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GREIN ON GRAMMYS: BEST NEW ARTIST
Eight is enough. (10/22a)
RIRI PASSES ON SUPER BOWL LIII HALFTIME
Solidarity in action (10/19a)
BORN AGAIN, AGAIN
Can it hold off "Star" power? (10/22a)
YOUR TOP 20 IS BORN UNDER A BRAD SIGN
Gaga and Cooper on repeat (10/17a)
THE LAST HURDLE (UPDATE)
The final call will go down in Brussels. (10/22a)
GRAMMY CONTENDERS
We chat with big stars, rising stars and next big things.
MMA FOR DUMMIES
Not Mixed Martial Arts; the Music Modernization Act, dummy.
IS IT COLD IN HERE?
...or are our bosses from outer space?
THE KIDS
They're leaning on the button.
Blighty Beat
ELLIS ELEVATED AT POSITIVA
10/18/18

Jason Ellis, a longtime stalwart of UMG U.K. dance imprint Positiva Records, has been elevated to Managing Director of the imprint. The promotion arrives after recent success with Martin Solveig, Jonas Blue and Marshmello & Bastille.

Ellis started his career in the EMI sales team in 1995 and was named A&R Manager for Positiva in 1999. The following two years were among the label’s most successful whilst under the leadership of Kevin Robinson, and the duo had hits with Fragma, Vengaboys, Alice Deejay and Spiller & Sophie Ellis-Bextor.

After taking the helm from Robinson in 2001, Ellis steered the label through the rocky file-sharing period, after which big singles from The Shapeshifters, Room 5, The Ones, Deep Dish and Axwell helped to reinstate Positiva’s position. After moving to Virgin in 2009,Ellis was at the forefront of the EDM explosion. He played a key role in breaking David Guetta in the UK, A&R'd deadmau5 and signed Swedish House Mafia.

Since joining Universal in 2012 after the EMI merger, Ellis signed Avicii to Positiva in the U.K., and had continued commercial successwith Armin van Buuren, David Zowie and Martin Garrix, alongside those mentioned above.

Ellis' promotion coincides with Positiva celebrating its third U.K. top 5 single of the summer courtesy of Marshmello & Bastille. He continues in his role as A&R Director for Virgin EMI Records, with a roster that includes Duke Dumont, Gorgon City, Sub Focus and Wilkinson.

“Even though the parent company has evolved through several guises, Jason has at all times remained focused on identifying the very best records, and alongside the teams that he nurtures so well, has helped deliver hits consistently across the years,” Virgin EMI President Ted Cockle said.

IMPALA CHARTS A SONY-EMI PROTEST
10/17/18

Independent music association IMPALA  continues to raise concerns over Sony’s takeover of EMI Music Publishing, issuing a study that reveals how big a monopoly the fully combined company will have on the European charts.

The European Commission is undertaking an initial assessment on the impact of the merger, which will include looking into control of national charts.

If Sony were to acquire sole ownership of EMI, the company would control, on average, around 70% of the singles chart in the U.K., Spain, France, Italy, Netherlands, Ireland and Sweden. The stats were calculated using the first week of every month in 2017, and involved identifying Anglo-American repertoire featuring Sony- or EMI-controlled compositions, adding tracks where Sony owns or distributes the recording and removing the overlap.

IMPALA notes that the EC typically investigates when control of national charts exceeds 50% — when Universal acquired EMI, the company had to divest two-thirds so its control shares dropped to less than 45%.

“These figures far exceed the maximum the EC has already established,” Helen Smith, Executive Chair of IMPALA said. “They reveal what we have been highlighting all along, that Sony would have a near monopoly grip over the charts. That would give it unprecedented market power over playlists, radio and other routes to market. This confirms the real risk of the transaction and the need for the EC to block it outright.”

YOUTUBE PICKS UP THE CHECK
10/17/18

Here’s an interesting initiative: YouTube Music is funding a program to help support independent music managers in England and Scotland, offering 12-month grants of up to £15,000 through a partnership with the Music Managers Forum.

The Accelerator Programme for Music Managers is aimed at individuals in full-time or part-time employment looking to make the leap into full-time music management with their own companies.

As well as providing grants, APMM will offer yearlong training and mentorship, delivered in partnership with CMU InsightsMusic Ally and the Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA).

…Read more

U.K. CHARTS: DAVE ARRIVES
10/12/18

U.K. rapper Dave has entered straight in at #1 with “Funky Friday” f/Fredo (Neighbourhood) on 6.7m streams—an impressive feat for any track in a year when Drake is the only artist to have entered at the top in the first week. It’s also a rare mainstream win for the growing British rap scene.

The track had key support at Spotify, appearing on top playlists New Music Friday UK, Hot Hits, Rap and Who We Be. “Funky Friday” joins just two other songs to go straight in at #1 this year, both of which were by Drake.

Elsewhere in the Top 5, long-running #1 “Promises” (Columbia) by Calvin Harris and Sam Smith moves down to #2, while Rita Ora moves up to #5 with “Let You Love Me” (Atlantic).

…Read more

IT'S MONKS' TIME AT DECCA
10/10/18

UMG U.K. imprint Decca Records has a new General Manager in Laura Monks, right, and Director of Marketing and Visual Creative, Sophie Hilton

Monks has spent six years at the label, most recently as Director of Marketing & Commercial Partnerships. Hilton was Head of Marketing.

“Laura is without doubt one of the most exciting executives in the industry,” Decca President Rebecca Allen said. “Laura pushes me as a label Head and always has an eye on our future. She isn’t afraid to challenge and isn’t afraid to debate.”

…Read more

BBC REVISITS BOWIE'S EARLY DAYS
10/8/18

A new David Bowie film is coming to the BBC documenting five years of his early career starting in 1966. Alongside influences, the doc features an early audition that the Beeb panned by at the time for being “not particularly exciting.” Funny how things change... 

The 90-minute David Bowie: The First Five Years is the last in a trilogy made by BBC Studios Productions. The film explores the Bowie before Ziggy and starts soon after David Jones changed his name to Bowie, tracing his interest in everything from Holst to Pinky and Perky, from Anthony Newley to Tibetan Buddhism. It features unheard audio recordings, archived and unpublished documents alongside exclusive interviews with Bowie’s family, friends and early collaborators.

David Bowie and the Lower Third were the band auditioning in 1965, when the BBC’s rather harsh Talent Selection Group describe him as having “quite a different sound,” but “no personality,” “not particularly exciting” and “will not improve with practice." It will air in 2019 on BBC Two—50 years after the release of Space Oddity — and will be distributed internationally.

In addition, highlights of a two-hour performance of David Bowie at Glastonbury in 2000—his first appearance at the festival since 1971—will be shown this month on BBC Four.

 

GELDOF RALLIES AGAINST BREXIT
10/8/18

Bob Geldof has penned an open letter to the U.K.’s Prime Minister Theresa May—who is currently negotiating a Brexit deal with the European Commission—laying out the high cost of an exit from the EU for musicians and urging a rethink.

Ed Sheeran, Rita Ora, Damon Albarn, Jarvis Cocker, Brian Eno and others back Geldorf, reports the Observer, writing: “We are about to make a very serious mistake regarding our giant industry and the vast pool of yet undiscovered genius that lives on this little island.”

Geldof says that Brexit will have a negative impact on touring, sales, copyright legislation, and royalty collection for U.K. musicians in Europe, adding that the already impacted pound has resulted in “hugely increased equipment costs, studio hire, and touring costs.”

...Read more

REVIVED CHRYSALIS CASHING IN
10/4/18

Chrysalis Records in the U.K. has increased its turnover to £3.675m for the year ending June 2018 under its new independent ownership—a marked improvement on the £205k the company earned in the nine months leading up to its acquisition by Blue Raincoat Music from Warner in 2016.

The rise is largely down to monetising historic catalogs in the streaming age. Its roster includes music from The Specials (pictured), Sinead O’Connor, The Waterboys, Ten Years After, Grant Lee Buffalo, Lucinda Williams, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Steve Harley, Fun Boy Three, Ultravox and the Two Tone label.

Prior to Blue Raincoat buying Chrysalis in June 2016, streaming for its catalog stood at around 250k streams per day. Currently, streams are hitting the 1m per day mark—a 100% rise year on year, outstripping market performance by over three to one.

…Read more