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NEAR TRUTHS: OFF AND RUNNING
The lay of the land at the top of 2022 (1/20a)
O-ROD MANAGEMENT
IN PLAY?
America's most wanted (1/20a)
TAYLOR'S LATEST "VERSION": RECORD STORE DAY
A nod to the Vinyl Queen. (1/20a)
WEEKLY CURRENT LABEL SHARE
Monte's up where he belongs. (1/20a)
SONG REVENUE: SOME ENCHANTED DAWN
Winning hands in the early action (1/20a)
OOH, LAS VEGAS
You're gonna make a poor boy outta me.
HOW I WISH THAT THERE WERE MORE
...than 24 hours in a day.
PALMS SWEAT, BLACKJACK
on a Saturday night
SIN CITY
Lamborginis and caviar Dry martinis, Shangri-La
Blighty Beat
PROPER MUSIC ENTERS UTOPIA
1/19/22

Swiss fintech company Utopia Music has acquired U.K.-based physical music distributor Proper Music Group to help form a distribution services unit within Utopia.

With the acquisition, Utopia says it will be supercharging its song economics and accelerating royalty payouts for creators as well as digitizing operations and processes within Proper’s services, which are currently used by firms including Believe, Communion, The Orchard and Amazon. Proper will continue to service its existing customer base under Utopia.

“Proper has a long history in the U.K. music scene of which we are incredibly proud,” said Drew Hill, Managing Director at Proper Music Group. “That’s why when we learned of Utopia’s mission we knew we wanted to be a part of it. We believe that together we can help the whole value chain reach new heights, and as such we could not be more excited about this new venture.”

Roberto Neri, Chief Operating Officer at Utopia Music, said the acquisition will allow Utopia to move further toward its mission of ensuring “fair pay for every play” and “be more efficient by offering better and faster financial services to creators, and servicing both major and independent labels.”

Utopia’s distribution services unit will service independent and major labels with physical distribution and sales, manufacturing, digital distribution services, marketing, digital retail marketing, reporting and budgeting, real-time analytics, and synchronization.

The deal joins Utopia’s other recent acquisitions of Musimap and Lyric Financial. The firm is aiming to build a new music ecosystem that will help create new revenue streams, consolidate data, and drastically reduce administrative overhead limitations.

PLAN B ON ITS WAY OUT?
1/19/22

The U.K. Government is expected to approve the relaxation of “Plan B” COVID-19 restrictions that enforced venues over 500 capacity to require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test at the door.

The rules, introduced in December to help combat the rise of the Omicron variant, could be scrapped beginning 1/26, according to Guardian report

At the same time, current advice recommending working from home could be dropped alongside mandated mask-wearing on public transport and in shops.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to be drawing up plans to let the U.K. “live with the virus” beginning in March when a number of legislative measures, including mandatory self-isolation for positive COVID cases, are set to expire. 

Despite gigs being able to go ahead, the live music sector in the U.K. is still suffering. Venue owners and promoters are reporting reduced ticket sales, canceled gigs and no-shows due to a lack of customer confidence in safety and guidance from the Government.

In this report for The IndependentMark Davyd, CEO of the Music Venue Trust, said grassroots venues in particular are “emerging into 2022 with more than £100m in new debt, a crisis in audience and industry confidence, and with many hoops to jump through just to survive.”

BRITS REVEAL PUBLIC VOTE INFO
1/19/22

The BRIT Awards has revealed details of a public vote which will determine the winners of its four newly introduced genre categories. Voting starts Thursday, powered by TikTok.

The public vote will determine the winners of Alternative/Rock Act, Dance Act, Hip Hop/Grime Act and Pop/R&B Act. It launches on a dedicated voting hub at noon GMT on 1/20 and will close at 6pm GMT on 2/3. Users of TikTok will be able to cast up to 10 votes per category per day, with vote limits resetting nightly at midnight.

Bauer Media will be supporting the activity through its radio brands, Absolute, KISS, KISS Fresh and Hits Radio, where listeners will be able to vote across the two-week period through on-air promotions and social.

The BRITs ceremony is set to take place in London at The O2 Arena on 2/8 and, unlike the Grammys, doesn’t look likely to postpone due to COVID. Instead, special measures for the ceremony are expected to be announced later this week.

U.K. MIDWEEKS: WILL WOMBATS WIN?
1/17/22

The Wombats are heading for their first U.K. Official Albums Chart #1 with Fix Yourself, Not the World (AWAL) while the Encanto cast is heading for the top at singles.

British band The Wombats, who are on their fifth album, are currently leading the midweek charge on physical sales. The U.K.’s most-downloaded album of the week so far is Bonobo’s Fragments (Ninja Tune) at #2.

Elvis Costello’s The Boy Named If (EMI) is eyeing a #3 debut and The Lumineers are tracking to open at #7 with Brightside (Decca). The Weeknd’s  Dawn FM (Island), the U.K.’s most-streamed album of the week, has slipped to #6.

The final new entry in this week’s Top 10 could be The Temperance Movement, who  sit at #9 with live album, Caught on Stage: Live & Acoustic (Earache).

On the U.K.’s Official Singles midweeks, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” (Walt Disney) from the cast of Disney’s Encanto look set to jump two spots to #1.

Two more songs from the film could be in the Top 20 this Friday: “Surface Pressure” by Jessica Darrow is up to a new peak at #6 while “The Family Madrigal” sits at #19 today.

Fireboy DML and Ed Sheeran’s “Peru” (Island) is up to #4, while Lost Frequencies and Calum Scott’s “Where Are You Now?” (Insanity) continues to climb to a new peak at #15.

THE BEEB'S FUTURE?
1/17/22

The U.K.’s prized public broadcaster, the BBC, could be under threat after culture secretary Nadine Dorries announced changes to its funding model. 

The British Government has said that the license fee—a mandatory fee for all those who watch or record TV in the U.K., which funds the BBC—will be scrapped in 2027. In addition, funding for the broadcaster will be frozen for the next two years before rising slightly for the following three.

…Read more

U.K. CHARTS: WEEKND'S BIG WEEK
1/14/22

The Weeknd has scored his third UK #1 album with Dawn FM (XO/Republic) while GAYLE has secured her first Official U.K. #1 single.

With no physical version of the album yet, 94% of Dawn FM’s total was powered by streams. Three of the album’s songs made it into the Top 40 at singles: “Sacrifice,” this week’s highest new entry, is #10; “Take My Breath” makes a 43-slot leap to #14; and “How Do I Make You Love Me?” debuts at #22. The Weeknd’s 2021 hits collection, The Highlights, holds steady this week at #9.

Gunna’s third album, DS4ever (300), debuts at #4, his highest-ever Official Albums Chart position.

David Bowie’s Toy (Toy:Box) (Parlophone), a stand-alone physical release of Bowie's scrapped 2000 album, follows at #5. It is Bowie’s 35th U.K. Top 10 album, and is this week’s biggest-seller in physical formats. Two other Bowie releases made the Top 40 in a week that saw the 75th anniversary of his birth: greatest hits collection Legacy is #19 and Hunky Dory hits #31, following its 50th anniversary picture disc release.

At singles, GAYLE’s abcdefu (Atlantic) hits #1 with 4.7m streams in addition to being the biggest digital download of the week. Adele’s Easy On Me (Columbia) drops a slot to #2 after spending eight non-consecutive weeks at #1.

“We Don’t Talk About Bruno” by the cast of Disney’s Encanto climbs one space to a new peak of #3, and Jessica Darrow’s  “Surface Pressure” from the film is up six to #8.

“Fingers Crossed” from viral sensation Lauren Spencer-Smith rockets 86 places to #4.

RAPHAEL DEPARTS CAPITOL
1/11/22

Capitol U.K. Co-President Nick Raphael is exiting his post and  fellow Co-President Jo Charrington is expected to be the sole leader.

Universal sources confirmed  the split, which is said to be amicable, to HITS after a report in Record of the Day.

Raphael has spent more than 10 years at Universal, leading Capitol U.K. as President since it launched in 2013. Charrington was upped in 2017. The duo have enjoyed success with Sam Smith, 5 Seconds of Summer (who are now signed to Interscope) and Liam Payne as well as new acts Mae Muller, Aitch and Zoe Wees.

Prior to Capitol, Raphael led a re-launched London Records under UMG, which he joined with Charrington after the duo exited Epic Records in 2011. While at Sony, they had success across a 10-year period with acts including JLS, Olly Murs and Paloma Faith.

UMG CLASSICS & JAZZ UP 3
1/11/22

Liz ChewRachel Tregenza and George Irwin have been promoted at Universal Music Group’s Global Classics & Jazz division.

The appointments will provide focused resources to accelerate further transformation of its international business and classical and jazz labels.

“These changes mark the latest step in our mission to deliver best-in-class service for our incredible artists, and for these genres of music which hold global cultural significance and are of great importance to us at UMG,” said Dickon Stainer, President & CEO of Global Classics & Jazz.

…Read more