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iHEARTMEDIA MUSIC SUMMIT, DAY ONE: JANICK, BARTELS, BORCHETTA, ‎MASSEY, WALK AND OTHERS PLAY SOME TUNES

Our mole managed not only to stay awake for the corporate part of the presentation, but also to avoid detection so that we could share some insights on the events of Day One. Note that not all artists in each presentation are listed, as the Internet isn’t quite big enough.

Capitol’s Greg Thompson and Dennis Reese kicked things off by introducing a performance by Silento, who has one of the biggest singles in the market in “Watch Me.” He was able to convince iHeart’s Marissa Morris, Alissa Pollack and Beata to join him onstage as his “Whip/ Nae Nae” dancers, even though the sentiment in the room that having Alex Tear, Dylan Sprague and John Ivey doing their best ‘Nae Nae’ would have provided more comedy. This was followed by a video montage led by Halsey’s “New Americana”—with a nota bene scrolling across the screen reading, “This is not a song about promoting drug use. It’s a song about pop culture and diversity.” A good use of messaging to a captive audience that is apprehensive about the lyrical content of the record. The remainder of the video focused on current and upcoming CMG projects including Beck, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Tori Kelly, Don Henley, 5 Seconds of Summer, Troye Sivan and Audien f/Lady A.

Caroline’s Dave Lombardi took to the stage to celebrate the distribution company’s three #1s this year (including Tyrese) and the Glass Animals iPhone 6 commercial.

Steve Bartels and Def Jam were up next. Bartels, who’s as comfortable onstage as any artist, reminded the crowd it was just one year ago April that Def Jam and Island were separated. The message was, “We Discover, Build and Break Artists—We Are Def Jam.” The presentation was broken into Legacy (Jay Z, Kanye, Rihanna), Now (Alessia Cara [pictured left], Frank Ocean, Iggy Azalea, Jhené Aiko, Justin Bieber) and Future (Vince Staples, Alesso, Kacy Hill, Axwell & Ingrosso). Cara performed two songs (including “Here”) and charmed the room as she explained what they meant to her. Bartels then intro’d Leona Lewis’ performance, pointing out that when he found out she was signed to Island U.K., he immediately called Darcus Beese and said, “I have to have it in the States.”

Tom Poleman then welcomed Interscope’s John Janick (pictured right), who used recent signing The Struts (pictured below) as an example of how iHeart partners with the labels to break rock acts. The Struts are part of the current On the Verge program and are set to appear on the Village Stage at the iHeart Festival this September. Janick showed he has more than a little promo guy in him when he introduced BORNS and asked the iHeart group to add the act to the On the Verge lineup. Fresh from Lolla, the band played two songs, including “Electric Love,” and when they finished, Janick stated, “If that’s not a hit, I’m going to retire.” He then spoke of Selena Gomez, noting that “I had to chase her around for a while, but after a year was able to sign her.” She then came onstage and introduced her next single “Same Old Love.” The video reel included the label’s diverse roster including Elle Goulding, Rae Srummurd, Mike Will and Years & Years. The Struts ended the segment bringing the room to its feet with two songs. Comparisons going around about lead singer Luke Spiller to Mick Jagger.

Latium’s Charles Chavez, being a former radio guy, knows the audience. He started his presentation by passing out beer. He joked, “I got my start as a manager by being fired from radio. Well, guess what—I got fired again.” He spoke about his artists at Columbia (Danny Mercer), Epic (Kat Dahlia) and, most recently, songwriter Shy Carter, signed to RCA. He rounded out his time by bringing out Magic! to play their new single, “#SundayFunday.”

Global Entertainment was up next, as Poleman introduced Randy Phillips, who offered, “I’m sure you’re asking, what the fuck is Global? I’ve been asking myself that for eight months!” He described company principle Ashley Tabor as “one of you,” adding that Global in the U.K. is very much like iHeart in the U.S. He introduced some of the Global execs, including Bob Semanovich and Richard Palmese, then their artist Nathan Sykes (pictured right) took the stage along with a nine-piece band the company had flown in from the U.K. to perform three songs, including the single “Kiss Me Quick”. Knowing that lunch still hadn’t been served, Palmese informed the crowd he’d brought in Nathan’s Hot Dogs from NYC, which were avail on a cart outside. There was much rejoicing.

Following the short break, it was Republic’s turn, and the company turned out in full force—Monte, to Charlie, Spangler, Wendy, MacKay and more. Splashy video montages of how the companies had partnered this past year on Demi Lovato Pool Parties, Taylor at Jingle Balls and album premieres, Shawn Mendes at the Music Awards, Zac Brown across multiple formats OTV, yada-yada. Then Charlie Walk took to the stage with a mission: to present “Christmas in August,” i.e., all the records you’ll be playing come Xmas. He brought up The Weeknd (pictured left) as well as new signing Hailee Steinfeld. Jennifer Lopez introduced her new collab with Alvaro Soler, “El Mismo Sol,” via video featuring iHeart N.Y. programmers. Prior to James Bay’s acoustic performance of “Let It Go,” Walk played a video of everyone singing along with him at Lolla last weekend. “Those people, they are your audience. You can’t let them discover new music elsewhere.”  Following Bay’s standing ovation, Walk ended with, “James Bay, USA—let’s do this.”

Island’s David Massey, up next, talked up Tove Lo’s new song “Moments,” played an acoustic version of Shawn Mendes’ “Stiches” with Hailee Steinfeld and debuted “For a Better Day” from Avicii, who has a new album coming in October. Eric Wong focused on new music from Fall Out Boy, Nashville’s quirky That Poppy and Timeflies, then Massey introduced a performance by The Vamps and debuted their new single. They closed their presentation by premiering a new Nick Jonas song, “Under You,” produced by Max Martin and Shellback, and Nick surprised the audience by coming in halfway through to sing the remainder of the song.

Massey then brought up Hollywood’s Ken Bunt, his partner in the new Demi Lovato project, and they played what will be her next single, “Confident”.

A dapper Scot Finck talked about the year Hollywood has had between Breaking Benjamin, Andy Grammer, Demi and now Bea Miller, with more to come from Joywave and Zella Day. When a certain programmer joked that he looked like “he could be his own legal counsel in that suit,” Finck quipped back, “Harsh abuse for just one add a year out of you.” After seven hours, the room was getting a bit punchy. Finck then intro’d ZZ Ward (pictured right), who played her single “LOVE 3X”.

Big Machine and Scott Borchetta closed out day one starting with a snazzy sizzle reel about the company’s year. That was followed by a video message from Taylor Swift, who, of course, graciously thanked everyone for their support, but also took the time to razz Poleman for his number of selfies online, as well as John Sykes for, well, being John Sykes. She then announced “Wildest Dreams,” which will be the fifth single from 1989. Promo head David Nathan spoke about current projects from American Idol winner Nick Fradiani and actress Laura Marano. Borchetta then played a new The Band Perry song produced by RedOne and Dann Huff. He said, “When you own a record company, you can do pretty much what you want,” and he played some new music from a forthcoming Cheap Trick album. He ended with the new Zac Brown Band song “Beautiful Drug,” which he hopes the programmers will play at both Country and Rock.

Dinner was served on the lot by Zac Brown’s personal chef, Rusty. This “eat and greet” with many of the UMG artists included a menu of pocketknife coleslaw, jambalaya, Georgia clay-rubbed short ribs and sticky blueberry crisp for dessert.  

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