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I.B. BAD: THE GUNS
OF AUTUMN

The new album from XL/Columbia’s Adele is expected to arrive on Nov. 20—prefaced by a single in early November. The forthcoming album is the last on Adele’s current deal with XL and Sony; sources say she has already inked a new exclusive worldwide deal with Sony said to be valued at north of $50m, keeping her on Rob Stringer’s Columbia for three more albums. Adele has inked a lockout deal with NBC for four TV projects— a prime-time TV special, a Today Show engagement, Saturday Night Live and one other look, possibly Fallon. The NBC deal will not prevent her from appearing on the 2016 Grammys Feb. 15 on CBS.

What will the streaming component be, given Adele and manager Jonathan Dickins’ history? Her massive 21 was absent from Spotify apart from the first single because, in 2011, Daniel Ek refused to accept Adele and Dickins’ stipulation that the album be limited to the premium tier; Dickins has continued his premium crusade during the three and a half years since that impasse, which set the precedent for Taylor Swift’s subsequent stipulation of premium-only on 2012’s Red and again on 1989 last fall, which Ek similarly rejected—but these are different times, and things change—witness Spotify’s decision to take Drake & Future’s album following a five-day Apple exclusive just a few weeks after opting not to take Dr. Dre’s initially exclusive Compton.

The Q4 blitz will involve a massive physical presence for the album—which could turn out to be the last smash to be closely associated with the compact disc—and will probably include a wall-to-wall Target campaign.

Adele’s camp continues to be hush-hush about which of the 23 tracks that had been considered for inclusion have made the final cut. Among those producers and co-writers on the project are Max Martin, Greg Kurstin, Paul Epworth, Dan Wilson, Ryan Tedder, Jeff Bhasker and Tobias Jesso Jr. Adele is said to be 100% in charge of and invested in all creative decision-making.

If the release date were to slip, would it bump to Dec. 3? Team Adele wants nothing to do with the shit show that ensues on Black Friday, which this year falls on Nov. 27.

Adele’s selection of the Nov. 20 release date has already caused SYCO/Columbia’s One Direction to move the release of the group’s fifth album from that date to Nov. 13, putting it up against Def Jam’s Justin Bieber release. That means two of Q4’s most eagerly awaited recordings will go head-to-head for first-week supremacy—and with nearly identical target audiences at that. What’s more, two of the most prominent managers in the business will be on the same stage: Scooter Braun, a wizard of social-media marketing, and Richard Griffiths, whose track record during the last five years is considered by many to be without equal.

On his upcoming album, the newly resurgent Bieber, riding high on the massive #1 single “What Do You Mean?” and the Top 10 hit “Where Are U Now,” is expected to deliver more of the EDM-inflected pop that has fueled his latest rocket ride. He’ll be dropping a new single a week before release. 1D, meanwhile, is dropping what looks to be their final release as a group, so the set could have significant commemorative value—even beyond the band’s usual appeal—despite the absence, thus far, of a big radio track.

The 1D album is currently projected at around 350k. Bieber’s last album, 2013’s Believe Acoustic, debuted with 211k (giving him his fifth #1 prior to his 20th birthday). Bieber’s biggest first week was for 2012’s Believe, which bowed with 374k. 1D’s 2014 set, Four, moved 387k first week, while 2013’s Midnight Memories and 2012’s Take Me Home debuted with 546k and 540k, respectively. RTD sales with TEA appear in the graphic below. Will Bieber’s new heat give him the edge, or will the likely swan song of 1D power greater fan interest?

Amid the building drama, the chatter continues about the imminent solo careers of the four remaining 1D members, who will become free agents in regard to their respective recording rights following the delivery of 1D’s fifth album, the final one under the deal with Simon Cowell and Sonny Takhar’s SYCO. The biggest questions surround the group’s primary heartthrob, Harry Styles. Insiders say that a Styles solo album could be released as early as next year at this time.

With Adele and 1D in the wings, Stringer’s Columbia is shaping up to have another huge Q4. Stringer’s label could hit the trifecta if it gets a Beyoncé album in time for a 2015 release, although early 2016 remains a possibility. The new Naughty Boy single on Capitol featuring Beyoncé will be on her upcoming album.

There was much conversation both within and between Slim and Baby’s Cash Money and L.A. Reid's Epic as to whether the Drake & Future mixtape would be free or made commercially available. It's believed that Epic was adamant about it being commercially released because the label is in mid-cycle on Future’s current album. This position by Epic helped get the album across the finish line for Cash Money and avoided a showdown with Drake over whether he’d fulfilled his release commitment under his CM deal, which has been a subject of much controversy. Insiders say this release does not preclude the possibility of a new album from Drake this year, which would form a potent one-two punch with The Weeknd for Republic during Q4.  

The album, the second surprise release from Drake during the last six months, cements the Canadian rapper’s status as the artist of the moment, eclipsing all others in the genre, with J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar his closest rivals. What impact did the first-week Apple exclusive have on the rights holders’ other retail and streaming partners? Rights holders are voicing their unhappiness about Apple’s proliferating worldwide exclusives; they would much rather see all retail and streaming outlets get their high-priority projects simultaneously.

Apple Music streams in U.S. on hit acts are believed to be about half of Spotify paid streams. As Apple launches the latest phase in its marketing of the service—specifically, educating mainstream consumers as to what streaming is and does—Team Cupertino and the rights holders are waiting with bated breath to see what percentage of trial users will pony up for the $9.99 and $14.99 monthly subscriptions. This information will be a critical factor in determining Spotify’s leverage in its continuing negotiations with the major rights holders. In its favor, Spotify is much bigger than Apple in every territory that matters.

A new, extremely dramatic chill in label relations is about to ensue concerning one top exec’s new employment agreement.

NAMES IN THE RUMOR MILL: Steve Bartels, Sylvia Rhone, Nick Raphael, Don Passman, Aaron Rosenberg and Jeffrey Azoff.

 

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Tay knows how to pick her spots. (9/17a)
BEYONCÉ ROARS IN PRIME TIME
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The players who made it happen.
WHAT ABOUT THOSE LEAKS?
Even funnier in French.
RIHANNA'S ETA
And about $50m in funding.
THE BUNDLE BUNGLE
When will the rules change?
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