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NEAR TRUTHS BY I.B. BAD
A SPRING-LOADED Q2
The inaugural iHeart Radio Music Awards, which NBC will air as a three-hour special on 5/1—three weeks before the Billboard Music Awards (scheduled for 5/24 on ABC)—is the subject of massive industry chatter. Most of it centers on what acts will appear, the prevailing belief being that the Pittman/Sykes/Poleman team can get any radio-driven act they go after. Because the show is supposedly geared to tie in with releases from key acts, the iHeart target list will likely include Coldplay, U2, Lil Wayne, Luke Bryan, The Black Keys and Linkin Park, each of whom has a high-profile album scheduled for Q2 or Q3, presumably along with such radio staples as Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars and Miley Cyrus. In the head-to-head competition between the two shows, Clear Channel has a clear-cut advantage over Billboard in luring name acts because of its immense leverage; the marketing opportunities CC offers are unparalleled. Because of this disadvantage, rumors have been flying that Dick Clark Productions would move the Billboard Awards, but they insist that the 5/24 date is firm...
 


Miley’s tour of 15-20k-capacity basketball arenas is underperforming, and critics place the blame on venue size and high ticket prices. According to insiders, Miley’s attorney Bill Sobel (she doesn’t make a move without him) and her longtime agent Jeff Frasco at CAA are responsible for the overreaching (e.g., three dates in the New York area), despite the protestations of savvy manager Larry Rudolph. That said, their grand ambitions are understandable given that TEA sales on her RCA album have passed 1.7m, putting Miley in the thick of the diva competition with Beyoncé, labelmate P!nk and Rihanna, if not yet in Katy territory (see sales totals above).

Miley’s isn’t the only tour doing disappointing numbers; Kanye West and John Mayer are underperforming as well, while Rascal Flatts and Brad Paisley are soft in the country sector, where the baseball-cap-wearing new school is outperforming the cowboy-hatted old guard. But these tours stand in contrast to the live business overall, which has been robust of late, and tour watchers expect a strong summer shed season…

Country and EDM acts are the biggest gainers in Live Nation’s fiscal Q4 earnings report, culminating a blockbuster year for Michael Rapino’s empire, with record highs in revenue, cash flow and adjusted operating income...


MSG Azoff Entertainment’s Fabulous Forum is getting rave reviews as a dedicated concert venue (meaning no interruptions for basketball or hockey), while also enabling the acts that perform there to walk away with more money than they’d pull in from playing AEG’s more expensive Staples Center. Little wonder U2 has booked the arena for multiple nights, assuming the industry rumors are true. Nonetheless, some younger artists prefer the glitz of Staples over the cash of the Forum. But those acts who’ve headlined the Forum since its January reopening, including Justin Timberlake, are said to love playing there, while artists who have attended shows say they’d love to play there themselves. The crowds have been similarly enthusiastic, the only oft-heard complaint having to do with traffic congestion getting in and out of the parking lots. It appears, then, that MSG Azoff’s ambition to make the Forum the place to play in L.A. is off to a good start—not that the two arenas can’t both do healthy business. While Brooklyn’s Barclays Center is packing them in, it hasn’t cannibalized Madison Square Garden’s business, as some had feared…

Columbia’s blistering hot streak continues heading into the end of an impressive fiscal year for Sony Music on 3/31, with Rob Stringer’s label holding sizable leads year-to-date in frontline (9.7%) and TEA (8.2%) marketshare. Amid all these positives, the pre-order for Pharrell’s album has been lighter than some expected—surprising considering all the heat he’s been generating between his chart-topping mega-smash "Happy" and wall-to-wall prime-time TV exposure. For whatever reasons, Pharrell’s massive industry buzz and multimedia exposure aren’t yet converting to album sales. But stay tuned; there’s a long way to go on this offensive…

Rumors are flying about an imminent significant reorganization at a New York company, with further speculation about whether said company’s much-scrutinized team will lose its top exec. A concurrent rumor about an underachieving London company head panned out at midweek when Nick Gatfield was removed as the CEO of Sony Music U.K.


Capitol U.K. enters its second year of existence on a roll under former London Records topper Nick Raphael, whose signings include two young acts with enormous upsides: BRITS Critics’ Choice winner and current U.K. singles chart-topper Sam Smith and Australian Pop group 5 Seconds of Summer, who built a sizable following while opening for One Direction last year. The 5SOS project reteams manager Richard Griffiths and CMG chief Steve Barnett, who collaborated on the 2012 breakthrough of 1D while the latter was Columbia Co-Chairman. As with that project in its initial stages, the label hasn’t serviced radio yet on this potential teen phenomenon, but 5SOS has logged 45m YouTube views, and the pre-order for their initial U.S. release, an EP hitting 4/1 on Capitol, entered the iTunes chart at #3 this week…

UMG
and Sony are negotiating huge advances from licensing the rights to their music from streaming companies, as the nontraditional revenue from YouTube, VEVO, Spotify, Pandora, iTunes Radio, Beats Music, et al, fill their coffers and pump up their bottom lines in an effort to make up for the troubling erosion of download sales—which some attribute to the growing popularity of streaming, ironically enough. But at the same time, CD sales are declining much more gradually than had been predicted. Indeed, physical product accounted for just under 60% of overall domestic album sales in 2013, although just 41.4% of total sales including TEA. Some expect several more years of poor returns before streaming replaces the lost income from downloads. Where does powerful iTunes stand as this transition takes place during the next five or six years?...

Beats Music hasn’t yet released subscription figures since the 1/31 launch of its $14.99-per-month bundled plan with AT&T, but the massive TV campaign has drawn plenty of attention for departing from the hip, cutting-edge image the Beats brand is known for. On the other hand, the two companies aren’t selling cool, they’re selling family plans…

Will there be a public offering of the newly configured Vivendi (comprising UMG, Canal+ and telecom GVT) under incoming CEO Vincent Bolloré—a French media entrepreneur and top Vivendi shareholder? Aside from making some extremely wealthy Frenchmen even wealthier through the expected IPO, how will Bolloré and his executive team put that war chest to use, and what will their long game look like?...

Wonderers are wondering what’s happening with Scooter Braun’s ambitious rollup of management companies following the distraction of Biebergate. Troy Carter, Brandon Creed (who recently picked up Sara Bareilles) and Nashville-based Sandbox Entertainment (Kacey Musgraves, Little Big Town) presently comprise the core elements of Braun’s prospective empire…
What super-hot diva reportedly spent millions of her own money making videos for her album and says she would do so again to enhance her ever-expanding brand, which has become a huge cash-producing machine worldwide?...

Names in the rumor mill: Mark Shimmel, Tom Whalley, Dave Holmes, Mike Dungan, Jody Gerson, Jay Marciano, Rob Wells and Luke Wood
BIEBER POSTPONES TOUR
New dates to be announced soon. (4/1a)
TOURING IN 2020:
HOW IT LOOKS NOW
Uncertainty from coast to coast (4/1a)
LIVE NATION CREATES CREW NATION,
PLEDGES $10M
Very cool move (4/1a)
REVENUE CHART:
LOONEY WEEKND
MVP frontunner of 2020 (4/1a)
VIRTUAL CONCERT AND LIVESTREAM ROUNDUP (UPDATED DAILY)
Giving home entertainment new meaning (4/1a)
WE FOUND SOME TOILET PAPER
Also known as back issues of HITS.
SOCIAL DISTANCING
We turn out to be pioneers.
STREAMING STORIES
The music doc shows new muscle.
ELECTION 2020
Not postponed yet.
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