly filed accounts have revealed that Sony’s six-year deal with Simon Cowell’s Syco in 2015 was worth £86m with the major company tripling its share to 75%. The length of the new deal was revealed by Cowell during his MITs acceptance speech, with numbers spotted by British tabloid Daily Mail via a January filing at Companies House.

£52.4m of that £86m was paid in 2015, with a further £33.4m due before 2021. Cowell’s share is down from 40% to 20% as a result, with Sir Philip Green also taking a 50% cut from 10% to 5%.

The TV and music firm that encompasses label Syco and the X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent franchises made £1.46m in the 39 weeks to March 2016.