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I.B. BAD ON ARIANA
AND A&R

GRANDE, EXTRA SWEETENER, THANK U: Could Ariana Grande be on her way to challenging the reigning queen of pop? There’s no question that she’s undergone a compelling image change, morph­ing from a pure pop siren into something cooler and more of the moment. In doing so she’s broadened her audience in a huge way and cracked the code of the streaming world.

Her Sweetener set on Republic bowed in August with 232k (her biggest debut up to that point) and has racked up 1.2m in total activity in less than six months, with 1.14 billion streams; she’s already coming with another wildly anticipated new album on 2/8, led by a track that’s broken all manner of streaming records. If she matches the last album’s debut week and you add the 350k+ her last three singles have racked up in consumption, she could have a RTD total in the neighborhood of 600k at the end of her first week.

Ariana is now a dominant force on pop radio and the DSPs—and is set to captivate new audiences as a Coachella/Lollapalooza headliner—as she continues to drop one hot single after another, leaving most of the pop pack in the dust. Her 2017 tour grossed about $67m and her next one will be considerably more massive.

There’s no question that AG is the story of the year so far with all this momentum; will she go wire-to-wire as the biggest star of 2019? Meanwhile with her new set due just before Music’s Biggest Night, the Grammy cabal is taking a hard line about what her upcoming Grammy performance should look like. As of presstime no decision has been made about Grande appearing on the show—will she tell them to pound sand?

CAN’T BUY ME LOVE: Word has it that one highly competitive new signing contest ended with the act—which had gotten a fat offer from one major—deciding to go with another label at a lower price due to their copacetic rapport with the head of the latter company. How often does that happen? Deal-watchers say when it does, the money won’t make a huge difference for the act in question.

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