- #57 - Pop Psychology 🌞
#57 - Pop Psychology 🌞
Your Weekly Music Round-Up: Thirty Seconds to Mars review, Usher headlining Super Bowl, BTS re-signs with HYBE, Katy Perry publishing catalog sale, Psychology of Pop.
Happy Sunlighter Sunday! First off, thanks for responding to our poll last week. The outcome was surprisingly polarizing, with 75% preferring news sorted by music genre while the minority wanted forced exposure to all genres. Heard, chef. This week, we explore pop psyche.
Here's what we have queued up this week:
🌶️ Review of It’s the End of the World But It’s a Beautiful Day by Thirty Seconds to Mars.
💿 This Week in Music: Usher headlining Super Bowl, BTS re-signs with HYBE, Katy Perry sells her catalog.
📈 Weekly Charts: Olivia Rodrigo dominates with GUTS.
🎙️ Psychology of Pop
Rating Rationale: Before Thirty Seconds to Mars dropped their most recent album last week, many had written them off after they crashed-landed their Imagine Dragons-like fame from failing to capture the hearts of even their most loyal listeners on their polarizing album, AMERICA. With their most recent album, they’ve finally resurfaced on Mars with their trademarked deep bass lines, Jared’s powerful lyrics, and electronic production, taking the brothers in a slightly new direction while acknowledging their space rock-to-pop evolution from This is War. For us, this album was a bit of a pleasant surprise. Every 30STM album has, at a minimum, one well-produced song. This one has several: “Love These Days,” “World on Fire,” “Get Up Kid,” “Lost These Days,” and “Avalanche.”
🏈 Super Bowl Confessions: On the heels of a highly publicized Las Vegas residency, the NFL confirmed today that Usher will be headlining the Apple Music Super Bowl halftime show. He’ll be Coming Home with a new album (his first one in 8 years), which is set to drop on the same day.
🤝 HYBE x BTS: All seven BTS members have re-signed with South Korean heavyweight record label, HYBE, seemingly solidifying a 2025 reunion.
🪶 Featherweight: Also known as Peso Pluma, he was targeted with death threats on banners across the city of Tijuana by members of the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel to NOT show up for his show on October 14th, or, “it would be your last performance due to your disrespectful tongue.”
🔍 Hey Google: Search “Taylor Swift.” Earlier this week, Google partnered with Taylor Swift to help gamify Taylor Swift’s vault track title release. Unfortunately, it’s over now, but here’s the official tracklist. We’re also wondering–where are the features? We were hoping for Drake, Nicki, and Harry.
⚡ The Cardi B Effect: Chartmetric, a company that we’ve spotlighted in the past, provides interesting quantitative evidence on how both budding artists and Cardi B mutually benefit from Cardi’s guest verses.
📺 You Gotta Watch This: SkeeYee! If you’re unfamiliar with Sexyy Red’s catchphrase, you’re probably behind on hip-hop culture. She explains what it means here.
💿 RIAA Mid-Year Report: RIAA, the music association that hands out the gold, platinum, and diamond awards based on audited unit sales, reported in their mid-year report that total recorded music revenue grew 9.3% from last year, hitting an all-time high of $8.4 billion (compared to $7.6 billion last year) with 84% attributed to streaming platforms.
💆🏻♀️ Music Therapy: Universal Music will be releasing a music-centric wellness app known as Sollos to support fitness instruction, wellness training, fan clubs, virtual reality experiences, and more. Separately, Google-backed project, MATCH, is building wearable AI technology for dementia patients that leverages a machine-learning model to match the patient’s behavior with therapeutic music to improve their mood.
🐎 Dark Horse: Litmus Music, a music private equity company backed by Carlyle Group, has purchased Katy Perry’s publishing catalog for $225 million. This comes after their purchase of Keith Urban’s full catalog (publishing rights and masters) back in December, reinforcing that even in a poor economic state, music royalties are still seen as a viable investment.
📜 Protect Working Musicians Act: A new bill was introduced to Congress this week that would allow music creators to collectively negotiate licensing deals (effectively unionize) with music streaming or generative artificial intelligence companies. It’s a timely proposal as the industry grapples with the disruption of AI and a need for more equitable artist royalty models.
💰 Securing the Bag: Saregama, India’s oldest music label, is reportedly in talks to acquire social media content production company, Pocket Aces, to expand its digital video presence. Concord has been incredibly active the last few weeks, this week acquiring the publishing catalog of Mojo Music & Media (Duran Duran, Cheap Trick, Earth, Wind & Fire, etc.).
🎉 Surprise Drops: After previously scrapping her original debut album, Problématique, due to track leaks, Kim Petras surprises her fans with the full album. Just under a month after Zach Bryan’s self-titled album was released, Zach has surprised fans with another EP called Boys of Faith, featuring Noah Kahan and Bon Iver. Lane 8 dropped a 3+ hour mix just in time for Fall.
🖥️ PC Music Turns 10: A.G. Cook’s record label will be celebrating its 10th birthday with select shows in New York, Los Angeles, and London.
🦉 October’s Very Own: After several postponements, the release date of For All the Dogs is now set for October 6th. Drizzy fans, mark your calendars.
👀 What’s Coming Up? Blink-182 announced their first album with Tom DeLonge (original guitarist and vocalist) in over a decade - we will definitely be listening to ONE MORE TIME…. Could a collaborative Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B album be on the horizon? Jennie from BLACKPINK is working on solo music 🤔? Romy is back in the studio with The xx. MGMT hint at a new album. Deftones is looking to drop a new album next Spring. Liam Gallagher (former vocalist for Oasis) hints at a new album coming soon. Iron Maiden’s (iconic 80’s metal band) frontman, Bruce Dickinson, is dropping The Mandrake Project, his first solo album since 2005. Country artist, Dallas Smith is releasing a self-titled album.
🚶♂️ Artists On Tour: Phish will be back at MSG for NYE. Try to catch GRiZ before his indefinite hiatus starting in October. Eric Prydz’ HOLO is coming to Brooklyn in November. The Last Dinner Party are going on their first North American tour. Noah Kahan, Kane Brown, Sky Ferreira, Queens of the Stone Age, Pussy Riot, Bush, August Burns Red.
📈 What’s Trending? Unsurprisingly, Olivia Rodrigo gets her second #1 album with all 12 songs charting in the top 40. In the UK, her album is outselling the rest of the top 10 albums combined! At 20 years old, Olivia has cemented herself as a stadium tour artist and is poised to become the next big, multi-generational phenomenon. Check our last UV index on GUTS here.
Psychology of Pop 🎙️
When you think of pop groups, who are the first bands you think of? The deafening screams that ensued when the Beatles debuted? The synchronized choreography and heavenly harmonies from the Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC? The empowering and in-your-face Spice Girls? Pop groups have been primarily prominent since the ‘60s, and we’ve always been fascinated by their how they work—you read stories about the group dynamics, the shared emotional toll, and the inevitable split (and now, reunion). Today, with the help of Brianne Fleming (Marketing professor at the University of Florida and #PopChat founder) and Dr. Georgie Carroll (who wrote her PhD on Taylor Swift), we’re exploring the inner workings of the fan response and why pop groups have become so prevalent in the music market.
Psychology of Fan Responses to Pop Artists: The fan response boils down to two things: identity and community. Due to the technological advancement of music streaming and sharing across several decades, fan affinity to artists has only grown greater from generation to generation. This connection typically peaks during a fan’s childhood and early teenage years. Brianne Fleming mentions one of the biggest contributing factors to the typical “fandomonium” we see surrounding these mega-pop groups exists because, throughout those formative years, fans need an outlet to direct their energy and express themselves. These artists, either collectively or individually, make fans feel seen. Whether it’s listening to their music, watching their interviews, or attending their shows, fans grow to love their stories and personalities. As a result, fan loyalty becomes so strong that fans associate that affinity as part of their identity.
While individualism plays a significant role in the pop fan experience, the fan community can help accelerate artist popularity. Brianne’s perspective is that fandoms within pop culture have the power to make strangers feel like they know one another. Community boils down to the commonalities between people and is particularly powerful in advancing the socialization of mutually loved artists. When “fandomonium” occurs, it’s the combination of strong fan affinity with the electric energy of the community that contributes to the mass hysteria seen when pop groups and fans come together.
When Artists Respond to Fans: Given the power and long-term investment of the fan response, the music industry is constantly searching for ways to better connect artists with their fans. Currently, the main lines of communication include text services, meet and greets, and social media. Dr. Georgie Carroll shares her take on how Taylor Swift breaks the barrier of the parasocial (one where the fans know way more about the artists than the artists know about the fans) relationship between artists and fans to something personal. Through her listening parties, she finds loyal fans on social media channels, invites them into her own space, and creates a mini fact file for each of them. Through thoughtful selection and intentional preparation for these events, fans leave the events feeling a personal connection with her.
In a world that’s craving community after years of isolation due to COVID, artists and industry executives should lean into pushing the boundary beyond who can afford these types of events and start thinking about more creative options (supreme potential for artists and labels to embrace web3 here) to better break the walls between artists and fans.
Wrap Up 👏
We're closing the newsletter this week with high hopes that Drake finally sticks to his release date.
Who’s Burning? 🌡️
The Merch Table 💳
Sunlighter Playlist 🔀
How do you like our newsletter this week?
We're all ears, click the number of 🔆 you think we deserve and feel free to drop a comment.
See ya next Sunday 😎
Chris and Donya