Quantcast
I.B. BAD: GRAMMY REWIND, 2017 FAST-FORWARD

MUSIC’S LONGEST NIGHT: The Grammy telecast was slow-paced, beset by nagging sound problems and failed to move the sales needle as in past years, but the 59th Grammys will be best remembered for the abundant charm and graciousness of Adele. She’s a stunningly relatable superstar, completely at ease with who she is, whose humanity transcends all the noise. It’s not just about her wins or her superlative body of work; it’s about her soul, which she shares generously with her audience.

One of the show’s most strikingly original segments was Beyoncé’s elaborate, special-effects-laden set piece, which is said to have cost $1m+ to stage. That’s hardly surprising—this megastar goes big with everything she creates. The same goes for Bey’s colossal earning ability—her 2016 Formation Tour grossed $256m, making it a close second to Bruce Springsteen’s $268m take—another indication that she can do anything she damn well pleases.

HEAVY HITTERS 1: UMG had a slow Grammys, but Lucian Grainge’s #1 music group is blistering-hot otherwise, grabbing 64% of the latest weekly revenue chart behind ZAYN & Taylor Swift, Big Sean, Sam Hunt, Lady Gaga, Drake, Machine Gun Kelly and The Weeknd. If anything, the heat will increase in the coming months; Universal expects new albums from the likes of Taylor, Katy Perry, Drake, Eminem, Sam Smith, U2, Maroon 5, Lana Del Rey, Lorde, Nicki Minaj, Sam Hunt, Chris Stapleton and Thomas Rhett.

CMG ruler Steve Barnett and Motown prexy Ethiopia Habtemariam scored a major coup last week, making a deal with Atlanta indie Quality Control for scorching-hot, much-sought-after hip-hop trio Migos.

It’s starting to look like 2017 could be John Janick’s year, three years after his succession to the IGA throne formerly occupied by the legendary Jimmy Iovine. While enjoying the fruits of several Iovine-spawned projects, including Gaga, Maroon 5, Kendrick Lamar, Imagine Dragons and The 1975, Janick has seen breakouts with the La La Land soundtrack, Rae Sremmurd (whose “Black Beatles” became a phenomenon late last year) and Machine Gun Kelly, along with his Selena Gomez and J. Cole deals and Gaga’s dramatic recent ascent on the heels of her Super Bowl halftime performance. With its robust urban roster, the company is positioned to reap continuing huge benefits from the rhythmic formats’ dominance of the streaming platform.

Lorde performed two extremely well-received songs from her upcoming album during a Grammy week listening event. Some of those on hand wondered whether said album—scheduled to drop in mid-June, with the lead single in March—would once again be on Jason Flom’s Lava or Republic proper.

Working with a single producer, Jeff Bhasker, in marked contrast to 1D’s production by committee, Styles has crafted a set that recalls the regal high-water mark of ’70s British rock, Bowie and Queen in particular.

HEAVY HITTERS 2: Lots of Grammy week chatter about who will succeed Rob Stringer as Columbia chief. Many believe the seat is the best label-head job in the business, due in large part to what Stringer accomplished while occupying it. During the last six years of his 10-year tenure atop the label (post-BMG), he spearheaded an out-and-out metamorphosis; he’s been a capable custodian of the label’s highbrow tradition and mature roster while also enormously boosting its “cool factor” with signings like Daft Punk, Vampire Weekend, LCD Soundsystem and Hozier.

Giant buzz surrounds the forthcoming album by another Columbia artist, the recently signed Harry Styles, managed by Jeffrey Azoff, now in partnership with Brandon Creed. Working with a single producer, the versatile Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, Rolling Stones, “Uptown Funk!”), in marked contrast to One Direction’s production by committee, Styles has crafted a set that recalls the regal high-water mark of ’70s British rock, Bowie and Queen in particular. The lead single, which could come out as soon as late April or early May, sounds like it would be a smash in any decade.

Styles’ album will hit during the first quarter of Sony Music’s fiscal year, which promises to be another big one for the company, on the heels of an impressive two-year run fueled by Adele and Beyoncé. That date can also be considered the beginning of the Rob Stringer era, as he takes the CEO throne. Although Sony has been colder than usual so far this calendar year, the big-name projects hitting in 2017—ranging from brand names like Justin Timberlake, P!nk, Tim McGraw-Faith Hill, Sia, Foo Fighters, Pentatonix, Pharrell and Miley Cyrus to cutting-edge acts like Vampire Weekend, Hozier, G-Eazy and LCD Soundsystem—virtually ensures that its momentum will continue unabated.

Jitters about the sustainability of Spotify’s standalone business have increased of late, as the licensing deals required for the company’s planned IPO remain undone. 

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: While label execs were in L.A. for Grammy activities, many of them schlepped across town to Apple’s Culver City offices to meet with Iovine, Robert Kondrk, David Dorn and other decision-makers. Apple Music boss Iovine has a lot on his plate, as he embraces the opportunities presented by multimedia content, developing a number of new projects to enhance the service’s offerings for subscribers, whose ranks are now “well past 20 million,” according to Eddy Cue. These include the CBS-produced Carpool Karaoke series, first teased on the Grammys, which boasts a who’s who of stars singing along; the binge-watchable, Dr. Dre-starring crime drama Vital Signs, which melds true-life and fictional events; and Planet of the Apps, a Shark Tank-ish game show in which tech innovators and VCs evaluate pitches from would-be tech entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, Chance the Rapper’s Best New Artist and Best Rap Album Grammy victories also represent a big win for Apple Music.

Apple, it must be said, can afford to experiment, given its mind-boggling $215 billion in cash reserves, along with the obscene sums the tech giant is raking in from phones, Apple TVs and countless other gizmos, not to mention the App Store vig and other revenue streams. Not that it will be, but Apple Music could be a loss leader until the end of time without causing Cupertino much discomfort.

For rival Spotify, it’s another story; Daniel Ek’s streaming goliath stands or falls on subscriber and ad revenue. And jitters about the sustainability of that standalone business have increased of late, as the licensing deals required for the company’s planned IPO remain undone. Without the deals, the IPO is delayed beyond its March target; without hitting that target, Spotify—which has been losing money since launch, $194m last year on $2b+ revenues—faces potentially crippling interest payments. Could the lenders step in and enforce changes in the financial structure and/or operation of the company? Might Spotify go up for sale? Wouldn’t it be a tempting acquisition target for Google, Amazon or Facebook? And how do these scenarios affect the see-sawing balance of power between the streamery and the rights holders?

NAMES IN THE RUMOR MILL: DJ Khaled, Lyor Cohen, Cash Money, Charles Koppelman, Pierre “Pee” Thomas and Larry Jackson.

 

AFTER 40 YEARS OF GRAMMYS, EHRLICH BOWS OUT
That's a lot of Grammy Moments. (7/17a)
SONY MERGES MUSIC, PUBLISHING UNDER STRINGER
It's one sandbox now. (7/18a)
NEAR TRUTHS: EVOLUTION OF THE BARRISTERS, PART 1
The hottest music firms, then and now. (7/17a)
WOODSTOCK: MORE MONEY, MORE PROBLEMS (UPDATE)
Lang just won't let it go, but time is running out. (7/17a)
THOUGHTS FROM LAGUNA: THE POWER OF YES
First World problems (7/17a)
EARTHQUAKE!
We thought it was just the hangover.
WEED!
What strain pairs best with sloth?
COPYRIGHTS!
They're complicated.
PIZZA!
Why haven't we been talking about it?
 Email

 First Name

 Last Name

 Company

 Country
CAPTCHA code
Captcha: (type the characters above)