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NEAR TRUTHS: I.B. BAD SPINS THE GLOBE

SPIN THE GLOBE: Our latest New & Developing Artists special underscores how overwhelmingly new acts are running the table now. To cite one extremely high-profile example, Lil Nas X, appearing at the head of our latest N&D spread, is already dominating virtually every metric. Lil Nas is now #1 on the U.K. singles chart and #2 and #3 at Spotify Global. Billie Eilish, meanwhile, is also proving to be an international phenom (she’s got the #1 track at Spotify Global). The overall music marketplace is more of a global game with each passing day.

The explosion of Daddy Yankee’s “Con Calma” f/Snow and the maneuvering by U.S. labels to release a crossover remix is yet another powerful example of the globalization of the marketplace. The track was first going to Capitol, then Republic, then back to Capitol with a new version featuring Katy Perry, out now. House Barnett’s Greg Marella-led radio squad is going hard in crossing this one. The original has been hovering in and around the Top 5 on Spotify’s Global chart, with about 303m worldwide Spotify streams.

Speaking of big Spanish-language projects, Pedro Capó (395m+), Dalex (98m) and Maluma (97m) and also have big global tracks on Spotify; J. Balvin and Rosalía were two of the hottest attractions at Coachella. Maluma is the guest on the new single from Madonna; Madge and Guy O have always had a keen eye for marketplace mapping.

The other big global story of the moment, of course, is K-Pop, as BigHit/Columbia’s BTS scores a #1 chart debut with 29.3m global Spotify streams. The septet has some of the most rabid fans on the planet—in case those two Rose Bowl sellouts hadn’t made that abundantly clear—and the flurry around their new set at retail, e-tail and streaming seemed, at first, like it might follow the accustomed pattern of such acts: a big feeding frenzy without any staying power. But the canny pairing of the group with Halsey—orchestrated by master connector Ron Perry—has yielded a song that not only keeps streaming but could well become the group’s first U.S. radio hit. The song is off to a very strong start, earning #1 Most Added honors at Pop with triple-digit station commitments; it’s already inside the Top 30 on the Top 40 chart. The track is currently #8 at Spotify Global and #14 U.S., while at Apple Music it was #23 Global and #82 U.S.

Meanwhile, Interscope’s BLACKPINK (which also commanded a big Coachella crowd and sold out L.A.’s Forum) has a top Global streaming track as well, and several other K-Pop projects are simmering.

CH-CH-CHANGES: With some high-profile label execs said to be exiting imminently, we see further evidence of the biz in flux. But this shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a negative; changes on the upper tier are more fundamental to the process than ever as the business continues to morph. The new leaders are feeling their way and making moves to build the strongest teams possible. A review of who’s winning underscores how vital it is to get the best players in the right positions.

FREE LUNCH: Reports that Amazon is launching a free, ad-supported streaming-music tier is not only causing ripples through the other DSPs—which have been looking over the shoulders at the voice-driven growth at the Steve Boom-led service for some time—but also in the biz at large. There was considerable pushback against free streaming before subscription revenue took off, with many in the biz (including several superstar artists) arguing that the ad-supported tier cannibalized the subscription business. But the biggest advocates of the free component—notably Daniel Ek and team—always insisted that this portion of their platform was crucial for “on-boarding” subscribers. They appear to have been right, as the Spot nears 100m subscribers worldwide. So free is the key to global success. Discussions are said to continue at Apple—which has outstripped Spotify in U.S. paid subscriptions—regarding a version of the service that isn’t behind a paywall. Meanwhile, we note that while ad-supported audio is essential to global growth, in several key non-English-speaking markets (notably Latin and K-Pop), the key driver is video. Spotify and Apple are by far the industry’s two biggest accounts in terms of revenue, but Spotify remains foremost in the minds of top label execs and artist managers, because its larger global user base (including those on the free tier) remains indispensable for creating huge global brands.

Speaking of huge global brands, as we await Taylor Swift’s new single (on her new imprint via Republic), wonderers wonder whether she will change her prior stance with respect to free streaming. Will she once again restrict her new music to premium services, at least for a windowed period? Does she still have a special relationship with Apple? Will her desire for a #1 record outweigh her fidelity to the paid-only tier?

GOING BIG FOR LIL: A publishing contest is said to be raging over Lil Nas X, as well as YoungKio, who enjoys a producer credit on “Old Town Road,” which remains not just the biggest song in the world but a record-shattering cultural phenomenon. All the majors are after this giant. In what has already become lore in the hip-hop world, Lil Nas reportedly purchased Kio’s beat for $30 from the latter’s online store; when it later emerged that the beat was built on a Nine Inch Nails sample, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross ended up with a 50% share of the publishing—which will likely earn the alternative trailblazers an unprecedented revenue windfall. If you need any further evidence of this, check our most recent revenue chart, on which “Road” more than quadruples the earnings of the next-biggest track. Who will land Lil Nas X, and what else does he have in the hopper? In other Nas news, the breakout rapper is still believed to be without formal management, having met with several high-profile players but thus far not having found a champion. He’s repped for legal by David Jacobs at Grubman, Shire, Meisalas & Sacks.

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TAYLOR SWIFT!
Taylor Swift. Taylor Swift? Taylor Swift; Taylor. Swift. Taylor Swift!
TAYLOR SWIFT.
Taylor Swift...  
TAYLOR SWIFT?
Taylor Swift. Taylor Swift. Taylor Swift.   
TAYLOR. SWIFT.
Taylor!
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