Cam’s Billboard Review

Cam Arvidson (TheLorian)

Continuing his run of albums titled with mathematic symbols, Ed Sheeran’s newest project, =, took the number one spot on the Billboard200. The album’s number one debut is his fourth number one album and fifth top ten hit. Along with the number one debut, Sheeran’s lead single “Bad Habits” moved up to number four on the Hot100 in its nineteenth week on the chart. In a rather uneventful week, Megan Thee Stallion’s “Something for Thee Hotties” debuted at number five as the only other new entry in the top ten on the Billboard200.

Despite the slow week on the charts, the past weekend saw some notable drops that have a good shot at charting in the next couple of weeks. After announcing a collaboration project back in February of this year, Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars finally dropped their anticipated album “An Evening with Silk Sonic.” Releasing the album under the moniker Silk Sonic allowed the duo to create as a sort of band, rather than just collaborators, effectively making the album follow a strong concept. The sounds of the album hold a clear influence from the ’70s and ‘80s funk and R&B era, and the duo captures the essence of that time period for music while being original and contributing to the current state of music. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the project netted a top ten spot on the Billboard200 soon.

Another notable recent drop was Taylor Swift’s rerecorded version of her popular album “Red.” Stemming from her controversial dispute with her former record label, Big Machine Records. Back in 2018 when the record label sold, Swift had been trying to purchase the rights to the masters for her own music, but, the ownership was transferred to Scooter Braun, head of Ithaca Holdings, who bought out Big Machine. After exiting her contract with Big Machine, Swift began re-recording all of her previous work in an effort to regain control of her ownership of her own music. Being one of the biggest pop stars of the last decade, it’s likely the album will get high ratings, but, more importantly, Swift’s move is one that will likely have a butterfly effect on the music industry at large over the next few decades.

The music industry, like many other industries, has been scrutinized for many years over the treatment and fairness towards the artists who make the industry go. There has been a rise in independent music creation rather than major label signings because of how much easier it has become to create music. It also isn’t a rare occurrence for artists to cause a ruckus over the mistreatment they’ve received. Kanye West made headlines in late 2020 over the “war” he declared on the music industry in order to get back his own masters, while simultaneously promising to award back all of the fifty percent cut he had been receiving from other artists’ work as the head for his label GOOD Music.

The push back against the music industry in recent years gives a ray of hope for the industry going forward. With hopes for a precedent being set, giving artists their masters would allow them to be able to use their music in any way that they like while profiting from it entirely. With the current structure of the industry, labels can take as much as seventy percent or more of the profits from an artist’s work because of the contracts they sign. The long-term effects are what have created a major disparity between executives and artists themselves for a long time.

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