HITS Daily Double

Here’s a fresh batch of music-biz topics so interesting that they’re interrupting our naptime.

The Secret Committee: The Grammys are us, so how they represent the industry to the wider world is a major concern for every one of us. The existence of a shadowy group in the middle of the process that has no obligation to explain its choices raises some serious issues. The College Football Playoff committee, by contrast, is utterly transparent—you may disagree with their choices, but at least they explain their decisions. We happen to feel the committee, anointing the nominees from the “possibles” favored by voters, made many good and interesting choices. But can someone explain why Ed Sheeran was shut out of the top three categories? While we’re at it, can someone please explain lots of things, especially why The Secret Committee members are “secret?”

New Teams on the Field in January: Warner Bros. Records has Tom Corson beginning on 1/2, with Aaron Bay-Schuck waiting in the wings. Def Jam will be led by longtime Eminem manager Paul Rosenberg. Columbia, with the industry’s worst-kept secret, will be led by SONGS Music Publishing co-founder Ron Perry. A new entity from L.A. Reid and other surprises are in the offing. The streaming boom is here. There will be lots to write about and follow in Q1.

New Alternative Stations: Six new stations popped up in the last weeks of the year and are already driving increased activity on records in the format. Entercom/CBS, under new format captain Michael Martin, flips WBMP N.Y., KVIL Dallas and WQMP Orlando, while Mid West Family flips WRIS Madison and iHeart, under new format head Lisa Worden, flips WDTW Detroit and WNOH Orlando. Real airplay in significant rotation in these key markets has pointed the spotlight back to Alternative radio. Could we see Modern Rock reclaim some glory in 2018? Could we also see Mediabase add these important stations into their calculations, so we can get a real look at the strength of certain songs?

How will the Grammys Affect the 2018 Marketplace? It’s always fascinating to compare award winners with streaming/sales winners, and to see how long the chart love lasts. Even more fun: comparing award winners and performance winners. Meanwhile, how will the hip-hop-heavy slate of nominees factor into the results?

Justin Timberlake: A new album and a Super Bowl halftime show are likely to be highlights of what may be the biggest Q1 in years. We will once again miss out on JT on “Music’s Biggest Night” (although we hear the tensions are easing and 2019 could mark his return to that stage), but if his halftime performance has anything like the impact of Lady Gaga’s from last year, you’ll be seeing a lot of end-zone dances at RCA.

Rock Revival: We’re hearing about more attention to and interest in this long-struggling format, as conveyed from label heads to A&R departments. The response to Republic’s Greta Van Fleet is a harbinger of new action in the marketplace. We expect the floodgates to open by mid-2018.

GRAMMYs Greatest Stories: A 60th Anniversary Special: This show was great, and when I tell people about it and urge them to check it out, the response is that it can no longer be found anywhere. C’mon, CBS—this is the golden age of streaming TV. Why haven’t you made this stellar show, produced by longtime Grammy television guru Ken Ehrlich, available on demand, via Hulu or even for sale at iTunes? Simply stated: What up wit dat?

Streaming Becomes Dominant: The coming year will see streaming at last become the undeniable marketplace force. Duh. How much further will 2018 move us toward a rented-music economy? The CD boom, which saved the industry decades ago, is officially DOA, and downloads are dwindling. Total access is everything.

When Will Country Music Streaming Kick In? It has to happen—there are too many big, talented Nashville acts with compelling songs for this low-streaming phase to last. Is Sam Hunt really the only significant country streaming artist? C’mon, everybody.

Post Malone: The hottest streaming breakthrough of 2017 shows no signs of slowing down. Why has this particular act become the poster child for the newly dominant platform? Who cares? It works.