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NEAR TRUTHS:
PUBS AND SALOONS

PUBS ON THE PLAYLIST: The boats of all major pubcos have been lifted by rising streams. Jody Gerson’s UMPG—with revenue up 7% in Q3, helping to goose Uni’s killer quarter—did a new long-term deal with The Weeknd (as part of his giant new UMG pact), inked breakout Nicky Youre and Glass Animals leader Dave Bayley and secured deals with the estates of American Songbook giant Irving Berlin and Latin-music icon Juan Gabriel. Jen Knoepfle rejoined the pubbery as EVP/co-head of A&R, while EVP/Head of U.S. A&R David Gray added duties as head of the new Global Creative Group. In addition to seeing UMPG nab a (shared) BMI Pop Pubco of the Year nod, Gerson was honored by the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Publishing was similarly a boon for Sony’s latest financials, spiking 55%, as Jon Platt-led Sony Music Publishing fulfilled both its commercial and cultural missions. With ASCAP Rhythm & Soul, Pop and Latin and BMI Pop (a tie with UMPG) and R&B Hip-Hop Pubco of the Year wins; deals with pop hitter Jonas Jeberg, country rainmaker Ashley Gorley and hot newcomers Em Beihold and Dove Cameron; and re-ups with Latin giant Tainy and the Muddy Waters estates, the House of Platt remains en fuego.

The effective leadership of Guy Moot and Carianne Marshall, meanwhile, has bolstered the position of Warner Chappell, which notched splashy signings like Lauren Spencer Smith, Amy Allen, Drake producer TooDope! and The Linda Lindas and re-upped Nashville biggies Chris Stapleton, Nicolle Galyon and Liz Rose. Publishing revenue spiked 34.6% in Q3, earning a shout-out from Steve Cooper in his quarterly report.

Publishers also scored a collective victory in 2022, negotiating a spike in streaming royalties for songwriters; NMPA topper David Israelite and team did much heavy lifting here.

MUSIC CITY PLANNING: Espo’s stepping down as Warner Music Nashville CEO and into an emeritus role—with Ben Kline and Cris Lacy assuming the mantle as a leadership tandem—marks Nashville’s first changing of the guard in some time. In fact, the last move at the top of the pyramid was in 2015, when Randy Goodman took the baton at Sony Nashville from Gary Overton during Doug MorrisSME regime. Before that (in 2012), Lucian Grainge brought in Mike Dungan (then at EMI’s Capitol Nashville) as a prelude to UMG’s EMI purchase and the assembly of UMG Nashville.

With a handful of artists generating terrific streaming numbers and emerging as giant stars—notably Big Loud/Mercury's Morgan Wallen, SMN’s Luke Combs and UMGN’s Chris Stapleton—and new breakouts like Broken Bow’s Lainey Wilson (now prominent on Yellowstone) and Monument’s Walker Hayes' getting big exposure, Nashville is navigating big changes in the marketplace. Speaking of the evolving landscape, rumor has it that Coran Capshaw may be planning to launch a new Nashville-based label. Stay tuned.

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