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NEAR TRUTHS:
I.B. GETS MELLO

DISRUPTOR: Speaking of new models, the process by which Marshmello has progressed from DJ to hit producer/artist to game-changer continues to spark much buzz in industry circles. Over time and after myriad hits with artists across the spectrum (1,116,000,000+ Spotify streams year to date), Mello has—in tandem with manager Moe Shalizi and attorney Josh Binder—redefined a business that turns the conventional deal upside down. Rather than ink a multi-album pact with a label, the mysterious man in the white helmet has done licensing deals for single tracks through his own label, Joytime Collective, for large checks and what are said to be relatively short licensing terms. In addition to his substantial producer fee, his team structures these deals essentially as JVs.

And while the labels that are lining up to cut these deals are happy to have the revenue generated by hit songs and the marketshare, they also know that working with Mello will up any artist’s visibility and brand reach. Marshmello has become, in effect, a kind of traveling A&R booster without portfolio and powerhouse marketing driver, giving all manner of artists a big pop platform. We’re hearing from some corners that he’s getting $1m all in on average, with half of that for his producer fee, and licensing terms trending 5-10 years.

Of course, that’s just one part of his booming business; like other top DJs, he commands astronomical fees for his live appearances, a $60m Vegas residency at the Palms; he also has more YouTube subscribers than any DJ and most artists on the planet (38.5M) and 26.3m Instagram followers as of this writing. To boot, he and Moe have ventured into the marshmallow business as co-owners of the briskly selling Stuffed Puffs.

So all you have to do is slap a white bucket on your head, do some collaborations and the riches (and anonymous fame) will follow, right? Not so fast. Mello has developed a compelling artist brand and has generated hit after hit (many of them on his own)—his sound is the tail wagging the dog right now. What will he disrupt next?

UP THE ACADEMY: The new Grammy regime is taking shape as the 8/31 eligibility deadline looms. Insiders say freshly installed Academy chief Deb Dugan was—for reasons beyond anyone’s control—deprived of the typical learning period at the end of Neil Portnow’s tenure that would’ve allowed a smoother transition and gotten the new chief up to speed gradually.

As it is, we’re told she had to hit the ground running, and has her hands extremely full with the macro of the organization—in particular a deep dive into the org’s finances, with its fat CBS deal, valued at around $50m+ per year, due to expire in 2026. Dugan has stated that she’s determined to make dramatic change part of her mandate and was said to be disturbed by some of the Academy’s dysfunctional operations. These mega-issues, alongside the running of MusiCares and other philanthropic concerns, are believed to be monopolizing Dugan’s time as she gets acclimated—and observers say she simply hasn’t had the bandwidth, yet, to involve herself with the awards process.

That’s left Board Chairman Harvey Mason Jr. as by far the loudest voice in the room. Mason, a producer/songwriter and Academy brahmin, is intimately familiar with its buttons and levers. Meanwhile, the TV committee is said to feel that they will be able to impact the show much more significantly going forward. The next telecast will be the swan song of longtime producer Ken Ehrlich and the official debut of newcomer Ben Winston, who’s been producing the wildly successful Late Late show With James Corden and has very strong ties at the network. Winston is just the latest Englishman to become a power player in the U.S. biz.

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A chronicle of the inexplicable.
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2022 TOURS
May we all be vaxxed by then.
ROCK'S NEW CHAPTER
Power pop, global glam and the return of the loud.
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