HITS Daily Double
After tilting all the framed posters in the Sony/ATV offices, Zak Abel (second from right), celebrated with, from left, Atlantic/Rinse’s Joe Barbe, manager Alex Kadis and Sony/ATV UK’s Head of A&R David Ventura. In this week's U.K. signing news, Sony/ATV Music Publishing has agreed a worldwide deal with singer/songwriter Zak Abel, while Virgin EMI has secured the signature of former Girls Aloud member Nadine Coyle for her next solo effort. Abel, a pop artist, will release his debut album, Only When We’re Naked, on Atlantic Records in October. It follows collaborations with British electronic music production duo Gorgon City (for Top 20 track “Unmissable”), producers Kaytranada, Joker and Wookie, and Avicii and Wretch 32. Management is Alex Kadis. Outgoing Sony/ATV UK Head of A&R David Ventura said: “Zak’s music is incredible. He is truly an extraordinary talent. I can’t wait for the world to discover him as he is without a doubt an international songwriter and artist.” Coyle was one fifth of best-selling Polydor girl-group Girls Aloud, which formed on talent show Popstars: The Rivals in 2002. For her new music, she’ll be working with British producer Brian Higgins of Xenomania, who produced Girls Aloud’s five albums.  
Growth in streaming has driven the U.K.’s music retail sector to £564m in the first half of the year, a 11.2% rise over H1 2016, according to figures from the Entertainment Retailers Association. The strong start to 2017 owes a lot to Ed Sheeran, whose ÷ (Atlantic) tops the biggest-selling entertainment product list (including games and video) of the first six months of 2017 with 2.065m units. ... Read more
Nine Linkin Park albums, all on Warner Bros., have entered the U.K.’s Official Album Top 100 at midweek stage as fans pay their respects to late frontman Chester BenningtonHybrid Theory is the most popular at #3, followed by One More Light at #5. Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott—previously of The Beautiful South—are on course for their first #1 as a duo with third album, Crooked Calypso (Virgin EMI). ... Read more
The BBC is hosting its own answer to Glastonbury in 2018 in the annual festival's fallow year. Titled The Biggest Weekend, the one-off event will take place in four sites in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from 5/25 to 28 and promises to feature the biggest artists in the world. More than 175k tickets will be available to the public. ... Read more
U.K. band The Vamps have scored their first Official Albums #1, which is also the first this year for UMG U.K. imprint Virgin EMI. “Wild Thoughts” (Black Butter/We The Best) becomes DJ Khaled’s second Official Singles #1. The Vamps’ third album, Night & Day, betters the peak of #2 their debut Meet the Vamps hit in 2014. Follow-up Wake-Up reached #10 in 2015. ... Read more
Sony U.K. label Ministry of Sound has hired former Three Six Zero and Columbia marketing exec Amy Wheatley as General Manager. The move marks a return to Jason Iley’s label, where she had spent nearly a decade. In her new role, Wheatley will be involved in campaigns for London Grammar, who recently enjoyed their first U.K. #1 album, as well as Sigala, DJ Fresh, Louis Berry and latest signing Yogi. “Amy has established herself as one of the industry’s rising stars,” Ministry Managing Director Dipesh Parmar said. “She is ambitious, strategic and smart. She is the driving force that Ministry needs and I am delighted to have her leading the way for us.” During her initial tenure at Sony Music, which started in 2008, Wheatley worked across labels RCA, Columbia and Syco Music, with acts Tom Odell, Daft Punk, Kasabian, Foo Fighters, Calvin Harris, MK, Hurts, Leon Bridges and LunchMoney Lewis. in 2016, she was named Head of U.K. Marketing at Three Six Zero, which recently shuttered its London office. Its roster included Calvin Harris, Travis Scott, Hurts and Skott. Wheatley noted, “It's great to be back in the Sony fold. Ministry's independent success has been impressive, but now, being under the Sony umbrella, we have even more opportunities.”  
George Kwali and manager Johnny Martin (seated) are surrounded by the Insanity team of, from left, A&R Josh Scarbrow, Marketing Manager Emma Seccombe, Label Manager Alice Beal, CEO Andy Varley and A&R Ali Fletcher. Young dance artist George Kwali has signed to Andy Varley’s Sony imprint Insanity, and Chrysalis Records has agreed to a licensing agreement with Everything But The Girl after band member Ben Watts acquired his catalog from Warner as part of divestments required for the purchase of Parlophone. Kwali has had BBC Radio 1 support for his Ministry of Sound-released “Crank It,” which has had more than 16m Spotify streams to date. Johnny Martin at Starwood Management is his manager. The Chrysalis deal with Everything But The Girl will see the British indie label distribute and promote the band’s first eight albums. Chrysalis CCO Robin Millar has a long relationship with the duo that dates back to producing their first two albums. Concord has reportedly acquired a bundle of recorded music rights from Warner Music, including the Atlantic catalog of singer/songwriter Jewel and Brazilian musician Sergio Mendes. Elsewhere, French/British indie Because Music has picked up music from Happy Mondays and All Saints as part of the catalog of London Records, U.K. independent Domino has nabbed early releases from The Buzzcocks and Hot Chip, and Epitaph has the early Asylum catalog of Tom Waits, according to MBW.
14 WEEKS AT #1
Haim cannot unseat the behemoth that is Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (Atlantic). Something To Tell You (Polydor) settles for second place on the U.K’s Official Albums chart as Sheeran has now topped his previous record of 13 weeks at #1. In its 14th week at the top, ÷  has now shifted just over 2m combined sales. At #3 is Jay-Z’s 4:44 (Roc Nation), which rocketed up from outside the Top 100 once its Tidal exclusive ended. ... Read more     
Ariana Grande has been made the first honorary citizen of Manchester, U.K., for her role in the One Love benefit concert that raised nearly £3m for victims of the terror attack that occurred at her concert on 5/22, killing 22 people. When putting forward the motion, council leader Sir Richard Leese described Grande as “a young American woman for whom it would have been understandable if she never wanted to see this place again,” The Guardian reports. “But no—instead she, as an artist, a performer, was determined that she would not perform again until she had returned to Manchester to perform.”  ... Read more
Universal Music has fully acquired U.K. dance and compilations label All Around The World (AATW) after exercising the option to pick up the remaining 50% from founders Matt Cadman and Cris Nuttall, who will carry on working with the label on a consultancy basis. British trade Record of the Day first reported the news, which UMG sources confirmed.   The imprint has had Top 10 success in the British charts this year with “Call on Me” by Australian singer/songwriter Starley, whose latest track “Touch Me” has just been released with an album to follow. Other upcoming tracks include “Rendezvous” by Kronic, and new music from rapper Abra Cadabra and a potential summer smash from German dance project Italo Brothers. AATW is based in Blackburn, where we’re told it’s business as usual. Alongside compilation brands like Clubland and AKA, the company owns TV channels Now 80s, Chilled 90s, AKA and Clubland. The imprint has also co-released tracks by Fuse ODGand Sigma with fellow dance label 3Beat, which exists as a JV with Universal.   
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