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NEAR TRUTHS: MAJOR YARDAGE (AND ONE SACK)

IT’S COMPLETE: It was a major coup for Larry Jackson, L.A. Reid and their teams to land Usher on the Apple Music-sponsored Super Bowl halftime show. The artist, who scored a recent hit with “Good Good” on Mega (the label)/gamma. (not a label), also touted a pending album drop. In the nine months since the launch of his newco, Jackson has created a great deal of noise with Travis Scott, Usher and some hot streaming acts he’s unearthed—including Sexyy Red and juju<3—via data analysis from his distro network, VYDIA.

How fitting for Usher, one of the marquee stars of Vegas’ massive live-music sector, to have this moment as Jay-Z continues to put his imprint on the show, the NFL and the culture of which he has become a de facto leader. Usher manager Ron Laffitte gets major props for helping to engineer this massive look for his client. Usher’s dazzling online campaign—amped by Kim Kardashian and Coach Prime—blew up the socials on Sunday morning.

HALL OF SHAME: If Jann Wenner's being voted off the island he helped create—namely the board of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which voted all but unanimously to boot him after a New York Times interview in which his racist and sexist attitudes were on full display—weren’t sufficient humiliation, he’s also been condemned by the publication he founded. Rolling Stone issued a statement in the wake of the controversy declaring that Wenner’s remarks “do not represent the values and practices of today’s Rolling Stone.” His words and actions in recent years certainly haven’t done much for the RS brand, and his apology for saying Black and female artists weren’t “articulate” enough as interview subjects for his book was too little, too late. Credit is due to board members Jon Platt, Troy Carter, Irving Azoff, Jody Gerson, Michele Anthony and Rob Light, who were the driving force behind the Rock Hall’s lightning-fast response, under the new leadership of John Sykes and team.

Wenner’s defenestration from the Rock Hall was probably inevitable once he objected publicly to Allen Grubman's receiving the Ahmet Ertegun Award, but his erratic behavior was alienating folks left and right long before that. He is said to have been a primary obstacle to the inclusion of hip-hop in the Rock Hall’s inductions and honors, relentlessly keeping the spotlight on the white, male rock acts he considers more important. Stick a fork in him.

HOT ROCKS AND HACKNEY DIAMONDS: Speaking of Rock Hall of Famers, The Rolling Stones have just unveiled a deal with Major League Baseball as they roll out their first album of new music since 2005, produced by Andrew Watt and due 10/20 with vinyl day and date. A massive stadium tour is on deck for the legendary band in 2024, with lots of media looks for leadoff single “Angry,” a strong return to form.

LUMIERE ET MUSIQUE: As the deal, valued at $7b, that will give French giant Artémis a majority stake in CAA gets ready to close—and some top players, including music agents, prepare to score—Rob Light will mark his 25th year as head of the music division, which turns 40 next year and is clearly the #1 player in the space, with staggering marketshare.

MOVING AT 70 KNOTS: Amid all the Sturm und Drang surrounding Scooter Braun and his management company—his segue out of that business as well as his mega-yachting around the Mediterranean all summer—it’s noteworthy that his fingerprints are all over the biggest streaming record of the summer. Scooter found the song and producer (the aforementioned Andrew Watt, his client) for BTS member Jung Kook’s breakout, “Seven” f/Latto, as the HYBE America boss readies his next chapter. The track, which hit #1 on Spotify’s global Top 50 (it’s #2 as of this writing), with well over 700m worldwide streams on the platform, reportedly reached this milestone more quickly than any collab or song by a male artist in the platform’s history and is the second fastest overall to do so. It’s also near the Top 15 at Pop radio.

Who will manage Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande henceforth? This remains an open question, but the chatter is deafening. Wonderers wonder how their exit negotiations are progressing. There has been much grumbling about potential lawsuits, but considering the very savvy people involved in the talks, it would be surprising to see this end up in litigation.

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