Sam Hunt’s Long-Awaited ‘Southside’ Album Arrives: Stream It Now

The long wait is over. Sam Hunt’s Southside is here.

The country singer’s new set arrived at midnight, a full six years after the release of his first full-length project, 2014’s Montevallo.

The 12-track LP opens with “2016,” a confessional which details his regrets in a former relationship, and includes nostalgic track “Young Once,” the single “Hard to Forget” and the No. 1 chart hit “Kinfolks.”

Southside is released as an “enhanced” album on Spotify, featuring the story behind the recording, performances and additional content.

Stream both versions below.


Lindsay Lohan Reflects on the Tough Times, But She’s ‘Back to Me’: Stream It Now

Lindsay Lohan is back! The former child star-turned paparazzi target returns with “Back To Me,” her first new music since “Xanax,” featuring Alma, dropped about six months ago.

It’s a chill track with an upbeat club vibe. On it, Lohan confronts her difficult years growing up in the public eye, and how she’s stronger for the experience.

“My life is full of ripped up pages/ I’ve been weak, contagious/ But I’m coming back, I’m coming back to me/ Oh, but I know that everything changes,” she sings.

The former Disney actress has two top 20 albums to her name. Her 2004 debut Speak reached No. 4 on the Billboard 200 back in 2004, and its followup A Little More Personal (Raw) hit No. 20 the following year.

LL has been teasing the new release on her socials, and earlier in the year hinted at that third studio album, details of which haven’t yet come to light.

Her last cut on a major album was a cameo on “Danceophobia,” which appeared on Duran Duran’s 2015 LP Paper Gods.

Stream “Back To Me” below.

Drake’s ‘Toosie Slide’ Is Here: Stream It Now

Drake’s “Toosie Slide” has already been taking over TikTok, with users trying out choreography to a snippet the rapper shared on the platform three days before its release.

Now, on Friday (April 3), the song dropped in full, marking his lead record of 2020 on streaming services.

As you’ve probably already seen on TikTok, Drizzy tells listeners he’ll “show you how to get it,” before instructing, “right foot up, left foot slide, left foot up, right foot slide / Basically I’m sayin’, either way we about to slide / Can’t let this one slide.”

Listen to “Toosie Slide” below.

Carnegie Hall Projects $9M Deficit, Expects Cuts Next Season

Carnegie Hall is projecting a $9 million operating deficit on its $104 million budget after canceling the rest of its season because of the coronavirus pandemic and anticipates making changes to its schedule for 2020-21.

“We’ve obviously sold a lot of tickets for next season, but there’ll be issues like are people from the very beginning going to all come straight back to concerts or will people be a little bit more cautious about large gatherings?” executive director Clive Gillinson said Thursday. “We have no idea what the psychology is going to be around this in every way across society as a whole.”

Gillinson said this will be the first deficit since he joined Carnegie Hall in 2005. The budget was slashed 20% in 2007-08 because of the Great Recession.

Carnegie has canceled all events in its auditoriums through July 25, roughly 30% of this season’s schedule. It has just under 400 full-time employees plus part-time staff and teaching artists. It has not decided whether layoffs will be needed.“We have made all the cuts we possibly can to this year,” Gillinson said. “If something happens this late in a year, there’s obviously much less room to move.”

The Lyric Opera of Chicago also scrapped the remainder of its season and put off scheduled programming for future years.

Carnegie has also called off summer tours for its National Youth Orchestra of the USA, NYO2 and NYO Jazz but hopes to host the musicians and have local events around residencies at suburban Purchase College.

Carnegie will be launching digital offerings featuring artists performing at home and historical concerts. It expects to re-open in mid-September ahead of opening night on Oct. 7 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, music director Gustavo Dudamel, pianist Lang Lang and soprano Liv Redpath.

More than 170 concerts are scheduled, but Gillinson anticipates some will be dropped.

“We’ll almost certainly have to because we won’t be able to afford to do everything,” he said. “But some of those decisions may be made for us because it’s completely possible that a lot of organizations themselves will have significant challenges because of what’s happened. We may find some organizations say we just can’t afford to travel to America next season.”

The Lyric Opera postponed its production of the musical “42nd Street” from May 29-June 21 this year to the spring of 2022, a staging from Paris’ Theatre du Chatelet.

“Blue,” by composer Jeanine Tesori and librettist Tazewell Thompson, was put off from June 16-28 to next January. “Proving Up,” by composer Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek has been postponed from January to a later season.

Coronavirus

Stray Kids Send ‘SKZ2020′ Compilation to World Albums Chart

Stray Kids make their first splashes on the charts this year with a compilation album and a new mixtape track.

The boy band sends their newly-released SKZ2020 album — that includes 24 previously-released tracks recorded with their current eight-member lineup — to No. 14 on Billboard’s World Albums chart. The set, which is Stray Kids’ first greatest hits album, earned 1,000 equivalent album units in the week ending March 26, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data.

SKZ2020 features selections from the group’s entire discography starting from their pre-debut Mixtape record from 2018 (that hit No. 2 on World Albums, the band’s current peak on the chart) up to their most recent LP (last year’s Clé: Levanter which has hit as high as No. 9 so far). As a whole, the 24 tracks on SKZ2020 have collectively earned 114,000 equivalent album units to date.

While SKZ2020 had Stray Kids and their fans reminiscing on the past, the guys also delivered something fresh in their new song “Mixtape : On Track.”

The heartfelt cut about finding the strength to follow your dreams once again debuts at No. 13 on Billboard’s World Digital Song Sales chart to mark the band’s 11th entry on the tally so far. To date, Stray Kids have a No. 2 peak on World Digital Song Sales with “Miroh” from early 2019.

Take a look at the “Mixtape : On Track” music video, with nearly four million views to date, below:

How the Academy of Country Music Switched From an Awards Show to a Unifying Evening Amid a Pandemic

A little over a month ago, the Academy of Country Music Awards were still set to take place in Las Vegas on April 5 for what was billed as “country’s biggest party of the year.”

Then the world came crashing down as the coronavirus pandemic spread across the globe and all live events came to a halt. A party was the last thing on anyone’s mind.

With some nimble thinking by the Academy, producer dick clark productions and CBS, and the major help of technology, the show will still go on Sunday night, but in a different form as ACM Presents: Our Country. The two-hour program, which will air on CBS at 8 p.m. ET, will feature more than 20 country artists—many of whom were already slated to appear on the ACM Awards —performing from their homes.

Among those appearing include Kelsea Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, Kane Brown & John Legend, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Luke Combs, Florida Georgia Line, Miranda Lambert, Thomas Rhett, Blake Shelton & Gwen Stefani, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban (who was slated to host). Additionally, the special, hosted by Gayle King, will honor the late Kenny Rogers, who died March 20. Joe Diffie, the first country artist to die from coronavirus on March 29, will also be honored in some way.

As COVID-19 spread into the U.S., the awards show constantly pivoted as the news kept getting “worse and worse,” says dcp president Amy Thurlow, who also serves an executive producer of the show. The initial plan was to continue with an awards show in Las Vegas with no audience, then as an awards show in Nashville, where many of the participating artists are based, then possibly a show where the artists received their awards remotely. Then, three weeks ago, it became clear that there could be no awards show.

“It just didn’t feel like it would be fair to the prestige of the awards show and to the artists who were winning having them accept via Skype,” says Academy CEO Damon Whiteside.

The Academy and dcp came up with the idea of a clips special from past ACM Awards shows with some home performances. “Then because we got so much positive response from the artists, it quickly became much more of a performance show than a clip show,” Thurlow says.

“It allows the artists to still connect with the fans and give the fans a really nice diversion,” Whiteside says.

“We jumped on board right away,” says Jack Sussman, CBS executive vp of specials, music and live events. “It gives people the moment they want with their favorite country artist. This is safe and entertaining at the same time.”

The plan then became how to corral performances from artists that put no one in harm’s way. The decision was made to have each artist pre-tape their performance themselves with no crews using their cell phones, iPads, laptops, digital cameras or other means.

“Keeping people safe was a big concern,” says Mark Bracco, dcp executive vp of programming and development and the show’s executive producer. “You’ll see the three members of Lady Antebellum in three different places. Florida Georgia Line’s Brian [Kelley] and Tyler [Hubbard], are with their wives and their kids and it’s nice to see their babies. It was a very conscious decision that was made that we respect social distancing. Whatever piece of equipment you have, use and then send it to us.”

It was up to the individual artist to decide what song to perform— some sing the songs they planned to perform on the awards show, others go in different directions. “The tone is varied from artist to artist. The one thread is we’re all in this together,” Sussman says.

“I wouldn’t say we were too prescriptive,” Whiteside says. “We trust the instincts of the artists. Virtually everyone knew what they wanted to do and what they wanted to say. It wasn’t like we needed to feed them lines or a script.” The only person given a script was King, who introduces the evening and the performances.

The performances were recorded over the past week. As more rolled in every day, Bracco turned them over to dcp’s head of post production, Sacha Mueller, and an editor, who, practicing social distancing, sat in an edit bay and assembled the different takes and created the flow of the show with King’s comments. “It was kind of amazing to us, the Academy and CBS to realize we can operate almost completely remotely for a two-hour special and never once be in the room with the artists,” Bracco says.

The one thing the show highlights, say all concerned, is the talent, given that many of the artists are only accompanying themselves on guitar with none of the normal bells and whistles. “They grew up and made their bones throwing their guitar in the back of their cars and playing a bar where 20 people heard them play 15 feet in front of them,” Sussman says. “It shows how talented they are without any production value. You can see the real raw talent.”

While the show is not a fundraiser, it will highlight the ACM Lifting Lives COVID-19 Response Fund, a fund created earlier this week to assist individuals working in the country music industry who need financial assistance as a result of the pandemic. The fund began with a $250,000 endowment from the Academy. The Academy will match donations from partners and sponsors up to an additional $250,000. Donors already include The Bobby Bones Show, FirstNet, Built with AT&T, and Amazon Music.

“We gave a lot of thought to what we could do to raise funds in the show,” Whiteside says, “but being cognizant of the climate with so many people suffering, it didn’t feel good to ask people for money, so we decided to just make fans aware of what Lifting Lives is doing.”

The goal, Whiteside says, is to provide some respite and entertainment. “I hope the audience feel uplifted. I hope they’ll feel part of the country music community and they had two hours [away] from the news headlines,” he says. “I want it to be something people feel really good to escape to in a safe way.”

As happy as they are with the show, Bracco says he can’t wait for the ACM Awards, which will now take place Sept. 16: “We love putting on a big show. We love putting on a big spectacle and we will go back to that, but what this show has taught us is intimacy, emotion and authenticity can shine through without tons of light and pyro.”

Billboard and dick clark productions are both owned by Valence Media.

Coronavirus

U.S. Digital Album Sales Hit 7-Month High

After overall U.S. album sales bottomed out to their worst week on record a week ago, the music industry has some good news. Total album sales volume increased in the latest tracking week, while digital album sales hit a seven-month high.

In the week ending March 26, total U.S. album sales grew 2.3% to 1.558 million copies sold across all formats (CD, digital album download, vinyl LP, cassette, etc.), according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data. That’s up from the record low of 1.523 million in the week ending March 19. (Still, the 1.558 million represents the second-worst week for album sales since Nielsen Music/MRC Data began tracking sales in 1991.)

Digital Album Sales Hit Seven-Month High: Meanwhile, digital album sales vault 49.1% to 811,000 sold in the week ending March 26 — the biggest week for digital albums in seven months. The last bigger week for the format was the week ending Sept. 5, 2019, when 856,000 digital albums were sold.

Both overall album sales and digital album sales were boosted by the arrival of The Weeknd’s After Hours, which was released on March 20 and splashed in with 275,000 in sales in the week ending March 26 (with 167,000 of that figure in downloads, while the rest were CD sales). The album’s sizable sales start was goosed by sales generated from a concert ticket/CD album sale redemption offer, along with over 80 merchandise/digital album bundles sold via The Weeknd’s website.

Physical Album Sales Fall Again: Physical album sales (CD, vinyl LP, cassette, etc.) declined 23.7% in the week ending March 26 to a new low of 747,000 copies sold – down from the previous record-low, set just a week previous, with 979,000.

Overall album sales continue to be impacted by coronavirus concerns – with most states under stay-at-home orders, and many indie brick-and-mortar record stores temporarily closed (for in-store business, at least), along with big mass merchant stores likely focused on merchandising non-music products in these uncertain times. Further, consumers in general are likely focused on other matters outside of music, and perhaps choosing to be more selective with how they spend money.

Download Sales of Older Albums Surge: We can break down the overall digital album sales gain further, by isolating just sales of older albums – referred to as “catalog albums.” Digital catalog album sales jumped 18.8% in the week ending March 26 – rising to 389,000 sold. That’s the biggest week for digital catalog album sales in 2020, and the biggest week for the category outside of the always-busy Christmas shopping season, since the week ending Oct. 3, 2019 (410,000 sold).

However, a chunk of the digital catalog album sales gain can be attributed to the late Kenny Rogers, who sold 17,000 digital albums in the week ending March 26 — all from catalog albums. Without those 17,000 in sales, digital catalog album sales would have totaled 373,000 — the sixth-largest sales week of 2020 for digital catalog album sales.

On the Horizon: While The Weeknd’s After Hours and Kenny Rogers’ albums sent sales surging in the week ending March 26, there are a number of albums on the horizon that could also post significant sales figures.

On March 27, a trio of big acts dropped albums that are sure to sell in decent quantities, including 5 Seconds of Summer’s Calm (which will benefit from a ticket/album bundle as well as many merchandise/bundles), Pearl Jam’s Gigaton and Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia. On April 3, there’s Sam Hunt’s Southside and All-Time Low’s Wake Up, Sunshine. On April 10, The Strokes are due to issue The New Abnormal, while on April 24, Luke Bryan is scheduled to release Born Here Live Here Die Here. Some albums that were supposed to arrive in March and April, including Alicia KeysAlicia, Lady Gaga’s Chromatica and The 1975’s Notes on a Conditional Form, have been delayed to dates after May 1.