Olivia Rodrigo Calls Taylor Swift the ‘Kindest Individual’ After Getting a ‘Red’ Ring

It’s been a pretty epic month for Olivia Rodrigo. After her “biggest celebrity crush” Pete Davidson compared her to her idol Taylor Swift in a Saturday Night Live sketch during her birthday week and an earlier “Drivers License” co-sign and sweet letter from Swift based on Olivia’s favorite lyrics from the Evermore track “Long Story Short,” things got even more bananas.

Swift, known for sending thoughtful gifts to friends and fans, gave the High School Musical: The Musical: The Series breakout star another prezzie she will cherish forever. “She is absolutely the kindest individual in the whole world,” Rodrigo told SiriusXM Hits on Wednesday’s (March 3) Morning Mash Up. “Actually last night, like literally like 12 hours ago, I got a package from her with this like handwritten note. And she gave me this ring because she said she wore one just like it when she wrote Red and she wanted me to have one like it and I, and like all of this amazing stuff, she’s like hand-wrapped these gifts.”

Swift has already been incredibly sweet to Rodrigo, 18, like the time recently when “License” slipped in just below a pair of Tay’s songs on the charts and Taylor totally noticed. Rodrigo celebrated on Instagram by writing, “next to Taylor on the us i tunes chart i’m in a puddle of tears,” she wrote, with Swift replying in comment, “I say that’s my baby and I’m really proud.”

Frankly, Olivia just doesn’t know how Taylor does it, telling the Mash Up team, “I truly like don’t understand where she finds the time. First of all. But like also I feel so lucky that I just like was born at the right time to be able to look up to somebody like her. I think she’s incredible. All of her support and like genuine, like compassion and excitement for me is just been so, so surreal.”

Watch Rodrigo talk about the ring below.

With Square’s Tidal Acquisition, New Interim Head Says, ‘We’re Not Trying to Win The Ear’

Financial services company Square announced Thursday (March 4) it is acquiring a majority stake in Tidal, the music streaming service led by Jay-Z and a handful of artists stakeholders including Usher, Madonna and Beyoncé, for $297 million in a mix of cash and stock.

Those artist owners will maintain their stake in the company, but the new interim head of Tidal (once the acquisition closes) will be Jesse Dorogusker, a longtime Square executive and a former engineer at Apple. During his time at Apple, Dorogusker led the accessories division, spearheading the development of the Lightning connector, which is utilized to power the main port for iPhones and iPads. As Square’s hardware lead, Dorogusker led the development of the Square Reader, the tiny, ubiquitous card reader present in coffee shops across the globe.

Billboard sat down with Dorogusker to discuss the acquisition, Tidal’s focus moving forward (“we’re not trying to win the ear,” he says), and how the company will work in concert with Square to expand its audience.

Why Tidal and why now?

Dorogusker: We see a fit and an opportunity at the intersection of music and the economy. And we see a shared purpose that Tidal has in its original founding, and so did Square. I’ve been at the company for close to nine and a half years, and from the beginning we started by finding and fixing the real needs of small businesses, individuals and entrepreneurs. We started with a flower seller, we started with a coffee shop and built a giant financial system that underpins surprisingly big businesses, and layers of software and services on top of that over time. We see that artists are entrepreneurs, and they also are at a crossroads of music and technology and the economy. That’s the conversation that Jack [Dorsey, Square’s CEO] and Jay-Z had to kick this off at the beginning. We see a lot of common purpose between the two companies.

How will Tidal be integrated into Square?

We expect to run Tidal as an independent business. For years, we have been working on ways to foster multiple brands inside our company, which we have done successfully with Square and now with Cash App. I was one of the architects of how we configure all of that so we get the best of independent business and the shared resources and expertise that we have as a company. We’re going to bring in Tidal alongside the other two, keep the brand, invest in the brand, keep the streaming service, keep the management team, keep all the employees and continue on that journey with them.

Square is purchasing a majority stake in Tidal, what does that mean for the current artist stakeholders?

Square purchased a significant majority stake that makes sure that we have the means to run the business, operational control, and Jay-Z and the other founding artists, all of whom started Tidal with him in those early days also stay with a stake that is meaningful. It keeps them in the boat, keeps them involved and we love to have their advice and involvement.

How will you work with those artists stakeholders moving forward?

We’re really looking to them for advice and insight. One of the ways to get to innovation is to deeply know the customer. These artists have lived it, they started with no career and created tremendous careers. They’ve been their own CEOs and developed their own business and struggled through the industry. What we’re trying to do is serve a really big set of artists, bigger than you can even imagine, creating new opportunities for the long tail of working artists, new artists, emerging artists. It isn’t necessarily about just serving the superstars, but really kind of opening the aperture and serving more customers just the way Square did with serving businesses.

The streaming music ecosystem is obviously crowded and very competitive — how do you look at differentiating the Tidal brand in comparison to companies like Spotify and Amazon who have also introduced high-fidelity tiers?

We really like the core values that Tidal has shown by focusing on high-quality audio, having the biggest catalog of master quality audio, even among its peers in the industry. What we can do is build on that with a set of tools — sometimes simple tools, sometimes complex financial systems — that really help artists be more successful, not only in the studio but really looking at their entire career.

Tidal has been a niche service for some time — is the goal to scale it up quickly? How do you look at the future of Tidal?

We think the streaming service is an important part of it, and it is growing and will continue to grow. We love that and we intend to continue to invest in that business, but we’re especially interested in creating new adjacent opportunities in service of the whole artist experience and their experience with their fans in addition to the streaming service. That could be more about creating new markets like Square did in the early days, we were serving customers that were largely underserved and created a market. We see millions of entrepreneurs, artists, musicians in the world who are underserved.

Tidal is currently the subject of a data fraud investigation in Norway, and it has been accused of being late on payments to rights holders multiple times. Was that a major concern going into this deal?

We feel really good about the diligence we did. We asked a lot of questions. We get to the bottom of what we need to. Certainly not going to comment on any investigations that are ongoing, but we feel good about it. Both sides feel really good about signing this deal.

Square hasn’t worked closely with music labels in this capacity, is there any existing relationship with major and independent labels?

We’re going to benefit from the management team that’s coming across. The leadership team on the business and marketing side, the engineering and product development side, and even editorial content, they’re all coming across. These are people who have been working with labels, concert promoters everybody day-to-day, and not just the major labels, but hundreds of labels beyond that. All of those existing relationships continue and I’m looking forward to jumping into it. I think the opportunity to get with not just Jay and the artists, but also Jack Dorsey, will be a new thing to add to that conversation and I can’t wait to do that.

We’ve seen podcasting become an increasingly important focus for streaming services and Tidal was early on it, do you see that continuing to be a priority for the company?

The core of the company is music, a music obsession, and a focus on the musician. To the extent that artists are doing podcasts in service of their business, great, but we’re not looking at audio generally. We’re not trying to win the ear; we’re trying to be committed to music and musicians, and make sure that Tidal continues to be a great place for music, music culture, and artists.

Similarly, Tidal has invested in video over the years. How do you look at that music video catalog moving forward?

We feel really great about the music video catalog we have, and those are just other expressions of what the artist is trying to accomplish, whether it’s the behind-the-scenes stuff we’ve done or some of the live performances and even proprietary content that Tidal has had. But again, in service of the artists, what they’re trying to do, the story they’re trying to tell, not a kind of a generic expansion into video.

What will Jay-Z’s involvement be in the day-to-day operations at Tidal?

We expect Jay to be involved in the company and in Square. Jay Z is joining Square’s board where I expect he will not only have opinions and insights and contributions on Tidal, but across all of Square’s businesses, drawing on his experience as a businessman, as an entrepreneur as a philanthropist. We’re really going to value that opinion from him, and I’m sure I will hear from him in those board meetings as I am always there. And of course, looking for the artist’s perspective — him included, the other shareholders included — we’ll have regular opportunities to talk to them, show them what we’re building and get their feedback, and get involved with other artists as they seek that.

What’s your biggest challenge in leading Tidal forward?

I always think the challenge in product development is to focus and execute well. Where I’ve led as a product development person is in design and experiences because if you can really simplify it, if you can really make a great experience, you can talk to more people. It’s just really simple. If you can simplify a problem, if you can take out a step, if you can save people some time, you can create more integration, you can attract more people, which is what we’re trying to do with this collaboration between Square and Tidal.

Square Is Acquiring a Majority Stake in Tidal for $297M

Financial services giant Square is acquiring a majority stake in Tidal, the music streaming service led by Jay-Z, the companies announced Thursday (March 4).

Square will pay $297 million in a mix of cash and stock for a majority stake in the company, allowing the artist stakeholders who initially partnered with Jay-Z and Tidal to keep ownership stakes as well. Jay-Z will join Square’s board of directors, and Square’s hardware lead Jesse Dorogusker will serve as the interim head of Tidal upon the closing of the deal.

Tidal will operate independently within Square, the company says, and the acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021.

“It comes down to one simple idea: finding new ways for artists to support their work,” Jack Dorsey, Square co-founder and CEO, said in a statement. “New ideas are found at intersections, and we believe there’s a compelling one between music and the economy. I knew Tidal was something special as soon as I experienced it, and it will continue to be the best home for music, musicians, and culture.”

The sale is a coup for Jay-Z, who relaunched the streaming service six years ago after buying Tidal’s Swedish parent company Aspiro for $56 million in 2015. Since its rocky launch at which a handful of the world’s richest artists stood on stage and said they were underpaid for their music — garnering an immediate public backlash — the company has faced a range of challenges, from being sued over claims of false advertising around exclusive releases to a $3 million dispute between the service and artist shareholder Kanye West, who terminated his exclusivity deal with Tidal in 2017. Tidal quickly stopped reporting subscriber numbers publicly, with the service reportedly hovering around 3 million paying subscribers in 2018, compared to Spotify’s 20 million subscribers at the time.

Despite the issues, Tidal was given a lifeline by Sprint (now merged with T-Mobile), when the telecom giant invested $200 million into the streaming service for a 33% stake, valuing the company at $600 million. The influx of cash did not stop Tidal from falling behind on paying its bills, with the streaming service failing to pay rights holders on time in 2018.

“I said from the beginning that Tidal was about more than just streaming music, and six years later, it has remained a platform that supports artists at every point in their careers,” Jay-Z said in a statement. “Artists deserve better tools to assist them in their creative journey. Jack and I have had many discussions about Tidal’s endless possibilities that have made me even more inspired about its future. This shared vision makes me even more excited to join the Square board. This partnership will be a game-changer for many.”

In an interview with Billboard, Dorogusker says Tidal’s focus will be on building out new tools to support artists throughout their careers, alongside Tidal’s core music streaming business, which he says is growing. “We think the streaming service is an important part of it, and it is growing and will continue to grow,” Dorogusker says. “But we’re especially interested in creating new adjacent opportunities in service of the whole artist experience and their experience with their fans in addition to the streaming service. That could be more about creating new markets like Square did in the early days; we were serving customers that were largely underserved and created a market, and we see millions of entrepreneurs, artists, musicians in the world who are underserved.” Potential synergies for Tidal are available with Cash App, Square’s mobile payment service, which could allow fans to pay artists directly for content or merchandise.

Square’s acquisition of Tidal is expected to alleviate concerns around the music industry, as Tidal had once again been behind on payments to multiple rights holders in 2020, according to multiple sources. Square and Tidal will jointly focus on improving the streaming service’s payment structure moving forward. Tidal is also the subject of a data fraud investigation in Norway, on claims that it inflated the number of streams for albums including Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo.

According to Dorogusker, Square is happy with the state of Tidal and did its homework on the company. “We feel really good about the diligence we did,” Dorogusker says. “We asked a lot of questions. We get to the bottom of what we need to certainly not going to comment on any investigations that are ongoing, but we feel good about it. Both sides feel really good about signing this deal.”

Despite the controversy, Tidal has grown in recent years, with revenue jumping 13% in 2019 to $166.9 million, but losses have also increased, jumping from $36 million in 2018 to $55.9 million in 2019, according to financial documents filed by Tidal’s parent company Project Panther Bidco in the U.K. Tidal pointed toward its expanded relationship with Sprint as a source of the improved revenue numbers.

Tidal was also early on prioritizing podcasting and investing in high-fidelity audio, both of which have grown in popularity in recent years, most recently with Amazon and Spotify both rolling out Hi-Fi tiers. “The model Amazon is using now for their higher-priced tier, Jay-Z showed there is an audience there, you have to give him credit for that,” one major label executive told Billboard.

When asked about the future of Tidal’s podcast strategy, Dorogusker said the company will focus on music. “To the extent that artists are doing podcasts in service of their business, great, but we’re not looking at audio generally,” Dorogusker says. “We’re not trying to win the ear, what we’re trying to do is be committed to music and musicians, and make sure that Tidal continues to be a great place for music, music culture, and artists.”

Machine Gun Kelly on Being in a ‘State of Pure Panic’ on Set of Thriller ‘One Way’

Colson Baker — the man also known as musician Machine Gun Kelly — continues to expand his onscreen acting resume with his latest film, the thriller One Way. Baker plays Freddy, who finds himself on a bus headed into the California desert with a potentially fatal wound after a robbery of his former crime boss goes wrong.

Baker’s onscreen father is played by Kevin Bacon, while his daughter is played by Colson’s real-life daughter, Casie. Baker only began his feature acting career a handful of years ago with the 2019 Mötley Crüe biopic The Dirt. He has since appeared across streaming and studio projects, working with directors like Rupert Wyatt (Captive State) and Susanne Bier (Bird Box).

One Way, which is on offer at the European Film Market in Berlin via Highland Film Group, is the second film that Baker has shot during the pandemic — the first being the action western The Last Son, co-starring Thomas JaneBaker took time out of a busy schedule to talk to THR about what he looks for in roles, the decision to cast his daughter in One Way and diving into production the day after performing on Saturday Night Live.

What do you look for in projects?

I think I’ve only really started looking for roles as of last year. The Tommy Lee role [in The Dirt] was something that the second I heard they were making that book into a movie I was relentless, making sure that I was the one who ended up playing Tommy Lee. But other than that a lot of my friends or people I was fans of or I would run into were directors and we would just collaborate. I was really open to their visions. And now is the first time where I’m also incorporating wanting to say something [myself] with the roles that I choose. Spotlighting characteristics that aren’t just reflective of me — being more vulnerable instead of playing versions of me. That’s still really new for me. I feel like I have a long way to go.

What was it about One Way that attracted you to it?

It being in one location, narrowed down to one seat on a bus for the entirety of a movie, was the challenge that turned me on to it. I wanted to do something that pushed me to make something so simple interesting. It was all going to be in the face or in the breathing. But the parts that related to my life ended up coming out more as we were on set, like the way that the character ended up dressing. We are trying to redefine what a modern lead looks like. Before it felt like there was only three ways you could look to be a lead in a movie — the same haircut and the same body types. And my daughter plays my daughter.

How did that happen?

With [the girl] who was originally playing my daughter, we realized I was reading a lot younger on camera to where it didn’t look like it was possible for me to have a teenage daughter. Even though my daughter’s 11, which is almost a teenager. It was such a plot point in the movie, so [we] wanted to make sure the viewer stayed invested. We went through all these different options and I was finally like, ‘My daughter’s coming down to visit me next week. What if my daughter plays my daughter?’ There’s no way the viewer cannot be invested in it when that’s the case.

Had you done a creative project like this with your daughter before?

She grew up seeing me tour and coming on tour with me and that was its own creative process. She would watch how we would design the stage and saw those projects come to life. When those [film] productions are set up, with the cameras and the lighting, and it’s on her to deliver I didn’t even realize the pressure of that until I was sitting behind the monitors, watching [her]. It was almost like I asked a favor of her not realizing that it is a lot of pressure and if she doesn’t connect with what’s going on in front of her, she’s just going to be like, ‘ I can’t do this.’ Then the whole movie can come to a halt. So, to watch her deliver and naturally have this talent, I was like, ‘Wow, I think we might’ve just unlocked something.’ That was a really cool moment.

Did you have time to rehearse ahead of this movie?

I did SNL the night before we started filming this movie. So I was in New York putting all this energy towards doing a great musical performance and then was on a plane and woke up the next day and in this bus. I’d been going hard for like a year with music and then this moment of ecstasy happens with the SNL night and then I just wake up and I’m in this dark bus, bleeding out and going ‘this is going to be life for the next month.’ That natural panic just became the norm on the movie: freaking [and] going, ‘Why are you here?’ Which is exactly what that character should be feeling because that character is in a state of pure panic the whole movie.

Is there a genre or type of movie that you haven’t done yet that you would like to try?

I love the Lucifer graphic novels— can’t stand the TV show— but I always wish they would make a movie out of that brilliant series. But outside of that I just want to do movies that matter. That’s all I give a fuck about now. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Interview edited for length and clarity.

This article originally appeared on The Hollywood Reporter.

Police: OMB Peezy Charged in Shooting on Roddy Ricch Video Set

An Alabama rapper was arrested in connection to a shooting at music video set in downtown Atlanta, authorities said. OMB Peezy was arrested Monday (March 1) and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, news outlets reported.

The shooting happened on Feb. 21 at a scrap yard where rappers Roddy Ricch and 42 Dugg were filming a music video. Atlanta police said two men were wounded in the gunfire. Another man was injured at the scene but it’s unclear whether he was shot. Atlanta police spokesman Officer Anthony Grant said all three men were in stable condition. Neither Roddy or Dugg were wounded.

Another man was arrested at the scene and charged with drug possession, Grant said. The man wasn’t considered a suspect at the shooting. Fulton County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Tracy Flanagan said Peezy, whose real name is LeParis Dade, was taken to the Fulton County Jail, where he remains on a $60,000 bond. Dade must wear an ankle monitor and surrender his passport before he can post bond, Flanagan said.

It’s unclear whether he had an attorney who would comment on his behalf. Peezy, 24, has over 550,000 subscribers on YouTube, where he’s posted music, cooking and advice videos. He’s known for his song “Big Homie,” which has over 32 million views. Ricch assured fans he was okay following the reports of the shooting, tweeting “aint nobody shoot at me… we all good. im juss tryna feed the streets” on Feb. 22.

A day earlier, 42 Dugg also confirmed he was fine via an Instagram Live with Lil Baby. “Y’all stop with that fake s—, man. We ain’t been around no gun shooting, none of that,” he shared. “Real talk, man. We good… Thanks for the love, though. I appreciate the love, though.”

Ashe and Finneas Will Have You California Dreaming With ‘Kimmel’ Performance: Watch

Finneas is a Grammy Award winner, Ashe is a Hot 100 hitmaker. The hot, 20-something artists team up on “Till Forever Falls Apart,” which dropped earlier this week and simply oozes with romance.

On Wednesday night (March 4), the pair performed their duet on Jimmy Kimmel Live, using the backdrop of Malibu to set a stunning scene.

“‘Till Forever Falls Apart’ is one of my favorite songs with one of my favorite people. If I’ve learned anything from ‘Moral of the Story,’ it’s that accepting the hard truth is strangely comforting,” Ashe said in a statement. “This song, while sounding like the most romantic song I’ve ever written, is about acceptance as well.”

The performance clip captures nature – and pop — at its finest.

You’ll be California dreaming after watching. Check it out below.

Nicky Jam and Romeo Santos Give Glowing Performance of ‘Fan de Tus Fotos’ on ‘Fallon’: Watch

Nicky Jam and Romeo Santos recently unleashed another collaborative jam, the hypnotic reggaeton song “Fan de Tus Fotos.”

Billboard got the scoop when the track arrived last month.

It wasn’t their first team-up. Nicky Jam and Santos cut the Daddy Yankee-assisted “Bella Y Sensual” back in 2017, which reached No. 6 on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart early the following year.

On this occasion, Jimmy Fallon got the exclusive when the pair stopped by The Tonight Show on Wednesday (March 3) for a glowing performance of “Fan de Tus Fotos.” Fingers crossed Nicky’s new album with arrive sometime this year, the followup to 2019’s Íntimo.

Check out the late-night performance below.