HITS Daily Double


NOISE REDUCTION: Reports that Spotify will monetarily penalize fraud, refine its royalty payouts to privilege music over the sound of vacuum cleaners and demonetize tracks that don’t reach a (very low) minimum threshold of streams represent good news for artists, majors and indies. The move is in keeping with the “artist-centric” model previously touted by UMG and Deezer. Spotify, which cheered the biz with a subscription-fee increase a short time ago, also recently celebrated a return to profitability—and a new peak of 574m monthly active users (+26%)—in Q3.

These biz-friendly moves have many wondering if the DSP is seeking to align itself more closely with rightsholders because of how dominant TikTok has become. Will those rightsholders be supportive of Spotify because of TikTok’s massive influence and lack of a strong economic proposition for the industry? It doesn’t appear that the Chinese-owned short-form vid platform (now with its own streaming service already underway in a couple of territories) is inclined to share the wealth with rightsholders in a way that’s anything close to the 70-30 royalty split that launched Spotify. We have TikTok’s explosive growth to thank for Spotify’s becoming more friend than frenemy to the biz—and now rightsholders are using their acts to help the Spot create compelling new content and increase audience engagement.

YEAH, YEAH, YEAH: Nostalgia abounds at this moment in the marketplace as the splashy return of The Rolling Stones is followed by the even splashier return of The Beatles—well, a refurbished John Lennon demo from 1979 with retrospective additions by the other Fabs—that has demonstrated the Liverpudlian foursome’s continued ability to rock the culture and evoke a powerful emotional response that resonates across the generations. “Now and Then,” released via Apple Corps/Capitol and soon to appear on UMe’s renovated 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 hits compilations, also underscores that artificial intelligence (or "machine learning," as the players prefer to call it) can be an amazing tool in overcoming technical challenges—and, in this case, reuniting the most beloved band in history.

HELLO, GORGEOUS: As we contemplate the ongoing Taylor Swift era, we’re also reassessing the Barbra Streisand dominion. Babs’ sprawling new memoir, My Name Is Barbra, is earning buzz for its candor and depth as the brilliant 81-year-old star reflects on her staggering career. And really, despite her universally acknowledged status as an icon, the breadth of that career hasn’t been sufficiently acknowledged. With a voice for the ages and an innate flair for comedy, she vaulted to Broadway success in I Can Get It for You Wholesale before she was out of her teens and went on to greatness on the boards in Funny Girl. She embarked on a recording career that spanned standards, pop, jazz and rock (racking up a reported 150m+ in sales and becoming the only artist to have a #1 album in each of six successive decades); incidentally, she took a smaller deal for full creative control in her negotiations with legendary Columbia boss Goddard Lieberson prior to the 1963 release of her debut LP, which quickly made her the top-selling female artist in the U.S. She achieved movie stardom in roles that demonstrated enormous range (she won a Best Actress Oscar for Funny Girl and was nominated in that category for The Way Were Were; she also won Best Song for A Star Is Born, in which she starred) and became an auteur in her own right (she was the first woman ever to write, direct, produce and star in a major motion picture, Yentl; she also directed The Prince of Tides, which earned a Best Picture nom). And don’t forget her years of dedicated, thoughtfully progressive political activism and considered discourse on key issues. She paved the way for the Tays and Gagas who followed, and that’s just for starters.