MARKETSHARE NUANCES: Dominating labels Republic and Columbia continue to jockey for position, as Republic picks up the Pitch Perfect 2 share for doing promo on the UMe album, while Columbia is getting RED’s marketshare essentially because it can. It’s really a judgment call at the group level as to how the marketshare gets broken down by label. Rules are made to be broken—or more accurately, there are no rules at the bible and SoundScan when it comes to allocating label marketshare. Looking at the respective shares of the two labels reveals some intriguing statistics. Of Columbia’s 12.5% frontline share year-to-date, 5.7% is derived from RED. Of Republic’s 12.8% frontline share YTD, 9.1% comes from its distributed labels Island, Big Machine, Republic Nashville and Cash Money.

For Monte Lipman’s company, those percentages could shift in the coming months, thanks to a pair of top-priority acts signed directly to the label. James Bay, who was inked in the U.S., is already huge in his native Britain, where he scored a #1 debut album, and Republic is throwing its full weight behind the rookie in a determined effort to break him. Album sales have yet to explode, but the lead single is showing signs of becoming a big hit, as the promo juggernaut puts on a full-court press. The Weeknd, meanwhile, is well on his way to becoming the next homegrown home run for Republic, with a smash single triggered by the 50 Shades of Grey platform and an upcoming album on which mega-producer Max Martin is said to be heavily involved.

It may seem odd that the recently leaderless Sony Nashville has been leading Mike Dungan’s mighty UMG Nashville in marketshare throughout 2015, but this turn of events is simply the result of the additional marketshare the Sony division has been getting from Christian sales since Billboard and SoundScan reversed course and started counting them in January. The latest singles from UMG’s Little Big Town and Sam Hunt are starting to cross, and those two buzzing acts, along with Kacey Musgraves’ upcoming LP, should serve to help restore order on Music Row. If Jason Owen, who manages LBT and Musgraves, takes the Sony Nashville job, as has long been rumored, his Sandbox management company will remain a freestanding entity, meaning Owen will be wearing two hats.

PRESSURE COOKER: Tidal’s use of exclusives from its star artists has ramped up the pressure on Apple Music, which is also counting on exclusives—and both are going directly to artists and then circling back to their labels. These efforts run counterproductive to the needs of the labels, which want to distribute their content wide, while disrupting the relationships between the labels and their acts who agree to do the exclusives. This is a major issue as Apple Music prepares to go live.

ON THE ROCS: Kanye West is making changes, distancing himself from Tidal, firing Roc Nation and managing himself, with an unofficial assist from the Jenner-Kardashian clan. As for Kanye’s long-delayed album, there’s some chatter that the release will be connected to Apple Music’s launch.

AWARDS-SHOW OD: The Billboard Music Awards, the final entry in a crowded calendar of music shows so far this year, was universally panned for its lack of sizzle, and it failed to move the needle for any of those who performed. The show’s problems can be traced to the glut of such TV specials including the Grammys, iHeartRadio Music Awards and ACMs all airing since February, which has served to stretch the talent pool precariously thin.

There’s another glut of big shows slated for this fall, with the VMAs (8/30), the iHeart Festival (September), the inaugural Live Nation Awards (10/1—
adding further clutter to an already busy schedule), the CMAs (11/4) and the AMAs (11/22). The promotion for the iHeart events is huge for the acts,
and the labels, who underwrite a sizable chunk of the production/talent costs, have begun to try to squeeze iHeartMedia for a piece of the action. But the
Holy Grail is the obviously the Grammys, and getting the right look for your act is the big challenge. Smart label heads work the Ehrlich-Portnow-Sussman triumvirate; by contrast, label heads who do nothing to close deals end up empty-handed year after year. For the novice manager who has no clue about how this game is played, a miscalculation causing the Grammy powers to look elsewhere can inflict long-term career damage.

The summer festival season, framed by the BRITs in March and the EMAs in October is about to get underway in the U.K., with the BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend this week and the Capital FM show later this month. The U.K.’s lack of pay-for-play laws results in Radio 1 and Capital FM giving big radio looks to participating acts in their programming.

NAMES IN THE RUMOR MILL: Bruce Lundvall, Stan Cornyn and B.B. King.