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NEAR TRUTHS: SHOCK OF THE NEW

PANDEMIC PANDEMONIUM: The ferment in the agency world is widespread, but the pandemonium at WME has been pronounced. The house of Ari and Patrick is now downsizing—it was reported that 20% of the agency's workforce would be impacted by furlough, reduced work for reduced pay and elimination. Meanwhile, the rumors just keep getting louder as they continue to kick the can down the road.

A sideshow to this circus has been the saga of Marc Geiger. Were his alleged talks with Spotify boss Daniel Ek just something Geiger floated as part of an ill-conceived gambit to obtain leverage? He took a meeting with Silver Lake Partners in an attempted end run around Emanuel and Whitesell, with the promise of enlisting the firm’s most powerful music agents in a revolt. But top agents like John Marx and Kirk Sommer were said not to be on board with his plan. His pleas, say insiders, fell on deaf ears. Insiders add that Geiger, having burned all his bridges at WME, wants out and is looking for his next opportunity. He’d like to be fired, but he remains, for now, because his severance package is hefty and WME doesn’t want to pay him out. Geiger did a great job of building a formidable music agency; his Achilles heel was that he could never stop talking about how smart he was. Geiger’s fans don’t think we’ve heard the last from him.

Watchers relate that the agency recently took out a $260m loan at nearly 11% interest (while the Federal rate is near zero), which is the clearest illustration yet of its precarious finances. That money will allow WME to stay afloat. But how long will it last?

SHOCK OF THE NEW: The lockdown may have put the kibosh on touring—and played havoc with the release plans of numerous stars—but the last several weeks have seen breakouts by an array of new acts. Among these: Doja Cat (#1 Pop radio, and a streaming monster that has topped the Spotify Global chart), SAINt JHN (a global streaming phenomenon that has recently broken loose at Pop radio), Benee (a TikTok breakout that has crossed swiftly to Top 40), Powfu (a multi-format giant that broke outside the system), Surfaces (a mass-appeal smash that started at TikTok and Spotify) and Trevor Daniel (Now Top 10 at Pop after breaking first at streaming). Now Columbia’s Ron Perry, whose extraordinary run of late has turned the label into a hit factory, has another breakout in StaySolidRocky, whose “Party Girl” is an instant smash that has quickly jumped into the Spotify Top 10 and is just beginning—and set to become huge. The big question: Will any of these acts be able to sell a ticket a year from now?

ARISTA DEVELOPMENT: Speaking of new acts breaking, David Massey has his first really big streaming record as Arista chief, thanks to JP Saxe’s “If the World Was Ending.” The cut featuring Julia Michaels (which she co-wrote) hasn’t hit critical mass yet but is growing at all metrics; it’s now platinum in the U.S. It’s early, but this one looks destined for greater growth at radio. Massey also has a viral hit with the controversial “Skechers” by DripReport.

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