Fontaines D.C. Push Taylor Swift From Midweek U.K. Albums Chart Summit

Move over Taylor Swift, Fontaines D.C. is ready for the chart crown.

The Irish pop-punk outfit leads the midweek U.K. sales chart with A Hero’s Death (Partisan), their sophomore album.

A Hero’s Death is at No. 1 on the Official Chart Update, racking up more than half its sales in vinyl, according to the Official Charts Company.

Almost certainly, A Hero’s Death will eclipse the rockers’ personal best, a No. 9 peak for their 2019 debut LP Dogrel.

Coming in at No. 2 on the chart blast is Southampton punk outfit Creeper with Sex, Death & the Infinite Void (Roadrunner), their second album. It’s the followup to 2017’s Eternity In Your Arms, which went no higher than No. 18 on the U.K. survey.

After a lightning start, Taylor Swift’s Folklore (EMI) drops 1-3, but continues to lead all albums in streams. Folklore is not yet widely available in physical formats.

Meanwhile, iconic Canadian singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette returns to the chart with Such Pretty Forks In The Road (RCA), her first album since 2012. It’s new at No. 4 on the midweek chart.

The Psychedelic Furs have made their fans wait even longer between albums. Their latest, Made Of Rain (Cooking Vinyl), comes almost 30 years after their last, 1991’s World Outside. It starts at No. 5.

Over in the U.K. singles chart race, Joel Corry and MNEK’s “Head & Heart” (Asylum/Perfect Havoc) maintains its lead over “Savage Love (Laxed – Siren Beat)” (RCA) by New Zealand producer Jawsh 685 and Jason Derulo, and is on track for a third consecutive week at No. 1, while Billie Eilish looks to add another top 10 to her resume with “My Future” (Interscope). It’s at No. 4 on the Official Singles Chart Update.

The Official U.K. Singles and Albums Charts are published late Friday local time.

Brett Kissel Hosts Pop-Up ‘Boat-In Concert’ In Canada

Country singer Brett Kissel performed Canada’s first “boat-in” concert Sunday (Aug. 2) on Lake Windermere in British Columbia, attracting 3,000 fans for the pop-up performance.

Fans watched from canoes, kayaks, motor boats an inner tubes as the Canadian country singer from Flat Lake, Alberta open his dock side set with his 2017 hit single “We Were That Song.”

Kissel continues to raise money for charities and rally Canadian communities through his special concerts during the COVID-19 pandemic, performing for 10,000 fans at a series of drive-in concerts in Edmonton and more than 6,000 fans in Saskatchewan.

Kissel performed a 90-minute set from a private dock, running through his catalog of songs including debut American single and No. 1 Canadian country hit “Drink About Me” from Now or Never, his the fourth studio album  released on Jan. 1, 2020 via Warner Music Canada.

The concerts raised funds for the Columbia Valley, British Columbia COVID-19 relief fund, set up to help families and small business struggling through the coronavirus era. The concert was also broadcast on FM radio for local residents.

To learn more and see where Kissel will perform next, follow him on Twitter at @BrettKissel.

Coronavirus

Founding Molly Hatchet Guitarist Steve Holland Dies

Founding Molly Hatchet guitarist Steve Holland has died, his longtime friend, guardian and conservator John Pappas confirmed to Billboard. He was 66 years old.

No cause of death was given for the guitarist born in 1954, who appeared on the band’s first five albums, including 1979’s breakthrough Flirtin’ With Disaster. 

Holland left the band in 1984 and later formed a group called Gator Country, named after the second track on Hatchet’s 1978 self-titled debut album, which featured fellow former Hatchet members guitarist Duane Roland, drummer Bruce Crump, bassist Riff West and singer Jimmy Farrar. The Gator County FB page also had a tribute to Holland announcing the passing of the last original member of MH.

“It Is With GREAT SADNESS That I Announce The PASSING Of ‘ORIGINAL’ MOLLY HATCHET Band / GATOR COUNTRY Band Co-Founder Lead Guitarist, STEVE HOLLAND. Steve Was The LAST MAN STANDING And Has Joined The REST Of His FELLOW Band Brothers Up In Heaven. Steve’s Health Had Been On A Downward Spiral For A While, With Steve Finally Getting His ANGEL WINGS Today August 2nd, 2020. You Will Always Be One Of The GREATEST STEVE!! REST WELL & SING Out With Danny Joe, Dave, Duane, Banner, Bruce, Jimmy & Riff In Heaven,” it read, referring to Holland’s fellow late Molly Hatchet members Danny Joe Brown, Dave Hlubeck, Roland, Banner Thomas and Crump.

“Steve found sobriety for the first time in his life in 2009, and after nine months of sobriety, he rediscovered his Christian values and built an extremely strong relationship with God,” Pappas told Billboard of his late friend. “As Steve is no longer here with us physically, God is everywhere and so is Steve.”

“He thanked me shortly before his death for helping him find God,” Pappas continued. “I said, ‘Steve, God wasn’t lost. It was you.’ And he said when he died, he wanted to go to heaven because he wanted to see his mom, his pops and his brother. All his family has passed. He thanked me for helping him find God, and there’s no doubt where he is.”

Last September, Gator Country posted an image of Holland in an emergency room hospital bed, reporting that he’d been transported via ambulance and was suffering from an “extremely low” red blood cell count and was scheduled to receive a transfusion. In February, Holland, seated in a wheelchair and looking frail, posted a video on the Gator Country FB page thanking fans for their support over the years.

Check out the tribute below.

It Is With GREAT SADNESS That I Announce The PASSING Of "ORIGINAL" MOLLY HATCHET Band / GATOR COUNTRY Band Co-Founder…

Posted by Gator Country on Sunday, August 2, 2020

Megan Thee Stallion Announces Fiery Collab With This Female Rapper

Hot Girl Summer continues. Megan Thee Stallion took to Instagram on Monday (Aug. 3) to reveal a scorching new collaboration with Cardi B is on the way.

“WAP” will be arriving this Friday (Aug. 7), and the announcement was accompanied by the song’s cover art, featuring Meg and Cardi in matching “WAP” gold hoops, with their hair entangled together into a flowing, curled bun.

“WAP,” Meg captioned the post with a tongue out emoji and a water droplet emoji. “@iamcardib and The Hot Girl Coach this Friday !!!”

This all-female collab follows Meg’s previous “Savage” remix featuring Beyoncé. In May, the song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, marking the “Hot Girl” rapper’s first-ever topper on the chart, and the seventh for Bey as a solo artist (to go with the four she notched as part of girl group Destiny’s Child), making Beyoncé the second artist, after Mariah Carey, to top the chart in each of the first three decades of the 21st century. At the time, it was also just the seventh No. 1 in Hot 100 history to credit multiple female artists on its listing.

Rod Wave Revels in His Riches in ‘Freestyle’ Video

Rod Wave’s pockets can’t handle his stacks of cash, so the 20-year-old rapper boastfully carries his load with his hands in his latest “Freestyle” music video from last Thursday (July 30).

The bonus song joins “Through The Wire,” which details his near-fatal car accident from earlier this year, and more tracks boasting features from Lil Baby and Yo Gotti that will appear on the deluxe edition of Wave’s Pray 4 Love album. He originally released his sophomore LP on April 3, which later debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, but the beefier version is set to drop Friday, Aug. 7 via Alamo/Geffen/Interscope Records.

The accompanying visual for “Freestyle,” which was directed by TRUFilms, gives fans an exclusive peek of the millions of ways the bright rap rookie stacks his six million in cash, from on the bed of his tour bus to in the bathtub of his hotel room. And according to his recent interview with Billboard, Wave does his best work, including one of his most notable Billboard Hot 100 hits “Rags2Riches,” in those settings where he’s always on the go.

“I definitely like being in the hotel way better because it’s just me and the engineer,” Wave said in comparison to recording at the studio. “I’ve never really been able to open up and record around people. I remember my first time in the studio, I wasted like six hours. There were too many people in there. I was kind of shy…. Some of the adjustments I had to do for me to get personal in my music, I had to be by myself so I won’t feel like I’m getting judged and I can really be creative and be myself.”

Watch his “Freestyle” music video below.

20 Popular Latin Songs on TikTok Right Now, From Bad Bunny’s ‘Yo Perreo Sola’ to Sech’s ‘Relacion’

TikTok has seen exponential growth as a result of people from all over the world, including celebrities, joining the app during the global pandemic.

For most, such as J Balvin, Prince Royce, Karol G, Camilo, and Sebastian Yatra, the video-sharing app, used to create short dance, lip-sync and comedy videos, has become a way to keep busy and entertained during these trying times.

“We’re so excited that Latin American artists have really embraced TikTok and the community loves them, too,” Isabel Quinteros of music partnerships & artist relations at TikTok US, previously told Billboard.

In addition to many Latin music stars joining the fun, Latin songs have also stolen the spotlight on the app, garnering thousands, millions and even billions of views or post creations.

El Alfa’s collaboration with Darell and Noriel, “4K,” for example, has become one of the most popular sounds thanks to the famous “Caminata de Kunno,” created by TikToker Papi Kunno with over 13 million followers. The challenge consists of simply walking fiercely in place to the song’s beat.

With nearly four million videos, Sech’s “Relacion” is used to show a man or woman’s transformation before and after a toxic relationship. Users have gotten really creative with Bad Bunny’s “Yo Perreo Sola,” amassing over two million videos.  And TikTok star Charli D’Amelio helped turn Rosalia and Travis Scott’s “TKN,” which has nearly three million videos created, into a viral hit.

Fueled by their success on TikTok, songs such as Juanfran’s “Como Llora,” Nio Garcia’s “La Jeepeta” in collaboration with Brray, Juanka, Anuel AA and Myke Towers, and Grupo Firme’s “El Guero” featuring Marca MP have all secured spots on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart this year.

In an unranked list provided to Billboard by TikTok, check out some of the popular Latin songs on TikTok right now in the playlist below.

Universal Music’s Midyear Earnings Were Just OK on Paper, But Pretty Good for During the Pandemic

Rarely can a company’s financial performance be deemed successful with seemingly mediocre financial results, but Universal Music Group is having a decent 2020 all things considered. Its segments either did great or poorly, with little in between: Recorded music streaming revenue dropped 4.5% from Q1 to Q2, digital downloads cratered 26.3% and, with no artists touring since mid-March, merchandise revenues fell 27.2% from Q1 and 80.8% from Q2 2019. Including Q1 revenues that were little affected by the pandemic, Universal’s revenue grew 6.2% to €3.5 billion ($4.1 billion at current conversion rates) in the first half of the year.

The first wave of music’s Q2 earnings reports — from Spotify, SiriusXM and UMG, all last week — reinforce the importance of the subscription streaming model in today’s music business, and its necessity during a pandemic-created economic recession. In spite of sharp declines in physical product and merchandise sales, and although advertising-supported services suffered from brands’ cutbacks on spending, UMG’s total revenue declined only 4.5% from Q1 to Q2 and 3.8% from Q2 2019. The recorded music division’s streaming revenue fell 6.5% from Q1 to Q2 and 3.6% from Q2 2019. For the first half of 2020, total revenue was up 6.2% year over year.

Universal’s bottom line helps show why record labels and publishers have not laid off workers during the pandemic: while first-half revenues grew 6.2%, earnings before interest, taxes and amortization (EBITA) rose 18% from €481 million to €567 million ($566 million to $667 million). Half-year cash flow from operations improved 20.7%, from €372 million in 2019 to €449 million in 2020 ($438 million to $528 million) before adjustments for acquisitions, net payments to artists and other capital expenditures. Which is to say UMG is in good financial health. Parent company Vivendi has €3.7 billion ($4.4 billion) of available credit and €2.13 billion ($2.5 billion) of cash and cash equivalents, more than enough for a diversified, profitable company.

Looking forward, streaming revenue should fare better in Q3 than Q2: Subscription revenue will most likely be stable — judging from Spotify’s expectation of continued subscriber growth in Q3 — and advertising revenue will continue the rebound from the dismal April at Spotify and Pandora.

Universal’s Q2 results didn’t break out subscription and advertising revenue, although three earnings releases last week provide clues. We know Spotify grew subscription revenue 2% and advertising revenue dropped 11.5% from Q1 to Q2, Pandora’s advertising revenue fell 17% from Q1 to Q2, and YouTube’s Q2 revenue — on all videos, including music — dropped about 6% from Q1. Asked about the subscription-advertising revenue breakdown, the company pointed to IFPI’s global data for 2019: 75% of streaming revenue came from subscriptions and 25% from ad-supported audio and video services.

Publishing also carried Universal in the first half of the year, accounting for 52.7% of the company’s revenue growth. Part of the gain came from a €15-million, one-time gain related to a royalties claim that led publishing royalties’ growth from €271 million to €302 million, making it the only division to post a gain from Q1 to Q2. Even without the one-time gain, publishing revenues would have grown 6%.

Here are six other questions answered in the Vivendi earnings report and call:

What was Vivendi’s profit on its sale of a 10% stake to Tencent for €3 billion?

Vivendi recorded a capital gain of €2.4 billion ($2.8 billion) on the €3 billion sale ($3.5 billion) sale.

What did Vivendi do with the €3 billion it received from Tencent’s purchase of a 10% stake in Universal in March?

Half of the proceeds were returned to shareholders through share buybacks.

Tencent — along with other investors — has the right to acquire an additional 10% stake in Universal. What’s the status of that potential deal?

Vivendi CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine said, “We have been approached by many different interests and the process is currently happening.”

Could Universal move up its IPO date?

It is open to the idea. Warner’s successful IPO — following a COVID-19-led market downturn — and current $18.1 billion enterprise is evidence investors view streaming services like Spotify as gold mines. (Access Industries acquired Warner in 2011 at a $3.3 billion valuation.) Tencent’s investment of a 10% stake in March valued Universal at $33 billion. Could Universal do better? “We are welcoming the good results on the Warner Music IPO,” de Puyfontaine said. He reiterated Universal’s plan for an IPO “no later than early 2023” but added it “could consider an earlier IPO” depending on unnamed “different factors.”

What is Universal doing with its roughly 4% stake in Spotify? Warner Music Group, Sony Music and Merlin all sold their shares soon after Spotify’s 2018 IPO.

Universal will hold its Spotify shares — worth approximately $1.9 billion at the July 31 closing price — for the foreseeable future. And judging from de Puyfontaine’s comments, Universal treats the equity stake like a strategic investment; all major rights holders received Spotify shares as part of previous licensing agreements. “We do consider that the long-term relationship is in the best interest of both our shareholders and our artists,” said de Puyfontaine.

Do Universal and Spotify really have that close a relationship?

It’s certainly being painted as a mutual admiration society the way executives talk about the other company. As Spotify said multiple times during its July 29 earnings call, Universal is the first label group to take Spotify’s marketing tools for a spin en masse. The relationship between Spotify and Universal “is based on working together,” said de Puyfontaine, continuing that he expects “the agreement will help bring innovation” and give UMG’s music “the “highest possible proportion” of listeners