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NEAR TRUTHS:
OIL WELLS

DRILLING FOR OIL: As the biz hurtles to the end of an extraordinary year, the holidays offer a beacon of what we hope will be calm and regeneration.

But it’s worth noting, before we are awash in eggnog, that with uncertainty remaining and new variants promising at least a third year of this pandemic, the recorded-music business continues to flourish, publishing is reaching extraordinary new heights and live music is beginning its rebound.

Streaming’s growth has further swollen the majors’ bottom line and goosed the already escalating value of catalog. YTD U.S. streams, at presstime, have hit 928b+, a 24% spike from total 2019 streams of 746b. 2022, for all its challenges, looks very promising.

The UMG IPO was a bellwether for a huge spike in music valuation as streaming continues to lift all boats. The offering spearheaded by Sir Lucian Grainge and team was not only an unqualified success—the company’s market cap is $51b as of this writing—but it also helped spark a rise at other companies. Len Blavatnik’s $3.3b bet on WMG in 2011 represents another shrewd investment in the future, as the company is now at a market cap of $21b. The steady acquisition of content outlets, tech firms and other companies and assets show how the majors are using their newfound wealth to drill oil wells and lay the groundwork for whatever’s next.

Speaking of all that lovely income, it should also be noted that Spotify owns an ever-larger place on rightsholders’ balance sheets as it continues to dominate global streaming and expand its user base, with a 38% marketshare in the U.S. and 57% worldwide, according to rightsholders. Apple remains a significant part of the streaming picture (23% U.S. and 16% globally), but being a DSP is just a piece of its colossal biz.

While both streameries have grown continually over the last five years, there is no bigger single revenue source for the majors than the Spot, and it’s only getting bigger. Its market cap at presstime is $45.1b. How will rightsholders exploit the streamery’s intensive drive into the podcast space?

AROUND THE HORN, PART 1: John Janick’s IGA (11.2 current) ends the year as marketshare champion once again and the biggest recipient of top-tier Grammy noms among the majors.

A rejuvenated Geffen has been supercharged by this year’s most astounding new-artist story, Olivia Rodrigo; with nods in all the Big 4 categories, the #2 album of the year (2.6m+ U.S. YTD) and two of the most massive singles in recent memory, the poised young star offers further proof of Janick’s potent A&R, marketing, promotion and media chops. A prior example of the company’s artist-development brilliance, Billie Eilish, capped her own terrific year with big Grammy love; her album is Top 15 for the year, with 1.1m+.

Albums from Moneybagg Yo (1.1m) and Juice WRLD (1m+ YTD) also appear in the Top 20, and a new set from the latter just bowed with 125k. Grammy glory, well deserved, also rains down on Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett as their Cole Porter set (shared with Columbia) marks a fitting grace note to the legendary Bennett’s brilliant career. Gaga, for her part, just keeps conquering every medium in sight.

Interscope will celebrate several milestones in ’22, notably its 30th anniversary and the Dr. Dre-led Super Bowl halftime spectacular. As always, Vice Chairman Steve Berman has been indispensable in stoking the marketing engine, and Rainmaker Brenda Romano and team are an enormous asset at radio.

Monte Lipman’s Republic (10.8 current, up an impressive 1.3) enjoyed a diverse suite of successes, including Morgan Wallen’s #1 album of the year (3m+ YTD via Seth England’s Big Loud); a Top 5 finish for the late, great Pop Smoke (nearing 1.5m YTD via Steven Victor’s Victor Victor); Top 10 for XO’s The Weeknd (approaching 1.3m); multiple triumphs from the incomparable Taylor Swift; and Top 20 spots for Post Malone’s indefatigable 2019 set, Hollywood’s Bleeding (which takes on another 1m+ YTD), and Ariana Grande’s Positions (1m+).

Swift’s recent performance deserves special mention. Having released four chart-topping albums in the last 16 months, adding up to a stunning 3.8m in YTD activity (including 1.1m+ for evermore, the year’s #13 album), she also set multiple records for sales in the resurgent vinyl format, established a beachhead at TikTok and scored the longest #1 song since such records have been kept, with the 10-minute “All Too Well.” Of course, Tay’s rerecorded smashes have also re-centered the conversation about ownership of recorded works.

The brothers Lipman made the logical and laudable move of anointing label veterans Wendy Goldstein and Jim Roppo co-presidents and added artist whisperer Dave Rocco as Chief Creative Officer. Meanwhile, the label’s Gary Spangler-led promotion department continues to fire on all cylinders, taking top label share and leading in key formats once again at Mediabase.

NEW TEAMS: Ethiopia Habtemariam is chairman of the now-freestanding Motown, which has the #11 album with Quality Control’s Lil Baby (1.15m YTD). Capitol Music Group will ramp up in the wake of the historic appointment of longtime MVP Michelle Jubelirer as chair/CEO. Highly respected and admired, Jubelirer has deep relationships in the creative community to go with her biz bona fides. Jacqueline Saturn’s Virgin remains a formidable arrow in CMG’s quiver, along with Elliot Grainge’s 10K. Promo chief Greg Marella and team continue to smash the ball.

New players are coming onto the field at Def Jam, where Tunji Balogun is taking the reins (Nicki Farag remains GM), and Island, with Imran Majid and Justin Eshak serving as tandem leadership. Meanwhile, Todd Moscowitz set up shop at Sony with his Alamo and hitter Joie Manda hung his own shingle with the fully independent Encore Recordings.

TAGS: I.B. Bad
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