MAGIC BULLETS AND THE GREAT RELOADING: The coastal majors’ success with country acts is changing the paradigm. A certain resentment from some Nashvillians about this incursion of ostensible carpetbaggers has created gaps—and no small amount of drama—between some Nashville execs and players in NYC and L.A. Some observers suggest this is accelerating a seismic shift in the business as these Nashville gunslingers push back to defend their turf—justifiably so. There is a unique culture and community associated with country music, which Music City people implicitly understand and respect.

The Nashville power base’s magic bullet has long been Country radio, to which the Music City entities have held the keys. Artists who sign with Nashville labels do so with the understanding that the format is covered. Meanwhile, the companies on the coasts, having previously partnered with Nashville companies, are trying to figure out how to square the circle regarding Country radio.

Two recent developments completely shifted the landscape with respect to country music: Big Loud boss Seth England bringing Morgan Wallen to Republic and Warner Records breaking Zach Bryan. Wallen had experienced some success prior to his Republic releases, but once attached to House Lipman (now via Mercury), he entered the stratosphere. Republic, of course, had strong results in the past with Big Machine, notably with Taylor Swift, establishing something of a template for collaboration between Nashville and the coasts. But once Wallen and Bryan became the two biggest acts in the space, much conventional wisdom about how and where country acts develop went out the window.

Tucker Wetmore is a perfect example of the sort of hot Nashville prospect currently being pursued by the coastal majors. These labels can set up strategic alliances to add the aforementioned magic bullet of Country radio to their arsenals—which already include giant marketing and promotion machines, sizable budgets and all-star rosters. Will the Rakiyah Marshall/Back Blocks-repped newcomer’s deal be with a country label and involve a relationship with a coastal partner, or vice versa? Tucker and Marshall are heading to L.A. this week for meetings with majors.

Jelly Roll, the BNA-nominated breakout who is a quintessential example of the new breed of country act, is said to be on the verge of inking a new deal, in tandem with his Nashville label, Broken Bow, that brings a coastal major in to do the heavy lifting of crossing Jelly fully into the mainstream. Republic, it’s believed, is close to making the deal with Jon Loba’s Broken Bow and the John Meneilly-managed artist. Such a deal may be easier today than it would’ve been a year ago, due to the fact that Broken Bow parent BMG is distributed by UMG. BMG’s new CEO, Thomas Coesfeld, has been spending some time in Los Angeles and getting to know the biz community.

GOOD RUN, BABE: 27 months into the tenure of co-bosses Imran Majid and Justin Eshak, Island is experiencing some significant post-Coachella heat with Sabrina Carpenter and Chappell Roan. Carpenter’s “Espresso” flew into the U.S. Top 5 and global Top 10 at Spotify in the wake of her desert performance; she’s been releasing music on the label for some time and “Nonsense,” a cut from her 2022 set emails i can’t send, has racked up north of 700m global streams on the Spot. She’s managed by Janelle Lopez Genzink and repped by Shayna Ehrlich at CAA. Nick Bobetsky-managed newcomer Roan, meanwhile, has entered the DSP’s U.S. Top 15 with “Good Luck, Babe.” She’s repped for live domestically by Jackie Nalpant and Kiely Mosiman at Wasserman. Both acts, we hasten to point out, have opened for Taylor Swift. How will Team Island build on this momentum?

TORTURED VERSE: The handicapping of Taylor Swift’s first week by biz watchers is reaching a fever pitch. Dueling predictions about how much over 1m her new set’s chart debut is likely to be dominate the grapevine. Midnights bowed with nearly 1.6m in 2022, more than 1.1m of that total coming from pure sales (though it also racked up more than half a billion U.S. streams in week one). While her new Republic set, THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT (due 4/19), may not have quite as many physical-media configurations as its predecessor, Tay’s online store still overflows with offerings that Swifties can’t resist, while the customary Target exclusives will have registers a-ringing. A run of signed D2C vinyl copies disappeared in under two hours. So wonderers wonder: Will this one be as big as the last one? Judging by the pop-culture seismograph, Tay herself is bigger than she was then—the impossibly huge Eras Tour, its ridiculously big filmed iteration (now streaming on demand), the giant 1989 re-recording, an Album of the Year Grammy and her conquest of the sports world with Travis Kelce on her arm have all happened in the wake of Midnights. Given her gargantuan media-world footprint and the frenzied interest in her every move, could this be her biggest liftoff yet? And what else might she have up her sleeve to further ramp up anticipation?