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NEAR TRUTHS:
POST SCRIPTS AND TOOL BELTS

POST SCRIPT: Monte Lipman’s Republic is following up Taylor Swift’s killer bow by dropping a new Post Malone set this week. A new Post track, “Circles,” has flown to #1 at Spotify and #1 Most Added at Pop radio. How huge will the new set be? With a 150k ticket bundle augmenting his massive streams, handicappers predict a first week in the neighborhood of 500k—but you can add 1.2m in pre-release streams and sales for tracks on the album (including 600k+ album equivalents for “Sunflower” and 400k+ for “Wow.”), so we’re looking at a release-to-date total of around 1.7m. Which means his one-week RTD could exceed Taylor’s third-week total. His prior set, beerbongs & bentleys, is at a whopping 4.7m U.S. and 8m+ worldwide RTD.

A SWIFT GLOBAL CONQUEST: Taylor has overperformed with her new Republic album, Lover, which bucked the prevailing pop trends by earning solid streams and racking up a first-week total of 885k (1.1m+ RTD). What’s more, chatter from inside the company heaps credit on the “UMG central global team” for the album’s strong worldwide impact—notably its having become the first Western release to have a million-plus first week in China. International operatives pulled all relevant levers in myriad territories.

We’ve extolled Tay’s marketing genius a lot, and with good reason: She has put together a stunning campaign, which includes activating superfans to buy a series of four CDs which all contain the same music but feature different packaging content. Those four CDs could only be obtained via Target, which contributed some 40% of Taylor’s total. Draw your own conclusions. Of course, given the steep decline in sales overall, it remains unlikely that anyone will break Adele’s staggering first-week record of nearly 3.5m.

CHINA SYNDROME: Tencent’s agreement to purchase 10% of UMG from Vivendi earned justifiably big headlines, but insiders say the import of the Chinese giant’s $3.3b+ ante (based on a $33.6b overall valuation for the music group) goes far deeper. It was announced that Tencent would have a one-year call option to buy another tenth of the major, and some believe the long game involves the acquisition of a significantly greater piece. Meanwhile, with buy-in from one of China’s media powerhouses, Universal’s dominance with respect to global market influence rivals that of any label group since the howling heyday of strongman Walter Yetnikoff at CBS in the early ’80s.

The fly in the ointment for Tencent, however, is a reported inquiry from Beijing regarding its licensing practices. The tech behemoth, which has content deals in place with all three majors, has been accused of re-licensing the music to its competitors at hugely inflated rates—and that charge has triggered the government’s probe, which now joins an ongoing investigation of the firm’s gaming division. The music-streaming wing of the conglom is said to be valued at $21 billion; one analyst estimates that 30% of Tencent’s revenue comes from music licensing.

TOOL HAMMERS ‘EM: For the moment, industry eyes are returning to a band that’s been off the radar for 13 years—Tool—and a format that’s become mostly ancillary to the biz: physical retail. The Volcano/RCA rockers soar to #1 on this week’s chart with 270k, soundly besting Taylor in her second week, and they’ve done so with a big assist from a $45 CD package larded with multimedia goodies. Like Taylor’s album, it’s a tribute to the band’s ability to activate its superfan base. Tool’s ongoing viability also demonstrates that there’s still hunger in the marketplace for good rock music. Speaking of which, a fresh album and tour from rock icons AC/DC are rumored to be in the offing, per members of the band’s camp. Their last set has done north of 600k U.S.

¿CUANDO? As Epic’s Camila Cabello—who’s hot as ever, thanks to the monster Shawn Mendes duet “Señorita” and the gigundo “Havana”—drops two new songs, wonderers wonder: Will Sylvia’s siren deliver her eagerly awaited full-length this year? Her debut album, which dropped in early 2018, is now at 1.6m U.S. and 5m+ worldwide RTD.

ADULT CONTENT: Lewis Capaldi is blowing up, as Team Barnett prepares to break another adult act. Is Capitol the only label that’s even trying for this elusive market nowadays? Single “Someone You Loved” is earning serious streams and turning into a big radio hit. Grammy buzz on the Scottish breakout is loud. This success follows a killer U.K. run earlier this year, under the watchful eye of Virgin EMI chief Ted “The Hammer” Cockle.

 

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