Back to Top

Category: News

Watch Adele help a couple get engaged during ‘One Night Only’ concert special

Adele‘s highly anticipated Adele: One Night Only concert special saw her perform a string of unheard tracks and well-loved classics, but it also saw her help a couple get engaged.

READ MORE: Adele’s voice has never sounded better than on her stunning new song ‘Easy On Me’

According to Rolling Stone, ahead of the US TV special, producers of the show helped Quentin plan a picnic date with longtime partner Ashley before he led her down to the park below Los Angeles’ Griffith Observatory, where Adele was performing.

Adele instructed the audience to keep quiet, as Quentin led Ashley out in front of the stage, with her wearing a blindfold and noise-cancelling headphones. After a few remarks of shock from Ashley, Quentin proposed and she said yes. A spotlit Adele wandered back onto the stage, before instructing the couple to sit at the front alongside Lizzo and Melissa McCarthy and serenading them with her cover of Bob Dylan‘s ‘Make You Feel My Love’.

Watch the very sweet clip of the special below:

New life goal: Get engaged in front of @adele. pic.twitter.com/ybfa922aHg

— CBS (@CBS) November 15, 2021

One Night Only saw Adele debut three new songs taken from her forthcoming album ’30’, due out this Friday (November 19). Alongside her beloved hits, including recent single ‘Easy On Me’, she also introduced fans to ‘Hold On’, ‘Love Is A Game’ and ‘I Drink Wine’.

Later this week (November 21), Adele will perform a UK TV special An Audience With Adele, filmed at the London Palladium.

She will perform two huge shows at London’s Hyde Park next summer, marking her first UK headline dates since 2017. Tickets for both events have now sold out.

The post Watch Adele help a couple get engaged during ‘One Night Only’ concert special appeared first on NME.

Posted in News | Leave a reply

Travis Scott’s Air Max 1 collaboration with Nike postponed following Astroworld tragedy

Nike has postponed the rollout of their Cactus Jack Air Max 1 sneaker collaboration with Travis Scott following the crowd surge tragedy at the rapper’s Astroworld festival that has left 10 dead.

As shared by Rolling Stone, representatives for Nike let fans know of the collaboration’s delay on their SNKRS app earlier this week, saying it was “out of respect for everyone impacted by the tragic events at the Astroworld Festival”.

The range was initially expected to arrive on December 16. Nike hasn’t made it clear when the sneakers will now be released.

Nike is just the latest brand to have made changes to products made in collaboration with Travis Scott following the tragedy, with Fortnite removing their Travis Scott emote from the game shortly after the festival took place.

Yesterday, nine-year-old Ezra Blount died in hospital after sustaining injuries from being caught in the crowd crush. Blount was taken to hospital and placed in a medically-induced coma, following critical injury to major internal organs, including his heart, brain, kidney and liver.

The Blount family have filed a negligence lawsuit against Travis Scott and Live Nation Entertainment, alleging improper crowd control and failure to provide proper medical attention, which they say “contributed to Ezra’s death”.

The lawsuit is one of over one hundred different ones filed against Scott, Live Nation and other parties involved, with attorney Ben Crump, who represents a number of those wanting to sue, saying “Nobody should ever die from going to a concert.

“So this lawsuit is not just about getting justice for them, but it’s about making sure that the promoters and the organisers know that you cannot allow this to ever happen in the future.”

Last week, Travis Scott’s team released a statement asking families of Astroworld’s victims to get in touch via email. Representatives say Scott is “distraught by the situation and desperately wishes to share his condolences and provide aid” to those affected.

In a statement previously provided to ABC News, Live Nation said it was cooperating with authorities and will “address all legal matters at the appropriate time”.

The post Travis Scott’s Air Max 1 collaboration with Nike postponed following Astroworld tragedy appeared first on NME.

Posted in News | Leave a reply

Celtics bounce back to avenge earlier loss to Cleveland

Jayson Tatum scored 23 points to fuel the visiting Boston Celtics to a 98-92 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. Al Horford collected 17 points and nine rebounds for the Celtics, who bounced back after squandering a 19-point lead in a 91-89 setback to Cleveland on Saturday. Marcus Smart and Dennis Schroder each scored […]

The post Celtics bounce back to avenge earlier loss to Cleveland appeared first on Inquirer Sports.

Posted in News | Leave a reply

BTS to appear on ‘The Late Late Show With James Corden’ ahead of US concerts

BTS are slated to make an appearance on The Late Late Show With James Corden later this month.

READ MORE: SEVENTEEN live in Seoul: a powerful celebration of their return to the stage

On November 16, the CBS talk show announced that the K-pop boyband will be sitting down with James Corden for an in-person interview, and will also be performing ‘Permission to Dance’. BTS are set to appear on the late night talk show on November 23 at 12:37 ET/November 24 at 5:37 KST.

Permission to celebrate: GRANTED

At long last, @bts_twt returns to The #LateLateShow on November 23rd for an in-studio chat and performance of “Permission To Dance”!

It’s been nearly two years since we’ve been together in person and we can’t wait for the reunion! pic.twitter.com/TDTiAzCPGk

— The Late Late Show with James Corden (@latelateshow) November 15, 2021

Notably, this will be the group’s first in-studio performance on the show after a year and ten months, following their live performance of ‘Black Swan’ in January 2020. BTS’ most recent appearance on the show involved a video interview and pre-recorded performances of ‘Life Goes On’ and ‘Dynamite’ filmed in Korea, due to COVID-19.

BTS’ upcoming appearance on The Late Late Show With James Corden also comes just a couple of months after host James Corden came under fire from BTS fans following a monologue where he poked fun at the South Korean group’s appearance at the United Nations General Assembly.

“The United Nations General Assembly kicked off this morning in New York City, and it started with some pretty unusual visitors – BTS were there,” Corden said during the September 20, 2021 episode of the talk show. “Historic moment. It actually marks the first time that 15-year-old girls everywhere found themselves wishing that they were Secretary General António Guterres.”

Aside from their stint at the CBS talk show, BTS and Megan Thee Stallion are slated to give their collaborative version of the Korean group’s single ‘Butter’ its live debut at the 2021 American Music Awards on November 21.

Meanwhile, the boyband are set to hold their first in-person concerts for the first time in two years later this month. BTS will be performing their ‘Permission To Dance On Stage’ concert live at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, California on November 27 and 28, and December 1 and 2.

The post BTS to appear on ‘The Late Late Show With James Corden’ ahead of US concerts appeared first on NME.

Posted in News | Leave a reply

TWICE’s Jeongyeon reveals she recently worked as a barista and no one recognised her

TWICE’s Jeongyeon recently opened up about her brief stint as a barista during her hiatus from group activities.

READ MORE: TWICE – ‘Formula Of Love: O+T=˂3’ review: a masterful win befitting their global expansion

In an interview with Associated Press, Jeongyeon revealed that she’d briefly worked as a barista to help out a friend. Despite TWICE’s popularity, the singer shared that her customers did not recognize her during her time at the cafe. Jeongyeon also added that she did not play any of TWICE’s songs during her shift.

Jeongyeon has been on second hiatus from group activities prior to the release of TWICE’s third full-length album ‘Formula Of Love: O+T=<3’ last week. At the time, her company JYP Entertainment said that the singer was taking a break due to symptoms of “panic and psychological anxiety”.

“Although Jeongyeon was moving forward with her schedule by simultaneously taking action for recovery, we value our artists’ health as the most important issue,” wrote JYP Entertainment in their statement.

However, the singer seems to have returned to group activities as she has been featured in promotional activities for ‘Formula Of Love: O+T=<3’, although there has been no official statement form Jeongyeon nor JYP. The activities include the music video for lead single ‘Scientist’, and their recent performances of the song on South Korean music programmes Inkigayo and Music Bank.

Meanwhile, TWICE announced plans to embark on a world tour later this year. Titled ‘III’, the girl group’s fourth world tour will kick off in Seoul next month. Its North American leg begins in February 2022, with dates set across several US states.

The post TWICE’s Jeongyeon reveals she recently worked as a barista and no one recognised her appeared first on NME.

Posted in News | Leave a reply

Big Boi confirms that he has recorded a song with Kate Bush

Big Boi has revealed that he is holding on to a song he made with Kate Bush, and he’s described it as “a monster hit”.

READ MORE: The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has turned into a museum. Time for change

Speaking to Mark Ronson on The FADER‘s Uncovered Podcast, the rapper said the collaboration came after he met the elusive singer in the UK in 2014, while he and André 3000 were on their OutKast reunion tour.

“I have a monster hit with Kate Bush that I’m just holding,” he said, adding “It’s a dream come true and the people are going to fucking love it. It’s fucking incredible.”

Speaking of Bush’s ‘Before The Dawn’ residency in London that same year, Boi – real name Antwan Patton – said, “I got tickets, me and my wife, and we went to go see her show that she had, played the live shows.

“I get invited backstage, we have some wine and we talk. And her kid is there, he’s about the same age as my kids, which is cool. And she signs an album for me and gives me her number.”

Patton said that he reached out when he returned to the UK the following year, and the two went to “this cool little pub place” and discussed working together on a track.

“Her son was going off to college and she was just like, ‘Okay, I’m going to try to get to something when I get my studio set back up’. And so my manager, being the great, great manager he is, reached out to her manager a couple of years ago and was like, ‘Hey, we need to make this happen.’

“And I just so happened to have the right song that is fucking phenomenal and sent it to her. It had the words on there and she just had to sing the words. And then I wrote my verse and my boy Go Dreamer wrote her parts and wrote the hook. And it is incredible. It’s incredible.”

Patton didn’t reveal when he would release the song beyond saying it will arrive “whenever I think they deserve it”. He also said he’d be interested in incorporating an NFT element into the release, specifically around the artwork.

Big Boi has been a noted fan of Bush for some time, with him sharing his desire to work with her since as early as 2011. The following year, he told fans to “stay tuned” for a collaboration between the two. He then said the same thing almost a decade later in 2020.

The post Big Boi confirms that he has recorded a song with Kate Bush appeared first on NME.

Posted in News | Leave a reply

K-Pop’s MAMA Awards Is Coming to the U.S.

K-pop’s flagship awards ceremony, MAMA, is coming to the United States.

As part of its global expansion ambitions, MAMA (Mnet Asian Music Awards) will take place in the U.S. “in a few years,” organizers said Monday (Nov. 15).

Though no specific timeframe has been laid-out, coming to America will be no small feat. But it will happen. The team behind MAMA, entertainment and lifestyle company CJ ENM, has made the U.S. and its giant music market a priority, part of its plan to cement the award ceremony’s position as a global one.

“MAMA has been hosted mainly in Asia such as Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and Korea,” comments CJ ENM director-general of music content headquarters, Kim Hyun-soo.

“As K-pop continues to grow in influence globally, we plan on expanding our presence to regions bordering Asia and beyond. In a few years, we plan to host MAMA in the U.S., the world’s biggest music market.”

Those ambitions were revealed during a press conference Monday in Seoul, during which details were presented for the forthcoming awards ceremony.

The 13th annual MAMA will take place Dec. 11, with British singer and songwriter Ed Sheeran booked to perform on the night. Sheeran has a special connection with K-pop fans through his collaboration with BTS on their 2021 hit “Permission to Dance.”

“Permission to Dance” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July, replacing another BTS song, “Butter.”

Apple Music’s Global Creative Director, Zane Lowe, also spoke at Monday’s press conference. The tech giant is partnering with MAMA, and it’s Apple Music platform is powering the voting process.

As part of that alliance, Apple Music users can play their part in dictating the Worldwide Fans Choice Top 10.

By streaming an artist’s music for over 30 seconds on Apple Music, up to five times a day, that data will be integrated into the judging criteria, Lowe explained. Once the pre-vote period ends on Nov. 22, and the next kicks off Nov. 25, fans can stream, and impact the vote, for one artist a day until Dec. 9.

The tech giant’s partnership with MAMA “was a natural choice given the scale and credibility of the show for the past 12 years,” he explained.

K-pop has exploded in the U.S., with BTS leading the way. The septet has logged six No. 1s on the Billboard Hot 100 and five No. 1s on the Billboard 200, and, in recent weeks, were credited for the first time with RIAA triple-platinum status, for “Dynamite.”

MAMA 2021 will broadcast worldwide. Click here for more.

Posted in News | Leave a reply

Chicago Venue and Label Owner Removed as President Following Hidden Camera Allegations

On Saturday (Nov. 12), NBC5 Chicago reported that two women filed a civil suit against Michael Johnston, president and CEO of Audiotree, Audiotree Presents, Lincoln Hall, Schubas and Tied House, along with his wife Kelly Halverson.

The suit was filed by two recent graduates of DePaul University, one of whom was hired in Dec. 2019 as a house manager, child caretaker and personal assistant while the other has worked as a nanny for the couple’s friends. The women allege the couple set up hidden cameras in their Chicago home to capture nude footage.

Tonight (Nov. 15), Johnston has been removed as president and CEO of Audiotree, Audiotree Presents, Lincoln Hall, Schubas and Tied House.

According to a statement shared to social media by all of the above, Johnston was no longer a part of the Audiotree team as of Nov. 12. Co-founder and COO Adam Thurston is now acting president and CEO of the companies.

According to the suit, the women were asked to house-sit for Johnston and Halverson in Jan. 2020, prior to which Halverson “encouraged [them] to use the jacuzzi bathtub in the master bathroom.”

The women allege the couple secretly filmed them undressing and bathing. The following month, the house manager was asked to house-sit again and, according to the suit, discovered a hidden camera disguised as a picture frame aimed at the bathtub. According to court records, the woman then found two more hidden cameras in a bathroom and the bedroom she was using.

The women’s attorney, Gail Eisenberg of Chicago based firm Loftus & Eisenberg, told NBC5 there was even footage of Johnston setting up the camera. All videos have been turned over to Chicago police.

Our official statement regarding Michael Johnston is below pic.twitter.com/yN1gG86SZL

— Audiotree (@audiotreemusic) November 16, 2021

Johnston, who is represented by attorney Damon Cheronis, appeared in bond court on Nov. 10 on a felony charge of making an unauthorized recording in a bathroom. He will return to court on Nov. 17. Halverson has not yet been charged.

Johnston and Thuston co-founded Audiotree a decade ago in Chicago. The independent label records and publishes live music sessions and amid the pandemic hosted several virtual concerts. Audiotree has nearly 700,000 YouTube subscribers.

Billboard has reached out to Audiotree for comment.

Posted in News | Leave a reply

Taylor Swift Leads Race to U.K. Albums Chart Crown

With her latest, rerecorded cut of Red, Taylor Swift has the upper hand in what’s shaping as the tightest of U.K. chart races.

Just 10 chart sales separate Swift’s Red (Taylor’s Version) (via EMI) and Little MixBetween Us (RCA) at the pinnacle of the midweek U.K. albums chart.

If Swift snags the glory, Red (Taylor’s Version) would be her second U.K. leader of 2021 and her fourth in less than two years. The U.S. pop superstar would also equal Kylie Minogue as the female solo artist with the second-most U.K. No. 1 albums in U.K. chart history, and behind just Madonna, with 12, according to the OCC.

Based on midweek data, the new, 10-minute cut of Swift’s fan-favorite “All Too Well” is set to be the week’s highest-charting debut single, currently at No. 7.

Meanwhile, last week’s albums chart champion, ABBA’s Voyage (Polar), which shifted more than 200,000 in its first seven-days, dips 1-3 on the Official Chart update, while Rod Stewart is on track for his 37th U.K. Top 10 album with The Tears of Hercules (EastWest/Rhino). It bows at No. 5 on the chart blast.

Punk rock outfit Idles are up for a third Top 10 album, with Crawler (Partisan) at No. 6; The Wanted is targeting a fourth Top 10 with their career retrospective Most Wanted (Island), new at No. 7; while Blur and Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn’s new solo record The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows (Transgressive) pours into the top tier at No. 8.

Also chasing a Top 10 finish is An Evening With (Atlantic), the debut longplay from Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars’ Silk Sonic project. It’s currently at No. 10.

The Official U.K. Singles and Albums Charts are published late Friday, local time.

Posted in News | Leave a reply

The Kid LAROI closes ‘F*ck Love’ chapter with music video for ‘Still Chose You’

The Kid LAROI has confirmed the end of his ‘F*ck Love’ era with a music video for the track ‘Still Chose You’, featuring Mustard.

In the music video, directed by Arrad, LAROI is seen performing and getting caught in the rain while Mustard plays piano. Watch the clip below:

‘Still Chose You’ arrived as part of the third instalment of The Kid LAROI’s ‘F*ck Love’ mixtape back in July. The original mixtape was released a year prior.

READ MORE: The Kid LAROI talks new single ‘Stay’ with Justin Bieber and shares update on debut album

In a post on Instagram, the young rapper said he has decided to “take some time away from everything and focus on the next project: [his] debut album”.

“Seeing the impact of the project and hearing about how it’s helped and changed so many people’s lives is fuckin’ beautiful – but also incredibly surreal,” he said.

“It’s the reason why I do this shit. My life has also changed so much this past year because of it and I owe it all to every single one of you. There is no way I will ever be able to repay you.”

 

The Kid LAROI is still set to take the mixtape on a world tour, spread across the first five months of 2022. In an interview with NME back in September, LAROI said he was hoping to release his debut album before touring.

“I wanna drop the album before I go on tour, like on a big tour. So I’ll say that much. I wanna drop it before I go on tour so I can perform it and shit.”

The post The Kid LAROI closes ‘F*ck Love’ chapter with music video for ‘Still Chose You’ appeared first on NME.

Posted in News | Leave a reply

Kelsea Ballerini Writes About Eating Disorder, High School Shooting & More in Vulnerable Book of Poems

On Wednesday, Kelsea Ballerini reached a long-awaited career milestone by winning her first CMA Awards trophies: musical event of the year and music video of the year, both for “Half of My Hometown,” a collaboration with Kenny Chesney, who’s also from Ballerini’s hometown of Knoxville, Tenn.

After her pre-telecast wins were announced, as Ballerini holed up in a hotel near Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena to prepare to attend the show that evening, she heard a knock on the door.

“Kenny showed up at the hotel, brought a bottle of wine, and he sat in the room with me while I got my hair and makeup done for the show,” Ballerini tells Billboard during a Zoom call the day after the CMA Awards. “We’ve become such good buddies through this song. It’s been a good 24 hours.”

In “Half of My Hometown,” Ballerini sings about a sense of connection she will always feel to her hometown. Since releasing her debut album, The First Time, in 2015, Ballerini has notched four No. 1 Billboard Country Airplay singles — and as a writer on every song on her albums, her music has become more intimate and personal with each subsequent release, whether she’s writing about a new romantic crush (“Yeah Boy”) or finding courage to choose vulnerability over perfection (“Homecoming Queen?”).

On Tuesday, Ballerini’s writing will take on a new patina as she releases her first book, Feel Your Way Through, a collection of poems chronicling her 28 years of life so far and lessons learned along the way.

“It feels like a cannonball,” Ballerini says. “When I put out ‘Homecoming Queen?,’ I remember going, ‘You’ve been vulnerable, but this is a step further.’ I wouldn’t have had the confidence or trust in myself to do that had I not had songs like ‘Homecoming Queen?’ and ‘Half of My Hometown.’”

In March 2020, Ballerini released the acoustic project Kelsea just as  COVID-19 derailed the touring and promotional plans she had for the album. For Ballerini, music has long been a place of celebration and community. Bereft of those things due to the pandemic, the singer-songwriter disconnected music from the writing process for the next eight months. “I never set out to write a book. I had all this extra time. I realized that I had a lot to process, and it had everything to do with all the things that I had been too busy to think about for a long time,” Ballerini says.

In Feel Your Way Through, she reveals more of her story than ever. A pair of particularly powerful poems — sequenced back-to-back in the book — address two of Ballerini’s toughest moments.

One of the poems, “His Name Was Ryan,” details a harrowing experience in 2008, when, as a high school sophomore, Ballerini saw a 15-year-old classmate, Ryan McDonald, shot to death by another classmate at Central High School in Knoxville.

One line from the poem reads, “His name was Ryan and he died on the cafeteria floor from a gunshot wound to the chest/ I can’t be too sure but I think I saw him breathe his last breath.” The poem details the ongoing impact of the loss of her classmate, with Ballerini expressing gratitude to have survived. “But I’m alive,” the poem ends, “and because of a boy named Ryan I know what a gift that is.”

“Some of my closest friends didn’t even really know that about me, but the truth is, it was something that happened,” Ballerini tells Billboard. “But when I hear pyro at shows, it happens again. And when I’m in a large crowd and I see everyone start looking in one direction, it happens again. It’s traumatic. I wanted to honor Ryan in telling his story truthfully and hopefully tastefully. I so badly just wanted it to be just what happened and not political. The beautiful thing about putting it in a book is I was able to say it exactly how I wanted.”

Because her experience was one that she has rarely discussed, Ballerini says she’s not as far along in the healing process as she would like to be, though she says, “Getting the help you need is super important, whether that be therapy or more, if that’s what you need. I think not shutting down is super important and getting help is not a sign of weakness — it’s a sign of strength.”

In “Kangaroo,” Ballerini addresses her freshman year in high school, when a cruel comment from a boy, which coincided with her parents’ breakup, intensified Ballerini’s struggle with body image. In the poem, Ballerini describes using diet pills in an attempt to lose weight — an attempt that would soon become a cycle of purging, bingeing and overexercising.

“I had struggled with body image and body dysmorphia before that, but that was the moment that I can trace it all back to where it got real,” Ballerini says. According to the poem, Ballerini quit the cycle by age 18, and for many years now, she has embraced a healthy lifestyle.

“It’s a journey; I don’t think it’s a straight line,” she says. “I have days where, especially being a public-facing person, I’ll walk a red carpet and people will think I’m pregnant when I’m just existing, carrying around my organs. And that’s really triggering. But at the same time, what matters to me is being healthy, and being able to keep up with the dreams, goals and the ambitions that I have for myself. Everything I do now has to fit into a category of, ‘Is this healthy, and is this helping me maintain who I want to be?’ When I did the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, a bunch of people were like, ‘You should lose weight.’ I’m like, ‘I’m a singer, not a model.’ I’d be lying if I said that I never felt insecure and I loved my body every day. But I think when you say it out loud, when you air out your journey to people, it takes that stigma away and it takes that sting away.”

For Ballerini, writing the book — much like crafting her music — has been its own form of therapy and a way to put her truth out in the world.

“I think the most powerful thing in the world is a community of people that are healing together and growing together. The first step of that is just talking about it, so this is my step of talking about it,” she says.

Another theme in the book is Ballerini’s journey to finding the courage to speak up about things she feels are important — even if speaking out comes with missteps along the way. In the poem “The Right Side of History,” she addresses the backlash she received earlier this year for a tweet she sent out after fellow country artist Morgan Wallen was caught on video uttering a racial slur.

“The news out of Nashville tonight does not represent country music,” Ballerini tweeted, and soon garnered criticism from others in the country music industry. In the poem, she addresses the situation with the lines, “did i misstep, did i misspeak did i f— up with that one tweet i meant to raise my hand for the oppressed voice the right side of history.”

“I am a peacemaker, a people pleaser. I get scared to piss anyone off,” Ballerini says. “That is truly at my core of who I am, but when you do that, you don’t stand up for anything. I think the more that I grow up and the more that I find my beliefs and what I want to stand up for, I feel like I have a responsibility to do so. That doesn’t mean that I’m always going to do it right. I had an incredibly embarrassing, difficult time with what that poem is about, but in hindsight, I misstepped in the right direction, and I’ll take that any day of the week.”

Ballerini has been finding her voice over the past few years and using her platform to stand up for other  women in country music, at a time when airplay on country radio an uphill battle for female artists.

“I think the first few years, I was just holding on for dear life, and I think I didn’t have any capacity to understand that there was a lack of females until I did. I grew up with Trisha, Reba, Shania, Faith, Jo Dee, and the list goes on. There were always women on the radio. So all of a sudden I had a couple of hits, and I was looking around going, ‘There’s Carrie and Miranda and… what’s going on? You have to be so sharp as a woman to cut through. But that means that the women we’re getting — Maren, Mickey, Ashley, Gabby, Carly, Lauren — they don’t need development. You’re getting fully formed artists that are sharper than ever, and that’s what it takes to break through. And I think that’s why you’re seeing so many more female superstars emerging now because no one has the luxury of sitting around and having people help them figure it out. They have figured it out already.”

This fall, Ballerini has finally and joyously returned to touring, opening shows for pop sibling trio Jonas Brothers. Ballerini says fans can expect a new album next year, though she’s not yet sure how the album will sound.

“I’ve been so all in on this book, it’s really all I can think about. I’m excited for the holiday to just live a life to write about, and then figure out what the record is next year. But it’s been nice to write and not write for an album, because I think it’s made me such a better writer. And I think it’ll show up for me in the songs.”

Posted in News | Leave a reply

Streaming Is Reliable Revenue, So What’s Next for Warner Music and Other Labels?

Streaming, record label’s biggest source of revenue, is becoming predictable. Revenue consistently grows by double digit percentages from year to year: Spotify’s revenue was up 26.6% in the third quarter, while streaming at Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment jumped 23.8% and 45%, respectively, in the quarter ending Sept. 30. Streaming companies constantly add bells and whistles, and they experiment with plans and pricing, but the basic value proposition has changed little in a decade.

Warner Music Group, too, posted strong gains in the quarter ending Sept. 30, the company announced Monday (Nov. 15). In the recorded music segment, streaming revenue rose 23.7% to $2.97 billion in the fiscal year and accounted for 65.4% of recorded music revenue and 56.1% for the entire company, up from 53.8% the previous year. Company-wide quarterly revenue grew 22.2% to $1.38 billion and full-year revenue improved 18.8% to $5.3 billion.

Music companies are thrilled their income is rising — with regularity — after more than a decade of trench warfare battling piracy and declining CD sales. And, at this point, it’s worth considering what comes next.

In WMG’s earnings call on Monday, a word repeatedly came up when analysts probed for insights about the opportunities that await: metaverse. Thank Mark Zuckerberg for that. The term gained widespread attention since Facebook announced its name change its to Meta on Oct. 28 and detailed its plan to create a metaverse, a combination of augmented and virtual reality, where people interact with other users’ avatars in simulated worlds. Other tech titans share Facebook’s vision. Microsoft is also working on a metaverse for its Office products and Xbox gaming platform. Apple is reportedly working on a augmented reality glasses and “mixed reality,” a combination of AR and VR.

WMG already has a metaverse play through a January investment in Roblox, a platform that hosts user-generated games. WMG artist Twenty One Pilots showed Roblox’s potential in September by kicking off a really-word tour with a virtual concert that allowed viewers to choose songs in real time. Other labels and artists are getting in too: Sony Music Entertainment struck a strategic partnership with Roblox in July that will put its artists in front of Roblox’s more than 42 million active daily users. Fortnite — arguably a social media platform rather than a metaverse — is best known in the music business for its groundbreaking performances by Marshmello and Travis Scott that attracted 10 million and 12 million viewers, respectively.

The metaverse picks up where streaming leaves off. WMG CEO Stephen Cooper described the difference between traditional streaming and the metaverse in terms of interactivity. With traditional streaming, labels and digital service providers push music to listeners, and listeners pull the music they want to hear. That’s a big change in how streaming was framed just a few years ago. For nearly 20 years, music streaming was called “interactive” because on-demand music represented a fundamental change from one-time vinyl album, CD or download purchases. In fact, there is a legal distinction here: interactive means the listener has a “lean in,” on-demand experience with unlimited song selection. Non-interactive services let listeners “lean back” by limiting the amount of control they have over the music played. For now. this nomenclature works, but it’s fast becoming outdated.

The metaverse is the interactive experience that has “interconnectivity between content, between people, between people and content, between communities [and] interaction between adjacent communities,” said Cooper. “It is bringing music and our artists to those environments, to build and enhance not only the interconnectivity of music to people, but our artists to people [and] our artists to [other] artists. And it just creates so many possibilities for the convergence of content, artists, fandom and distribution, that I think it will take music, and music’s ability to really be the one, true global language, to an entirely different level.”

At least that’s the plan. Today, the metaverse is a promising promotional opportunity without meaningful revenue. Five years from now, it may approach revenue from a current slate growing segments. Revenues from gaming, social and fitness, for example, are growing in importance, although their contribution to WMG’s income statement remained unchanged from the previous earnings call at $235 million on an annualized basis. Still, WMG believes that these platforms cannot meet users’ needs without licensed music. “I don’t see any reason why these models — whether it be social, gaming, fitness or other areas — aren’t going to continue to emerge,” said CEO Stephen Cooper. “I personally couldn’t imagine Peloton without music, or a TikTok without music.”

Not that streaming revenue can be taken for granted, especially when advertising revenue growth requires brand spending to remain stable as COVID-19 surges again around the world. And a healthy streaming market demands that labels release music that excites listeners. Streaming services must do their part, too, in drawing consumers to their platforms and turning new releases into major events (as seen with Adele’s latest release). What’s more, the amount of revenue that streaming services share with rights holders is in flux.

But for the most part, the music streaming business model is set for the foreseeable future. Now innovation and investment in audio streaming comes from podcasts, as evidenced by the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, SiriusXM and other major companies on original content and licensing popular shows. Audiobooks are gaining in important, too — Spotify announced on Nov. 11 it plans to acquire Findaway, a platform for established publishers and self-service authors, to better compete with Amazon’s Audible.com. In China, Tencent Music Entertainment acquired Lazy Audio, a producer of audiobooks and podcasts, in January for $417 million.

Where else does Warner look for growth? Good old acquisitions. Cooper continued his ongoing message about WMG’s approach to catalogs in the face of rising multiples amidst a growing number of competitors. “We’re certainly not going to be one of the lemmings going over a cliff by spending unwisely and thinking that without the organization and expertise [that] these assets are going to grow through some mystical and magical formulation,” said Cooper.

Posted in News | Leave a reply