#62 - Grace for Impact 🌞

Your Weekly Music Round-Up: Summertime Friends review, Taylor Swift billionaire era, Ultra Music, Spotify's royalty model, Techstars Music shuts down, GRACEY.

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Happy Sunlighter Sunday, we’ve got some exciting news! This week, we’re launching an A&R initiative that features curated playlists from industry A&R reps. We believe this will further fulfill our mission of helping our readers discover the next big artist.

▶️ This week, our featured playlist comes from Nettwerk Music Group A&R rep, Kasey Gelsomino.

Nettwerk Music Group has always focused on the discovery and development of budding singer-songwriters and indie-folk artists, including those currently being represented by Kasey. Apart from her role at the record label, Kasey has also curated music events as well as her own eponymous playlist, Kasey’s Playlist.

Check out her roster on the playlist she made just for us here.

Rating Rationale: While it’s not quite summertime anymore, The Chainsmokers, specifically Drew Taggart, are still riding the intoxicating wave of his “summertime friends.” In fact, the title track references his stimulating conversations with his love interest, Mari, at a party in Los Angeles. Although the album is short (only ~20 minutes) and lacks cohesion, we think there are classic, trademarked elements that illustrate The Chainsmokers’ potential to hit the multiple-billion stream mark once again. “Think Of Us” is one of those songs, and in this week’s “Artist of the Week,” we dive into the featured singer-songwriter on the song, GRACEY.

Taylor Swift is officially a billionaire, Sia sues to protect unreleased music

It feels like every week is a big week for Taylor Swift, but we think this one takes the cake. After reclaiming her 1989 master recordings (along with 5 vault tracks) on Friday, Forbes reported the pop superstar is officially in her Billionaires Era, valuing her net worth at $1.1 billion. She’s reached rarefied air with only 3 other artists who have accomplished this feat: Jay-Z, Rihanna, and Jimmy Buffett. 

Last month, we reported Sia’s first full-length album in eight years is set to drop Spring 2024. This week, Sia is suing an identity thief who is posing as her online and reaching out to her music industry community of collaborators to get his/her hands on the latest project.

Ultra Music Festival lineup is ultra-stacked

Calvin Harris, Hardwell, AFROJACK, David Guetta, Martin Garrix, Tiësto…and that’s only part of Phase 1. The Miami-based festival is set to take place at Bayfront Park from March 22-24, 2024. Stay tuned for updates on future phases.

Dolly Parton’s upcoming Rockstar album will hit theaters this November

Music in cinema is what’s driving moviegoers this fall, and Dolly Parton is the latest artist to take the reign. Earlier this week, she announced that fans all around the world will have the opportunity to hear her Rockstar album in cinemas on November 15, with encore showings on November 16. The album is officially released to the public on November 17, just in time for her Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Halftime Performance.

The album was inspired by her induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame a year ago, showcasing both original songs and classics that include collaborations with Paul McCartney, Elton John, and Stevie Nicks.

💵 On The Spot: Spotify continues the theme of personalizing the user experience by introducing its “Merch Hub.” Fueled by its partnership with Shopify, the product update allows users to see and purchase all their favorite artists’ merchandise in one place. Separately, starting in January 2024, Spotify will be changing its royalty model for the first time. The new model is expected to provide an annual streaming threshold and penalize distributors for artificial streams. 

🎶 Shazam Concerts: Apple announced users will now be able to see a list of upcoming shows based on their Shazam listening history. While the update is currently only available for iOS users, it’s set to come to Android soon. 

🤩 Artist-Centric Royalties: French music streaming company, Deezer, plans to roll out its artist-centric model in full force through its new collaboration with SACEM. The most recent updates to the model include streaming boosts for songs with higher fan engagement and a monetization cap of 1,000 streams per user per month. While half of Deezer’s streams already run on this model (specifically UMG and Wagram Music signed artists), the company plans to expand this to all labels in 2024.

🎤 In The Mix: After seeing their SoundOn showcase at SXSW earlier this year, we’re looking forward to this one. In The Mix is TikTok’s first-ever live global music event, and they’ve secured a hot lineup with Cardi B, Anitta, Niall Horan, and Charlie Puth all set to perform. They’re staying true to their mission of supporting rising artists by also spotlighting artists from their Elevate platform.

🤖 Playlist Aesthetic: Big on your playlist aesthetics? Us, too. YouTube Music announced a new product feature for US users that allows creators to use generative AI to create custom artwork for their playlists.

🌐 Web3 Updates: SongTech allows users to bet on songs they think will hit mainstream. Sound.xyz added a new audience section to highlight the biggest and earliest believers of a song. Nina Protocol, an independent music ecosystem, introduces Google Pay and Apple Pay to purchase music in all regions.

👋🏼 TechStars Music Shuts Down: After six years, TechStars Music announced that the 2023 Music Accelerator class will be its last. CEO Bob Moczydlowsky shares that while he’s still focused on the mission of solving music industry challenges, the accelerator model is outdated and that one day, instruments will ultimately be replaced by software. Bold claim, yikes.

🎸 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: This year, the ceremony will be broadcast live for the first time ever. Watch live on Disney+ as Kate Bush, Rage Against The Machine, Missy Elliott, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, the Spinners, and the late George Michael receive this year’s coveted honors.

🎫 Ticket Transparency: Earlier this month, the FTC proposed more visibility on “junk fees” and “hidden mandatory fees” for events. This week, Senator Amy Klobuchar wrote to Michael Rapino, the CEO of Live Nation, urging him to make “all-in ticket pricing” a default setting on the platform to make it as easy as possible for buyers to see the full ticket price before purchasing.

💰 Securing the Bag: Simon Cowell furthers his mission of finding undiscovered talent by becoming an ambassador for UK-based platform, Lounges.tv, a video-centric platform that provides creators 80% of revenue within 24 hours of their streams. He contributed to the most recent ~$3M funding round.

Bad Bunny and “Cruel Summer” hit number one

📈 With the release of Nadie Sabe Lo Que Va a Pasar Mañana, Bad Bunny earns his third #1 album and now claims three of the four number one Spanish-language albums in U.S. chart history. All 21 songs from the album charted in the Hot 100, with 10 debuting in the top 40. Surprisingly, the top song on the Billboard 100 went to an unlikely candidate, Taylor Swift’s Cruel Summer,” which finally reached peak position after debuting four years ago.


Primer: Although Brighton-raised British pop artist, Grace Barker, started out as a songwriter for artists like Kylie Minogue, Rita Ora, Jonas Blue, RAYE, Anne-Marie, and Meghan Trainor, we think her talent as a singer has been overlooked. After scoring a Top 10 UK chart hit and BRIT nomination with “Don’t Need Love” in 2019, she’s recently kicked off a self-proclaimed “new chapter” collaborating with EDM artists like Jax Jones and The Chainsmokers.

Genre: Pop

Influences: Joni Mitchell, Lorde, Sia, Robyn, The 1975

Current Label: Polydor Records

What’s Next: Whether it’s collaborations with other artists or new solo music, we know it's coming. As we brace for impact, here’s her most recent collaboration with The Chainsmokers:

A surprise album & upcoming releases:

🚨 Surprise Drops: Brent Faiyaz’s Larger Than Life was released Friday.

⏩ New albums to look out for this week: 

  1. Augustine, Youth And Why It Ends

  2. Cold War Kids, Cold War Kids

  3. Garth Brooks, Time Traveler (but only at Bass Pro Shops)

  4. Jimmy Buffett, Equal Strain On All Parts (posthumous release, final album)

  5. Jung Kook, Golden

  6. Kanye West & Ty Dolla $ign,  ¥$ Multi-Stadium Listening Event (speculation)

  7. Majid Jordan, Good People

  8. Marshmello, Sugar Papi

  9. The Struts, Pretty Vicious

  10. Van Morrison, Accentuate The Positive

👀 The Beatles’ final song arrives on November 2.

🚶‍ Show Announcements: Hozier will be playing a sold-out show at the Grammy Museum tomorrow. From November 2-5, Netflix will be hosting an immersive Robbie Williams experience in London. Maren Morris will play an intimate show at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC on November 6. PJ Harvey will be in Brooklyn for a night of poetry, conversation, and music on November 7. Audacy’s KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas featuring Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Offspring, and Bleachers will take place on December 9 at the Kia Forum. 

The Merch Table

  • 🤝 Rihanna x Loewe: Rihanna has partnered with Loewe to release special edition jumpsuits and trousers, inspired by her iconic Super Bowl Halftime performance earlier this year. The collection is available online and at Loewe retail stores around the world.

  • 🧟 Thriller: A Bathing Ape recently announced a Michael Jackson collection that includes a limited run of his iconic Thriller letterman jacket.

  • 🧑🏾‍🚀 Moon Man: For over a year, Kid Cudi has been working on a comic book passion project. After teaming up with IMAGE Comics, that project is turning into a reality in January 2024.

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See ya next Sunday 😎

Chris and Donya

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