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MAYBE, JUST MAYBE: PROMO WARS AND THE NEW NORMAL

Another week of perusing the Mediabase Classic version is done and another has begun. We continue to be amazed and entertained by the weekly promo wars; kudos to everyone who’s been pushing forward at full speed and performing above and beyond all expectations during this pandemic. (Side note to Alissa Pollack and Jeff Gelb: Thank you for keeping the Classic available, and please simplify the new version so that we can all enjoy it. Life is about Realtime. You invented Realtime!)

As predicted here weeks ago, Team Warner, headed by the lovely and talented Mr. Mike Chester, and Top 40 add machine extraordinaire Dave Dyer (seen lighting up his victory cigar and emulating Celtics coaching legend Red Auerbach) have scored back-to-back #1s with megadiva Dua Lipa. “Break My Heart” grabs the top spot in its 18th week on the chart. Next in line for the Fighting Chesters is Gabby Barrett’s Country crossover, “I Hope.” This one—solidly in the Top 20 and growing—is a personal favorite, and I’ve been cheering it on in the background. Both artists should be contenders for this year’s Grammys consideration.

Next up for the top slot this week is Harry Styles with his super, monster, giant, enormous smash, “Watermelon Sugar.” The track will grab the top position in its 11th week on the chart and should camp out there for quite some time. Styles’ previous #1, “Adore You,” is in its 34th week on the chart and is still solid, holding at #6. Harry is a major contender for Grammy consideration and should be in the press release headline when the nominations are announced. Peter Gray and team Big Red are also flying high with Powfu, who’s battling for the Top 10 this week, and Jawsh 685, who’s inside the Top 15 in only his fourth week.

Interscope’s fast-charging DaBaby and Lil Mosey join Jawsh as future #1 contenders. But Harry is so powerful, and so new, that this won’t even begin to get interesting until September.

I’m also watching closely and have been observing increased efficiency in the RCA promotion squad. Since Nipper Co-President Joe Riccitelli re-tooled his staff in Q2, they’ve been moving swiftly and turning heads. Kane Brown exploded out of the box—which was almost shocking, since Pop radio ignored him for years. Kygo is off and running at multiple formats, and now Chris Brown’s streaming and R&B/Rhythm smash is moving confidently into the Pop arena. Big ups to Joe for stepping forward, hiring Keith Rothschild during the pandemic, teaming him with Jeff Rizzo to form a top-notch multi-format Pop team… and reaping the benefits.

Strengthening promo staffs is an essential strategy as we move forward. Executives with real relationships are winning in a New Normal, where trading airplay for shows has taken a back seat to actually convincing programmers of a record’s value. With promotion staffs spending less time in meetings and airports and more time collecting and disseminating facts, the competition has grown increasingly fierce. Getting stronger is always a good strategy.

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