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MUSING ON THE MARKETPLACE

 

 

 

 

1. Only 13 albums on the latest chart sold over 10k actual ALBUM configurations. Two of these—Lana Del Rey and Tyler, the Creator—sold over 40k, and probably only for this, their debut week. Yet, even in this sleepy midsummer week, every Top-20 title scored above 20k SPS. Hence, in the immortal words of John Prine, all I can think is: “Pretty Good, Not Bad, I Can’t Complain.” A few years ago, as we watched sales numbers drop precipitously, we feared piracy would forever cripple our great business. Now, with the streaming boom, things are pretty darn good.

2. Near the end of this quarter and heading into the end of the year, we’ll be seeing new music from an array of superstar artists, taking the already expanding music frenzy to new heights. Eminem, Taylor Swift, Sam Smith, P!nk, Miley Cyrus, Chris Stapleton, Luke Bryan and maybe even Justin Timberlake are among those expected to lead the onslaught. Meanwhile, there is now a consumer base that’s comfortable with new modes of consuming—and willing to pay a fair price. We would expect a new spike 
in subscriptions around the holidays.

3. Paul Grein has labored all year to create a template for the upcoming Grammy nominations. The eligibility cutoff is the end of September; many of the aforementioned superstar releases will make the deadline for Song and Record of the Year nods, and some for Album of the Year contention, in a field with only two absolute locks—Kendrick Lamar and Ed Sheeran. Paul will have his work cut out for him as he judges long-term strength versus newly released material. I don’t envy him all the recalculations; then again, he isn’t dubbed the Grammy Whisperer for nothing.

4. Speaking of Grammys, the Harry Styles situation is of continuing interest. He’s now on screens nationwide with his prominent role in Dunkirk—sure to be one of the most talked-about movies of the year—to go with a big upcoming tour and the release of his second single, “Two Ghosts,” from one of the year’s most buzzed-about albums. Will he be the sleeper headline-grabber when the nominees are announced at year’s end?

5. In a year clearly dominated to date by Kendrick Lamar, and with vital, successful contributions from SZA, French Montana, Khalid, 21 Savage and other exciting new voices, the rap/hip-hop genre continues to grow in the U.S. and worldwide. But to this reporter, the fasci-nation extends to Jay-Z, whose importance in the marketplace simply does not diminish. It’s fair to call him rap’s first great living-legacy artist superstar. Who else has survived this long at the top of the game? At age 47, Jay’s relevance and sales power remain—and he continues to galvanize listeners even as he addresses more mature subject matter. Rap catalog has not typically had the legs of its rock competitors, but in the case of Jay-Z, his power and majesty appear everlasting.

HITS LIST IS
IN THE MAIL
A not-so-subtle reminder to fill out that ballot. (10/15a)
NEAR TRUTHS: THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD
The lives behind live music. (10/14a)
HARVEY MASON JR.:
THE HITS INTERVIEW
The Grammy chief takes our call. (10/14a)
RAINMAKERS 2020: COMING SOON
It will rain again this fall--we guarantee it. (10/13a)
STEVIE WONDER PARTNERS WITH REPUBLIC
First music in 15 years. (10/14a)
RAINMAKERS 2020
Bring your umbrella.
GRAMMY OUTLIERS
Mulling possible surprises.
HALLOWEEN IN QUARANTINE
Why not wear a mask indoors?
ELECTION 2020
What drugs will help us get there?
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