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THE BIG 9 IN 2014
How the Labels Fared This Year; First in a Series



 

Barnett inherited a pair of priceless assets in mega-selling superstar Katy Perry and Capitol Records EVP Greg Thompson, but for the most part this is a new-look Capitol, from the beefed-up roster—thanks in no small part to U.K. partners Nick Raphael at Capitol and Ted Cockle at Virgin, who between them provided Barnett with three breakout acts, to the executive staff, paced by CMG EVP Michelle Jubelirer. What’s more, the iconic Capitol Tower has been beautifully restored.

Capitol has what most in the business see as the breakout new artist of the year in Sam Smith. This gifted rookie is the odds-on favorite not just for a Best New Artist Grammy but also Record of the Year for “Stay With Me” and Album of the Year for In the Lonely Hour. Smith could be challenged for Best New Artist by labelmates 5 Seconds of Summer, another Raphael signing. The U.S. team identified both acts as potential stars and planned accordingly. The label also released acclaimed albums from Beck (295k RTD), new 2014 signings Neil Diamond and Annie Lennox and Capitol core artist Bob Seger, as well as T Bone Burnett’s all-star Dylan song project The New Basement Tapes, while Mary J Blige’s The London Sessions drops on 12/2.

CMG’s 24 Grammy nominations are paced by Smith with seven (including all four major categories) and Beck with five (including Album of the Year), while Perry, Arcade Fire, Bastille and Ryan Adams have two apiece.

Harvest, led by Piero Giramonti and Jacqueline Saturn, Ethiopia Habtemariam’s relocated Motown, Dom Pandiscia’s Caroline and I.R.S. Nashville’s John Grady have become increasingly active this year. But a replacement must be found for departing Virgin topper Ron Fair. Additionally, Barnett is building the company, and hence the talent pool, through a number of joint ventures with hitmaking veterans like T Bone, Rodney Jerkins, The-Dream, Tricky Stewart and Troy Carter.

What’s more, as anyone who attended the Capitol Congress in July can readily attest, morale at the label is sky-high. To say the home of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Band, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole has new life would be a gross understatement. If this is year two of Barnett’s three-year plan, we can’t wait to see what year three will look like.


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