Music Companies Thinking Twice About IPOs, Spinoffs in Current Coronavirus Market

Stock market volatility sparked by fears over the novel coronavirus has caused music companies to pause their plans on Wall Street. Warner Music Group has postponed — or is not rushing to — its planned initial public stock offering, while Madison Square Garden Entertainment faces uncertainty for the spinoff of its entertainment division from its sports division.

Over a harrowing two weeks filled with news of increasing cases of COVID-19 infections and deaths around the globe, the S&P 500 dropped as much as 11.5% and closed Friday (March 6) down 10.9%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq, home of Apple and Amazon, closed Friday off 10.5%. It’s a dangerous environment to woo investors more worried about a potential pandemic’s economic consequences.

“Typically when volatility spikes, the first casualty is the IPO market,” said Josef Schuster, founder of POX, a manger of the underlying strategy index for stock market funds focused on IPOs and spinoffs. Only one company went through with an IPO in the last two weeks, GFL Environmental Inc, a Canadian waste management company. GFL set the IPO below its original target and raised $1.4 billion, although the share price ended the day down 12%.

Now there are 70 companies behind the IPO bottleneck and two companies canceled planned IPOs this week, according to MarketwatchHeavily anticipated IPOs by tech companies such as Airbnb, CloudFlare, and food delivery services Postmates, DoorDash and InstaCart are in doubt. It’s an undesirable but practical decision — companies get only once chance to make a first impression. A company a better valuation and larger capital raise than jittery investors after the markets calm. Waiting until the proper time can mean an extra dollar or two per share on a sale of tens of thousands of shares.

Warner Music Group isn’t having its IPO during the upheavel, but Schuster notes the music company is a different breed than many others planning to go public and that might be reflected in demand for shares. “Warner is kind of a re-IPO, not the most exciting deal around,” he says. “It’s been public before. It’s more like a private equity deal” where the firms behind a leveraged buy-out use an IPO to cash out of their investment.

Warner’s IPO might lack the appeal of a high-growth tech company, but 10% annual growth — both for Warner and the global market — should grab investors’ attention. (Warner’s revenue in calendar year 2019 rose 10% to $5.73 billion with net income of $376 million.) Meanwhile, young, disruptive companies like DoorDash, Instacart and Postmates are bleeding money while battling for share of a nascent but potentially huge market for in-home food delivery.

After the record business’ tumultuous ride the past decade, a music company owner can’t be blamed for locking in profits when business is at a high. And up until a week and a half ago, the timing seemed right: a roaring stock market and a growing record business has rekindled investors’ interest in record labels. Universal Music Group is seizing the moment and selling a 10% stake to Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings for $11 billion at a $33 billion valuation. (Parent company Vivendi is planning for an IPO for Universal Music Group in 2023.) Likewise, Warner’s owner, Access Industries, and other shareholders eyed an opportunity to cash out after global music’s rebound from record-low revenues in 2015.

Billboard estimates Warner is worth $15 billion to $16 billion, up to 365% above the $3.3 billion Access Industries paid in 2011.

Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited, a British publishing company listed on the London Stock Exchange, has not changed its consideration of another equity offering, a company spokesperson told Billboard. Hipgnosis has raised about $800 million since its IPO in July 2018 and quickly acquired catalogs of songwriter and producer Jack Antonoff; Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics; producers Timbaland, The Dream and The Chainsmokers; Snow Patrol keyboardist Johnny McDaid, and many more. If the market recovers, a publishing company with predictable returns from a growing industry should have no problem raising more money.

Market turbulence also affects a spinoff, where one company splits into two distinct companies in an all-stock, non-cash transaction. The spinoff company might worry that shareholders will immediately sell their new shares and cause the price to drop, according to Schuster. Madison Square Garden Entertainment plans to complete a spinoff of its entertainment businesses from the sports division by the end of March, creating a pure-play sports company and a concerts and live events company. Apparently the timeline remains intact: In a press release Friday MSG said it “is continuing to make important progress” on the spinoff but didn’t indicate a date change.

Fortunately for Warner, its revenue depends little on music fans’ willingness to gather in public. Recorded music sales are decreasingly dependent on brick-and-mortar sales of CDs and LPs. Instead, royalties come from subscription and ad-supported streaming. In contrast, Live Nation, a business built on providing music fans out-of-home experiences, has lost $4.6 billion of its market capitalization on a 29.6% decline in its share price.

Out-of-home companies’ stocks have been battered — even with Wednesday’s respite — by worries consumers will stop traveling and limit their time in public. From Feb. 21, the beginning of the COVID-19-related downturn, to Friday’s close, MSG’s share price dropped 20.7%.

Companies that depend on travel and leisure have fared worse. Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruise companies are down an average of 38.6% from Feb. 21 and, because of their early COVID-19 issues, 50.5% year to date. Hotel companies Hyatt, Marriott and Hilton have dropped an average of 22.0%. Airline companies American, Delta and United and Southwest are down an average 28.9%.

How long will the IPO and spinoff window remain closed? The markets didn’t improve when the Federal Reserve cut interest rates by half a percentage point, or when strong employment numbers were announced. There has been chatter that Airbnb may postpone its IPO until 2021. Then on Friday came news J. Crew is considering alternatives to the IPO of its Madewell brand. Until the IPO window opens, IPO hopefuls are humming an early Tom Petty hit: “The waiting is the hardest part.”


‘Holy Sh*t Moment’: Twitter Reacts to SXSW Cancellation

For the first time in it’s 34-year history, Austin’s SXSW festival was forced to cancel on Friday (March 6). Due to the growing threat of coronavirus, Austin Mayor Steve Adler and city officials declared a local disaster in the city and announced the cancellation of one of music’s biggest annual events.

“Based on the recommendation of our public health officer and our director of public health, and after consultation with the city manager, I have gone ahead and declared a local disaster in the city. And associated with that, have issued an order that effectively cancels SXSW for this year,” Adler said at a press conference earlier this afternoon.

The festival was set to kick off in a week with screenings, showcases and panels scheduled between March 13-22.

The long-running annual event has grown to provide roughly $350 million in revenue for the city of Austin every year and its cancellation was met with varying degrees of humor and concern for the all the independent artists and venues impacted by the decision.

Below are a mix of some of the first reactions to the news.


World Intellectual Property Organization Nominates New Director General

The coordination committee of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has nominated Daren Tang of Singapore to be its next director general, it was announced Wednesday. The WIPO general assembly will meet on May 7-8 to confirm the nomination.

Tang beat out five other candidates for the nomination, which came after two rounds of voting by the coordinating committee. In the final round, Tang triumphed over China’s Binying Wang, who received 28 votes versus Tang’s 55. The committee is comprised of a total of 83 member states.

Tang, who currently serves as chief executive of Singapore’s Intellectual Property Office, will take over from current director general Francis Gurry of Australia when his term ends on Sept. 30.

In a statement, RIAA chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier congratulated Tang on the nomination.

“Copyright protection and enforcement is a critical driver of global job growth, economic development, culture and trade, and WIPO plays a critical role in assuring the world’s creators are granted exclusive rights to their property,” said Glazier. “It is vital to the music community that creators receive fair value for their work and music fans have access to legitimate content. We look forward to working with Mr. Tang on this essential mission.”

Also celebrating Tang’s nomination was U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, who wrote that Tang’s election “is good news for the global economy” and that he “understands the importance of intellectual property rights to inventors, artists, entrepreneurs, companies, and all those whose livelihoods depend on their creative genius.”

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo weighed in as well, calling Tang “an effective advocate for protecting intellectual property, a vocal proponent of transparency and institutional integrity, and a leader who can unify WIPO member states by forging consensus on difficult issues.”

WIPO was established in 1967 to promote IP protection on a global scale. The current membership of the Geneva-based organization includes 193 member states.


Here Are the Lyrics to Jack Harlow’s ‘Whats Poppin’

Jack Harlow is popping on the Billboard Hot 100 with his career-first entry “Whats Poppin.”

And he makes his come-up known in the song’s accompanying visual directed by Lyrical Lemonade’s Cole Bennett, who serves up a casual diner flick featuring Harlow’s fine dining experience with a flock of pretty women, to the whole restaurant’s dismay.

Check out the lyrics and music video below.

What’s poppin’? (Pooh, you a fool for this one)
Brand new whip just hopped in (just hopped in)
I got options (oh Lord, Jetson made another one)
I could pass that bi— like Stockton (it ain’t nothin’)
Just joshin’
I’ma spend this holiday locked in (ooh)
My body got rid of them toxins (mmh, mmh)
Sportscenter, top ten

I could put the ball in the end zone
Put a bad bi— in the friendzone, ooh
This sh– sound like an intro
Jetson, give me that tempo, ooh
Told Pooh he a fool with this sh– (he a fool)
Told her don’t let her friends know (don’t)
In the ‘Ville and I move like a don (don)
Eating fettuccine at Vincenzo’s
Me and my ‘migos got that free smoke
On the West Coast, yeah, I’m talking ’bout pre-rolls (pre-roll)
Dark haired bi— and she look like Shego (she do)
Hometown hero, feeling myself, can’t murder my ego (can’t do it)
She heard of my deep stroke
She said, “Babe, does it hurt when I deep throat?” (It does)
Certified freak h–, hang around us and she learnin’ my lingo
Back then, wasn’t worried ’bout me though
In the gym tryna work on my free throw, godda–
Spending money at the club like Sam’s (cha-ching)
Yes, ma’am
She a lil’ freak on cam (that’s facts)
But she don’t put this on the ‘Gram (nah)
Lil’ boys tryna diss on the ‘Gram (ay)
I can’t switch on the fam (bi—)
Sh–‘s hot, hit the switch on the fan (hit that sh–)

This where my head is (listen)
I feel resentment from every direction
Even some homies be wearing expressions
I be discouraged from sharing my blessings (da–)
We used to share a connection
Now it just feels like it’s wearing and stretching
I’m getting real sick of taking advice
From people that never could stare at reflections
Somewhere in there is a lesson
Y’all ain’t evolvin’, it’s very depressing
I’m at the club with the basketball team
Me and the Cardinals are sharing a section (facts)
Gotta cherish the present
I’m drinking water and wearing protection
Got a career and I’m very invested
Some people call it a scary obsession (ooh, period, but)
I like to call it a passion
I can’t be sitting relaxin’ (nah, I can’t)
PG, we getting some traction
I’m at the venue, it’s packed in (packed out)
I’m digging her accent
I got a B.B. Simon belt on me and she tryna get it unfastened
That’s my type of distraction, that’s my type and she Latin (that’s facts, ooh)
Got my own flow and I’m ’bout to get a patent
Brand new sheets for the bed, they satin (soft, real soft)
Y’all wasn’t tuned in back then (nah)
My swag, they keep jackin’ (keep on jackin’)
I ain’t doin’ no verse, quit askin’ (quit askin’)

What’s poppin’? (Pooh, you a fool for this one)
Brand new whip just hopped in (just hopped in)
I got options
I could pass that bi— like Stockton (it ain’t nothin’)
Just joshin’
I’ma spend this holiday locked in (ooh)
My body got rid of them toxins (mmh, mmh)
Sportscenter, top ten

Lyrics licensed & provided by LyricFind

Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

Written by: Darryl Clemons, Jack Harlow, Tahj Morgan

Here Are the Lyrics to Pop Smoke’s ‘Dior’

Pop Smoke continues to make his posthumous climb on the Billboard Hot 100 after he was killed during a home invasion on Feb. 19, as his designer-branded hit “Dior” ascends to No. 30 this week (chart dated March 7).

“Dior” is the late Brooklyn drill rapper’s first posthumous hit and his highest-charting Hot 100 hit. The song is rich with name-brand name drops as he boasts about the finer things in life he can buy.

Check out the lavish lyrics below.

(Trap House Mob)
Huh, roll another one (aha, ha ha)

Said I’m never lackin’, always pistol packing
With them automatics, we gon’ send him to heaven
Wait, wait, wait, wait, aye, aye, woo (aw, sh–), huh (ha ha)
Oh you feelin’ sturdy, huh? (you feelin’ sturdy, man)
Shake some
Shake it huh, shake it huh, shake it huh

She like the way that I dance
She like the way that I move
She like the way that I rock
She like the way that I woo
And she let it clap for a n—a
(She let it clap for a n—a)
And she throw it back for a n—a
(Yeah, she throw it back for a n—a)
Mike Amiri, Mike Amiri
Billie Jean, Billie Jean uh)
Christian Dior, Dior
I’m up in all the stores
When it rains, it pours
She like the way I (err)
Mike Amiri, Mike Amiri
Billie Jean, Billie Jean (uh)
Christian Dior, Dior
I’m up in all the stores
When it rains, it pours
She like the way I (err)

When I walk in the spot, thirty on me
Buy out the club, n—as know that I’m paid
Bi—, I’m a thot, get me lit
I can’t f— with these n—as ’cause n—as is gay
All on my page suckin’ di–
All in my comments and screamin’ my name
While I’m in the club
throwin’ them hundreds and fifties and ones and ones
Pop Smoke, they know I’m wildin’
If I’m on the island, I’m snatchin’ the cell
Brody got locked, denied his bail
Until he free, I’m raisin’ hell
Tell my shooters call me FaceTime
For all the times we had to face time
Free D-Nice, he doin’ state time
If you need the glizzy, you could take mine
Please don’t come out your mouth, you know I’m like that
I’ll make a movie like TNT
Glock-30 on me, ask who really want it
I bet I air it like BNB
Nappy Blue wildin’ in my section
And I keep that .38 for the weapon
Remember when I came home from corrections
All the bad bi—es in my direction

She like the way that I dance
She like the way that I move
She like the way that I rock
She like the way that I woo
And she let it clap for a n—a
(She let it clap for a n—a)
And she throw it back for a n—a
(Yeah, she throw it back for a n—a)
Mike Amiri, Mike Amiri
Billie Jean, Billie Jean (uh)
Christian Dior, Dior
I’m up in all the stores
When it rains, it pours
She like the way I (err)
Mike Amiri, Mike Amiri
Billie Jean, Billie Jean (uh)
Christian Dior, Dior
I’m up in all the stores
When it rains, it pours
She like the way I (err)

Lyrics licensed & provided by LyricFind

Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

Written by: Andre Michael Loblack, Bashar Jackson

Every Song From Lil Uzi Vert’s ‘Eternal Atake,’ Ranked: Critic’s Picks

The day is finally here. Lil Uzi Vert dropped off his highly anticipated Eternal Atake album Friday morning (March 6). The years-in-the-making project hit streaming services without any warning from Uzi, as most fans expected the LP to arrive next week.

The Philly native has been deeply entrenched in label issues with Generation Now, but with the help of Roc Nation, Eternal Atake is now available for public consumption. Uzi welcomes listeners to his universe with 18 tracks spanning just over an hour.

EA is kept mostly feature-free, outside of an appearance from Syd on “Urgency.” The album’s pair of singles, “Futsal Shuffle 2020″ and the Backstreet Boys-interpolating “That Way,” appear as bonus tracks to close out the sophomore effort.

After traveling to Pluto on Uzi’s spaceship, here are all of Eternal Atake’s tracks, ranked.

18. “Secure the Bag”

The ominous “Secure the Bag” doesn’t seem to fit in amongst the rest of EA. The only “Secure the Bag” from Uzi’s catalog we recognize is 1017 vs The World’s collaboration with Gucci Mane.

17. “Silly Watch”

“Silly Watch” was repeatedly teased as “40 Glock” when Uzi fan pages got their hands on the viral snippet. Either way, the piano-driven production doesn’t pop enough to stand out from the best Uzi’s sophomore effort has to offer.

16. “Bust Me”

Uzi links up with Bugz Ronin once again on the production side. The “Money Longer” rapper gets candid about a few experiences he’s had with love. He ends the chorus with a thought about his looks, “And when you got this type of money, you are never ugly.” The most memorable part of the record comes at the tail-end in the form of a cinematic skit, as Uzi departs from the alternate world of Eternal Atake.

15. “Homecoming”

Don’t let him fool you, Lil Uzi Vert pays attention to the sports world more than you think. Whether it was name-dropping former NFL running back T.J. Duckett on “Money Mitch” or bringing up the drama that forced Lakers star Anthony Davis from New Orleans to Los Angeles here, Uzi shrewdly tosses in a sports reference to perk your ears up every now and then. “Homecoming” serves as a sharp closer to Uzi leaving his Baby Pluto persona.

14. “Celebration Station”

The happy vibes continue into track No. 8 of EA. Can’t you just see Uzi hitting them with the shoulders to this uptempo production? Part of his genius is being able to blend the hip-hop world with the dance community together at one party.

13. “Prices”

Uzi already thanked Travis Scott for clearing the criminally underrated “way back” sample earlier this week, and the faint cashmere cat horns showed up in “Prices.” He warbles about his lavish lifestyle and designer crave with his “price” going through the roof. Uzi even carves out his own nursery rhyme on the exuberant second verse, “Hickory, dickory, dock, VVS all in my clock.”

12. “Bigger Than Life”

Built around tinny guitar strings and thumping 808s, Uzi calls on a roaring choir we’d hear from Kanye West’s Sunday Service, which creates a more chaotic environment than most could handle, but the 25-year-old impressively keeps his cool and holds the record together with ease.

11. “Venetia”

Fans that grew up on Luv is Rage Uzi are going to attach themselves to “Venetia.” The frenetic beat sounds like Uzi’s speeding away in a race — quite possibly still running from Nardwuar. After explaining that he’s from outer space, the 25-year-old rapper’s supreme confidence bleeds through, as he has no doubt that he can turn a gay girl straight if he wanted to.

10. “I’m Sorry”

The transition into his “Kenji” persona. Uzi pens a bubbly apology record to his ex-girlfriend. He opens up to show a more affectionate side, which tugs at your heartstrings at the same rate as one of his darker desolate ballads piercing your soul.

9. “Urgency” Featuring Syd

A serene opening instrumental that will put you at peace even on your darkest days. Syd of The Internet is sprinkled in as the lone feature to make the EA cut. Uzi lusts over a certain lover, but just shy of his three-minute voyage, a ring from a phone call seems to cut everything short and wake him up from the dream scenario.

8. “Chrome Heart Tags”

A hypnotizing beat that will have you slipping into a trance, which is actually produced by Chief Keef under his TURBO alias. Uzi is back to boasting about his coldhearted ways as he rhymes to close out track No. 10, “Yeah, I pick the b—h up, and I made her walk back.”

7. “POP”

When fans happily pressed play on EA this morning, the innovation displayed on “POP” is what the Uzi faithful hoped for. The Playboi carti-esque ad-libs combined with Uzi’s keen sense of lyricism is what makes him a bona fide superstar in rap’s ever-changing landscape.

6. “Lo Mein”

When your Chinese food order could double as the title to one of your Eternal Atake favorites, you know Uzi did something special in the booth. “Up, up, uppity” the Philly native goes, as his rhymes refuse to tire while carrying the track across the finish line. One could say he channeled his inner-Peyton Manning, who he name-drops on the opening verse.

5. “Futsal Shuffle 2020″

Lil Uzi set his Eternal Atake plan in motion with “Futsal Shuffle 2020,” as we couldn’t enter the new decade without some new Uzi. The dance-heavy track was gobbled up by fans and landed in the top 5 on the final Hot 100 chart of 2019.

4. “P2″

A sequel to Lil Uzi Vert’s mammoth “XO TOUR Llif3″ hit from 2017. The 25-year-old implements the same flow utilized in the original, and even touches on the same subject matter of fractured relationships and drowning in his fame. Props to Uzi for facing the daunting task of measuring up against his biggest smash to date, even if it will never top the original.

3. “You Better Move”

An early fan-favorite off the album. Uzi smoothly finds his pocket blanketing a beat that could sound familiar to Windows users, as pointed out by Genius, “You Better Move” samples a twitching effect found in Space Cadet 3D Pinball. The Philly native’s rhymes sound so effortless that he could say he was focused on something totally different in the booth while recording and it would be believable. Also, he gets automatic bonus points for a Yugioh! Blue-Eyes White Dragon reference.

2. “That Way”

Lil Uzi achieved the improbable task of having the Backstreet Boys approve the use of their 1999 hit “I Want It That Way” interpolated into EA’s second single. “That Way” drove the hype for his album into overdrive, if that was even possible, as he channeled the boy-like energy that made his fans fall in love with him during his SoundCloud rise.

1. “Baby Pluto”

Uzi introduces listeners to his Baby Pluto alter-ego and his Eternal Atake universe with album opener “Baby Pluto.” The 25-year-old dubbed the track to be the best he’s created under the newfound alias, and the fiery tune indeed lives up to the hype, which is sure to have you replaying the track a few times before moving into the rest of the project.


Stunna 4 Vegas, DaBaby & Lil Baby Act as Suspected Criminals in ‘DO DAT’ Video

Stunna 4 Vegas released his “DO DAT” music video today (March 6), a comedy-mystery flick about a detective trying to catch the 24-year-old rapper and fellow suspected criminals/featured artists DaBaby and Lil Baby in the act.

But Detective Johnson isn’t so lucky in cracking the code to Stunna 4 Vegas’ unknown source for his copious and quick wealth. When he investigates the North Carolina-bred artist specifically for organized crime and gun distribution, Detective Johnson finds Stunna 4 Vegas secretly holding anti-gun committee meetings in the basement.

Next, he tracks DaBaby, whom he suspects is a prostitution ring leader but finds out is actually a self-defense trainer with expertise on how to “Choke a N—a Out.” With two out of the three suspected rappers off the hook, Detective Johnson goes for Lil Baby, who’s buying and selling marijuana-looking rabbit food. Case closed, but not on DaBaby’s skillful watch.

Even though each rapper wasn’t caught, their fans can catch the Reel Goats-directed music video below.