HITS: By Insiders for Insiders

TIPPING POINT: Apple’s Dr. Dre album exclusive is shaping up as a colossal win-win for all concerned. First-week streams are expected to total up to 25m based on current consumption rates, which would give Compton the fourth-biggest total of 2015 so far, more than half of Drake’s 48m seven-day tally for If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. This unexpected eruption represents a coming-out party for the nine-week-old Apple Music premium streaming service, while serving as a wake-up call to Daniel Ek and his Spotify team (soon to be minus Chief Content Officer and primary label liaison Ken Parks), who can no longer afford to brush off their new rival in blasé fashion, exemplified by Ek’s tweeted—and quickly deleted—reaction to Apple Music’s unveiling: “Oh ok.”

The Dre exclusive serves a twofold purpose for Apple Music, driving prospective new subscribers to the service while further enhancing its all-important cool factor. Spotify, meanwhile, finds itself with some new problems: The EU rejected its claim of collusion between Apple and the labels, and Spotify’s valuation will likely shrink as Apple Music grows, further delaying the IPO the principals have been eagerly awaiting. It’s believed that Compton, like Taylor Swift’s 1989 before it, will never be made available on Spotify unless it finally agrees to soften its hardline policy of not allowing premium-tier exclusives—an unlikely scenario given the fact that this album was made by a top Apple executive.

’s album in progress is being mixed at a legendary Hollywood studio, and those who have been permitted to hear it say it’s as brilliant as hoped. It has yet to be determined which of the 20 songs still in play will make the final cut, or whether the album will make it this year; it’s hoped that it will get a pre-Thanksgiving release. Can Adele do 1m in her first week, given the fact that she won’t tirelessly promote it in the Taylor Swift manner?

The One Direction album expected this fall from SYCO/Columbia will be the last under the group’s current deal. The delivery of said album will immediately make the four remaining members free agents. Zayn Malik, who left the group before the fifth LP, was subject to the leaving-member clause built into 1D’s contract with SYCO, and he signed a multi-album solo deal with SYCO/RCA. Harry Styles is believed by many to have the best shot at a big solo career, as whispers of an impending Azoff management play with Styles grow louder. The fact that 1D’s latest single broke the one-day Spotify record strongly suggests the fan base will lap up any offering from any part of the group.

If Adele and a rumored Beyoncé album are released in Q4, along with 1D, Rob Stringer’s Columbia will be ensured another big year, perhaps the biggest since 2011, the year Adele’s 21 was released.

STAR MAPPING: The Weeknd is poised to become a massive star, with his pivotal career album hitting 8/28, fueled by the accrued momentum of three straight smash singles, with a perfectly timed VMAs appearance on 8/30. The rest of this year represents a huge opportunity for him on several levels, including a probable #1 album (produced by Max Martin), sold-out arenas, critical acclaim and his likely emergence as a frontrunner in the upcoming awards season.

The rehabilitation of Justin Bieber’s career is off to a good start with his featured appearance on Skrillex and Diplo’s hit single “Where Are Ü Now,” and he too will get a big look on the VMAs—but can the wily Scooter Braun successfully bring Bieber back to the top of the heap? Is the social-networking power of Braun’s team enough to overcome the obstacles in their path? It’s assumed that Bieber’s Q4 album will put up big first-week numbers, but will a hot start be enough to carry it over the finish line? There’s big money riding on this play; can Bieber’s support team make his return look big enough using the socials to keep the millions in brand money in the game? Def Jam’s Steve Bartels will deliver his side of the equation. Another concern involves Billboard’s using his guest appearance with Skrillex as a lure to boost anemic sales for the upcoming Hot 100 Music Festival, which could damage his perceived relevance.

The Hot 100 Fest, set for the weekend of 8/22-23, is already being referred to as “The Nightmare at Jones Beach.” Among the reasons most expect the event to be an unmitigated disaster are (1) the bible overpaid by 50 % to get the talent; (2) ticket sales are terrible, with attempts at papering now underway; (3) the BB brain trust decided to go ahead with the fest knowing they’d lose nearly $2m even at 90% of capacity, ignoring the promoters and agents who warned that mounting the fest was a bad idea at this place and time; (4) the show and talent lineup were announced too late, leaving a perilously small window for on the on-sale during a crowded summer season; and (5) for all of the above reasons, it’s shaping up as a really bad look for the show’s headliners. And John Amato is taking the heat.

NAMES IN THE RUMOR MILL: Cue & Kondrk, Ken Parks, Jonathan Dickins, Richard Griffiths and Monte Lipman.