#85 - Coulda woulda shoulda 🌞

Your Weekly Music Round-Up: TTPD review, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, TikTok ban, Concord bids for Hipgnosis, Live Nation antitrust lawsuit, Dagny.

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Happy Sunlighter Sunday! We’re back after a week off, which naturally means, we have a lot of news. Here are some highlights: The Spice Girls reunited for Victoria’s 50th, Drake absolutely went in on multiple rappers in “Push Ups” (and it wasn’t AI generated), and of course… a lot of discourse around TTPD. Lastly, we have a new format for our Artist of the Week in partnership with Chartmetric along with updates to our Music Calendar 👀

Rating Rationale: Taylor Swift is the queen—not only of sandcastles—but of keeping her fans guessing. Just when Swifties think they’ve figured Taylor out, she executes something unexpected. At 2am on the night of her 11th studio album’s release, TTPD was revealed to be a full anthology with 15 additional tracks. Clocking in at just over two hours, it brings listeners into Swift’s journey of overcoming every stage of grief following her break-up with her longtime boyfriend, Joe Alwyn. Back with Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner, it’s fitting that the two halves of the anthology feel like sister albums, much like folklore and evermore, with glaring hints of Lana Del Rey’s borrowed inspiration. For us, this album falls flat based on what we’re used to from Swift, particularly due to the lack of dynamic vocal delivery - too many moments it sounds more like she’s reciting poetry than performing a song 😬. Regardless, Swift provides vivid imagery through her expected masterful storytelling. Our favorite moments from part 1: the angelic English choir intro in “So Long, London,” the gut-wrenching real meaning of “loml,” the stream of consciousness of embarking on her Eras Tour in “I Can Do It With a Broken Heart”, and the raw reflection of her career on “Clara Bow.” From part 2: the tortured emotional tug-of-war in “imgonnagetyouback,” taking the high road on “thanK you aIMee,” in her controversy with Kim Kardashian, and the clever vocal delivery parallels of “The Prophecy” and “seven” from folklore.


Taylor Swift dominates streams and sales, critics provide polarizing takes on TTPD

Yet again, Taylor Swift delivers a masterclass on marketing and lyrical intrigue with TTPD. Grooming the subculture she’s co-developed with her personal Swiftie investigators, her album successfully stirs the superfan soul with celebrity name-dropping (Charlie Puth, Patti Smith, etc.) and speculation on matching lovers (Joe, Matty, Travis) to lyrics. Unsurprisingly, this translated to Taylor breaking another set of music streaming and physical sales records. However, music industry critics are providing much more mixed reviews: it’s brutally honest and, at times, even refreshingly humorous, but it’s too long and under-edited. Some songs provide a creative jolt, while others are over-engineered and predictably thematic to the Swift-Antonoff partnership. It looks like the preference for this album will be based on the eye of the beholder.

The Death of Slim Shady, Megan Thee Stallion accused of abusive work environment, NBA YoungBoy on federal charges

The city of Detroit continues to have a good year. After taking the stage at the 2024 NFL Draft, Eminem revealed that his 12th studio album, The Death of Slim Shady (Coup de Grâce), will be released later this summer.

For Megan Thee Stallion, her year has been… up and down. After opening up about her mental health last fall, this week, Megan Thee Stallion was accused of “severe” and “pervasive” harassment by a former cameraman, including sexual harassment (crazy scenario) and fat-shaming insults.

Another hip-hop artist is facing federal investigations. This week, NBA YoungBoy was arrested on six charges related to procurement of drugs, illegal weapon possession, and identity fraud. Federal agents are alleging that NBA YoungBoy may be involved in running a prescription drug ring that fraudulently acquired codeine and promethazine from pharmacies across 11 cities in Utah. These charges are only a small portion of the 63 crimes he may be connected to…

Some odds and ends: Kid Cudi broke his foot jumping off stage during his Coachella Weekend 2 set and subsequently announced that he would be canceling his North American tour. SZA was honored with the Hal David Starlight Award at the 2024 Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction, making her the second black woman to receive the award following Alicia Keys.

Rock & Metal

New Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, Smashing Pumpkins find their guitarist, Dickey Betts passes

In recent years, inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame have become increasingly diverse, spanning not just “rock ‘n’ roll” but also hip-hop and R&B. This year’s list of honorees continues that evolving tradition and includes Mary J. Blige, A Tribe Called Quest, Ozzy Osbourne, Foreigner, Dave Matthews Band, Cher, Kool & The Gang, and Peter Frampton.

Separately, after a months-long search and receiving 10,000+ applications, the Smashing Pumpkins finally revealed their newest guitarist, YouTuber and Shrednanigan queen, Kiki Wong.

Finally, with much veneration, we bid adieu to one of the founding members of The Allman Brothers Band, Forest Richard “Dickey” Betts.

Non-major cities see inaugural festivals, returning festivals reveal lineups

As mid-tier cities continue to grow as a corollary of remote work, it’s natural that some mid-tier cities are hosting their first major music festivals. Here are a few inaugural lineups:

  • South Star Festival in Huntsville, AL: Gwen Stefani, Blink-182, Beck, Shinedown, Sublime, Jane’s Addiction, The Goo Goo Dolls

  • Elsewhere Festival in Wichita, KS: Killer Mike, Steve Aoki, Lane 8, Vince Staples

  • Sudden Little Thrills in Pittsburgh, PA: The Killers, Melanie Martinez, SZA, and hometown legend, Wiz Khalifa

Of course, some annual favorites are returning this year:

  • Outside Lands in San Francisco, CA: Tyler, the Creator, The Killers, Sturgill Simpson, The Postal Service, Chris Lake, Kaytranada, Gryffin

  • All Things Go in Columbia, MD: Laufey, Bleachers, Janelle Monae, Hozier, Reneé Rapp, Conan Gray

  • Lyrical Lemonade’s The Summer Smash in Chicago, IL: Cactus Jack (Travis Scott, Don Toliver, Sheck Wes, Chase B, SoFaygo), Playboi Carti, and hometown hero, Chief Keef

  • Ohana Festival in Orange County, CA: Pearl Jam, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Alanis Morissette, Turnpike Troubadours

Primer: Although this artist has opened up for Elton John, Sting, and Bryan Adams, we discovered her supporting LANY at Emo’s Austin in 2017. If our music tastes were a Venn Diagram, Dagny’s synth-electro-pop style would be right at the center of it. Born and raised in Tromsø, Norway, Dagny is the youngest child of two notable Norwegian jazz musicians. Not only did she grow up in a musical household, but like many young girls from the millennial generation, The Spice Girls were one of her biggest inspirations to pursue a music career. After six years of collaboration projects (including an EP) and small festival showcases, Dagny was ready to give up until she recorded the single “Backbeats,” which received critical reception from Zane Lowe at BeatsOne, enough to change the trajectory of her career. Although she was originally signed to Republic Records, she eventually parted ways to start her own label, Little Daggers, leading up to the release of her debut album, Strangers / Lovers, in 2020.

What’s Next: As we await the official announcement of her sophomore album, Dagny plans to release a series of “mini-albums,” the first of which, ELLE, will drop in June.

🚫 The TikTok Ban: Within the past couple of weeks, the Senate passed a TikTok ban bill, Biden signed it, and ByteDance publicly mentioned that they aren’t planning to sell TikTok anytime soon. As we await the next move, TikTok continues to operate normally, striking a global ticketing partnership with AXS that allows users to buy tickets for live events within the app. Separately, troubled TikTok competitor, Triller, merged with Hong Kong-based holdings group, AGBA.

📱 Spotify Strife: Apple continues to play hardball with Spotify after the latter updated its pricing disclosures on Apple’s App Store but continues to defy the new App Store tax. Additionally, earlier this week Spotify reported its earnings, predictably showing strong subscriber and revenue growth.

🤖 Master of Playlists: On the heels of Spotify’s AI playlist generation tool, Amazon Music has soft-launched its version called Maestro.

🎸 In The Band: Collaborative social media music app, Indaband, is allowing users from around the world to layer videos together to make a cohesive band.

💵 Hipgnosis Bidding War: In one of the biggest music industry M&A moves in recent history, Concord, with the financial support of private equity firm Apollo Global Management, made a $1.4 billion bid to purchase Hipgnosis Songs Fund before increasing its bid to $1.51 billion to overtake a $1.5 billion counteroffer from Blackstone.

👨🏻‍⚖️ We Don’t Antitrust You: The Department of Justice is expected to file an antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation and Ticketmaster within the next few weeks.

📚 National Recording Registry: Every year, the Library of Congress selects 25 recordings representing American culture to preserve in its permanent collection. This year’s recordings include “Arrival” by ABBA, “Wide Open Spaces” by The Chicks, “Dookie” by Green Day, and “Ready to Die” by The Notorious B.I.G.

📊 More Accurate Charts: Music data company Luminate is partnering with music sales metrics provider, StreetPulse, to improve the accuracy of physical music sales.

🇫🇷 French Connection: French private equity company, Ardian, is selling its interest in audio mixing company Audiotonix, to PAI Partners, another private equity company based in France.

🤝 Plethora of Partnerships: Warner Music South East Europe launched a new EDM label, Balkan Electro. Universal Music France and Wèrè Wèrè Music launched Def Jam Africa to focus on the growth of French-speaking artists in Africa. Believe announced a partnership with management agency, Kidding Aside, to launch EDM label, All Night Long. Warner Chappell Music and ReverbNation are partnering on a joint A&R and creative services venture. Nigerian afrobeats artist, Davido, partnered with UnitedMasters to launch his new label, Nine+ Records.

💰 Securing the Bag: Warner Music Group is selling media subsidiaries, UPROXX, HipHopDX, and Dime Magazine to three media veterans, forming a new entity dubbed UPROXX Studios. U.S. private equity firms, Blackstone and CVC, are considering a buyout of European festival organizer Superstruct Entertainment. Finally, Armada Music (a label founded by Armin Van Buuren) is acquiring Netherlands-based publisher Cloud 9 Music.

Future & Metro Boomin are 2/2 for #1 debuts this year

📈 Future and Metro Boomin are back on top of the Billboard 200 for a second time this year with We Still Don’t Trust You as more artists take shots at Drake. Meanwhile, Sabrina Carpenter’s Espresso” debuts at #7 but is expected to climb in the coming weeks.

St. Vincent, Chief Keef, Anitta released albums last week, Radical Optimism coming this week

📅 We’ve added PR links and consolidated artist touring regions in our calendar. Access it here.

📣 Album Announcements: Judah & the Lion announced The Process will drop on May 10th. aespa will be releasing their debut album, Armageddon, on May 27th. Imagine Dragons unveiled their sixth studio album, LOOMNormani created a hilariously titled website anticipating the drop of DOPAMINE. Tems revealed her debut studio album, Born In The Wild.

⏪ Notable albums released last week:

  1. St. Vincent, All Born Screaming

  2. Chief Keef, Almighty So 2

  3. Anitta, Funk Generation

  4. Shygirl, fabric presents Shygirl


  6. Jess Glynne, JESS

  7. Pet Shop Boys, Nonetheless

  8. Luke Hemmings, boy

  9. Picture This, Parked Car Conversations

⏩ Here are album releases to look out for this week: 

  1. Dua Lipa, Radical Optimism

  2. ¥$, VULTURES 2

  3. Sia, Reasonable Woman

  4. WILLOW, empathogen

  5. Charlotte Day Wilson, Cyan Blue

  6. The Lemon Twigs, A Dream Is All We Know

  7. Tai Verdes, 4K

  8. Jessica Pratt, Here In the Pitch

  9. Frank Turner, Undefeated

  10. MISSIO, I Am Cinco

  11. P.O.D., Veritas

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See ya next Sunday 😎

Donya and Chris

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