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NEAR TRUTHS: SOUNDS OF WIND AND RAIN

THE (RE)DISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH: The RIAA’s new report of robust sales—$8.4b in revenue for the first half of the year, up 9.3%—coincides with one of the slowest periods of artist development in recent memory. Look around the major labels to see who’s established or broken new acts in the last two years, with TikTok and distribution changing the face of artist development.

Distro’s ability to throw a huge net to capture thousands of possible new songs is giving those running the distribution networks a decided advantage in the analysis of what’s bubbling in the marketplace. Also hindering artist development: all the noise on the DSPs, with some 100k new songs uploaded daily and “sounds of wind and rain” and suchlike dross clogging the pipes from the server farms of bad operators.

What’s the answer to this growing dilemma? How many new multiplatinum artists have broken through in the last 24 months? Taylor Swift, Morgan Wallen, SZA, Bad Bunny, Harry Styles, Drake, The Weeknd, Beyoncé, Olivia Rodrigo, Doja Cat, Future, Lil Durk, Lil Baby and other established stars are eating up all the real estate at the DSPs as the various distro companies grind the granular data in hopes of finding the next big thing. Not all of these distribution companies have the wherewithal to forge relationships with the artists breaking through their systems, but it is creating a giant new paradigm.

Just 10 new artists broke in the last 2¾ years—Wallen (whose last album is projecting 5m+ by year’s end), Doja, Olivia, Zach Bryan, SZA, Bunny, Metro Boomin, KAROL G and Peso Pluma—and have also sold 1m+ in a single calendar year and look to have sustainable careers. Three are Latin, three are hip-hop, two are country, five come from outside the traditional lanes of development and four emerged from alternative distribution platforms.

SOUTHERN EXPOSURE, PART ONE: The saga of label marketshare hasn’t changed much at the top, where Republic and Interscope continue to duke it out for overall share—with fewer than 250k units separating the combatants, out of the 60m each has done—and House Lipman holds the currents crown with 12+. One of the more intriguing developments has to do with the majors’ growing investment in the exploding sectors of country and Latin.

Latin music has jumped to a 6.9 share, up 1.5 over 2021 (+27.8%). Sony’s Latin marketshare of 50 in currents, led by Afo Verde, Sony’s king of Latin music, has gotten an injection of nitro from The Orchard’s Jason Pascal via Bad Bunny and Peso Pluma. (We note that Peso was utterly snubbed by the Latin Grammys, an expected outcome given the Latin Academy’s elite leadership.)

The other big dog is Jesús López, who leads UMG’s Latin division and commands a big slice of Uni’s 33% overall marketshare with a brace of genre superstars, not to mention a partnership with Monte Lipman’s Republic that includes Brazilian breakout Anitta. Ingrooves posts a 7% share to add to Universal’s current number, while Interscope has a 3 share as they make their move with KAROL G and the buzzing Ivan Cornejo and Nir Seroussi does his thing as head of Interscope’s Miami division.

Warner Latina boss Alejandro Duque, who developed Anitta into a big act before she broke her contract, has action—alongside MD Roberto Andrade Dirak—with Myke Towers, Yng Lvcas and Natanael Cano, among others. They’ve climbed to a 10.7 share of Latin.

SOUTHERN EXPOSURE, PART TWO: Current country marketshare (8.8, up a point over 2022, +12.8%) delineates the changing landscape as massive releases by Morgan Wallen (Big Loud/Mercury/Republic) and Zach Bryan (Warner) have brought the coasts fully into play. Republic, for one, has 25+% of country marketshare, while Zach Bryan, on Aaron Bay-Schuck’s Warner, accounts for a significant portion of WMG’s share.

Luke Combs, Kane Brown and Corey Kent are helping to bolster Randy Goodman’s Sony Nashville in the currents category, while Cindy Mabe’s UMG Nashville has Chris Stapleton, Jordan Davis and Tyler Hubbard earning very solid streams. (UMGN, with 16.8 and SMN, with 16.2, top the overall country marketshare chart with help from strong catalog.) Broken Bow’s red-hot run with top CMA nominees Lainey Wilson and Jelly Roll, meanwhile, has made Jon Loba’s company one of the sector’s biggest success stories. Ben Kline and Cris Lacy’s Warner Nashville, meanwhile, continues to bolster WMG’s standings (10.7 overall) with big stream counts from Bailey Zimmerman and Cole Swindell.

NEAR TRUTHS:
PIVOT POINTS
Breaking down the nuances of a transformational moment (2/27a)
LIVE WIRE:
MICHAEL RAPINO
He's putting asses in seats on an unprecedented scale. (2/26a)
HITS LIST:
CHANGE IS NOW
Is a seismic shift occurring? (2/27a)
ON THE COVER:
TOP DAWG
Evidence that miracles can happen. (2/27a)
NOTHING MATTERS DOES MATTER
Give 'em hell, KG. (2/26a)
OUR TOP 10 LIST FOR 2024
Just kidding. But we'll get there.
STRUM AND DRANG
How guitar music got big again.
GRAMMY GRAMMY GRAMMY
Start digging out your formal wear and let's do this.
THE NEXT BIG MONEY PLAY
it's not what you think.
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