ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? Considerable drama has surrounded the release of Travis Scott’s big new #1 Cactus Jack/Epic set, UTOPIA, which enjoyed the year’s third-biggest chart debut so far (and was 2023’s top hip-hop bow) with nearly 500k. A 92k bump in digital album sales, reported on the Thursday of Scott’s charting week, was a surprise to many analysts—and reminiscent of the always-late pure-sales action regularly reported by K-pop releases. Scott had a strong second chart week and is on his way to a solid week three.

Drama is to be expected with any Scott-related development, but the chatter was loud after a planned livestream at an Egyptian pyramid became a show at Circus Maximus in Rome (we’ll leave the pondering of gladiatorial resonances to you, dear reader), and there’s been talk of some ruffled feathers amid the rollout. Larry Jackson’s gamma. (not a label) has played a significant role in the process thanks to the branding deal it inked with Scott, Jackson's involvement in the artist’s Circus Maximus film and his hand in the switch from Egypt to Rome. Jackson, who most recently hooked up with French Montana and co-launched the artist's new single, has reportedly invested mega-millions (bolstered by a $300m investment from Todd Boehly’s Eldridge Industries) for a percentage of all income amassed by Scott and his brand, a major move for gamma., as rumors of a Frank Ocean deal and a Kanye rehabilitation play float around.

THE TOWER RAP: Capitol now finds itself having a bit of a moment with 10K’s Ice Spice and hot new signing Rylo Rodriguez (via Lil Baby’s new Glass Windows imprint and Motown), who recently vaulted into the Top 20 at Apple Music. Team Jubelirer now has two of the most active projects in hip-hop. As Elliot Grainge prepares to decamp to WMG with his 10K, some details of the arrangement are leaking out. Max Lousada, who has led the charge, has his hands all over this deal, which is expected to close in the next 30 days. We’re told Ice Spice will remain a 10K/Capitol project when Grainge fils starts with WMG. All other significant 10K artists—and their catalogs—will follow EG to Warner Music, we’re told.

MERCK-URIAL: It’s noteworthy that while the British press continues to take shots at Hipgnosis chief Merck Mercuriadis, he keeps getting up and punching back—and making new deals. Is another major announcement due in the very near future?

AS THE TURNSTILE TURNS: As some subpoenas related to a fishing expedition for a potential Department of Justice probe into Live Nation and Ticketmaster are rumored to be circulating, most insiders feel that once DOJ looks under the hood they will realize that, for the most part, ticket prices are controlled by the artists and, to a lesser extent, the venues and other partners—all of whom participate in those big ticketing fees. Live Nation has done a better job of keeping tickets away from scalpers, but it’s a virtually impossible task. VIP ticketing, meanwhile, has turned into a huge business for artists, especially the ones who use variable pricing. Through it all, Ticketmaster has taken the heat from the press and politicians for the artists and venues. The bottom line is that price goes up with demand—and if the biggest stars wanted lower ticket prices, they could offer them.