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PRIMARY WAVE CHECKS INTO
THE FOUR SEASONS
Mestel walks like a man. (10/22a)
UMG IPO SET FOR '22
And Q3 figures look good as well. (10/21a)
TOP 20: TAY'S FOLKLORIC RUN CONTINUES
A Swift return to #1. (10/21a)
REVENUE CHART: “LEMONADE” AND OCEAN SPRAY
The Rumours are true. (10/23a)
GRAMMY PREVIEW:
PHOEBE BRIDGERS
Could she be this year's left-field anointed one? (10/23a)
RAINMAKERS 2020
Bring your umbrella.
GRAMMY OUTLIERS
Mulling possible surprises.
HALLOWEEN IN QUARANTINE
Why not wear a mask indoors?
ELECTION 2020
What drugs will help us get there?
Pub Crawling
A YEAR-END PUB CRAWL, PART 4
12/17/19

Read Part 1 here

Read Part 2 here

Read Part 3 here

It goes without saying that the major-pubco business model has been disrupted, to say the least, by the hard-charging, big-spending onslaught of Merck Mercuriadis (pictured at right with Nile Rodgers) and Hipgnosis. Merck’s infiltration of the scene and the monster checks he’s been writing to acquire hit catalog are said to have created no small amount of consternation in the big pubberies, as deals rise to gargantuan new heights. (As this issue was going to press, he announced deals with Jeff Bhasker, who simultaneously inked a pub deal with Lynn Hazan and Lylette Pizarro’s new Influence Media Partners, and Jack Antonoff, who’s still a Sony/ATV writer.) With Merck believed to be on the cusp of a big play involving a U.S. indie, expect his presence to cause yet more sturm und drang in the year to come. Merck isn’t the only player to drive up the price of pub deals; stratospheric fees for catalogs are now de rigueur, with some fearing the publishing bubble (or “pubble”) could burst.

Meanwhile, there’s considerable action—and speculation—surrounding hot L.A. indie pubco Pulse, which was said to be on the verge of a mega-deal as the mistletoe rolled out.  Pulse is celebrating hits co-penned by writers OZ (Travis Scott, Meek Mill), Ty Dolla $ign and Tyler Johnson (Harry Styles), among others, not to mention two Grammy nods for rap phenom YBN Cordae. The latter was one of several hot signings by the Silver Lake pubco, along with James Blake, YBN Nahmir and Chad Hugo, among others; Scott Cutler, Josh Abraham, Maria Egan and team are also glowing about their 14 ASCAP and BMI awards. And their JV with former Spotify luminary Tiffany Kumar’s multifaceted newco Beat House means the most exciting fusion yet of music and avocado toast.

Also the subject of vociferous chatter: Kenny MacPherson’s Big Deal Music Group, which, like Pulse, has moved to the front lines of frontline pubberies. While many of the check-wavers stampeding into the music space don’t really understand the difference, Kenny’s shop celebrated, among other things, an Ivor Novello Award for Julian Bunetta and John Ryan; inking Donna Missal, Charly Bliss, Ross Ellis and Hootie and the Blowfish; the re-up of Teddy Geiger; a JV with Ricky Reed’s Nice Life; the promotion of Jamie Cerreta and Casey Robison to Co-Presidents; and a haggis feast.

Scooter Braun’s acquisition of Richard Stumpf-led Atlas, meanwhile, was a further indication of the escalating value of strong indies. Also, expect Billy Mann’s Green & Bloom/Topline to sing out in 2020.

 Primary Wave had another strong year, adding a half-billion-plus in funds and peeling for a number of sumptuous catalog deals, including $14m for a 50% interest in the Estate of Whitney Houston (the Kygo “Higher Love” remix is a streaming giant) as well as Robbie Robertson, Styx, Boston, Boy George/Culture Club and rock legend Bob Ezrin. Factor in healthy revenue from the works of Smokey Robinson, Bob Marley, Paul Anka and more, a Smokey SHINOLA watch deal and a Whitney musical, biopic and hologram—that right, a hologram!—and the Wave is definitely building.

Downtown inked Tori Amos, Shaggy, BNA contender Yola and more and locked down mondo estate deals for Gershwin and Miles Davis classics. Ryan Tedder (JoBros, Lil Nas X and countless other monsters), Jimmy Napes (Sam Smith) and Midas800 (NLE Choppa) scored on the charts. The pubbery’s writers scored numerous awards. And Andrew Gould scored some killer weed.

The writers and producers on Lucas Keller’s Milk & Honey roster—many of whom could be seen lighting hand-rolled cigars on his annual day cruise—contributed to songs by Lizzo, Khalid, Marshmello, Chainsmokers/5SOS, Lewis Capaldi, Calvin Harris, Chance the Rapper, Y2K, Kehlani, YBN Cordae, Bryce Vine, Kelsea Ballerini and many more. Look for M&H to make big noise in the new year. 

 FARE THEE WELL: We miss you, busbee and LaShawn Daniels. It’s a blessing to have the songs you poured your hearts into.