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TOP 50 HOLIDAY SONGS: A MERRY LOT
It's the most wonderful time of the year. (12/7a)
HITS LIST: LABELED
WITH LOVE
Long live Hitsville USA. (12/6a)
NEW LEADERS AT COLUMBIA U.K.
The post-Ferdy era begins. (12/6a)
JIM STEWART,
1930-2022
Remembering an indie-label legend. (12/6a)
GRAMMY NOMS:
THE LIST
For your consideration (12/6a)
GRAMMY HANDICAPPING
Who's likely to win in the major categories? We have no idea.
THE NEXT BIG PLAYER
in the catalog game is...
TRUMP CORP II
Totally less fraudulent than Trump Corp.
IS IT CHRISTMAS YET?
Blighty Beat
NEW LEADERS AT COLUMBIA U.K.
12/6/22

Columbia U.K. has new leadership: Dipesh Parmar is president and Amy Wheatley is Managing Director. Both move over from Ministry of Sound.

With the appointment of Parmar and Wheatley, Ministry of Sound will now operate under the Columbia Records umbrella. It was previously with RCA.

In his new role, Parmar reports to Sony U.K. Chairman and CEO Jason Iley, while Wheatley reports to Parmar.

Iley called the duo “two of the most talented, respected, and well-liked executives in the business.”

“Dipesh is a true A&R man who immerses himself in music and continually drives artists to achieve success. Amy is passionate and ambitious and has played an integral role in the evolution of Ministry of Sound. They both think differently and are committed to cultivating a vibrant and talented team of executives and an incredible roster of artists.”

The news follows the departure of former Columbia U.K. President Ferdy Unger-Hamilton and MD Manish Arora.

Parmar, who joined Sony in 2016 with the acquisition of Ministry of Sound and was later named president of the label, called his new appointment “one of the proudest moments” of his career.”

Wheatley joined Ministry in 2017 as GM and was promoted to MD in 2021. Her appointment marks a return to Columbia, where she previously led projects for artists including Calvin Harris, MK and Tyler, the Creator as marketing manager.

Under Parmar and Wheatley's joint stewardship of Ministry, the label has achieved a string of global multi-platinum hits with artists including Riton, Oliver Heldens, Paul Woolford, Ewan McVicar and Majestic. Successful campaigns for domestic artists span releases from Regard, London Grammar and Sigala, while international projects have included Doja Cat, Tate McRae and Lil Durk.

MVT FUND DISTRIBUTES £40K
12/6/22

The Music Venue Trust has announced the first 11 recipients of its pipeline investment fund, distributing £40k to venues across the U.K. MVT founder/CEO Mark Davyd has asked the music industry for further support.

The investment will be used for a range of lighting, sound and associated equipment purchases, air conditioning units and building work. 

Venues that have been given grants of up to £5k each include Chats Palace and Servant Jazz Quarters in London, The Louisiana in Bristol and Retro in Manchester. 

The fund was primarily made possible by donations from ticket sales of MVT’s recent Revive Live program of gigs around the U.K., which was a partnership with The National Lottery

The fund, said Dayvd, is “proof of what a huge difference relatively small amounts of money can make to local grassroots music venues.” He called for every stadium and arena show in the country to make a small contribution to enable the investment to reach even further.

“Every headline artist should be able to know with confidence that when they reach the top of our industry, the impact of their success ripples back to directly support the venues and communities where the launched their career,” Dayvd said. “MVT has created the mechanism to make that possible, we need the music industry to come together and make it happen.”

U.K. MIDWEEKS: MURS, MARIAH LEAD
12/5/22

Olly Murs is on course to claim his fifth U.K. #1 album with Marry Me (EMI). Over on singles, Mariah Carey leads this week’s race by a thin margin.

Metro Boomin’s Heroes & Villains (Republic) is also new in today’s albums Top 5 with  starting at #4. Elsewhere, Michael Bublé’s Christmas (Reprise) could climb back into the Top 5 at #5.

Electronic music duo Leftfield are set to claim their third Top 10 with This Is What We Do (Virgin) at #8.

Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours (Warner Records) has a 200% sales surge week-on-week following the death of Christine McVie, lifting 15 spots to #9. The group’s hits collection, 50 Years — Don’t Stop, jumps nine places to #14. 

On the U.K.’s Official Singles midweek chart, Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” (Columbia) could return to #1 on Friday. 

The top spot, though, is by no means a done deal: Wham!’s “Last Christmas” (RCA) is less than 300 sales behind at #2. That track is also just 50 chart units ahead of Taylor Swift’s long-running #1, “Anti-Hero” (EMI), at #3.

RAYE f/070 Shake’s “Escapism” (Human Re Sources) jumps two to #4, while Lewis Capaldi could claim Friday’s highest new entry with Ed Sheeran co-write, “Pointless” (EMI), starting at #5.

Among other festive classics in today’s Top 20 are “Merry Christmas” (Atlantic) by Ed Sheeran and Elton John, rising six places to #9, and Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” (MCA), jumping seven to #11.

BBC RADIO 1 TIPS 2023 ACTS
12/5/22

BBC Radio 1 has revealed its Sound of 2023 longlist, tipping 10 acts including FLO, Asake, Cat Burns and Nia Archives for success next year.

UMG has four names on the list: Island’s pop singer and songwriter Dylan; R&B girl group FLO and BRITs Rising Star nominee Nia Archives, plus Polydor duo piri & tommy. 

From the Sony camp are RCA acts Cat Burns—who has one of the best-selling singles of this year with “Go”—and Irish singer and rapper Biig Piig. 

Warner counts three nominees: producer and Atlantic signing Fred again… and Parlophone acts Gabriels,  a British/American band, and singer-songwriter Rachel Chinouriri. 

Nigerian artist Asake, who releases via EMPIRE/YBNL Nation, is also on the list. 

Chris Price, Head of Music for Radio 1, said the longlist is “one of the strongest and most diverse we’ve ever published. The most striking thing about it is the breadth of genres represented.”
The winner will be revealed on 1/5 on Radio 1. 

U.K. CHARTS: STORMZY SCORES 
12/2/22

Stormzy has claimed his third Official U.K. Albums #1 with This Is What I Mean (0207 Def Jam). Over on singles, Taylor Swift makes it six weeks at the top.

This Is What I Mean emerged victorious in a tight battle with Cliff Richard’s Christmas With Cliff (East West/Rhino), which charts at #2 today.

A Family Christmas (Decca) by Andrea, Matteo and Virginia Bocelli jumps seven to a new peak at #4, while a reissue of The Cure’s landmark ninth album, Wish (Polydor/UMR), returns at #9.

Michael Bublé’s Christmas (Reprise) lifts back into the Top 20 at #13, as a Christmas edition of George Ezra’s Gold Rush Kid (Columbia) sees it climb 14 to #18. 

Following the death of Christine McVie, Fleetwood Mac have two records in the Top 40 this week. Hits collection 50 Years–Don’t Stop (Warner Records) is a non-mover at #23, while the group’s 1977 #1, Rumours, lifts 18 spots to #24.

On the U.K.’s Official Singles Chart, Swift’s “Anti-Hero” (EMI) tallies 4.9m streams to remain at #1. 

Meghan Trainor’s “Made You Look” (RCA) claims a new peak at #2, while Venbee, goddard. and ArrDee’s “Messy in Heaven” (Columbia) is up two to #3.

Anne-Marie and Aitch’s “PSYCHO” (Asylum/Major Toms) jumps into the Top 5 for the first time, at #5.

RAYE f/070 Shake’s “Escapism” (Human Re Sources) rises 26 places to #6; it’s her first Top 10 as a lead artist.

Two holiday classics enter the Top 10: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” (Columbia) is #8 and Wham!’s “Last Christmas” (Epic) is #9.

ELTON TO GRACE GLASTONBURY
12/2/22

Elton John will perform the final U.K. date of his farewell tour at Glastonbury 2023. He headlines the Pyramid Stage on Sunday night.

John is the first headliner announced for next year’s festival, taking place 6/21-25. He'll perform on the final night of the event, culminating the U.K. leg of his ongoing Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour.

“There is no more fitting way to say goodbye to my British fans,” said John. “They have been beyond brilliant, and have supported me through all the highs and lows of my career … I can’t wait to embrace the spirit of the greatest festival in the world.”

Glastonbury co-organizer Emily Eavis added: “We will be closing the festival and marking this huge moment in both of our histories with the mother of all send offs. We are so very happy to finally bring the Rocket Man to Worthy Farm.”

Farewell Yellow Brick Road ended its US leg at Dodger Stadium in November. It continues in Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and throughout Europe in 2023. John’s final show, as of now, will be in Sweden at the Tele2 Arena on 7/8. 

UMG BUYS INTO [PIAS]
11/30/22

UMG has acquired a minority share of the [PIAS] Group, expanding upon the “global strategic alliance” that UMG and [PIAS] forged in 2021. Under the new agreement, in which UMG has 49% of the company, [PIAS] remains fully independent with its founders, Kenny Gates and Michel Lambot, maintaining majority control.

UMG will have no seats on the company’s board. 

Sir Lucian Grainge praised “the boldly independent and music-centric culture” that Gates and Lambot have built over the last four decades, “which has provided a vital creative network to so many artists.” 

 “While much of the past was focused on ‘majors vs. indies,’ it’s clear that today, the important divide in our industry is about those committed to artist development versus those committed to quantity over quality,” he said. “We share Kenny and Michel’s passion for developing artists and moving culture, and we recognize that a healthy music ecosystem needs companies like [PIAS] who are committed to amplifying the best voices in independent music.”

Gates said the deal will allow his company to compete with finance and tech giants while providing support to enable growth. “Universal made it clear that they like us, they trust us and they need us, because they can’t do what we do and they value it highly,” he said.

“This move makes us stronger and secures the future of our brand, our staff and our partners while maintaining control of our destiny.”

Lambot added: “We have enjoyed an excellent relationship with the Universal Music Group team since we announced our strategic global alliance with them last year. Kenny and I are celebrating our company’s 40th anniversary this year and we are still as ambitious as we were when we started out about growing our global presence and providing a world class service to the independent music community.”

BUILDING AN EMPIRE
11/29/22

Fireboy DML, center, celebrates the success of “Peru” with, from left Alexander Okeke, Oluwaseun Fasehun, and EMPIRE’s Stephanie Adamu and Jay Jules.

EMPIRE is set to claim one of the best-selling songs of 2022 in the U.K. with Fireboy DML f/Ed Sheeran’s “Peru” which, as London-based Jay Jules tells us, is just the start of the company’s ambitions in the market.

At last count, “Peru” sat at #2 on the Official Charts list of best-selling songs year-to-date. The track—released via YBNL Nation and EMPIRE plus Island for the U.K.—has tallied nearly 1.2b streams globally, across its various different versions (including the feature with Sheeran and a remix with 21 Savage).

Its success in the U.K. is partly down to EMPIRE’s team on the ground, which includes Head of International Marketing Jules and Marketing Manager Stephanie Adamu.

 “We were perfectly set up for it in the U.K., having two African Diaspora marketing specialists on the ground,” Jules said. “We were able to plug into the cultural tastemakers in the U.K. and across key European markets.”

After a steady build following its release in July last year, Sheeran hopping on the song at the end of 2021 added the jet fuel needed to take the record to #2 in January. The late Jamal Edwards was hugely instrumental in making this happen: “He introduced Ed to Fireboy's music and told Ed that Fire was keen to get him on the song," Jules said.

The success with DML is just part of EMPIRE’s story with African music in the U.K. This year, the company had a number of sold-out gigs from its roster including Kizz Daniel, Black Sherif, BNXN, and Asake, who sold 15k tickets for his three December dates at O2 Academy Brixton in one day. DML, meanwhile, recently sold out the 12.5k capacity OVO Arena Wembley. 

Going forward, the plan for EMPIRE is to continue to grow the team and open its first official U.K./international base in London. “We want to keep building [our] domestic roster across the U.K. and Europe and have some exciting projects lined up for Q1 and beyond,” Jules said. 

Photo credit: Michael Tubes Creations