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NEAR TRUTHS: ALL
MANNER OF BUNNIES

BULLISH ON THE BUNNY: WMG’s big Grammy nominations include two in Best New Artist (Anitta and Omar Apollo) and major-field noms for Lizzo, Mary J. Blige, Coldplay and Brandi Carlile.

Recorded Music boss Max Lousada is said to be doubling down on his team at Warner Records as Aaron Bay-Schuck and Tom Corson begin to create some powerful new artist brands, notably Anitta and Zach Bryan, having also scored hugely with streaming giants by Joji and sync-powered Kate Bush.

DECLARATIONS OF INDEPENDENTS: The aforementioned buttoning-up of UMG’s indie division under Virgin comes as independently released and distributed music surges radically in the mainstream, a result of the marketplace democratization wrought by the DSPs (especially Spotify).

A large portion, if not a majority, of breakout streaming hits nowadays come from indieland, where the time and bandwidth for artist development is more plentiful, and self-released recordings. Majors can then jump on these already-percolating records and supercharge them. The year’s biggest record, of course, comes from tiny Rimas (via The Orchard); Bad Bunny’s Un Verano Sin Ti has been breaking records left and right and helped spearhead the Latin-music explosion (it’s up a staggering 28.9% over last year). Another very big Latin streaming record, from Dale Play’s Bizarrap, also came through The Orchard’s pipeline, which additionally delivered BTS product during its first flush of global fame.

R&B maverick Brent Faiyaz (Lost Kids/Venice) left jaws on the floor with his big chart debut and has elected to remain indie. New breakouts like Interscope’s d4vd (first out via Distrokid), Muni Long (Supergiant first, then Def Jam), JVKE (via Lonny Olinick-led AWAL), Nicky Youre (distribbed, like Faiyaz, via STEM, before his Columbia pact), Bailey Zimmerman (on his own Tunecore-distribbed Hurricane label prior to inking with Warner Nashville) and Lauren Spencer Smith (self-released before her Island/Republic deal) also made big noise before they collected big checks. The ink on tastemaker fave Steve Lacy’s deal with RCA, meanwhile, was scarcely dry when his “Bad Habit” began blowing up.

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