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U.K. MIDWEEKS: KINGS OF LEON SET FOR #1
5/13/24

Kings of Leon are heading towards #1 on the U.K.’s Official Albums Chart with Can We Please Have Fun (Polydor). Over on singles, Post Malone and Morgan Wallen are headed for the top with their debut country collaboration.

If Can We Please Have Fun holds on to its lead by Friday, it will be Kings of Leon’s seventh U.K. #1 album.

Meanwhile, Keane are celebrating 20 years of their debut, Hopes and Fears (Island/UMR), which has re-entered at #3 thanks to a deluxe anniversary reissue.

Gunna could have his fourth Top 10 with One of Wun (300) at #5, while Queen’s Rock Montreal (UMG) is at #6 following a reissue.

On the U.K.’s Official Singles midweeks, “I Had Some Help” (Republic) by Malone and Wallen is on track for #1. It would be Malone’s third U.K. #1 single and Wallen’s first.

Tommy Richman’s “Million Dollar Baby” (ISO Supremacy/PULSE) is up two to #5, while Kendrick Lamar’s “Not Like Us” (Interscope) is expected to jump three to #7.

“Stargazing” (Sony) by soul singer Myles Smith could debut as his first U.K. Top 20 entry at #11.

We are still at #1 for most jokes made about Liam Gallagher.

DARCUS BEESE: THE INSIDE STORY
5/10/24

The story of respected British music exec Darcus Beese, formerly president of UMG U.K.’s Island Records, will be told in his upcoming book, Rebel With a Cause.

Rebel With a Cause details how Beese went from apprentice hairdresser to work his way up from being the ‘tea boy’ to the President and first black CEO of a U.K. record company at Island.

The memoir covers him signing and nurturing seminal British artists including Amy Winehouse, Mumford & Sons, Dizzee Rascal and Florence and the Machine, to him moving to New York to run Island in the US but ‘becoming despondent at what he saw and encountered,’ according to a press release.

Beese, who is now EVP at Warner Music U.K. where he runs his own JV label, said: “As a kid I never thought or dreamed that one day I would be writing my story, let alone having it published. But now I think why not me? Growing up in a family of activists, a mother and father who fought to change British society, I’ve always understood the importance of using your voice, always felt a duty to speak my mind and stand up for what was right.

“Writing the book, looking back over my 50-plus years, I really appreciate how blessed I am to have such a strong beautiful family and to have enjoyed the most amazing experiences working alongside some of the greatest musical talents. Hopefully there’s plenty more to come. If this book inspires one kid to believe in themselves, to stay true to themselves, then it’ll be worthwhile.”

Published by Nine Eight Books, Rebel With a Cause will be available in hardback, ebook and audiobook versions from 8/15 in the U.K. It is set to land in the US in due course.

THE U.K. STILL LOVES "MR. BRIGHTSIDE"
5/9/24

U.K. listeners are still looking on the "Mr. Brightside" of life, as the Killers' song of that name has overtaken “Wonderwall” by Oasis as the most commercially-successful hit to never reach #1.

The Island track has tallied combined sales and streams of 5.57m since its release in 2003. “Mr. Brightside” originally peaked at #10, but has since become the longest-running Top 100 hit in Official Chart history, with nearly eight years on the list.

Despite its advanced age, "Brightside" is still being streamed an average of 1.8m times a week by British music fans. It’s the third biggest song of all time in the U.K., based on sales and streams.

In 2023, "Brightside" scored a career-best 79.7m plays, and so far this year, its average combined weekly sales and streams are up 23% year-on-year.

The song’s biggest week to date in the U.K. was in July 2019, when it racked up 17.7k chart units after The Killers headlined Glastonbury. Its biggest year of pure sales was 2012, when it was bought and downloaded 125.2k times.

"Mr. Brightside" was originally released with a 500-CD single run via U.K. indie record label Lizard King. It picked up steam following the release of 2004’s #3 single, "Somebody Told Me" (and the release of an updated mix), catapulting it back into the Official Singles Chart at #10 in May 2004, still its highest position to date, before dropping out only a few weeks later.

Liam Gallagher declined to comment, but did offer to punch us in the face.

MUSIC WEEK AWARDS CROWN BEST OF THE U.K. BIZ
5/3/24

Girls Aloud manager Peter Loraine was honored with a prestigious Strat award at last night’s Music Week Awards in London, where UMG U.K. labels EMI and Island Records were also big winners.

Loraine was honored for a three-decade career in which he’s worked with a wealth of British pop greats, including Girls Aloud (who presented him with the award in the above photo), S Club 7, ABBA, All Saints, Jessie Ware and Goldfrapp.

EMI took home Record Company of the Year, as they also did last year, making it a second win for label leaders Rebecca Allen and Jo Charrington, who took the helm in 2022. The win followed a successful 2023 in which the EMI team tallied #1 U.K. albums by Lewis Capaldi, Take That and Taylor Swift, plus a #4 debut from Olivia Dean and a successful breakthrough for Mae Stephens, who peaked at #13 with her viral hit, “If We Ever Broke Up.” EMI were also honored with Promotions Team of the Year.

The Island Records squad, led by President Louis Bloom, took the A&R Award after enjoying a major breakthrough with BRIT Award Rising Star winners The Last Dinner Party, whose debut, Prelude to Ecstasy, hit #1 in the U.K. in February. The label also released #1 albums from indie rock act The Lathums, plus U2 and Hozier last year.

UMG had another win for Catalog Marketing Campaign for UMR’s work on The Beatles Now and Then release. It’s about time someone gave an award to that quartet from Liverpool!

In other categories, Central Cee manager Bello was named Manager of the Year; Publisher of the Year went to Warner Chappell; and EGA Distro took Independent Record Company of the Year.

Warner Music U.K. claimed two gongs for International Marketing Team of the Year and Sync Team of the Year, Sony Music U.K. took Sales Team of the Year and the Label/Artist Services award went to AWAL. Other winners included Young Songs for Independent Publisher of the Year, CAA for Live Music Agency, Live Nation U.K. for Live Music Promoter and RAYE and The Orchard for Artist Marketing Campaign.

Congratulations to all the winners. We look forward to hearing more about it when you take us out for chicken and chips.

RSD, TAYLOR FUEL RECORD-BREAKING U.K. VINYL SALES
5/1/24

Fueled by the twin forces of Record Store Day and Taylor Swift, vinyl sales in the U.K. hit their highest weekly total in 30 years last week, according to data from the Digital Entertainment and Retail Association (ERA).

Data from the Official Charts Company show 269k vinyl albums and 38k singles were sold in chart week 17, for a total of 307k. That’s higher than in any week since week five 1994, when statistics were first tabulated.

Sales of Swift’s THE TORTURED POETS DEPARTMENT (EMI) account for just under a quarter—24.7%—of the week’s vinyl album sales. Further, sales exclusive to independent record stores as part of RSD accounted for an estimated 37.2% of the vinyl albums market.

ERA CEO Kim Bayley said it's no coincidence that vinyl would reach another high point thanks to Record Store Day and a superstar album like Swift's in the marketplace. “Indie record shops were first to realize that the growth of streaming would paradoxically provide an opportunity for the most physical of physical formats,” she said, “and vinyl has sat at the heart of Record Store Day’s celebration of indie record shop culture since 2008."

2023 marked a 16th consecutive year of growth for vinyl in the U.K., and four of the top 10 biggest weeks for vinyl in the past 30 years have come in the past 12 months. Titles released by Swift account for the three top-performing vinyl albums in their week of release since 1994.

TTPD shifted 66.4k units its first week, followed by Midnights with 61.9k and 1989 (Taylor’s Version) with 61.8k. Albums by Arctic Monkeys and Harry Styles complete the Top 5.

In the U.S., the album broke the record for most first-week streams and earned the biggest sales week of Swift’s career. It also set new milestones for an album debut on Spotify (314m streams) and scored, in less than five days, the most first-week global streams of any album in Amazon Music history.

The U.K. vinyl biz is chuffed indeed.

RCA U.K. TAPS DAVIES TO HEAD A&R
4/18/24

Harri Davies, former senior director of A&R at Concord Music Publishing, has joined RCA Records U.K. as head of A&R.

In his new role, Davies will be responsible for steering the Sony label's A&R strategy and signing talent. He reports to RCA Co-Presidents Glyn Aikins and Stacey Tang.

"Harri embodies the globally minded, creative spirit that has always been at the heart of RCA U.K.,” Aikins and Tang said. “His understanding of the music landscape and passion for nurturing artists will undoubtedly have a positive effect, steering our team and artists towards further global success.”

Notable artists and producers Davies has signed include Krept & Konan, BRIT Award-winning Chase & Status and Grammy winners Imanbek, Alex Metric and Flowdan. He also facilitated the signing of 2023’s global breakout star, Tyla. Prior to Concord, Davies helped shape the roster at Bucks Music Group.

ICE SPICE SIGNS WITH PPL
4/18/24

U.K.-based music licensing company PPL has signed Ice Spice for the collection of international neighboring rights royalties. She joins a host of artists who signed with the org recently, including Lewis Capaldi, Libianca and Central Cee.

Headquartered in London, PPL licenses the use of recorded music in the U.K. and collects neighboring rights royalties on behalf of performers and recording rightsholders worldwide.

On signing with the org, PPL says Ice Spice will benefit from the expertise of its 200+ team, cutting-edge data processing technology, and a network of over 110 agreements with collective management organizations internationally. The company will collect royalties on her behalf for the use of her music on radio, TV and in public spaces around the world.

Signed to 10K Projects and Capitol, Ice Spice closed 2023 with the most Hot 100 Top 5 singles: “Barbie World” with Aqua & Nicki Minaj, “Boy’s A Liar, Pt.2” with PinkPantheress, and a remix of Taylor Swift’s “Karma.”

RSD U.K. TO DELIVER £9.7M BOOST
4/17/24

Record Store Day in the U.K. is expected to deliver a £9.7m boost to indie record shops this weekend thanks to 443 exclusive releases, according to data from the Digital Entertainment and Retail Association (ERA).

The annual celebration, which takes place Saturday (4/20), will involve more than 270 record shops. The £9.7m figure is an estimate of the sales value of the vinyl releases issued for the day, which will be available from the likes of official RSD 2024 ambassador Kate Bush plus Noah Kahan, Ringo Starr, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Gabriels, The 1975 and more.

The estimate does not include incremental revenue of non-Record Store Day titles made on the day, nor money generated by food, drink and other items. Thus, the actual total through store tills is likely to be higher.

“Record Store Day is a cultural phenomenon which draws in tens of thousands of music fans across the country, but it is also a financial lifeline for a vital element of music’s unique ecosystem,” ERA CEO Kim Bayley said. “Without Record Store Day, many would find it difficult to stay in business.”

In 2023, ERA estimates that exclusives sold on RSD accounted for nearly 10% of annual sales of all physical music product through high street stores. Last month, ERA announced that indie store numbers have hit a 10-year high of 461, in part propelled by RSD. Across the same period, the total number of physical outlets selling music in the U.K. has dropped by 76%.

More than 80 events are set to take place on Saturday. They include all-day parties, local music and performances and various artists taking part in signing sessions. Across the weekend, BBC’s 6 Music will host a three-day celebration of vinyl and records on air.