I.B. BAD ON TAYLOR SWIFT'S GRAND AMBITION

ADELEITIS? At midnight ET on Friday (8/25), Taylor Swift launched the first ICBM in her fall offensive with “Look What You Made Me Do,” the lead single for her 11/10 album reputation. The acceptance at radio on the provocative song has been overwhelming, the early streaming numbers have been record-setting and first-week sales are projected to be comparable to Taylor’s biggest hits—meaning the track appears to have more than enough muscle to debut at #1. Now that the project is in motion, there’s a growing belief that Taylor has nothing less than Adele’s seemingly unbeatable first-week U.S. record of 3.4m in her sights. There’s no question that she’s going to evaluate the situation in minute detail in an effort to determine what is needed to attain the prize. Can the Target exclusive give her the physical muscle to challenge Adele, whose number was all sales and zero streams outside of “Hello”? Taylor will surely make her upcoming album streamable on all the services if she concludes that she has a shot. This super-sharp, ultra-competitive megastar is already in her war room, ready to press whatever buttons are required to enable her to hit her target.

THE STREAMING CONUNDRUM: A song can explode out of nowhere more easily than ever nowadays, thanks to the combustible combination of streaming and socials. Labels that move quickly to lock down projects that are moving the needle online are realizing a big upside. But how many stars and arena acts are coming out of streaming? Indeed, as long as the streaming platform continues to deliver cash like a gigantic ATM, how incentivized are rights owners to exercise the patience and make the commitment required to break artists? Those who assert that the ongoing developing of career artists is the engine that keeps the music business vital, including lawyers, managers, agents, and certain label execs, insist that this gold rush is a short-sighted strategy at this pivotal point, when the business should ultimately be focused on the long game. Managers claim they’re doing more and more of the heavy lifting in artist development, which is all about building fan engagement. They contend that label involvement typically doesn’t begin until major playlisting and radio enter the picture.

...Go to Part Two, "I.B. Bad Clears the Air"

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