NEAR TRUTHS:
12 SONGS AND THE TRUTH

GUTS AND GLORY: Olivia Rodrigo’s sophomore set, GUTS (on John Janick’s Geffen), is headed for a #1 bow in the neighborhood of 300k. O-Rod has scored two big singles prior to the release date, “vampire” and “bad idea right?,” both of which continue to dominate DSPs (together, they’ve amassed about 400m worldwide Spotify streams). The star, who memorably seized the narrative with “drivers license” early in 2021, has racked up 18m in global ATD on her monster debut, SOUR. She and her team have opted to come with a 12-track album, part of a classic artist-development campaign in this era of nonstop content. She also has vinyl day and date to serve her rabid fan base. Thanks primarily to Olivia and BIGHIT breakout Jung Kook, Geffen is having a bit of a moment just now.

Another artist occupying a dominant spot in the pop universe is Doja Cat, whose “Paint the Town Red” has become a juggernaut at DSPs and radio, amping up expectations for Kemosabe/RCA set Scarlet, due on 9/22. Is Doja poised for full-fledged superstardom? Her sold-out arena tour—in conjunction with CAA and Live Nation—kicks off on 10/31. Peter Edge, John Fleckenstein and company now have another giant to add to the sensation that is Top Dawg-repped SZA; the TDE/RCA star has the #2 album YTD with 7m+ album equivalents worldwide and, between audio and video, 12b streams globally.

Meanwhile, here comes Drake, whose For All the Dogs is also slated to drop on 9/22 and will in all likelihood extend Republic’s marketshare lead—especially in currents, where it has an incredible 12.5% share. House Lipman’s overall marketshare edge over Interscope at present is about 0.5%, with the two labels separated by fewer than 250k units. In any case, will Drake’s new offering, which is said to boast multiple top-tier features, be gargantuan, or will it only be very, very big? His ongoing arena tour, presented by Live Nation, is another huge one. Brent Smith at Wasserman is Drake's agent.

LONG GRAINGE PLANNING: The much buzzed-about JV deal between Elliot Grainge’s 10K and WMG has at last been consummated, marking a substantial milestone for the entrepreneurial young exec, whose label becomes one of Warner’s frontline imprints (with ADA distribution) and who joins Messrs. Kyncl and Lousada on the group’s executive team. The latter appointment is said to have rankled some of the old guard at the company. It’s nonetheless a noteworthy commitment to the new generation—and the indie ethic and structure—by Warner as it repositions itself in a rapidly evolving ecosystem and extends its dedication to youth culture. Allen Grubman ran point on Elliot’s deal, in tandem with LionTree. Insiders say 10K has a valuation in the neighborhood of $200m. WMG has purchased a 51% stake.

Elliot’s got the biz in his DNA, as anyone with a cursory familiarity with the headlines is aware. While we all know about SLG, it’s also important to acknowledge his uncle Nigel, whose Ensign label (Thin Lizzy, Boomtown Rats, Waterboys, World Party, Sinead O’Connor) made a huge mark on the business. Cousin Nick Shymansky, meanwhile, discovered Amy Winehouse. And let’s not forget EG’s grandfather, Cecil, who sold records (and record players) at his Grainge Radio and Television in North London in the ’50s and ’60s and, according to legend, handed out vinyl to his sons before they were old enough to read the labels. Indeed, those radio-TV shops represent part of the grassroots of the modern biz. It’s believed Elliot plans to reactivate the Ensign label, which WMG took on when UMG had to divest some properties to earn regulatory approval of its EMI acquisition (a process that was completed in 2013).

Elliot is also now experiencing an unaccustomed level of cultural attention due to his marriage to mega-influencer Sofia Richie (recently the subject of an in-depth Town & Country cover story). The two are undoubtedly a power couple, EG’s avoidance of the tabloid press notwithstanding.

SONGS YOU KNOW BY HEART: As fans mourn the passing of singer-songwriter and Emperor of Margaritaville Jimmy Buffett, it’s become clear that the artist’s impact on music and culture has been a lot greater than the Hawaiian-shirted Parrothead fan base with which he has long been associated. Indeed, the sale of vinyl, downloads and more has gone ballistic since his death, and the throngs of football fans' singing along to his music at Bryant-Denny Stadium (on the campus of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa) just after his departure underscores the adoration he inspired, which in retrospect is comparable in some ways to the Grateful Dead subculture. Buffett was also an exceptionally astute businessman, building a lifestyle empire of merch, restaurants and more that swelled his net worth to $1b, according to the financial press. And he was a true mensch to the end, maintaining half-century-long business relationships with players like the late Howard Kaufman, Irving Azoff’s former partner, and Irving himself. Howard Rose—who was also a key figure in Elton John’s career—was Buffett’s longtime agent.

preview image: Jessica Lewis

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