NEAR TRUTHS:
BALLS AND SPHERES  


GOING DEEP:
The announcement that Usher will perform at half­time at the Super Bowl continues to reverberate amid pumped-up streams of his single “Good Good,” with Pop airplay building. The boost from Kim Kardashian’s social post was just the jet fuel required as L.A. Reid, Larry Jackson, Ron Laffitte and Kenny Meiselas (the latter getting his third Super Bowl ring in a decade, following his work with Lady Gaga and The Weeknd) lined up this big kick. Usher’s album, due via mega/gamma. (the latter not a label) in time for the big game, is naturally getting a nice preview on halftime sponsor Apple Music’s platform.

Jay-Z and his Roc Nation CEO/consigliere, Des Perez, continue to demonstrate their massive influence on the landscape. Have Usher and his team been asked by Roc Nation and the NFL to clear his performance calendar before the big game?

Perhaps no one embodies the synergy between the NFL and the music world more conclusively than Taylor Swift. Her presence at the Chiefs-Jets game, ostensibly to cheer on paramour and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, gave that contest the best Sunday-night ratings since the Super Bowl. The cameras went back to her compulsively at MetLife, her songs were constant broadcast bum­pers and the whole thing absolutely blanketed the socials.

All this occurs amid the lead-up to Tay’s concert film—which will overrun the multiplexes on 10/13 and was teased with a $500k spot during the game—and the mother of all re-recordings, the new 1989, slated for 10/27. Wonderers wonder if 1989 (Taylor’s Version) will give Tay her biggest first week yet and how many different covers and tinted-vinyl versions she’ll roll out this time. Think she couldn’t be more dominant in pop culture? Just watch. This Halloween, she eats all the candy.

It’s noteworthy that at this Beatles-level crest of her fame, Taylor has urged her massive fan base (273m followers on IG alone) to register to vote and become politically engaged. She has been a consistent supporter of forward-looking politicians and has spoken out in the last few years on issues like choice and equal pay. How involved will she become in the life-or-death 2024 elections? Democracy’s rooting section fervently hopes she stays in for the duration. She can unquestionably make a difference. Maybe the difference.

The Chiefs-Jets telecast also boasted a big iPhone ad built around Olivia Rodrigo, which has subsequently run nonstop during sporting events as college and pro football met Major League Baseball and the NBA preseason began (and the LeBron-less Lakers lost to the Warriors and the Dodgers shit the bed). O-Rod's marketplace and cultural impact is significant and ever-growing. Ticket sales for her tour are booming, her songs are streaming vigorously and her Grammy buzz is palpable.

WHO’S NEXT? Who will be next to play at Sphere? The smashing debut of U2’s Vegas residency at MSG’s state-of-the-art venue—with biz and pop-culture royalty in attendance—has odds­makers inside and outside of Sin City compiling lists. What might, say, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Sir Paul McCartney, Dr. Dre and Snoop, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters or Coldplay do with the site’s virtually infinite production possibilities? The premiere week­end was certainly a triumph for Irving Azoff, Michael Rapino and especially MSG’s Jim Dolan, who finally gets to look like a genuine rock star with this landscape-altering arrival. Where is Team Sphere in the process of setting up other venues worldwide, including London and Singapore?

That said, it’s not a simple proposition to mount a show there. U2 worked on its visual production for more than a year and spent millions on it. Nobody is stopping their tour to play Sphere instead of an arena; can you amortize the cost of production over 12-16 nights, selling at least 150k tickets? The good news is that you don’t have to bring sound or lights as those are built in. All the spitballing, in other words, means little without a thorough cost-benefit analysis. But there’s absolutely no question that Sphere has changed the game for Vegas and for the next chapter in live entertainment.

YTD MARKET SHARE
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HITS LIST GOES COUNTRY
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THE NEW UMG
Gosh, we hope there are more press releases.
TIKTOK BANNED!
Unless the Senate manages to make this whole thing go away, that is.
THE NEW HUGE COUNTRY ACT
No, not that one.
TRUMP'S CAMPAIGN PLAYLIST
Now 100% unlicensed!
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