WHEELS AND/OR DEALS: What’s up with Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine? Rumors have been flying around Nashville for the last two weeks that a new deal for the company—for some $300m—was all but done with UMG. But this is emphatically not the case. Will another suitor swoop in at the asking price? Joel Katz has the leadposition in the hunt for the right buyer; inside word is that he has multiple offers for $300m+. If that’s accurate, why has nothing closed yet? Is Scott not loving any of these offers? Are they from strategic partners or financial players?

All of the above seems to suggest that Scott is content to ride Big Machine’s current wave. Ignore the haters in Music City; his lavish lifestyle may be antithetical to the down-home style preferred by local traditionalists, but the exec’s got big plans and thinks he’s going to knock it out of the park once again. In addition to his established country hits, he believes several projects he has in development are primed to break wide open. Don’t bet against him.

Meanwhile, Republic no longer gets Borchetta’s marketshare, which intermittently went into Monte Lipman’s column during Taylor Swift’s years on the label, but this has nothing to do with any rancor over Big Machine losing Tay to Republic, regardless of Nashville gossip. That’s not to say Borchetta wasn’t surprised by the bombshell announcement of Taylor’s move, but it was the megastar herself who imposed the Cone of Silence before the news went out—and nobody understands better than he does that the first rule of Taylor Club is: Don’t talk about Taylor Club. When Taylor had a current record, because Republic provided label services (most notably promo), BMLG marketshare fell under Republic’s. BMLG’s year-end marketshare was 1.1, which is where it remains in 2019. Even without BMLG, Republic could be a challenger for the top marketshare spot if some of their superstars deliver this year.

POP REP TWO-STEP: What hot female pop star is beginning to explore meetings with prospective new managers, now that her meteoric rise over the last few years has catapulted her into pop’s most rarefied air? No clear outcome is expected until after Grammys—could a compromise be struck with the artist’s current manager over the percentage of the cake take?