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Ariana Grande Is Loving That Clip of Bad Bunny Singing ‘Break Free’ :

 

Ariana Grande

 

As if Bad Bunny wasn’t charming enough, he had fans swooning with his adorable Carpool Karaoke segment on The Late Late Show With James Corden.

The Puerto Rican superstar and the talk show host drove around Los Angeles singing along with a number of his own hits including “Dakiti,” “Tití Me Pregunto” and “I Like It.” Bunny also jammed along to two covers: Harry Styles‘ “As It Was” and Ariana Grande‘s Zedd collaboration, “Break Free.”

When the 2014 My Everything song began to play, Bad Bunny gets visibly excited, and begins passionately singing along. “This is the English song that I most know the lyrics,” the 29-year-old explained. “I listen to English music, I like it but I never –” he says before hilariously cutting himself off to belt the chorus as loud as he can.

Grande herself saw the clip on Thursday (March 16) and even reposted it to her Instagram Stories, along with a series of crying face emojis. See her post before it disappears.

Elsewhere in the 15-minute video, the hip-hopper also discussed his love of drawing and wrestling. He demonstrated it, at one point enticing Corden into the ring with WWE wrestler Rey Mysterio.

Watch the full Carpool Karaoke segment with Bad Bunny below.

 

 

 

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Post Malone Heads to Trial in Lawsuit Filed By Artist Who Claims He Co-Wrote Smash Hit ‘Circles’

 

Post Malone

 

When musician Tyler Armes first heard Post Malone’s “Circles” in 2019, he claims he immediately texted Dre London, Malone’s manager. In the texts, Armes claimed he had been in the studio on the August 2018 night the song had come together – and that he believed he had played a key role in creating it.

“I was not just someone hanging out in the room,” Armes texted, according to later legal documents. “I was part of the writing process. The entire song (minus the lyrics other than ‘circles’) was laid down that night with the 3 of us in the room together, working together.” A few days later, London allegedly responded: “Just showed Posty the message. He said he remembers. U played a tune on the bass then he played more of it after.”

“Circles” later became a smash hit. The song, “backed by sunny acoustic guitars, swirling percussion and infectious melodies,” reached the top spot on the Hot 100 for three consecutive weeks in November 2019 before ultimately spending 61 weeks on the chart.

 

But now, four years after those texts, Armes and Malone are headed to a Los Angeles federal courthouse this week for a closely-watched jury trial over that fateful night. Expected to feature testimony from the star himself, the trial will pose tricky questions to jurors – about who’s technically in charge during a studio jam session, and who exactly gets the resulting songwriting credits.

Lawyers for Armes say he clearly did enough to own part of the copyright to “Circles,” and that Malone’s “bad faith refusal” to grant him credit has severely harmed his music career. Malone’s lawyers, meanwhile, say the allegations are “utterly baseless” – and that Armes is just the latest plaintiff to “come out of the woodwork” seeking an “unearned windfall” from a hit song.

 

“Significant Contributions”

 

Armes, best known as a member of the Canadian rap rock band Down With Webster, filed his lawsuit in April 2020, seeking a ruling that he was the rightful co-creator of “Circles.” In addition to naming Malone (Austin Richard Post) as a defendant, the lawsuit also named “Circles” collaborator Frank Dukes and Universal Music Group.

In his complaint, Armes claimed he had gone to the studio that night at the urging of Malone’s people, and that Malone at one point had said explicitly: “Let’s write a tune!”

“From approximately 2:00 a.m. on August 8, 2018 until 9:00 a.m. that morning, Armes, Post and Dukes worked together in the studio,” his lawyers wrote in their complaint. “Armes and Dukes co-wrote the chords for the song on the keyboard, and Armes co-wrote and had significant input in the bassline for the song. Armes also had input on the guitar parts in the song, including co-writing the guitar melody which is played in the introduction to the song and which repeats throughout the song.”

 

After the song was released and Armes reached out, he says Malone offered to give him a 5 percent share of the publishing royalties. But when he tried to negotiate for a better deal, he says the star’s people revoked the offer and refused to give him anything.

“Defendants’ refusal to credit Armes … has resulted in significant harm to Armes’ reputation, career and cost him a host of opportunities,” his lawyer wrote. “Songwriters and composers work their entire lives to create a commercially successful and critically acclaimed song like [‘Circles’].”

 

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IFPI Global Report 2023: Music Revenues Climb 9% to $26.2 Billion

globe, headphones

GGlobal music sales rose for the eighth consecutive year in 2022, with recorded music revenues growing in every world market and across almost all formats, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s (IFPI) “Global Music Report 2023.” Total revenues climbed to $26.2 billion, a rise of 9% on the previous year. Although that rate of growth is half 2021’s rise, when revenues were up 18.5% year-on-year, IFPI said it was still the fourth highest growth level the recorded music business has seen this millennium. The leading driver of growth was a 10.3% rise in paid-for streaming subscription revenue, which totaled $12.7 billion last year. IFPI reports there were 589 million users of paid subscription accounts at the end of 2022, up from 523 million in the previous 12 months and 443 million in 2020.

Streaming (including paid subscription and advertising-supported) now accounts for 67% of sales across the music industry, up from 65% in 2021 and 62% in 2020, although rate of growth is slowing. In 2021, streaming revenues rocketed 24% to $16.9 billion. Last year, total revenues streaming revenues increased 11.5% to $17.5 billion. Despite the dominance of streaming, physical music formats continue to be resilient with CD and vinyl revenues increasing for a second consecutive year — albeit at a slower rate than 2021’s 16.1% rise, fueled by a post-pandemic boom in home music purchases — to $4.6 billion, up 4% on the prior year. Within physical music revenues, last year’s growth in CD sales proved to be a fleeting uplift with revenues falling 0.4% in 2022. Vinyl revenues shot up 17.1% (IFPI did not provide revenue numbers for CD or vinyl sales).

In terms of market share, physical accounted for 17.5% of the overall market last year (down from 19.2% in 2021) with Asia generating almost half (49.8%) of all global revenues for physical music sales. Performance rights revenue climbed 8.6% to $2.5 billion, representing 9.4% of global revenues, while sync income was up 22.3% to $0.6 billion, representing 2.4%. Downloads and what IFPI classifies as other (non-streaming) digital formats was once again the only format channel to record a decline, falling 11.7% to $900 million and representing just 3.6% of the global market. As per previous year’s reports, IFPI uses current exchange rates when compiling its Global Music Report, restating all historic local currency values on an annual basis. Market values therefore vary retrospectively as a result of foreign currency movements, says IFPI, which represents more than 8,000 record company members worldwide, including all three major labels, Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group.

Thanks to sustained growth in streaming, global recorded music revenues have now reached their highest level since 1999 — when music sales totaled $22.3 billion – on an absolute dollar basis, not accounting for inflation, reports IFPI. Piracy and declining physical sales saw the market bottom out at $13.1 billion in 2014. “Record companies’ investment and innovation has helped make music even more globally interconnected than ever,” said IFPI chief executive Frances Moore in a statement, accompanying the report. As the music economy grows, however, “so too do the areas in which record companies must work to ensure that the value of the music artists are creating is recognized and returned,” Moore warned. Referring to the ongoing threat of music piracy, she said the challenges for record companies, artists and creators are “becoming increasingly complex as a greater number of actors seek to benefit from music whilst playing no part in investing in and developing it.” Writing in the report’s foreword, Universal Music Group chairman and CEO Sir Lucian Grainge said “to succeed, music’s future must be artist-centric.” He called on the industry to focus on building a “robust, growing and sustainable music ecosystem” in which “creators of all music content, whether in the form of audio or short-form video, are fairly compensated and can therefore thrive for decades to come.”

IFPI’s Global Music Report 2023 Topline Figures: Global music sales up 9% to $26.2 billion Streaming subscription revenues up 10.3% to $12.7 billion Total streaming revenues (including paid and ad-supported) up 11.5% to $17.5 billion Physical revenues up 4% to $4.6 billion Performance rights revenues rise 8.6% to $2.5 billion 589 million paid music subscribers Streaming’s share of global music sales: 67% In terms of world markets, the U.S. retains its number one position with music sales growing 4.8% and exceeding $10 billion in recorded music sales for the first time. Japan holds steady in second place with sales growing 5.4% in 2022. The third and fourth-biggest markets for recorded music remain the United Kingdom (+5.4%) and Germany (+2.2%), respectively. The rest of the top 10 is made up of China (+28.4%), which becomes a top five global market for the first time, France (+7.7%), South Korea, Canada (+8.1%), Brazil (+15.4%) and Australia (+8.1%). IFPI said that music sales were up in all 62 of the global markets it tracks. The organization’s free-to-access report does not provide market-by-market revenue breakdowns. On a regional basis, it was a similar story with revenues from the U.S. and Canada region up 5%, while Latin America – where streaming now accounts for 85.2% of the market — saw growth of 25.9%IFPI’s Global Music Report 2023 Topline Figures: Global music sales up 9% to $26.2 billion Streaming subscription revenues up 10.3% to $12.7 billion Total streaming revenues (including paid and ad-supported) up 11.5% to $17.5 billion Physical revenues up 4% to $4.6 billion Performance rights revenues rise 8.6% to $2.5 billion 589 million paid music subscribers Streaming’s share of global music sales: 67% In terms of world markets, the U.S. retains its number one position with music sales growing 4.8% and exceeding $10 billion in recorded music sales for the first time. Japan holds steady in second place with sales growing 5.4% in 2022. The third and fourth-biggest markets for recorded music remain the United Kingdom (+5.4%) and Germany (+2.2%), respectively. The rest of the top 10 is made up of China (+28.4%), which becomes a top five global market for the first time, France (+7.7%), South Korea, Canada (+8.1%), Brazil (+15.4%) and Australia (+8.1%). IFPI said that music sales were up in all 62 of the global markets it tracks. The organization’s free-to-access report does not provide market-by-market revenue breakdowns. On a regional basis, it was a similar story with revenues from the U.S. and Canada region up 5%, while Latin America – where streaming now accounts for 85.2% of the market — saw growth of 25.9%

The fastest-growing market region in 2022 was Sub-Saharan Africa, which recorded a 34.7% rise in music sales, largely driven by the booming music market in South Africa, where sales were up by more than 30% year-on-year. Revenues in Middle East and North Africa, last year’s fastest growing region, rose by almost 24%, driven almost entirely by streaming, which has 95.5% share of the region’s recorded music market – the highest share for any region worldwide, reports IFPI. Revenues in Europe, the second-largest recorded music region in the world after the U.S. and Canada, grew by 7.5% — compared to the prior year’s growth rate of 15.4% — driven by gains in Europe’s three biggest markets, the U.K., Germany and France. Asia grew by 15.4%, the third consecutive year the region has experienced a double-digit rise in revenue. Overall, revenues from Asia accounted for just under 23% of the global market, reports IFPI. A ‘Tranformation’ In Progress Joining Frances Moore in central London for the report’s launch were senior executives from all three major labels, with Temi Adeniji, president of Warner Music Africa, participating in the event via zoom. A recurring theme discussed by all of the execs was the increasing importance of emerging markets and local repertoire in driving global growth. “We’re noticing as the markets grow, you’re also seeing an abundance of really strong local talent coming through,” said Simon Robson, head of Warner Music Group’s international recorded music operations outside the U.S. and the U.K.

Robson pointed to the burgeoning success Warner Music has had in Middle East and North Africa — where Warner has made a number of recent acquisitions and artist signings – as an example of how local markets are starting to reap the rewards of sustained investment from music companies. Key to Warner’s growth strategy in emerging markets is promoting cross cultural collaborations, said Robson, citing the song “Habibi” by Swedish rapper Ricky Rich, who has Middle Eastern heritage. Robson said Warner produced six remixes of “Habibi” with collaborators from multiple international regions, generating more than 300 million streams worldwide. “It definitely feels like the cultural and commercial axis of the world is starting to shift,” he said. Dennis Kooker, president of global digital business at Sony Music Entertainment, said he believed there was “still a lot of room” for the record business to expand but cautioned that “transformation is knocking on our door.” “The younger generation is ultimately the driver to this transformation… and they are looking for something different and often technology is the enabler,” said Kooker, citing the large number of recent partnerships between labels and video game platforms, such as Roblox and Fortnite, as one example of how the record business is rapidly evolving to meet Gen Z’s needs. “Transformation and disruption often [have] a negative connotation to it,” said Kooker. “We look at it as just the opposite. It creates opportunities for us. It creates opportunities for our artists… And when you think really far out [towards] the metaverse and where it could go, unlocking new creative formats for our artists is exactly where we want to be.”

 

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Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour Outfits: Then and Now

taylor swift

Taylor Swift is taking fans on a trip through each of her albums on The Eras Tour, which launched with back-to-back shows on March 17 and 18 in Glendale, Ariz., and her costumes are part of the journey. As the superstar took the stage at State Farm Arena on the first night, her attention to detail was ever present, as each of her outfits harkened back to a previous tour or live appearance from her 17-year career in the spotlight.

Kicking off with 2019’s Lover, Swift opened the show using a light pink acoustic guitar reminiscent of the instrument she strummed while performing at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards, where she delivered a medley of the title track and “You Need to Calm Down.” To run through early hits such as “Love Story” and “You Belong with Me” from 2008’s Fearless, she brought back her classic style from her sophomore era, donning a gold fringed dress and trading her pink guitar for a sparkly silver edition — the only thing missing was a nod to her famous mane of teenage curls. When it came time to revisit Reputation, Tay resurrected the popular snake motif from the era (long live Karyn!), channeling her aesthetic from “Look What You Made Me Do” in a dark, asymmetrical body suit covered in glittering red serpents. And while only one song from 2010’s Speak Now was featured on the opening night’s setlist (an extended edition of deep cut “Enchanted”), the singer changed into a fairytale-like ball gown fit for a princess.

During the part of the setlist dedicated to 2012’s Red, Swift showed off a new version of the T-shirt she wore in the music video for “22” — this time emblazoned with her famously cryptic phrase “Not a lot going on at the moment.” And perhaps the most major set change during the show occurred as she welcomed the audience into the Folklorian woods of her surprise 2020 album by recreating a version of the moss-covered cabin she called home to perform a medley of “Cardigan,” “August” and Evermore lead single “Willow” at the 2021 Grammys with collaborators Jack Antonoff and Aaron Dessner. The final fashion reference on the tour came when Swift went back to 1989 by changing into a crop top and short skirt, just like the many she wore back in the day with her squad. Click through the gallery below to check out the looks from Taylor’s Eras Tour as well as their counterparts from earlier eras in her career.

Taylor Swift

‘Lover’ Era Left: Taylor at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center on Aug. 26, 2019, in Newark, N.J. Right: Performing during the opening night of The Eras Tour at State Farm Stadium on March 17, 2023, in Swift City, ERAzona (Glendale, Ariz.). The city was ceremonially renamed to Swift City for March 17-18 in honor of her tour.

Taylor Swift

‘Reputation’ Era Left: Performing on stage during her Reputation Stadium Tour at Croke Park on June 15, 2018, in Dublin, Ireland. Right: Performs during The Eras Tour at State Farm Stadium on March 18, 2023 in Swift City, ERAzona (Glendale, Ariz.).

Taylor Swift

‘1989’ Era Left: Performing during The 1989 World Tour at Tokyo Dome on May 5, 2015, in Tokyo. Right: Performing during the opening night of The Eras Tour at State Farm Stadium on March 17, 2023, in Swift City, ERAzona.

Taylor Swift

‘Folklore’ & ‘Evermore’ Eras Left: Performing for the 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards on March 14, 2021. Right: Performing for the opening night of The Eras Tour at State Farm Stadium on March 17, 2023, in Swift City, ERAzona.

Taylor Swift

‘Fearless’ Era Left: Performing during the Fearless Tour at Madison Square Garden on Aug. 27, 2009, in New York City. Right: Performing for the opening night of The Eras Tour at State Farm Stadium on March 17, 2023, in Swift City, ERAzona.

Taylor Swift

‘Speak Now’ Era Left: Performing during the Speak Now World Tour at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 22, 2011, in New York City. Right: Performing for the opening night of The Eras Tour at State Farm Stadium on March 17, 2023, in Swift City, ERAzona.

Taylor Swift

‘Red’ Era Left: Performing for a sold-out crowd on The RED Tour at Cowboys Stadium on May 25, 2013, in Arlington, Texas. Right: Performing for the opening night of The Eras Tour at State Farm Stadium on March 17, 2023, in Swift City, ERAzona.

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Sony Music Nashville’s Arista Imprint Shutters: Randy Goodman Explains Why (Exclusive)

Old Dominion

Sny Music Nashville (SMN) has shuttered its Arista imprint, shifting the artist roster to SMN’s Columbia and RCA labels. Old Dominion and Megan Moroney move to Columbia while Nate Smith goes to RCA. The other artists on Arista — including Brooks & Dunn, Ryan Hurd, Seaforth, Morgan Wade and Adam Doleac — will be reassigned when they have projects headed to radio. No acts are being dropped. Country Aircheck broke the news of Sony dissolving Arista Thursday morning (March 23). The move does not affect Arista’s pop imprint, run out of New York by David Massey. In an exclusive interview, SMN CEO/chairman Randy Goodman tells Billboard the move was to realign better with radio’s needs.

“RCA, Columbia and Arista are really imprint names that we use for three different promotion teams because that gives you multiple calendars. We’re now targeting our approach to radio to be more strategic,” Goodman says. That means bringing songs to radio that already have a story in terms of fan engagement and at digital service providers, so they don’t “languish in overnights” at radio, he continued. “What we said to radio is, ‘Give us dayparts immediately,’ and if it works, great. If it doesn’t, then we’ll move on because we’re going to be moving on things quicker in the DSP landscape as well. So based upon our more targeted approach, we just felt like this was a more efficient way to do it.” Goodman has been vocal about the tremendous amount of time, expense and manpower it takes for songs to climb the country airplay chart, with some tunes taking as long as 52 weeks to reach No. 1. “That’s not a model that is an efficient or effective artist development model and so we thought, ‘How do we approach this with a better model in mind?’” he says. “Let’s not go to radio until we know we’ve got something that we can go to the major chains with and show them there is momentum and there is a reason other than us just saying, ‘We want you to play it.’” Goodman stressed that SMN will not be sending fewer songs to radio and that the realignment strengthens Columbia and RCA by increasing the number of regionals on each team by one. In the restructuring, Arista’s senior director of promotion and artist development, Lyndsay Church, has left the company. Ali O’Connell, director of promotion and artist development, is moving to RCA, as is specialist/promotion & artist development Amy Menz. Nicole Walden, former RCA specialist/promotion & artist development, moves to the national team. Lisa Owen, also an Arista director of promotion and artist development, shifts to Columbia. Steve Hodges, SMN executive vp of promotion and artist development, called the managers of the artists on Arista’s roster on Wednesday to give them the news. In addition to his other duties, Hodges has been running Arista Nashvhille since Chris Schuler left his post as vp of promotion at the imprint in November after a seven-month stint at the label. The moves come as SMN is having a banner year at radio. So far in 2023, Smith’s “Whiskey On You,” Kane Brown and Katelyn Brown’s “Thank God,” and Luke Combs’ “Going, Going, Gone,” have reached the top of Billboard’s Country Airplay chart, with both “Whiskey” and “Going” spending two weeks at the summit. Goodman adds that the move is really business as usual. “Our job is artist development, our job is to break new artists, our job is to expand careers of the artists that have already broken through,” Goodman says. “And so, in this new world as things continue to change, we’re constantly evaluating what’s the best way to do that.” The move comes a week after Miranda Lambert announced she was leaving SMN, her home for 20 years. Goodman declined to comment on her departure other than to “wish her well.”

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Madonna Adds Nashville Tour Date and Calls Out Anti-LGBTQ+ State Laws: Don’t ‘F With a Drag Queen’

Madonna

Pop icon Madonna won’t allow a troubling trend of state legislation targeting the LGBTQ+ community impede her career-spanning Celebration Tour, announcing plans to perform in Nashville just weeks after Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a law restricting drag shows in the Volunteer State. Tennessee Senate Bill 3 creates a new felony offense for anyone engaging in an “adult cabaret performance” on public property or in any location where the performance “could be viewed by a person who is not an adult.” In announcing her plans to perform at the Bridgestone Arena on Dec. 22 — one of nine new shows added to the sellout tour that now stretches to 80 dates across North America and Europe — Madonna and tour opener Caldwell Tidicue, who performs as Bob the Drag Queen, seem prepared to confront and possibly break the law. Maybe.

Madonna addressed the issue in a press release announcing the Nashville show, among others. “The oppression of the LGBTQ+ is not only unacceptable and inhumane; it’s creating an unsafe environment; it makes America a dangerous place for our most vulnerable citizens, especially trans women of color,” she said. “Also, these so-called laws to protect our children are unfounded and pathetic. Anyone with half a brain knows not to f–k with a drag queen. Bob and I will see you from the stage in Nashville where we will celebrate the beauty that is the queer community.” Madonna noted that there are over 100 anti-LGBTQ+ bills currently making their way through various state legislatures around the country, with the longtime activist committing to donating a portion of proceeds from her to show to support trans rights organizations.

Madonna has performed in Nashville just once as part of a major tour — in 2016 on the Rebel Heart trek, selling out the Bridgestone Arena and grossing $1.5 million, according to Billboard Boxscore. Besides the new Music City show, Madonna also announced two new dates on the East Coast, a new run of shows in California and tour stops in Las Vegas and Phoenix. The Celebration Tour has sold out over 40 shows and counting across Toronto, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris and more. Citi cardmembers and fan club members will have access to presale tickets for the new dates starting tomorrow at noon local time through Thursday at 6pm local time. The general on sale for most of the shows starts on Friday (March 31) at 10am local time on Madonna’s website, while the Philadelphia date goes on sale at noon. Fans can also purchase VIP Packages, which may include premium tickets, behind the scenes tours, group photos on-stage, a pre-show reception and more. New Dates for The Celebration Tour Dec. 18 Washington, DC Capital One Arena Dec. 20 Philadelphia, PA Wells Fargo Center – On Sale at 12pm Local Time 03/31 Dec. 22 Nashville, TN Bridgestone Arena Jan. 7 2024 Los Angeles, CA Kia Forum Jan. 8 2024 Los Angeles, CA Kia Forum Jan. 11 2024 Palm Springs, CA Acrisure Arena Jan. 13 2024 Sacramento, CA Golden 1 Center Jan. 15 2024 San Francisco, CA Chase Center Jan. 18, 2024 Las Vegas, NV MGM Grand Garden Arena Jan. 20, 2024 Phoenix, AZ Footprint Center.

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Why There’s ‘No Limitation’ to Growth of Latin Touring in the U.S.

Rauw Alejandro performs during his Saturno World Tour 2023 at Miami-Dade Arena on March 11, 2023 in Miami, Florida.

Rauw Alejandro sold out two in-the-round shows at Miami-Dade Arena March 11-12, moving over 30,000 tickets and more than doubling his 2022 ticket sales at the same venue, according to Billboard Boxscore. The feat highlights North America’s growing Latin touring market as an increasing number of acts across genres tour more cities, play bigger venues and sell more tickets. The top 25 Latin tours of 2019 grossed $251.3 million and sold 2.8 million tickets, while the top 25 Latin tours of 2022 grossed $990.8 million and sold 8 million tickets (based on Boxscore’s reporting period of Nov. 1, 2021-Oct. 31, 2022). Bad Bunny, who grossed $373.5 million during that time, obviously did some heavy lifting, but he’s far from the only force driving the boom. Six Latin tours in 2022 out-grossed the top Latin tour of 2019. And even if those six tours were removed from the top 25 tally, 2022’s numbers would still beat 2019’s. “There’s no limitation when you look at Latin,” says Hans Schafer, senior vp of Latin touring for Live Nation. “You see high-demand artists who can command high-demand tickets. You see other artists who are coming in and are offering accessible ticket prices, and people are paying them. Latin is also seeing more non-Latin fans come to their shows versus other genres.”

Likewise, concert promoters who were once only marginally interested in Latin touring, if at all, are now embracing it. Case in point: Nashville-based Outback Presents, which is entering the Latin market for the first time by partnering with Rauw’s manager, Eric Duars, and his live-entertainment arm, Duars Live, to promote Rauw’s U.S. tour. The embrace of Latin extends to the highest echelons of the American concert industry: Coachella, long a bellwether for broader live-sector trends, booked its first Latin headliner this year in Bad Bunny, and its lineup features several prominent and rising Latin acts, from newcomer DannyLux to veterans Los Fabulosos Cadillacs. “Latin is more mainstream now,” says CAA agent Bruno del Granado, whose client list includes Luis Fonsi and Gloria Estefan. “Everybody wants to be in Latin, not just the small mom-and-pop promoters.” Regional Mexican music, for example, was for many years the realm of indie regional promoters. But it’s now being eyed by the likes of Live Nation, which last year presented massive tours by Los Bukis and is currently producing outings by Pepe Aguilar and Alejandro Fernández. “That music is crossing over into other communities in a way we’ve never seen before,” says Schafer. Independent promoters see it, too. Pedro Zamora, founder of Michigan-based Zamora Entertainment, typically presents 500-600 shows each year, including club dates and casinos. This year, it will likely be between 700 and 800 shows, including arena tours by Los Tigres Del Norte and Los Temerarios, acts who a decade ago were playing festivals and rodeos. “The population has grown, and those fans are older. They’re more affluent, and they want to go to theaters or arenas,” says Zamora. Younger fans are also flocking to arenas to see new acts like Rauw. In 2021, the Puerto Rican star was playing clubs in secondary markets like the Carolinas and Connecticut, a strategic decision that was made so he could develop stage chops and open markets. By the end of 2021, he was doing arenas. Now he’s in the midst of an 80-plus-date tour (including a 34-city U.S. leg) where the smallest venue is an 8,000-seat theater in Brazil. “This is summer camp for everyone,” says Duars of the learning curve. “We want this to be amazing.”

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Why Apple’s Classical Streaming Service Is a Good Sign for the Music Subscription Business

Apple Music Classic

EEven if classical music made up just 1% of U.S. music consumption in 2022, according to Luminate, Apple’s new streaming service dedicated to the genre could mean big things for the subscription market. Global recorded-music revenue rose for the eighth straight year in 2022 — but markets are maturing, and the once high-flying growth rate fell to single digits. That doesn’t mean the music subscription business is getting stale, though. In fact, there are plenty of new ideas and much-needed innovations that can help push the streaming market forward.

The latest, and one of the best, examples of how the music business can build a better mousetrap is Apple Music Classical. Apple wanted to better serve classical music fans but realized the best path was to break away from the Apple Music subscription app that works fine for every other genre. So it built Apple Music Classical, a standalone app for Apple’s iOS devices — the Android app will arrive later — that launched on March 29 to some rave reviews (GQ called it “a ton of fun”). Classical music has always been a second-class citizen in digital music because of the way its metadata — information about the recording — is organized. For most genres, describing music by artist, track and album is an adequate way to arrange a massive number of recordings. Download stores and streaming services are built around this classification system. But since the advent of iTunes and download purchases, people have recognized that classical music doesn’t fit well in the standard metadata system. Classical music is better organized by such categories as conductor, orchestra and movement. This could help explain why classical music accounted for 2.7% of U.S. digital album sales but just 0.8% of on-demand streams in the United States last year, according to Luminate. “It’s the works-based nature of classical,” says Dart Music founder Chris McMurtry, now a vp at Pex, a digital music rights company. “That’s why Apple had to build a separate app.” McMurtry addressed that problem at Dart Music, a digital distributor that focused on classical music and built a database with metadata fields better suited for the genre.

Apple wasn’t the first company to see an opportunity in classical music. Dart Music launched in 2015 to tackle the metadata angle (Haawk acquired its assets in 2017), and classical-focused streaming isn’t new, either. Idagio debuted in 2015. Primephonic launched in 2019, and Apple acquired it in 2021. Universal Music Group’s Deutsche Grammophon imprint debuted its own service, Stage+, in 2022. But Apple’s entry into the classical music streaming market could be the most impactful to date. Apple has billions of customers around the globe and an increasingly successful services business that includes the Apple Music subscription app and Apple TV+, a streaming video-on-demand platform. Those cloud-based services, combined with Apple’s bread-and-butter business of selling smartphones and laptops, give the company the resources and marketing might to activate a passionate group of music aficionados that has been underserved by streaming platforms better suited for rock, pop and hip-hop. “It exceeded my expectations,” says McMurtry, who looked up well-known names and obscure composers to appreciate the app’s level of detail. He says he was impressed by the depth of metadata — the producers, engineers, mixers, other contributors, year of the recording and even the composers’ birth and death years. “It’s a very educational experience.” If Apple Music Classical can hook McMurtry, maybe it can lure more people into the music subscription market. In 2022, there were 92 million subscribers to streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube Music, according to the RIAA. In total, 214 million Americans — 75% of the population 12 and older — streamed music in the past month, according to a January survey by Edison Research. Younger consumers were far more likely to stream music than older listeners, however, with 53% of people over the age of 55 having done so compared to 89% of 12- to 34-year-olds and 85% of 35- to 54-year-olds. A good classical music app can help narrow that sizable gap, attract more subscribers and generate more subscription revenue.

Going after classical music fans makes financial sense, too. For starters, they’re plentiful, says Russ Crupnick, partner at market research firm MusicWatch. “By comparison, they are somewhat larger than the entire population of vinyl buyers,” he says. As older consumers, they can afford a standalone classical music app: Crupnick says classical music fans’ mean income is 35% higher than average. They’re also twice as likely to purchase expensive, audiophile stereo equipment. When asked if obtaining the highest-quality sound format is important, 64% of classical music fans said yes, and 54% are willing to pay more to get it. Fortunately for them, Apple Music Classical is free for Apple Music subscribers. “It will be interesting to see whether Apple eventually adds fees to monetize the service or subsidizes it, as they have higher-resolution audio,” says Crupnick. There’s great potential outside of the United States, too. Apple Music Classical will eventually be available in three strong markets for classical music: Japan, China and South Korea. In China, the fifth-largest recorded-music market in 2022, according to IFPI, classical music has been a phenomenon since the Cultural Revolution. Gramophone magazine described it as a “gargantuan market for the consumption of recorded classical music even if only as a study aid or as a residue of having Mozart and Beethoven sonatas tinkling through the family home.” The digital market has performed incredibly well without a mass-appeal offering tailored for classical music fans. Record labels generated $16.9 billion from streaming in 2022 while mostly ignoring an important subset of the market. With Apple Music Classical, Idagio and Stage+ super-serving classical music fans, there’s potential to do better.

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Why Can’t Music Fix Its Fake Streams Problem?

According to one estimate, more than $1 billion in royalties could be lost to streaming fraud worldwide. But the industry has yet to form a united approach.

Market, Streaming Fraud

IIn May 2022, the German Music Industry Association (BVMI) set its sights on “curbing streaming manipulation and streaming fraud.” These issues are “a central concern” for the music business, the organization wrote in a confidential document reviewed by Billboard, due to their “distortion of the chart ranking and/or influencing of royalty payments.” As a result, BVMI issued a call for proposals to “establish a ‘Fraud Detection System.’ ” Related discussions have been taking place around the music industry recently. In January, the French government published what appears to be the first-ever national analysis of streaming fraud. In the United States, the outline of a fraud-mitigation proposal is circulating among several distributors, publishers and streaming platforms, while the annual Music Biz conference in Nashville in May will feature not one but three panels on the topic.

Why all the sudden attention on this issue? The Centre National de la Musique (CNM), an organization that operates under France’s Ministry of Culture, found that 1% to 3% of streams in the country were fraudulent in 2021. If those numbers were to hold true for the worldwide music market — which IFPI valued at $17.5 billion in 2022 — that would mean approximately $175 million to $525 million of streaming royalties could be being hijacked globally. Some think that’s on the low end. The streaming service Deezer has said that 7% of streams on the platform are fraudulent — and that’s just what it identifies. Beatdapp, a Vancouver-based company that builds fraud detection software for labels, distributors and streaming services all over the world, estimates that around 10% of global streams are fraudulent; while some of this activity is caught, that could mean that over $1 billion in royalties ends up in the wrong pockets. “Nobody’s immune” to streaming fraud, says Christine Barnum, chief revenue officer at the distributor CD Baby. “So people are finally having the realization, ‘Yeah, this is a problem.’ ” “It’s just very common,” adds one indie-label head who has “definitely bought” streams. “People are really worried about optics — ‘I need to have at least a million streams on a song,’ whatever the bar is that they’re trying to hit to make it look a certain way. There’s so much pressure.”

“Streaming fraud” is a rangy term that can encompass a variety of behaviors. These include uploading an unauthorized remix of a viral single, boosting play counts by streaming music through a hacked Spotify account or creating a bot network to drive streams to a pop hit (for chart purposes) or a white noise recording (for royalties). (CNM’s study found that 80% of fraud was detected in streaming’s “long tail,” meaning it had little to do with the charts.) The unifying thread across these activities: They can siphon money from the royalty pool. For most streaming services, dollars from ads and subscriptions are lumped together and then distributed to rights holders according to their share of total plays. “If the demand for certain titles is increased due to streaming manipulation,” BVMI’s document explains, “other rights holders automatically receive lower royalty payments.” Or, as Barnum puts it, fraud is “ruining it for the genuine artists who deserve to be accurately compensated for their listens. That’s being diluted.” Some fraud is similar to old-fashioned music piracy, like uploading an unsanctioned version of an artist’s work to Spotify — or even just a duplicate under an alternate name — and claiming royalties from the resulting streams. With both piracy and fraud, “artists and anyone that makes their living from music have the potential to suffer real economic loss,” says Morgan Hayduk, co-founder/co-CEO of Beatdapp.

But while piracy in the file-trading and CD-burning era of the 2000s stemmed from “consumer demand for lower costs and more choice,” streaming fraud is “primarily driven by the profit motivations of nonconsumer enterprises seeking to extract revenue from the digital music industry,” Hayduk continues. “They leverage the same tools used for other types of online fraud, like stolen account credentials and bots. This isn’t a consumer-led phenomenon — it’s a reflection of the ease with which digital platforms can be manipulated for specific commercial gain.” Sure enough, CNM’s report lamented that “fraud seems to be getting easier and easier to commit.” “In the beginning, fraud came mostly from unknown artists trying to get visibility, increased promotion or maybe a record or distribution contract,” says Ludovic Pouilly, senior vp of institutional and music industry relations at Deezer. “Right now, streaming fraud is more sophisticated and increasingly harder to detect, and we can see activity for the music of artists on all levels.” Meaning both that bad actors are diverting streams from major artists and it’s no longer simply unknown artists using bots to get visibility. Currently, most efforts to combat fraud take place within individual organizations — whether that’s a streaming service or a distributor — which try to detect suspicious activity before it can affect payouts. In addition, IFPI has had some success taking legal action against streaming fraud sites in Germany and Brazil. But fraud persists, which might be why there’s a growing realization that if the music industry really wants to prevent hundreds of millions of dollars from slipping out a side door, it may need a more comprehensive, cooperative approach. That said, there’s no consensus yet on what that might look like. In a statement to Billboard, BVMI said, “We are currently working on a tool to find artificial streams,” calling it a “work in progress.”

Louis Posen, founder of Hopeless Records, is an advocate for third-party oversight. “Currently, security is on a [digital service provider] by DSP level,” he says. “I think we need a monitoring, prevention, detection, mitigation and enforcement system at the level of the financial industry — both a third-party company that can monitor all the services as well as a department at each service with full resources.” A senior executive at a major label doesn’t agree. “I’d really like to believe it’s not necessary, because it adds cost to the ecosystem,” the executive says. “Between the DSPs, the labels and the distribution side of our business, there are ways to solve this: having strong technology and technology controls, having strong rules and policies [around fraud] and adding consequences when you violate those.” While the major labels either declined to speak about this issue on the record or did not respond to requests for comment, the senior executive notes that “we have concern over any level of fraud that happens in any of the platforms.” In 2019, the majors were among those that signed a code of conduct condemning streaming fraud, though the document was not legally binding, so it’s hard to tell the extent of its impact. The disagreement about the best ways to combat fraud were evident in the CNM report. The study was hamstrung by several streaming services — Apple Music, YouTube and Amazon — declining to share information about fraud on their platforms, seemingly content to handle the issue internally. Those three platforms are estimated to account for a little over 35% of global streaming subscriptions; CNM was forced to perform its analysis without a complete view of the French streaming market. Barnum maintains that “a global problem is going to take a global solution.” For now, she’s at least heartened by the fact that more people are willing to acknowledge streaming fraud’s existence: “I’m no longer a weirdo on the corner saying, ‘I think there’s a problem.’ ”

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Jelly Roll Keeps Winning After CMT Music Awards With Big ‘Son of a Sinner’ and ‘Need a Favor’ Gains

 

Jelly Roll

 

Welcome to Billboard Pro’s Trending Up column, where we take a closer look at the songs, artists, curiosities and trends that have caught the music industry’s attention. Some have come out of nowhere, others have taken months to catch on, and all of them could become ubiquitous in the blink of a TikTok clip. 
 
This week: a rising star’s breakout night at the CMT Music Awards leads to major sales and streams spikes, a couple of late-20th-century favorites get the Ted Lasso bump, and a genre-blending teenage singer-songwriter officially becomes a TikTok phenomenon.

 

Unquestionably one of the biggest winners at the CMT Music Awards on Sunday night (April 2) was genre-blurring country singer-songwriter-rapper Jelly Roll. Not only did the artist born Jason DeFord take home three trophies on the evening — for digital-first performance of the year, male breakthrough video of the year and male video of the year, all for breakout hit “Son of a Sinner” — but he also gave one of the night’s most arresting performances (of the gospel-touched “Need a Favor”) and generally charmed folks in the crowd and at home with his exuberance and sincerity.

Unsurprisingly, both “Sinner” and “Favor” have reaped the benefits from Jelly Roll’s big evening in Austin. “Sinner,” which peaked at No. 31 on the Billboard Hot 100 last October, notched 950,000 official on-demand U.S. streams on April 3 (the day after the awards) — a 27% rise over his April 2 tally, according to Luminate — and also sold a combined 3,300 copies over April 2-3, a 740% gain over his combined total the previous two days. “Favor,” which has yet to reach the Hot 100 but ranks at No. 32 on Country Airplay chart this week, saw even greater gains — rising 49% in streams to 640,000 on April 3 and selling over 5,500 between April 2-3, up 848% from the two prior days combined.

Award shows don’t always have the commercial impact in 2023 that they might have enjoyed in earlier decades, but if Jelly Roll’s upcoming project — Whitsitt Chapel, currently scheduled for release this June on BBR Music Group — does even better than his last (2021’s Ballads of the Broken), these CMT Awards can likely be pointed to as a big reason why. — ANDREW UNTERBERGER

 

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The Case For — and Against — Higher Streaming Subscription Prices

Market, Streaming Subscription Rates

WWith some high-flying markets falling to single-digit recorded-music revenue growth in 2022, there are rising expectations that Spotify will follow Apple Music and Amazon Music and raise the price of its individual plans in the United States and other major markets. Last year, growth in U.S. music subscription revenue fell to 7.2%, down from 22.2% in 2021, according to the RIAA. It was the lowest annual rate since the subscription market grew just 2.9% in 2010 — a year before Spotify launched in the United States and transformed a business that depended on downloads to one ruled by streaming. With subscriptions now accounting for 57.9% of U.S. recorded music revenue, overall revenue growth slowed to 6.1% from 23.2% the prior year. A similar scene played out in the United Kingdom and France, the world’s third- and sixth-largest recorded-music markets, respectively; growth of paid-subscription revenue dropped from 13% to 4.8% in the United Kingdom, according to the BPI, and from 15% to 11.4% in France, according to SNEP, France’s record industry trade group.

The sudden slowdown could have a number of causes. Most markets stayed healthy in 2021 as the pandemic boosted music subscription services. But there’s increased competition in the attention economy: SNEP suggests TikTok is at least partially responsible for the softer growth. SNEP’s 2022 annual report revealed that 77% of 16- to 24-year-olds say they discover a lot of new artists on TikTok, and 45% of this group now spend more time on the app — which is not monetized well — than on music services such as Spotify. The industry’s 2023 revenue will get a boost from price hikes by Apple Music, Amazon Music and Deezer in the United States and other major markets of about $2 on family plans and $1 on individual plans. But the industry could get even more: Spotify, the largest subscription service, raised prices on family plans in the United States in 2021 but has kept the individual plan at $9.99 since the platform launched in the United States in 2011. Raising rates will create new revenue for rights holders, creators and digital services just as growth is slowing in many major markets. Barclays estimates that a 10% price bump by all subscription services would increase the earnings per share of Universal Music Group by 13% and add 400 million euros ($430 million) of revenue and 240 million euros ($258 million) of gross margin annually. Barclays believes the same price increase would improve Warner Music Group’s earnings per share by 21% and add $256 million of revenue and $158 million of gross margin. JPMorgan Chase analysts said in a March 8 report that a Spotify price increase for U.S. individual plans — expected “in the coming months” — would create incremental annual revenue of about $200 million.

WMG CEO Robert Kyncl, a former YouTube executive, pointed out at a Morgan Stanley conference on March 8 that the price of YouTube TV doubled “because they have a superior product,” while music subscription prices have barely budged. “That doesn’t seem right,” he said. “I’m amazed we’re paying the same today as we did for Rhapsody in 2003,” says MusicWatch managing partner Russ Crupnick about one of the first music subscription products. Rhapsody cost $9.95 per month in 2003. Adjusted for inflation, that’s equal to $16.25 today — 63% above what Spotify is charging and 48% more than Amazon Music and Apple Music’s recently increased individual rates. After Rhapsody, most on-demand subscription services adhered to the $9.99 monthly fee: Sony’s Music Unlimited, Rdio, SoundCloud Go, Pandora Premium and Spotify, among others. One notable exception was Microsoft’s Zune, which launched in 2006 at $14.99 per month. Spotify, for its part, seems confident its product could withstand a broad price increase. “We obviously know our competitors have raised prices, and we think we have a better product than most of our competitors,” Spotify CFO Paul Vogel said at the Morgan Stanley conference. “So if our competitors are able to raise prices, and we think we have the best product in the business, it obviously bodes well for our ability over time for pricing.” But Spotify also takes the stance that keeping rates low is good for business. As CEO Daniel Ek explained in a Jan. 31 earnings call, Spotify has two strategies to choose from: grow the number of subscribers or increase the revenue per subscriber. Generally, “our approach when we’re early in a market is to try to grow the number of participants” by maintaining “a competitive price,” Ek said. Over time, he added, more of the revenue growth “comes from price increases” as the market matures. But because it operates in 184 markets, Spotify doesn’t have a single approach. “In some markets,” Ek said, “we’re mostly focused on growth.”

In a healthy economy, music services appeared flat-footed, while on-demand streaming video services seemed to be making the right decisions: They had differentiated services that attracted subscribers with exclusive content and raised prices as consumer demand strengthened. The onset of the coronavirus pandemic was a boom for streaming services. Suddenly, people had more time to stay at home, and they spent much of it online. Netflix subscriptions ballooned 27.3% in the second half of 2020. Also that year, the company raised the price of its standard U.S. plan by $1 to $13.99. In 2022, it went up $1.50 to $15.49. Spotify may have been fortunate not to raise its standard plan prices. In the wake of global supply chain problems and persistent inflation, consumers are increasingly price-sensitive. In the short term, Spotify could have bought itself some goodwill. “It can make a case that it’s helping consumers through a downturn,” says MIDiA Research’s Mark Mulligan. Over the long term, however, music subscription services’ unwillingness to raise their rates could put them at a disadvantage to their video peers. “Basically, streaming music waited so long to change prices,” says Mulligan, that “a whole generation expects these prices.”

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Behind the Biggest Vinyl Sales Week of Lana Del Rey’s Career

GARY KELLY

TThis week, Lana Del Rey released her ninth straight top 10 album on the Billboard 200, with Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd debuting at No. 3 on the chart. But it was the manner of that debut that caught the eye: of the 115,000 equivalent album units the record racked up in its first week, 58,500 units were vinyl — the biggest vinyl sales week of the year so far and the best of her career, with it also available on CD and cassette. And the remainder of the sum equated to some 36.14 million on-demand streams, the biggest streaming week of her career, to boot.

That success was no accident: the singer has always sold well at the vinyl format, according to her label Interscope Geffen A&M, and the label and her management team at TAP prioritized the format, as well as the other sales variants, in order to have them available the day the album came out, resulting in the big sales week. And that strategy helps earn Interscope Geffen A&M chief revenue officer and global head of streaming and strategy Gary Kelly earn the title of Billboard’s Executive of the Week. Here, Kelly breaks down what went into the big vinyl and sales week for Lana Del Rey, as well as how that major streaming activity helped play into the overall success of the album. “We always like to begin with what the demands of the fans are,” Kelly says. “This is what you see here, so every music product we created was based on our insights for what the fans would want to own.” This week, Lana Del Rey’s Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 with 115,000 equivalent album units, with vinyl making up 58,500 units — the best vinyl sales week of the year so far and best of her career. What key decision did you make to help make that happen? Lana has been at the forefront of the vinyl resurgence, so our strategy was based on years of historical data and her overall growth with the Gen Z audience, who we know love vinyl to listen to and also to show their fandom. The Interscope revenue team worked closely with [her management team] Ben [Mawson], Ed [Millett] and Wendy [Ong] at TAP Management to ensure the album was delivered in time to ensure we had the master and the packaging in time to deliver for street date.

The album had six vinyl variants, with several exclusives available in different stores. How did you develop that strategy and how did you see it pay off? On previous releases we had productive campaigns with partners like Target, indie retail, Amazon and Urban Outfitters. We looked at that historical data to determine the best path for Lana’s new project. Have production delays for vinyl gotten easier, or does it still require long lead times? And how did you navigate that? The supply chain issues that we experienced at the height of the pandemic are improving and we were able to manage inventory to ensure that we had plenty of the vinyl. Long lead times however still exist, but Universal Music Logistics has done a good job turning around reorders quickly. That helped tremendously, as some of the initial allocations sold out and we had to re-run additional inventory that arrived in time for street date. That would not have been possible in 2021 or 2022. The album was also released through nine different CD variants, and also five different cassette versions. Why lean so much into those formats? We always like to begin with what the demands of the fans are. This is what you see here, so every music product we created was based on our insights for what the fans would want to own.

The debut also marked the biggest streaming week in Lana Del Rey’s career. How did the streaming and sales strategies dovetail and feed off each other? Lana having the largest streaming week of her career is tied to her making a brilliant album. She is a true artist and she pushes boundaries with every new project. New fans and audiences are catching up to her. That said, we look at streaming and sales audiences as having overlap, so when we launched the preorder and first single in December, we were driving pre-sales, but also driving fans to listen on the DSPs. We had Lana in our Santa Monica recording studios in January and while listening to the album, there was a general feel from the marketing, digital and revenue teams that “A&W” would be the ideal song to release to further connect the streaming audience and pre-sales. It worked perfectly as the song reacted incredibly well with fans across the world and drove a substantial number of preorders. In fact, preorders jumped around 20%, which is unusual given that we had already amassed thousands of preorders because they had been available for almost three months by that point. The album also reached No. 1 in the U.K., Australia and several other countries around the world. What was the global strategy with regards to this release? We worked with Ben Mortimer, Stephen Hallows and the rest of the Polydor team to craft an in-depth global strategy with the UMG teams across the world. The Interscope international team did a great job working with the local affiliates to ensure the best plans were in place and executed. The results show how deeply connected we were with all of them between DSP campaigns, physical partner campaigns along with our direct relationship with fans across the world with our D2C strategy.

Do you see the future of physical sales as being more merch item or niche consumer product? Most of the physical music products are built for segments of the fans that want to own something from their favorite artist to show off their fandom. That said, I do not see these as niche as much as reflective of what these fans want. Will those tastes change in the coming years? That most likely will be the case and we will want to adjust what we, and the artist, create to match fan interests and preferences.

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