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NEAR TRUTHS: THE GRAMMY THRONE & SINKING STONES

SURF’S UP: Deborah Dugan’s coming-out party as Recording Academy boss began at the annual Academy meeting in Laguna last week. Neil Portnow will be stepping down on 7/31, handing her the torch. The ultra-accomplished Dugan has her work cut out for her in addressing Grammy’s issues. Some believe her first priority is securing new sources of revenue for the organization, given that once its $600m, 10-year deal with CBS comes up for renegotiation in 2026, it’s unlikely to be of comparable size. Is Dugan becoming sufficiently aware of the disconnect between the org and the rest of the biz, and how its lack of transparency (as regards secret committees, nominations and the like) is causing that gap to widen? The ongoing boycott of Music’s Biggest Night by music’s biggest stars—including Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Justin Timberlake, Ariana Grande and Jay-Z, all of whom were poorly served by the secret committees in recent years—is having a serious impact on the telecast’s ratings. You’d think Team Grammy would make repairing those relationships a top priority. The nominating committee is where the rubber meets the road, as far as the alienation of aforementioned superstars is concerned, so aligning it with Grammy’s larger objectives—rather than the tangled agendas now driving the process—is key. The buzz following last week’s meeting is that John Poppo’s successor as Chair will be either Harvey Mason, Jr. or Academy mainstay Jimmy Jam. Poppo has been a dedicated volunteer at the org for 17 years; he apparently won’t be moving to the Chairman Emeritus position, which is normally the stop after Chairman.

SINKING LIKE A STONE
: Reps from major labels say that the Rolling Stone chart experiment is looking like a train wreck, and most doubt that the heritage consumer music mag can pull it off. The most recent chart from the recently renamed Alpha Data, formerly BuzzAngle, had DJ Khaled at #1, though our chart had Tyler, The Creator in the top spot with 172k and Khaled at #2 with 132k. Nielsen had the same ranking and the score at 165k-136k. What gives? These radical disparities and other hiccups are causing some players to withhold crucial data from the company. When is Alpha/Buzz/whateverit’s-called-this-week founder Jim Lidestri leaving? Who’s running the asylum in his stead? Meanwhile, Billboard didn’t publish a chart at all at its accustomed time, refusing to declare a winner between Tyler and Khaled, ostensibly due to the vexing question of how much D2C was to be permitted. Finally, on Thursday at 2pm, the Bible spat out its chart with almost exactly same numbers Nielsen had on Monday morning (with Khaled just 1k higher), after all the drama. Lacking a definitive set of rules, it would seem we’re in for plenty more chart outages, hiatuses and ad hoc declarations. It’s all very complicated, but we’re sure the Bible brain trust will crack open a case or two of Awake® Energy Shot and puzzle it out. What role did Roc Nation, Khaled’s management, play in how all this unfolded?

ENDOWED BY THE CREATOR
: Tyler, The Creator not only notched a #1 bow on his fifth album for Columbia but has surged to the front ranks of the year’s releases (and earned no small amount of Grammy buzz) with IGOR, a totally unconventional set. Tyler has amassed big streams with just 12 tracks, far fewer than on most heavily streamed hip-hop releases. (Khaled’s Father of Asahd boasts 15 cuts.) Could Tyler’s intimate, offbeat hip-hop become even bigger? One thing’s for sure: with this left-field hit alongside the year’s biggest song, “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X, Columbia is having a real moment. It’s fascinating that Tyler dominated the Spotify charts in his first week out, during which time his track “Earfquake” was #1 at Spotify and Apple Music U.S., while DJ Khaled was nowhere to be found in the Spot’s Top 30—but his We The Best/Epic set was all over the leaderboard at Apple. Khaled ‘s close affiliation and co-branding with Apple earned him major promotional real estate on the platform; did that relationship cause the House of Ek to give him less than optimal positioning, suppressing his Spotify numbers?

RIC OCASEK,
1944-2019
Bandleader, producer, A&R exec—an extraordinary career (9/16a)
RIHANNA FOLLOWS PLATT TO SONY/ATV
Loyalty in action (9/16a)
TAYLOR SWIFT JOINS THE VOICE AS MEGA MENTOR
Tay knows how to pick her spots. (9/16a)
BEYONCÉ ROARS IN PRIME TIME
So does Bey. (9/16a)
PTX UNWRAPS XMAS BEST OF, TOUR
Fa-la-la-la-la...cha-ching (9/16a)
MORE RAINMAKERS
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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