Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Miley on the Sound of her New Album VIA Beats1

"I think this ["Nothing Breaks Like A Heart"] is a nice introduction to the sound that we've got going on with the next record," Cyrus said in the interview. "Mine is a little heavier than ["Nothing Breaks Like A Heart"]. A song that he and I have done together is more rock driven, modern Debbie Harry or Joan Jett. Then we've got songs with Mike Will that lean more hip-hop and songs with Andrew Wyatt that lean more pop/alternative. I just have kind of everything

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Spotify Year In Review 2018




2018 is winding down, but on Spotify, the music is playing as loudly as ever. All throughout the year, our users have streamed countless hours of their favorite songs, artists, playlists, and podcasts. Now, we’re looking back to determine the music and audio trends that defined the year.

So, what did the world listen to in 2018?

Music lovers continued with some existing favorites, such as 2015 and 2016’s most-streamed artist, Drake, who took home the crown once again this year. With 8.2 billion streams in 2018 alone, the Canadian rapper is now our most-streamed artist of all time. His album “Scorpion” and song “God’s Plan” took the top slots in their categories—with “God’s Plan” bringing in more than 1 billion streams.

Outside of the reigning favorites, some chart-breaking stars also reached the top. Ariana Grande’s 48 million plus monthly listeners raised her to the position of Spotify’s most-streamed female artist, following in the footsteps of three-time winner Rihanna. She dropped major hits throughout the year, including her fourth album, “Sweetener” and her latest single “thank u, next” (over 220 million streams).

Hip-hop dominated Spotify’s charts in 2018, but Latin music continued its rapid growth. This year, three Latin artists—J Balvin, Ozuna and Bad Bunny—landed on the top-10 most-streamed artists list, while last year, Daddy Yankee was the only Spanish-speaking artist to reach the top 10. Dominican-American singer Cardi B, the third-most-streamed female artist of 2018, and  Cuban-American singer Camila Cabello, the fifth-most-streamed, are also representing their Latin heritage through music. The genre is making its mark in playlists, with both ¡Viva Latino! and Baila Reggaeton finishing the year as Spotify’s third-and fourth-most-followed playlists.

In 2018, we also added more podcasts to our growing selection, bringing the total episodes available to almost 7 million. Listeners have enjoyed top podcasts like “The Joe Budden Podcast,” as well as “Amy Schumer Presents: 3 Girls, 1 Keith” and Spotify’s “Dissect,” which offers a deep-dive analysis of popular music albums. The most popular topics are crime-and-mystery podcasts, such as “My Favorite Murder,” “Crime Junkie,” and “Crimetown.”

Can’t get enough of the chart toppers? Check out our lists of the top artists, songs, albums, groups, podcasts, and more below—and don’t forget to tune in on December 6 to theWrapped microsite to see your personal favorites and top-streamed tracks, and receive a playlist based on your tastes.

So without further ado …

Most-Streamed Artists
Drake is the world’s most-streamed artist, with more than 8.2 billion streams this year. J Balvin, who made his top-five debut, had multiple hits on our global chart, such as “X” (with Nicky Jam) and “I Like It” (with Cardi B).
  1. Drake
  2. Post Malone
  4. J Balvin
  5. Ed Sheeran*
*Ed Sheeran was the top-streamed artist in 2017

Most-Streamed Female Artists
Spotify’s top-streamed female artist, Ariana Grande, released her hotly-anticipated fourth album, “Sweetener,” in August. She had a momentous year with numerous charting singles, including her latest smash “thank u, next.” Grande’s music streamed more than 3 billion times in 2018.
  1. Ariana Grande
  2. Dua Lipa
  3. Cardi B
  4. Taylor Swift
  5. Camila Cabello

Most-Streamed Tracks
While it was the summer of “In My Feelings,” Drake’s track “God’s Plan” was actually the most-streamed song of 2018. Post Malone also scored two songs on this list with both “rockstar (feat. 21 Savage)” and “Psycho (feat. Ty Dolla $ign).”
  1. God’s Plan – Drake
  3. rockstar (feat. 21 Savage) – Post Malone
  4. Psycho (feat. Ty Dolla $ign) – Post Malone
  5. In My Feelings – Drake

Most-Streamed Artist Albums
Drake’s “Scorpion” was released on June 29, and before long was racking up 10 million streams an hour. Dua Lipa’s self-titled debut album also had a stellar year, and Ed Sheeran’s 2017 album “÷” made the top five as well.
  1. Scorpion – Drake
  2. beerbongs & bentleys – Post Malone
  4. Dua Lipa – Dua Lipa
  5. ÷ – Ed Sheeran*
*Ed Sheeran’s ÷ was the top album in 2017

Most-Streamed Groups*
Imagine Dragons is Spotify’s most-streamed group for 2018, but K-pop sensation BTS also enjoyed plenty of global listening. Maroon 5 and Migos come in third and fourth, and Coldplay took fifth.
  1. Imagine Dragons
  2. BTS
  3. Maroon 5
  4. Migos
  5. Coldplay**

*Must have three or more members
** Coldplay was 2017’s most-streamed group

Most-Followed Playlists
Today’s Top Hits is 2018’s most popular playlist. It’s the best place to go to find out what’s trending in popular music—and about 22 million followers agree. Rounding out the top five is Songs to Sing in the Car, with Beyoncé’s “Halo,” and Camila Cabello’s “Havana” as the top two songs people are belting on their road trips.
  1. Today’s Top Hits
  2. RapCaviar
  3. ¡Viva Latino!
  4. Baila Reggaeton
  5. Songs to Sing in the Car

Most-Streamed Exclusive Spotify Podcasts
As we continue to expand our repertoire of exclusive and original podcasts, these are the podcasts resonating the most with Spotify listeners.
  1. Fest & Flauschig
  2. The Joe Budden Podcast with Rory & Mal
  3. Dissect
  4. Amy Schumer Presents: 3 Girls, 1 Keith

Most-Streamed Podcast Genres
  1. Crime and Mystery
  2. Comedy
  3. News & Politics
  4. Health
  5. Arts 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

2019 Golden Globe Nominations

Best Motion Picture – Drama
“Black Panther”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“If Beale Street Could Talk”
“A Star Is Born”
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
Glenn Close (“The Wife”)
Lady Gaga (“A Star Is Born”)
Nicole Kidman (“Destroyer”)
Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”)
Rosamund Pike (“A Private War”)
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama
Bradley Cooper (“A Star Is Born”)
Willem Dafoe (“At Eternity’s Gate”)
Lucas Hedges (“Boy Erased”)
Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”)
John David Washington (“BlacKkKlansman”)
Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
“Crazy Rich Asians”
“The Favourite”
“Green Book”
“Mary Poppins Returns”
Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Emily Blunt (“Mary Poppins Returns”)
Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”)
Elsie Fisher (“Eighth Grade”)
Charlize Theron (“Tully”)
Constance Wu (“Crazy Rich Asians”)
Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Christian Bale (“Vice”)
Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Mary Poppins Returns”)
Viggo Mortensen (“Green Book”)
Robert Redford (“The Old Man & the Gun”)
John C. Reilly (“Stan & Ollie”)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture
Amy Adams (“Vice”)
Claire Foy (“First Man”)
Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”)
Emma Stone (“The Favourite”)
Rachel Weisz (“The Favourite”)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture
Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”)
Timothee Chalamet (“Beautiful Boy”)
Adam Driver (“BlacKkKlansman”)
Richard E. Grant (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”)
Sam Rockwell (“Vice”)
Best Motion Picture – Animated
“Incredibles 2”
“Isle of Dogs”
“Ralph Breaks the Internet”
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”
Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language
“Never Look Away”
Best Director – Motion Picture
Bradley Cooper (“A Star Is Born”)
Alfonso Cuaron (“Roma”)
Peter Farrelly (“Green Book”)
Spike Lee (“BlacKkKlansman”)
Adam McKay (“Vice”)
Best Screenplay – Motion Picture
Alfonso Cuaron (“Roma”)
Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara (“The Favourite”)
Barry Jenkins (“If Beale Street Could Talk”)
Adam McKay (“Vice”)
Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie (“Green Book”)
Best Original Score – Motion Picture
Marco Beltrami (“A Quiet Place”)
Alexandre Desplat (“Isle of Dogs”)
Ludwig Göransson (“Black Panther”)
Justin Hurwitz (“First Man”)
Marc Shaiman (“Mary Poppins Returns”)
Best Original Song – Motion Picture
“All the Stars” (“Black Panther”)
“Girl in the Movies” (“Dumplin’”)
“Requiem For a Private War” (“A Private War”)
“Revelation’ (“Boy Erased”)
“Shallow” (“A Star Is Born”)
Best Television Series – Drama
“The Americans”
“Killing Eve”
Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama
Caitriona Balfe (“Outlander”)
Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Sandra Oh (“Killing Eve”)
Julia Roberts (“Homecoming”)
Keri Russell (“The Americans”)
 Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama
Jason Bateman (“Ozark”)
Stephan James (“Homecoming”)
Richard Madden (“Bodyguard”)
Billy Porter (“Pose”)
Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”)
Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy
“Barry” (HBO)
“The Good Place” (NBC)
“Kidding” (Showtime)
“The Kominsky Method” (Netflix)
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy
Kristen Bell (“The Good Place”)
Candice Bergen (“Murphy Brown”)
Alison Brie (“Glow”)
Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Debra Messing (“Will & Grace”)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy
Sacha Baron Cohen (“Who Is America?”)
Jim Carrey (“Kidding”)
Michael Douglas (“The Kominsky Method”)
Donald Glover (“Atlanta”)
Bill Hader (“Barry”)
Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
“The Alienist” (TNT)
“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (FX)
“Escape at Dannemora” (Showtime)
“Sharp Objects” (HBO)
“A Very English Scandal” (Amazon)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Amy Adams (“Sharp Objects”)
Patricia Arquette (“Escape at Dannemora”)
Connie Britton (“Dirty John”)
Laura Dern (“The Tale”)
Regina King (“Seven Seconds”)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Antonio Banderas (“Genius: Picasso”)
Daniel Bruhl (“The Alienist”)
Darren Criss (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
Benedict Cumberbatch (“Patrick Melrose”)
Hugh Grant (“A Very English Scandal”)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Patricia Clarkson (“Sharp Objects”)
Penelope Cruz (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
Thandie Newton (“Westworld”)
Yvonne Strahovski (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Alan Arkin (“The Kominsky Method”)
Kieran Culkin (“Succession”)
Edgar Ramirez (“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story”)
Ben Whishaw (“A Very English Scandal”)
Henry Winkler (“Barry”)

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Highest Paid Women In Music (By Forbes)

1. Katy Perry ($83 million)
2. Taylor Swift ($80 million)
3. Beyoncé ($60 million)
4. Pink ($52 million)
5. Lady Gaga ($50 million)
6. Jennifer Lopez ($47 million)
7. Rihanna ($37.5 million)
8. Helene Fischer ($32 million)
9. Celine Dion ($31 million)
10. Britney Spears ($30 million)

Monday, November 19, 2018

Taylor Swift signs worldwide deal with Republic Records/UMG

I’m ecstatic to announce that my musical home will be Republic Records and Universal Music Group. Over the years, Sir Lucian Grainge and Monte Lipman have been such incredible partners. It’s so thrilling to me that they, and the UMG team, will be my label family going forward. It’s also incredibly exciting to know that I’ll own all of my master recordings that I make from now on. It’s really important to me to see eye to eye with a label regarding the future of our industry. I feel so motivated by new opportunities created by the streaming world and the ever changing landscape of our industry.. I also feel strong that streaming was founded on and continues to thrive based on the magic created by artists, writers, and producers. 
There was one condition that meant more to me than any other deal point. As part of my new contract with Universal Music Group, I asked that any sale of their Spotify shares result in a distribution of money to their artists, non-recoupable. They have generously agreed to this, at what they believe will be much better terms than paid out previously by other major labels. I see this as a sign that we are headed towards positive change for creators – a goal I’m never going to stop trying to help achieve, in whatever ways I can. I’m so happy to have Sir Lucian Grainge as a partner in these efforts. 
I want to express by heartfelt thanks to Scott Borchetta for believing in me as a 14-year-old and for guiding me through over a decade of work that I will always be so proud of. I’m extremely grateful to get to do what I love, especially with the people I’ve been fortunate enough to work with. The best thing I’ve been lucky enough to receive is the dedication, trust, and loyalty of the fans who have cared about the words and melodies I’ve written. My biggest goal moving forward is to make you proud. I’m so excited. I can’t wait to show you what I’m making next. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

'In The Zone' turns 15, Billboard ranks the songs

Britney Spears' 'In The Zone' Turns 15: Ranking All the Songs

11/12/2018 by Bianca Gracie

Image result for Britney Spears In the zone album cover

On 2001's Britney, Britney Spears sang about the struggles of growing up -- she wasn't a girl, not yet a woman. But by 2003's In the Zone, she had clearly arrived as the latter.
That album -- released 15 years ago on Nov. 12 -- marked the singer coming into her own, both as an artist (Spears took on more writing responsibilities than ever before) and as a woman (the LP's erotic content made "I'm a Slave 4 U" look relatively chaste). From the ice-blue album cover to its chilling production, In The Zone signaled a more mature direction for Spears as she explored electronic music and hip-hop like never before. And the record's lyrics -- which referenced her breakup with Justin Timberlake and pushed back at her critics in the media -- celebrated new levels of independence and candor for the singer.
Spears' hands-on artistry was rewarded by the public: In the Zone debuted atop the Billboard 200, went double-platinum and introduced some of the most iconic singles of her career. To celebrate the album and the turning point it provided for Spears' career, Billboard ranked every song on the album's standard edition.
12.  “Shadow”
The first of the two slow tunes on the album, “Shadow” is Spears’s version of an ‘80s power ballad. But even her tender, emotive vocals aren't enough to get out of the, well, shadow of “Everytime.” 
11. “Brave New Girl” 
“Brave New Girl” might as well have been a mission statement for the In the Zoneera: Here, Spears sings about letting go of all the constraints that have held her back and vows do things on her own terms. Still, the overuse of Auto-Tune and vocal effects makes “Brave New Girl” more cheesy than captivating.
10. “Outrageous” 
Let’s face it: “Outrageous” is a cursed track. From the controversial team-up with R. Kelly to the music video shoot where Spears injured her knee (which led to a cancelation of The Onyx Hotel Tour), the song is essentially the moment the singer’s career changed. But there is a silver lining: “B-girl ain’t lost the beat/ Jumped over drama and I landed on my feet” is as good a mantra for Spears' career as any.  
9. “Showdown”
Swedish production duo Bloodshy & Avant are the masters behind this unsubtle bedroom anthem, which finds Spears instructing her lover to undo her zipper and likening their adults-only fun to an arena sporting event. But when it comes to overall sexiness, “Showdown” doesn’t, erm, rise, to the occasion of the album's more seductive tracks. 
8. “The Hook Up”  
Spears has experimented with reggae and dancehall in the past (see: ...Baby One More Time’s reggae-funk “Soda Pop”), but on “The Hook Up,” she sounds like she stumbled into the sweaty basement where Sean Paul shot his "Get Busy" video. The dance-instruction lyrics and hard-hitting bass make for a flirty vibe, though the occasional, slight patois in her vocal delivery didn't age well.
7. “(I Got That) Boom Boom” feat. Ying Yang Twins 
“SHAWTYYY! WE FINNA GO TO THE CLUB AND GET CRUNK WITH BRITNEY...HAANNN!” still remains one of the best song introductions of the new millennium. “Boom Boom” saw Spears embrace her really cool and urban side as she drew from her Southern roots. Then throw in a naughty verse from Atlanta’s Ying Yang Twins, and you have a weirdly perfect ass-shaking theme song for the clubs -- and one of the most unpredictable pop-rap collaborations of the era. 
6. “Me Against The Music” feat. Madonna
Compared to other lead singles from her previous albums, “Me Against The Music” isn’t as iconic. But it offers a solid taste of Spears' newfound experimental side -- from the funky guitar riffs to her rapid-fire singing, it's Weirdney through and through. And, of course, the inclusion of Madonna served as the ultimate “passing the pop torch” moment that many fans were waiting for.
5. “Toxic”
One of Spears' signature singles, “Toxic” arrives in the middle of In The Zone like a lightning bolt straight from outer space thanks to those near-ear-splitting Bollywood strings (courtesy of Bloodshy & Avant) that could easily soundtrack a horror movie. While other tracks on the album are meant to soundtrack what happens after the club, “Toxic” leads you straight to the dance floor with its frenetic bassline and glitchy breakdown. And the world was eager to get down with her: The single earned Spears her first and only Grammy win for Best Dance Recording and peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100.
4. “Early Mornin’”
Who knew Moby could be so risqué? He co-wrote and co-produced this after-hours jam, in which Spears details some presumed one-night stands with a dude with "dark hair" and another guy named Joe. And it's a stand-out on In the Zone thanks to Spears' commitment to capturing the vibe -- the singer literally yawns, whispers and giggles throughout the track as she recounts her nights out, making it feel like an authentic snapshot of her life at the time.
3. “Everytime” 
While Timberlake went the scorched-earth route on 2002’s post-breakup single “Cry Me A River,” Spears' purported response, “Everytime,” opted for something more nuanced and tender -- and totally heartbreaking. Her vocals are so soft and fragile, it sounds as if she just finished wiping away tears before getting in the recording booth. And the song’s lyrical message becomes even more haunting when you watch the David LaChapelle-directed video for the track, which appears to depict Spears' death and reincarnation following a paparazzi-induced head injury.
2. “Touch of My Hand”
“Touch of My Hand” was the first song Spears recorded for In The Zone, and it clearly shaped the album’s unbridled sensuality. Here, she takes part in a tradition of unapologetic, taboo-busting self-love anthems -- “I love myself, it's not a sin/ I can't control what's happening," she purrs just before the chorus -- and it deserves to be as much of a classic in that category as the Divinyls’ “I Touch Myself.” It's also a song Spears clearly loves: Despite being a deep cut album track, she's regularly included it many of her tour and residency setlists.
1. “Breathe on Me” 
Taking a few notes from Madonna’s passion-filled Bedtime Stories, Spears delivers one of the most provocative songs in her catalog with the trip-hop inspired "Breathe on Me." Set to a woozy, tingling beat, the track finds Spears toying with the listener via come-hither whispers and references to climaxes -- a less-explicit approach than "Showdown," sure, but one that's somehow even more intense. (She drove the point home during the Onyx Hotel Tour, during which she writhed around a bed with a male dancer to this track.) It takes a superstar of Spears' caliber to make an ad for monogamy sound this freaky.  

It was yesterday. i meant to post it but forgot. Oops!

Simon Cowell Explains What Really Happened Between Him And Little Mix

Simon Cowell tells how Sir Philip Green and Little Mix had to leave his business because relations between them became so toxic

Speaking with emotion, ­Cowell, 59, said he had been “embarrassed” by the claims.
But he told The Sun he has now decided to put principles before profits as he attempts to create a business for his four-year-old son Eric to inherit.
He said: “The only reason I got annoyed was that it’s easy to paint this picture of Syco as this dark, awful place where all we’re trying to do is rip artists off and make them unhappy. “I suppose why I am glad I’m talking to you guys today — at least I can tell you what really happened.” 
Cowell and Green were once so close that they spoke on the phone for hours and went on holidays together. The tycoon even holds a five per cent stake — valued at £12.5million — in the music business.
But last week it emerged the under-fire billionaire has finally agreed to walk away after Simon tabled a fresh bid.
It came after recent revelations Green used a High Court injunction to protect NDAs that apparently involve allegations of racism and sexual harassment.
Cowell said: “He was part of the company but three years ago we just stopped talking.
“When it came to severing the ties, I wasn’t arguing about the money. You simply make a decision of who you want in your life and your business and it was my decision.”
Cowell insisted he cut contact before Green was criticised for his controversial sale of BHS.
He added: “It was six months before that. Then, roughly a year and a half ago, there was a meeting to see whether he would be interested in selling his shares. It didn’t appear that way. Then, your article came about and then shortly after it was done.”
Green is not a comfortable topic of discussion for Cowell, who is restricted by what he can say with the sale of the Syco shares unconfirmed.
But does he regret him being involved in the company? Cowell said: “This is tricky for me. Well, I could say that about hundreds of people I’ve worked with. The point is, I would have regretted it if I hadn’t acted now.”
And should Green have been named in Parliament over his use of NDAs at TopShop following claims of harassment? He replied: “I don’t know what this is leading to — not with me but with him.
“But like I said, my only regret would have been if I had put money over principle, and I didn’t. So when I had the opportunity, I did what I did.”
Cowell invited The Sun to a central London hotel — where he is meeting his staff from around the world to plot future strategy — following our exclusive on Saturday about his shock split from Little Mix
Simon said the decision came after a falling out with their reps Modest Management amid a row over a songwriting credit on their single Woman Like Me.
Cowell admitted: “It was just embarrassing but, funnily enough, I was more annoyed, again, not about me, but about the fact people who had worked so hard in my company were being misrepresented. Why do artists think they’re more important than staff members? They’re not. They’re the same.
“The irony was the record they were arguing about, which is Woman Like Me, they didn’t want to record. This was one of those ironic times that we were having a hit and nobody was happy.”
Again, Simon’s decision to walk away from his most successful act wasn’t financial. He said: “It wasn’t down to money. Basically, they said we’d done a terrible job. I had agreed not to talk about this publicly because I thought it was a private matter. I said, ‘We can’t work with the management, it’s as simple as that’.”
Cowell said he is going to meet the band this week “just so they can hear it from me and I can hear it from them”.
He added: “Everyone’s like, ‘There must have been something massive and that’s why it collapsed’. Well, I can show you all the correspondence between me and the girls over the years, there’s never been an instance when we’ve fallen out. As I said in my email to them, I stand by the fact they are the hardest working bunch of girls I’ve ever worked with. They deserve everything they’ve got.”
Over the past year, Cowell has removed himself from the internet and social media so he cannot be damaged by near-constant claims and conspiracy theories thrown about.
Addressing the subject, he said: “Look, no one’s more in the spotlight than me. And when the whole [#MeToo] thing happened, I have always had a clear conscience about that. I understand the moral code here.
“I suppose I get frustrated. People can read whatever they like. I do let myself be a bit of a sponge where you get beaten up. With this story, if you hadn’t called, I wouldn’t have said a word.
“All you can do is be transparent. I’ve never hidden anything from you guys, ever.”
Simon was livid when we told him there are internet conspiracy theories about why he teamed up with controversial journalist Mark ­Williams-Thomas — who exposed Jimmy Savile as a paedophile — to work on a TV series.
He replied angrily: “What you just said about a conspiracy about why I hired him, well let’s be clear here — I have a four-year-old son. He is all I care about.
Full story

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Little Mix signed with RCA and Leaves Syco

POP superstars LITTLE MIX have split with mentor and X Factor boss SIMON COWELL after an extraordinary row that is rocking the music industry.

The hit girl group — JESY NELSON, LEIGH-ANNE PINNOCK, JADE THIRLWALL and PERRIE EDWARDS — had grown increasingly frustrated with life at his record label Syco over the past 12 months, culminating in fallouts during the making of new album LM5.

The girls confronted Cowell direct in a strongly worded email, raising issues they had with his label.

Then a bigger row erupted between the group’s management company Modest and Cowell — who decided to cut all ties with the company’s artists, including Little Mix and last year’s X Factor winners RAK-SU.
The two bands will move to the label RCA, which is also part of the wider Sony group like Syco. A spokesman for Cowell confirmed to me: “Syco Music will no longer work with Modest Management and therefore any artists signed to that management company.

“We do, of course, wish all artists affected by this decision every future success. Consequently, LM5, the forthcoming Little Mix album A&R’d and released on Syco Music, is to be serviced by RCA at the request of Syco and Simon Cowell.”

And band member Jesy summed up the discontent within the band by liking an Instagram post written by @littleshadymix which said of the act: “They’re gonna leave Syco and then tell us what s*** Syco put them through.” The unprecedented fallout started over Little Mix voicing upset over their lack of recognition on new hit single Woman Like Me. They wanted an additional writing credit alongside Ed Sheeran, Jess Glynne and songwriter STEVE MAC.

The girls had added lyrics but were not asking for any publishing money.

Cowell got the band the writing credit they wanted, but by that point his relationship with Modest — who also manage the Spice Girls, Olly Murs and Niall Horan — had broken down. Simon’s decision to cut all ties with Little Mix — the band he created on his ITV show in 2011 and the label’s most successful act — is a massive shock on face value. But he insisted that he decided to back the loyal staff members who have worked for his Syco label for a number of years and will support Little Mix by inviting them to perform on the X Factor final.

Meanwhile, sources close to Little Mix say the band had clashed with Syco multiple times during the making of the new Album.


Sunday, October 28, 2018

HDD: Camila, Ariana, Drake and Cardi B to get Album of the Year Grammy nomination

Four albums seemingly can’t miss—Camila Cabello’s Camila, Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy, Drake’s Scorpion and Ariana Grande’s Sweetener.
Cabello left a successful group, Fifth Harmony, and became an even bigger star on her own. How often does that happen? Cabello is vying to become the first woman who became famous in a group or duo to be nominated in this category with her first solo album since Gwen Stefani in 2005.
With her debut album, Cardi B became one of the most successful female rappers in history. Her album hit #1 and spawned a pair of #1 singles. Cardi B is vying to become the third female rapper to be nominated in this category, following Lauryn Hill and Missy Elliott.
Scorpion has yielded three long-running #1 hits, “God’s Plan,” “Nice for What” and “In My Feelings.” A double album, Scorpionwould be the first multi-disc album to be nominated in this category since Vince Gill’s four-CD set These Days in 2007. It would the first multi-disc hip-hop album to be nominated since OutKast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, which won 15 years ago. Drake’s last studio album, Views, was nominated in this category two years ago.
Grande has yet to receive a nomination in one of the “Big Four” categories, so she’s overdue. Her album has spawned two Top 10 hits, “No Tears Left to Cry” and “God Is a Woman.”
So what will the nominees be? I’ve arranged my picks here in alphabetical order by artist, just as the Recording Academy will present them on 12/5.
Camila Cabello Camila
Cardi B Invasion of Privacy
Drake Scorpion
Ariana Grande Sweetener
Janelle Monáe Dirty Computer
Kacey Musgraves Golden Hour
Taylor Swift reputation
Various Artists Black Panther: The Album (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Friday, October 26, 2018

EW: 'Britney Spears wanted to be a star': An oral history of '...Baby One More Time'

In 1997, Britney Jean Spears was a high school freshman aching to get out of the quiet stretch of Louisiana that bumps up against Mississippi. The most notable thing about her at the time was one off-Broadway credit and her status as a former Mouseketeer. A year later she would become one of the biggest pop stars in the world, thanks to the strength of her debut single, “…Baby One More Time.” Produced by Max Martin — a failed Swedish glam-metal rocker who was making coffee runs while his mentor, Denniz Pop, was producing “The Sign” and “All That She Wants” for Ace of Base — the song would go on to define early ‘00s pop music.
Twenty years after its release (on Oct. 23, 1998), we take a deep dive into one of the most groundbreaking hits in history.
Jive Records had just started branching out from its stable of R&B acts (they’d recently signed those Backstreet Boys) when a photo of 15-year-old Britney landed at their office.
Barry Weiss, president of Jive Records: Jeff Fenster^ had come into an A&R meeting and shown us a picture of this really pretty young woman on a red and white picnic blanket, almost like a tablecloth from one of those small, local Italian restaurants. It was kind of funny. I think she might have had a dog in the picture as well. Almost like Dorothy from Kansas.
Larry Rudolph, an entertainment lawyer and family friend of the Spearses, brought her into Jive for an audition.
Barry Weiss: She was wearing a black cocktail dress and high heels. She sang live for us: Whitney Houston ballads, Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton. She really was a good singer. She looked amazing. She was like, 15 years old. And we kind of thought, Wow, this is really left of center. There’s no female pop artist out there right now.
John Seabrook, author of The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory: Clive Calder, who was the head of Jive, signed her to a provisional contract. This was a very significant moment in pop history: The signing of Britney Spears as a sort of girl-next-door teenager, rather than as a Whitney Houston-esque diva. One of the calculations there was, Clive Calder was notoriously cheap, and Whitney Houston was notoriously expensive. So Britney Spears seemed like she would be cheap too, because she was just a teenager from Louisiana, and wasn’t demanding in any way.
Star secured, the Jive team needed, well, music. They turned to Swedish producer-songwriter Max Martin, of Cheiron Studios, who had worked with Ace of Base and co-produced some songs on the Backstreet Boys’ self-titled debut album. 
Barry Weiss:  There weren’t many U.S. mainstream pop producers that could do young artists. The pop at the time was very right down the middle. But we were looking for edgier, younger-sounding records. We had an A&R office at Jive in Hilversum, outside Amsterdam. Martin Dodd was our A&R guy, and the Max Martin and Cheiron connection.
Max Martin*: I was in Florida and Jeff [Fenster] asked me to stop by the office in New York to meet this girl while I was in America. She was all dressed up. She was 16. She thought I was a 50-year-old producer from the old school. I had really long hair at the time — I looked like Ozzy Osbourne. It was pretty obvious that she had something, even though she was very quiet and very shy.
Martin went home to Sweden and cranked out a song. But it wasn’t Britney’s… yet.
Max Martin*: I write on the Dictaphone. I came up with the melody first. I wrote the chorus; you just hum it in. Thanks to [my co-producer, Rami Yacoub], that songs sounds the way it does. He is much more urban and R&B than me. I’m more of a melody man. So he’s a big reason that the song turned out the way that it did.
NaNa Hedin, backup vocalist: I remember that I thought the song was for teenagers but the production was filled with a grown-up attitude and with sounds that I really liked. I was so impressed by how a guy like Max and the other writers could write lyrics that got into the hearts and spoke to teenage thinking. It really represented [that] whole generation, not them.
Barry Weiss: Martin Dodd had this demo, which was then called “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” and he sent it into us and said, “This is a song Max had written for TLC, but they didn’t really want to cut the record.” I think Arista wanted Deborah Cox — she was the heir apparent to Whitney, and Clive Davis was really into her. But Max was not down with that… When the song came into us, we thought, let’s cut this with Britney. Let’s send her to Stockholm. The magic that worked with the Backstreet Boys, why wouldn’t it work again for Britney Spears?
Jive sent Britney to Sweden to record her debut album. 
Britney Spears*: I didn’t know what to expect. It was my first time overseas. They had six songs, [and] I had a week.
Max Martin*: She was very well prepared. Since “…Baby One More Time” was the first song, we really didn’t know where to take it. We just kept on recording. We tried a couple of different styles. After a while, I could hear her stomach growl in the microphone. I asked if she was hungry. We’d been going for eight hours. She said, “No, I’m fine.” I said, “Let’s take a break,” and she had three burgers.
John Seabrook: In those days, and maybe this is still true, Max made all the demos himself. He would sing the different harmony parts himself, too. Max has an amazing voice, and very few people have ever actually heard that demo. I did hear it, and Max sounds exactly like Britney, including all the little sounds that sound improvised; the mow-woww sounds. So Britney ended up sounding exactly like Max.
Chris Molanphy, chart analyst and pop critic: The reason why it remains one of the most iconic songs of the 1990s teen pop boomlet is it’s kind of a perfect marriage of song and artist and songwriter. If Max Martin is John Hughes, he found his Molly Ringwald. His muse-vehicle for his particular brand of writing. You can’t picture it being sung by anybody else.
Barry Weiss: I remember when we got it back with Britney on it, she had that “oh BAY-BAY BAY-BAY,” these ad libs. We thought it was really weird at first. It was strange. It was not the way Max wrote it. But it worked! We thought it could be a really good opening salvo for her.
NaNa Hedin: The magic is the attitude. Deep underneath the pop sound it has a sexy rock rebel attitude, from a young schoolgirl and her voice.
There was just one problem: the chorus. Specifically: the “hit me.”
John Seabrook: Before the song came out, nobody in America liked the hook, “hit me baby one more time.” Everybody thought it was some sort of weird allusion to domestic violence or something. But what it really was was the Swedes using English not exactly correctly. What they really wanted to say was, “hit me up on the phone one more time” or something. But at that point, Max’s English wasn’t that great. So it came out sounding a little bit weird in English. But when they tried to get him to change it, he said, “No, it can’t be changed. That’s it.”
Barry Weiss: I actually changed the lyric. I was concerned about going to U.S. radio with a song called “Hit Me Baby One More Time.” I don’t know if I’m proud of this or not: I came up with the “…Baby One More Time.”
With a lead single locked in, it was time to shoot a video.
Barry Weiss: I went immediately to Nigel Dick, the video director. He had done the Backstreet Boys videos “Backstreet’s Back,” [and would later do] “I Want it That Way.”
Nigel Dick, director, “…Baby One More Time” video: Interestingly, a lot of people I worked with at the time told me I should walk away from the project. “She’s an unknown girl. She’s 16 years old. It’s candy-floss pop.” I’d done quite a lot of stuff which was a bit more meaty: Oasis, Guns and Roses, blah, blah, blah. I just thought the song was really, really good.
Barry Weiss: Nigel came up with an idea, like, Britney is in outer space. She comes and lands on Mars on a spaceship, and then she breaks into this dance routine. [Editor’s note: You may recognize this as the video treatment for “Oops! …I Did It Again,” which Dick also directed.] I was like, “Wow, this is great!” And Britney looked at this and said, “This is horrible. No way am I doing this. This is really cheesy. Let me get on the phone with Nigel Dick.”
Nigel Dick: She said, “I want to be in a school with a bunch of cute boys and do some dancing.”
Barry Weiss: Her idea was the whole Grease thing, dancing in the hallway. She gave the kernel of the idea to Nigel, and he came up with the rest.
Nigel Dick: Your initial reaction to this is, I’m being told by a 16-year-old-girl what I should do… [But] this girl is 16 and I’m a grown man; perhaps she has a better perspective on her audience than I do. So I swallowed my pride.
John Seabrook: Britney knew better than the adults what people wanted and I think that’s also significant, because I think the adults began to realize that they didn’t necessarily know what the kids wanted anymore.
Nigel Dick: [Shooting] was very easy. There was no real drama. What I did not know at the time was that, of course, you have this experience with the Mickey Mouse Club. As far as I knew, she was just a schoolgirl from the South. [But] she was very relaxed in front of the camera. She was very, very drilled with her dance routine. I’ve worked with her four times, and I’ve yet to work with somebody who puts in as much preparation, and was as eager to rehearse, as she was.
Every article of clothing in the video was purchased at K-Mart and cost less than $17. An inauspicious beginning for what would become a famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) outfit for the underage performer.
Nigel Dick: I don’t have kids, so my understanding of what teenagers wore was limited to driving home from the office and seeing kids standing by a bus stop. So I suggested they would be wearing jeans and t-shirts and sneakers and would have backpacks, and Britney said, “Well, shouldn’t I be wearing a schoolgirl outfit?” And I was very dubious about this idea. But I was overruled.
Chris Molanphy: I can’t prove this, but, the fact that all female teen pop stars for the next roughly three years had to shoot a video with their belly button bared — Britney made that look iconic.
Vanessa Grigoriadis, reporter, “The Tragedy of Britney Spears”: She said to Rolling Stone, “All I did was tie up my shirt. I didn’t do anything.” And this has always been the question with Britney: Does she know what she’s doing? It was very much on the edge of what was acceptable then.
Nigel Dick: Certainly, my initial reaction was, “Are you sure we should be going down this route with this young lady?” And the people who were in control, the record label and whatnot, said yes, this is the route we want to take.
Britney Spears**: There are so many other teenagers out there that dress more provocatively than I do and no one says anything about them. How can I explain this? I don’t see myself — hand on the Bible — I know I’m not ugly, but I don’t see myself as a sex symbol or this goddess-attractive-beautiful person at all. When I’m on stage, that’s my time to do my thing and go there and be that — and it’s fun. It’s exhilarating just to be something that you’re not. And people tend to believe it.
Nigel Dick: I was kind of aware that some people might feel that that was exploitative. And as it turned out, I got a huge amount of grief about it once the video came out.
John Ivey, President of CHR Programming for iHeartMedia: I was programming Kiss 108 in Boston, so Jack Fader [head of record promotions at Jive] brought her into the station. Here she comes in, little kid, no makeup. You can tell how young she is. But very wise, already. They had just gotten the final edit of the video [on] VHS. We went into this office and I’m sitting there watching it with her, and I’m looking at her, and looking at the video, like, hey, what’s going on here? It showed what was going to happen very quickly. When you see it you’re like, omigosh, this whole schoolgirl thing, it’s a little sexy. But then I’m sitting here and she’s really little, she’s got no makeup on, she’s just a little kid.
Vanessa Grigoriadis: When I was reporting this article, a lot of people said Britney wanted to be sexy. And the people who are managing her, all the guys who were so involved in her image, they were trying to make her look less slutty, basically, was the word somebody used to me. And she wanted to push the boundaries. I think that it’s impossible to know if it’s actually true.
Britney Spears**: I guess it’s because I do have a younger audience that, you know, parents worry about the role model thing…. But when I was younger, I looked up to people, but I never wanted to be them. I always had my own identity. I’m an entertainer when I’m on stage…and they need to explain that to their kids. That’s not my job to do that.
“…Baby One More Time” was released on October 23, 1998. It debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 less than a month later and spent 32 weeks on the charts.
Barry Weiss: We had her a on a mall tour, handing out cassette singles, in the summer and the fall. The video came out pretty simultaneous with the song. It was just an absolute explosion… By November it was just a worldwide phenomenon.
John Ivey: We felt like it was a hit. There’s sometimes you get records, [and you think], I want to play it as soon as I can. I know I wasn’t the only person that felt like that. Most of the time, for a record like that, I said, I’ll start it out at night, see what the kids think, and see what happens before we spread it out to the day. And obviously it became a big monster hit.
The video came out just as MTV combined two existing programs (“MTV Live” and “Total Request”) into the new, Carson Daly-hosted, soon-to-be-pop-phenomenon “Total Request Live.”  
Chris Molanphy: I’m sure if you were 40 and wanted to call TRL, you could. But no one over 20 was calling TRL. So it was this mainline, hooked to your veins, of what teenagers were most obsessed with. And it was either the stuff that made them feel like a hard badass or the stuff that made them swoon. And Britney arrived just as this is beginning. The way she was presented as this schoolgirl gone bad, it had a combination of Swedish pure pop crossed with a little frisson of edge. It could not have been more perfect for the era of TRL.
John Seabrook: MTV had, up to that point, tried to resist mainstream pop, because they wanted to be perceived as cool… But I think with Britney, and the video in particular, and the fact that TRL had launched at around the same time, it really changed MTV.
John Ivey: Britney had the second level. People saw this video and thought, what is this girl? Because everybody latched onto this immediately. It wasn’t very long after that, she was on Rolling Stone.
“…Baby One More Time” didn’t just launch Britney’s career: It kicked off the teen pop boom of the late ‘90s, clearing the way for a fleet of Britney also-rans and boy bands to dominate TRL and the airwaves pretty much until teenagers stopped watching TRL and listening to the radio. It also was the breakout moment for Max Martin, who went on to become one of the most successful, influential pop producers in modern history, and all the Swedish producers who followed. 
Barry Weiss: What it was like was worldwide domination. And the differential with “…Baby One More Time” and why it was such a cataclysmic event, it was the reemergence of pop music.
John Ivey: It would be in the top percentile of singles in the past 25 years. Because it broke her as an artist and what she became. It’s like Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” or Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.” It’s the song that made her Britney Spears.
John Seabrook: It was instrumental in putting Cheiron and Max and Sweden on the map. Other Swedish songmakers got the idea that they didn’t just have to write for Swedes or maybe Brits; they could write for Americans and really tap into that huge market.
Barry Weiss: I mean look, was she involved with writing those songs? Max Martin is a genius, okay? He’s brilliant. He tailor-made those records for her. But she would never have had the career without her vision. She has this innate ability to move the media.
Joe Levy:  The public perception is that this is all created, that the record company created this — the artist, the music, the image. I have to tell you, if the record company could have created more than one Britney Spears, they would have done it, and they tried! And people, Mandy Moore is an actress.
John Ivey: There were a thousand Britney Spears wannabes.
Joe Levy: Britney Spears is someone who, from the time she was a child, wanted to be a star. The drive, the determination, the ambition — you have to give this woman the same sort of respect that Justin Timberlake gets. Otherwise, I’m sorry, but you’re engaging in a double standard.
Twenty years later, “…Baby One More Time” sounds as sharp as it ever did: Sultry, catchy as hell, both totally of its time and like something that could have been released this morning.
John Seabrook: I think the melody is eternal, or at least, transcends its late ‘90s period. And I think the words, the first time you hear it, it’s always going to be something that makes you go, what? Can I say that? Can I sing along with that? 
Barry Weiss: It sounds as good now as it did then. It hasn’t weathered or dated.
Chris Molanphy: The way the song is structured, how the chorus goes to this chorus of voices — the song is structured to deliver maximum pleasure.
John Ivey: There’s some songs that just have a timeless feel. I imagine if you said, “Sing a Britney Spears song to me,” that’s the one people would sing the hook to. That’s what’s ingrained into your mind as what she is. And the thing is, when you look at her, she still looks the same. I mean, she’s older, but you still see the same kid there… When you look at Brit, you still see her. You still see the same girl. And you know, it’s one of those things, I always have the feeling too that people root for her.
^Jeff Fenster stepped down as Warner Bros Records EVP of A&R last December, after he was accused of sexual misconduct by a female former executive 
*From The Billboard Book of No. 1 Hits
**From a 2001 interview with Entertainment Weekly

Monday, October 22, 2018

BLACKPINK signs with Interscope

The foursome is the highest-charting female K-pop act of all time on the Billboard Hot 100.

BLACKPINK is officially in everyone's area.
Billboard has exclusively learned that the K-pop quartet’s Korean company YG Entertainment has teamed up with Interscope Records in a global partnership for BLACKPINK. The talented foursome will be represented by Interscope and Universal Music Group worldwide, outside of Asia.
BLACKPINK’s Square Up album, released in June, debuted at No. 40 on the Billboard 200 chart, while its single “Ddu-Du Ddu-Du” peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 55, the first song by a K-pop girl group to appear on the chart since an English variant of Wonder Girls’ “Nobody” in 2009. As a result, the group -- Jennie, Jisoo, Rosé and Lisa -- is the highest-charting female K-pop act ever on both of the main Billboard charts.
“We will work closely with the biggest music company, Universal Music Group, globally for the successful global debut and promotion of BLACKPINK,” said YG’s chairman and founder Yang Hyun Suk in a statement. “In addition, we will do our best to help other YG artists to break through the North American and European territories as well.”
Yang founded YG Entertainment in 1996 and the label has harbored some of the biggest names in South Korea's music industry, including BIGBANG, 2NE1, Wheesung, Gummy, Psy and many others.
“We are more than thrilled to begin a partnership with UMG and Interscope,” said Teddy Park, YG’s in-house producer, who has shaped much of BLACKPINK’s sound. “Entertainment today is more global than ever. Music and real talent transcends culture, language, and really has no boundaries. Through this partnership we feel we can truly showcase BLACKPINK’s potential on a grander scale and we look forward to what’s to come.”
BLACKPINK is innately a globalized act, with only one member, Jisoo, raised in South Korea: Lisa is Thai, Rosé was born in New Zealand and raised in Australia, and Jennie grew up in New Zealand. The group was formed under YG and debuted in 2016 with the singles “Whistle” and “Boombayah” to great popularity. Despite their historic success over the past two years through the releases of their singles, Square Up is the act’s first EP and they currently have released fewer than 10 songs. This year saw them headline their first arena tour in Japan, which will end with their first dome-sized performance in Osaka in December.
“Chairman Yang has built YG Entertainment into a global music powerhouse with an impressive track record of breaking artists. I’m thrilled to expand our relationship with YG through the addition of BLACKPINK to the Interscope family,” said Sir Lucian Grainge, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group. “We look forward to building upon BLACKPINK’s remarkable early success by putting the global resources and expertise of UMG behind them and growing their audience around the world.”
In the past, YG artists have aimed to break into the U.S, including Se7en, Psy and CL, but haven't been able to achieve longevity in the market. Both of the latter two artists signed with Scooter Braun for Stateside representation, but Psy has since left YG, while CL saw only one song, “Lifted,” break into the Hot 100 in 2016, despite several years of anticipation. She recently reignited hope, however, by sharing a video earlier this year to Instagram with Braun proclaiming that it is "time" for her music to come out.
“BLACKPINK are global superstars in the making,” commented John Janick, chairman and CEO of Interscope Geffen A&M. “The music and visuals are so immediately striking and so different from anything else happening in pop music. We are beyond excited to partner with YG in pursuit of their vision for BLACKPINK world domination.”
BLACKPINK were recently featured on Dua Lipa's "Kiss and Make Up."

Friday, October 19, 2018

Larry Rudolph talks about Las Vegas

There’s good reason why as far back as November 2014 Nevada’s Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak presented Britney Spears with the key to Las Vegas; why every time her manager Larry Rudolph of Maverick Management dines at Vegas’ Koi they tell him his money’s no good because on residency nights business skyrockets; or why Nov. 5 in Sin City is now officially Britney Spears Day. 
It all stems from Britney Spears’ record-setting, four-year Las Vegas “Piece of Me” residency at Axis at Planet Hollywood (now Zappos Theater) which wrapped last year after selling 1 million tickets and grossing $140 million over the course of 250 shows. The run is one of the largest grossing Vegas residencies ever, up there with Celine and Sir Elton. 
Now, after a 2018 sold-out U.S. and European “Piece of Me” tour, Britney’s back. This week, she announced in spectacular fashion “Britney Domination,” her new two-year residency at the larger (5,200-cap) Park Theater at Park MGM Las Vegas and a brand-new production set to launch in February 2019. And it’s all just in time for the 20th anniversary of this iconic artist’s tour de force 1999 album, …Baby One More Time. But for some, there may be far more practical reasons for Britney’s return to a residency.
“The biggest pro to doing a residency is that it’s much easier on my kids,” Spears tells Pollstar. “My kids are my everything, so having a show in one place gives me more time with them. Residencies are also easier on myself and my team. It can get exhausting and can be disorienting when you travel every day – but that’s not to say that it’s not a ton of fun, too.” 
Spears, 36, would know: she’s been touring, recording and churning in the media spotlight her entire adult life while generating a massive career touring gross. According to Pollstar Boxoffice reports, Britney’s generated some $455 million with 442 shows and 6.2 million tickets sold, none of which would have been possible without a certain someone.   BUBBLEGUM POPBUBBLEGUM POPMaverick Management's Larry Rudolph and Britney circa 1999.
“She walked into my office with her family when she was 13 years old,” recalls Larry Rudolph, who managed Britney from 1998 to 2004 and again from 2008 to today. “They played me some VHS tapes, which shows how long ago it was, of her on the new ‘Mickey Mouse Club.’ I didn’t know really anything about it – I’m not talking about Annette Funicello. I thought she had a lot of talent and showed a lot of promise, but she was 13 years old. And if you go back and look at the charts from 1995, you’ll see they were dominated at the time by urban pop. There weren’t any young white females on the pop charts. That had kind of ended a few years earlier with Tiffany.”
A few years later, according to Rudolph, with a pop surge on the charts from the likes of Spice Girls, Hanson and Backstreet Boys in full swing, he felt “the door was wide open for a solo artist.” Rudolph, then a lawyer, brought Spears, who was now 15, to New York with a demo of her singing over a Whitney Houston track along with a leftover Toni Braxton song. He pitched her to the heads of four different record labels, three of which passed, but Jive Records, which was run by Clive Calder – who Rudolph calls “the singular most successful human being who’s ever lived in the music business” and a “business genius” – said yes.
There’s good reason for Rudolph’s hosannas: It was Calder who recognized Rudolph’s managerial talents and told him that, “Even though you don’t think you’re a manager, you’re a manager,” and proceeded to help guide his career. “He would call me up a few times a week,” Rudolph recalls, “and tell me to come up and see him. We’d spend hours and hours together listening to music, going over marketing plans, going over everything related to Britney. He was very committed, as was I.”
In the late-1990s, Rudolph says he was listening to Robyn, the Swedish pop genius whose songs were produced by fellow Swede Max Martin. Calder, it turned out, had Martin’s publishing through Zomba Music Publishing and a ditty he’d written, that was rejected by TLC, called “…Baby One More Time,” remained unrecorded. After something of a bidding war with Rudolph’s friend and then-competitor Simon Cowell, Spears in March 1998 flew to Cheiron Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, to record the song. 
“We put out the ‘…Baby One More Time’ single in September or October of ’98, and then the album in January of ’99, and both were enormously successful.” That might be something of an understatement considering the album sold more than 25 million copies and the massive impact Britney would have on music, culture and the world at large. 
It’s hard to fathom, then, that for her first tour Spears performed at malls across the country with just two back-up dancers. “We were like, if we take Britney to the malls, which is where America lives, and they see her, they’ll connect with her,” Rudolph says. “I remember going to one of these shows at Macy’s Herald Square in New York. We were performing in the middle of the Calvin Klein section and there were underwear racks around us. People were just shopping and not realizing that 10 feet away from them was Britney Spears, who was about to become the biggest star in the world.”  PARKLIFEPhoto courtesy MGMPARKLIFEThe Park Theater at Park MGM will host Britney Spears' just-announced 2019 residency featuring an entirely new show under the creative direction of NappyTabs.
Spears’ first proper tour was opening for *NSYNC’s 1998 tour, which Rudolph described as a “favor.”  But it was on that tour, after the ‘Baby One More Time’ video came out, that everything changed. “All of a sudden she went from unknown to everybody knowing her,” he says. “I saw the change day-to-day but it was almost overnight. You would see it go from 5 percent of the house knowing her, to 15 percent, then one in five, to 50 percent, to 75 percent, to 100 percent. By the end of that little tour, in which she only did three or four songs with no production whatsoever, the album opened at No. 1 and she was a big star on her own. Then we planned for her actual first headlining tour.”
Critics can say whatever they want about Britney Spears’ hit-filled catalog, but what separates her from the pack of pop piffle is her preternatural ability to connect with fans, whether on record, video and especially live. 
“You can teach people to sing, you can teach them to dance, you can write a joke for them to say, but you can’t teach charisma,” says Rob Light, the Head of CAA Music and Britney’s agent for the past seven years. “You either have it or you don’t and Britney Spears has it. Her charisma fills the room to the back wall. She walks out and the way she struts, the whole room is energized. She doesn’t have to say anything or do anything.”
But finding the right milieu for that gift, in this day and age of over-heated touring markets and mega-festival, is no easy feat for an artist of Spears’ caliber in the throes of motherhood yet still in her prime – that’s where Rudolph’s and Light’s expertise and foresight came into play. 
“I had been spending quite a bit of time in Las Vegas and seeing a big transition in the demographic patterns,” says Rudolph, who early on recognized a new, emerging Sin City market. “It was moving away from the traditional middle-aged couple getting dinner, seeing a show, doing a little gambling and going to sleep, and moving towards a much younger person with a very different reason for being in Vegas.”
The pathology for this emergent demo of 20- and 30-somethings, according to Rudolph, was different: They check into the hotel, make a beeline for the pool where they drink, party and listen to DJs; return to their room, order room service (instead of going out to restaurants) and take a disco nap; then wake up at 11 p.m. and club the night away without ever hitting a gaming table. Team Britney’s vision was to break into that pre-clubbing time.  
While identifying an emerging market isn’t easy, harder still is convincing others to invest in your vision. Fortunately, Light, who’s booked Vegas “forever,” with such artists as Bette Midler and Shania Twain, got it right away. “When we were talking about what was the next live move for Britney, Larry – who truly is one of the great managers – and I talked about going to Vegas and what that would look like,” Light recalls. “We reached out to a bunch of properties, and the first responses – and remember it wasn’t like it is today – were lukewarm at best. It certainly didn’t fit the model at the Colosseum, there was no Park Theater, and the only other room was at Planet Hollywood.”
“It was a white elephant,” Rudolph says of the underutilized Planet Hollywood theater, which seated 7,000. “When I walked in there, it was dusty and looked like shit. I basically said, ‘Hey, this looks like it hasn’t been touched in 40 years.’ And they basically said, ‘Well that’s because it hasn’t been touched in 40 years.’ So I said, ‘Alright, the only way we’re going to do this theater and do this new show is if we do get some money for capital improvements.”  IN THE ZONEDenise Truscello / BSLV / Getty Images / Brandcasting, Inc.IN THE ZONEBritney Spears performing her 'Piece Of Me' residency at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on Feb. 26, 2016, in Las Vegas.
Caesars also saw the vision. “The CEO was Gary Loveman, who was a really bright guy,” Light recalls. “He made a bet that this was gonna work and put $20-something million into this theater. 18 months later you couldn’t get a date in the room. It was booked out for two years.”
“We invested heavily into the production,” Rudolph adds, “for a show in a 4,400-seat theater. And we built it the right way. We made it spectacular.” This included having Baz Halpin (whose clients have included Taylor Swift, Pink, Black Sabbath and Katy Perry) as creative and stage director for the show, Marco Morante as the costume designer, and a 360-degree video wall.
Light compares the show to a more historical antecedent. “Think back to Donn Arden’s ‘Jubilee,’ without the showgirls and huge headdresses of the old days,” he says, “but it was taking those big production shows and bringing it into the 21st century for that audience and done just brilliantly.”
“Here’s what I remember about the first night more than anything,” Light continues. “When she came out, everyone stood up, which was unheard of for a Vegas show. It was a party from the second it started. I was surprised because I’m so used to a Vegas audience sitting in their seats and being like, ‘Entertain me.’ It was not that.”
So what do Lady Gaga, Dave Chappelle, Bryce Harper, Danica Patrick, Bobby Flay, Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello, Shania Twain, Nasim Pedrad, Peaches, Jeff Dunham, Jeremy Scott, Julianne Moore, Nuno Bettencourt, Minka Kelly, Melissa Joan Hart, Tamar Braxton, Skrillex, Abby Wambach, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Miss USA Nina Sanchez and the late Florence Henderson have in common? Not much, really, but they were among the million ticket holders clamoring to see Britney’s “Piece of Me” Vegas residency.
“One night I was standing with Britney backstage,” Rudolph recalls, “and I was walking her to the stage, and as I literally said goodbye to her I said, ‘Oh, and Jay-Z and Beyoncé are sitting in the front row.’ She said, ‘No! What!?  tenor.gifWhy didn’t you tell me? I can’t go out there.’ And I go, ‘That’s why I didn’t tell you. I didn’t want you to have time to think about it, now just go out and perform.’ And she was like, ‘You motherfucker,’ with a smile on her face. And then of course, she went out and Jay and Beyoncé are sitting right there. And Dave Chappelle was there that night also. But that’s the way it rolled. Everybody wanted to see it.”
After the close of the show on Dec. 31, 2017, Spears embarked on the “Piece of Me” summer tour for a number of reasons. “Number one,” says Rudolph, “we were done with the show, and she had an entire year off. And she wanted to do something. So we spoke about it. A lot of people on the East Coast and in Europe didn’t get to come see the show. because not everybody has the ability to get on a plane and come to the West Coast.” 
And as CAA’s Light pointed out, the majority of the show was already built. “Think about the cost of just building a stage and rehearsing it,” he says, “that’s a big part of the cost. We didn’t take the exact show from Vegas, you never could because it was built into a theater, but we took a lot of those elements, so the show was built and rehearsed, so the normal costs that get amortized were gone.”
While the tour set records in disparate locales between its trans-Atlantic venues, Rudolph recalls one show in particular: “She loved playing at Radio City,” he says. “And it’s funny, because I reminded her when we got there. ‘You know what happened the last time you were here?’ She said, ‘No, what?’ I said, ‘You kissed Madonna.’ And she started laughing and said, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to say something about that when I go out there.’ And she did and it was really cute. She said something like, ‘Hey everybody, guess what I did last time I was here?’ The audience paused, and she said, ‘I made out with Madonna.’” 
The “Piece of Me” tour set records from the Sands Bethlehem Event Center to Brighton, U.K.’s Preston Park to Göransson Arena, Sweden, where it broke a long-held record held by the Scorpions. The tour is also up for a People’s Choice Award. All of which brings us to her just-announced new residency at the Park Theater, which Team Britney is hard at work putting together.  MISS AMERICAN DREAM, SINCE SHE WAS 17Denise Truscello / BSLV / Getty Images / Brandcasting, Inc.MISS AMERICAN DREAM, SINCE SHE WAS 17Britney Spears performing her 'Piece Of Me' residency at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on Feb. 26, 2016, in Las Vegas.
“We just had our first full session yesterday with NappyTabs for a few hours yesterday morning,” says Rudolph referencing Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo of Funky Monkey Productions, the new residency’s creative directors who not only developed lyrical hip-hop dance but worked on “So You Think You Can Dance,”  “America’s Got Talent,” and Jennifer Lopez’s “All I Have” residency, in addition to other productions. 
“We went through our first draft of creatives, We sat down, spitballed ideas and Britney came up with a million of them. They came up with a million ideas. We have a tentative title, narrative, visuals, set lists and everything right now. But it’s far too early to talk about it. I can tell you this: It’s going to different from the ‘Piece of Me’ show. It’s going to be a little bit more street. A little bit more rhythmic. It’s going to feel a little cooler. But it’s still going to be a classic Britney great hits show. You’ll know every song, the visuals will be incredible, she’ll be at 110 percent in terms of her performance. You’re going to have amazing dancers, costumes, set pieces, video, sound – amazing everything.” 
But beyond all of Spears’ topnotch production values, strong content and universally-lauded performances, the crux of what connects her to legions of fans who flock to Vegas is something far more visceral, personal. “To a huge swath of a generation Britney represents something incredibly important to their lives,” Light says. “Her performance takes them back and makes them feel great. She connects on that level.”