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NEAR TRUTHS:
CHECKING THE STATS

BETTING THE (SUPER) SPREAD: The Vegas Grammys, Clive Davis’ 90th birthday confab in New York and Coachella all appear to have been super-spreader events, as bizniks who made the party rounds got sick in alarming numbers. Most of the cases we heard about were not terribly severe, we’re happy to report, but the marked uptick in cases among music people was a stark reminder that we can’t wish away a pandemic, no matter how weary of it we may be.

O-ROD, UNANIMOUS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: While the Grammys didn’t move the sales/streaming needle much, the bevy of terrific performances on the telecast was undoubtedly helpful for artist branding and ticket sales as the concert biz continues its robust return after two dreadful years.

Geffen’s Olivia Rodrigo probably benefited most; she continued her record-breaking with three on-camera wins and an evocative performance that officially introduced her to the couch-dwelling populace of TV Land.

This just as her sizzling-hot, sold-out first headlining tour—often involving multiple nights at 5k-7k-cap venues—gets underway, with new managers Aleen Keshishian and Zack Morgenroth at the tiller. It’s still absolutely mind-boggling that her SOUR, released less than a year ago (5/21, to be precise) and debuting with 265k, has done 9.5m ATD worldwide.

PLAYOFFS… BET THE OVER: After a stretch of chart stagnation, the biz is gearing up for a series of superstar releases that will likely help define the shape of the marketplace for 2022.

Interscope’s Kendrick Lamar has created mondo anticipation for his new set, which will be his final release via TDE. The forecast is in the vicinity of 350k. Kendrick’s 2017 DAMN. bowed with 603k, more than half of that from sales. (It’s reached 11m ATD worldwide.) His forthcoming release will almost certainly spur an equally intense level of consumption but overwhelmingly on the DSPs.

With streaming the dominant consumption platform and sales generally not the same huge factor they once were, the biz has had to readjust its conception of what a huge first-week number is. When bundling was permitted and pure album sales were meaningful, the numbers were significantly bigger. Meanwhile, the streaming pie has grown.

Case in point: Jeffrey Azoff-repped Harry Styles, whose Coachella performances provided a fresh reminder of his electrifying presence, will drop his new Columbia album on 5/20 in the wake of a smash single that remains one of the world’s top-streaming songs as of this writing.

The forecast for new set Harry’s House, which will have vinyl day and date, is 350k. His giant Fine Line debuted with 478k in 2019 and has amassed 9m ATD worldwide.

Add to this suddenly hectic release schedule albums by Epic’s Future (4/29), whose 2020 set High Off Life bowed at #1 with 153k and has done 1.8 ATD, and the meteoric, Chris Thomas/Range Media Partners-managed Jack Harlow (5/6).

We could also see the new album from Dre London-managed, Theo Sedlmayr-repped Post Malone, now moving to the new Republic-affiliated Mercury imprint co-headed by Tyler Arnold (who played a major role in Post’s signing) and Ben Adelson. Word has it that there was a protracted negotiation around Post’s new record.

K-pop giants BTS, newly partnered with Geffen, will ignite their stans with a 6/10 album.

Add it all up and you understand why it seems like the year just woke up after spending several months curled up in front of Disney+.

NEW HEAD COACH: Speaking of Kendrick Lamar, he’s been busily assembling his new team under the banner of pgLang, co-founded by KL and Dave Free.

The two have been steadfastly controlling the message around Kendrick’s output. A terse online “memo” announcing the 5/13 drop occasioned much chatter, asserting as it did that “all factual information for this release will come from this source only.”

Free played a huge role at TDE over the last decade, before he and KL embarked on their partnership. Other key players under the pgLang umbrella include Anthony Saleh, Cornell Brown, Niya Morton, Jared Heinke and Jamie Rabineua.

ROAD GAMES: Elton John’s AEG-promoted Farewell Yellow Brick Road trek stands a strong chance of becoming the top-grossing tour ever—it prepares to conclude in November with no fewer than three Dodger Stadium dates (with or without Sir Elton’s Donald Duck suit). The multiyear odyssey has reportedly already raked in more than $400m and is thought to be headed for the neighborhood of $700m as the pop-rock legend’s sprawling catalog of hits continues to captivate multiple generations.

THEY'RE NO
JUAN SOTO
KD and Kyrie got nothin' on these two ballers. (8/16a)
GRAMMY CHEW: WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT BRUNO
Giving Encanto its due. (8/16a)
HITS LIST, YUP
They're the cat's meow. (8/16a)
ON THE COVER:
MO OSTIN
The greatest (8/16a)
WE'RE SORRY TO BOTHER YOU, BUT WE JUST HAD TO TELL YOU
Oh, no, not again. (8/12a)
GRAMMY SEASON
New categories! New rules! New WTF!
THE BIG DEAL
It's the one you didn't see coming.
RAID AT MAR-A-LAGO
"Who took my passports?"
HITS' 36TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL
Allow us to apologize in advance.
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