HITS Daily Double


BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC: Everyone likes Monte Lipman, even though he’s been annoying the competition quite a bit lately with his chart share, which is, in a word, sick.

And if you’re not on top of your shit, he’s going to steal your lunch money and rip that deal you thought you had right out from under you—while you’re still on your deal-memo call.

Monte and brother Avery have been running Republic since the Clinton era, and they’ve refined the art of the deal from Bloodhound Gang and Chumbawamba to Morgan Wallen. Discovered for his radio-promotion acumen back in the day by Doug Morris, Monte could’ve stepped out of the pages of Fredric Dannen’s Hit Men. He was mentored in the old-school Morris tradition: If it’s on the radio and selling in Poughkeepsie, it will happen in New York. Another incredibly important force in his development was Sir Lucian Grainge, who essentially transformed Monte into a CEO and helped him become a shrewd dealmaker with a penchant for identifying and signing the toughest deals around. That connection was cemented with Amy Winehouse.

Monte may not be Mr. A&R like some of his competitors, but he clearly knows A&R and has the savoir faire—and the full-on sechel—to close the right deal à la Morgan Wallen and Taylor Swift.

The company was once known for its canny use of sales research to identify the next big thing. Now that everyone is perusing the same analytics, Team Lipman has become more calculating in its analysis. And while Republic is sometimes characterized as being in the pop business, the fact is that it's in the everything-that-sells business, as evidenced by an eclectic but uniformly strong roster of artists and partners that includes Cash Money (with whom Monte made his bones), Big Loud/Mercury’s Wallen, OVO’s Drake, XO’s The Weeknd, Mercury’s Post Malone, Ariana Grande, Glass Animals and, of course, the reigning queen of pop, Swift.

The Lipmans’ current chart run may be their finest ever. As of this writing, they hold six of the Top 10 and eight of the Top 12 in the latest bible listings. Their current marketshare is a resounding 12%.

Republic was one of the first U.S. labels to get its arms around the K-pop phenomenon, which continues to put up some good numbers via Monte's Imperial label’s distro deals. He also enjoys a close working relationship with UMLE boss Jesus Lopez, which has afforded him reach in the Latin world as well.

Now Monte and Avery are endeavoring to mentor the next generation of creative executives. They have a strong core of talent, headed by Co-Presidents Wendy Goldstein and Jim Roppo and including Mercury leaders Tyler Arnold and Ben Adelson. Wendy, who's been integral to the careers of The Weeknd, Ariana, Malone and other key acts, is a big-time A&R exec who's now widely viewed as one of the most influential players in the biz. Monte has also made his deep knowledge and insight available to Island co-heads Imran Majid and Justin Eshak (who were the original backroom analysts at Republic and are off to a great start as label heads), among others in the extended label family.

RETURN OF THE EAR PICK? We are definitely seeing the beginnings of a shift away from signing everything that streams—or even everything that streams big. Too many labels have been burned by fat deals that looked like home runs as they took the swing and then turned into sacrifice flies. Could the distribution networks now throwing wider nets see an increase in their business as a consequence? Look what happened with The Orchard’s marketshare and Universal’s investment in the new team at Virgin/Ingrooves. This could also be very good for indie labels and entities like AWAL, Stem, Distrokid, Venice, United Masters and EMPIRE.

Streaming has pushed the geographical boundaries of the world into a new shape, and language no longer controls the old borders. Top U.S. label CEOs are looking at the marketplace through an entirely different lens these days, and the conversation suggests that real artist development is under the microscope again in a world not exclusively controlled by TikTok. (Speaking of which, there’s growing buzz that the Chinese-owned company might face a change in ownership that could alter its fate.)