The question on everyone’s minds is, how big an impact will Janick have on the company and how soon will it be felt?
Bieber, Linkin Park and Maroon 5 Light Up the Charts; Big Wheels Set Off Sparks on Capitol Hill
Justin Bieber’s Believe debuted at the top of this week’s chart with 373k, making it the biggest bow of 2012 thus far, Bieber’s fourth #1 debut and his biggest sales week yet. The IDJ superstar’s previous five albums have sold more than 8m in the U.S. and 15m worldwide. Meanwhile, Linkin Park’s Living Things is on track to sell 230-250k, compared to a projected 200-220k on Maroon 5’s Overexposed, meaning that as it stands, the Warner Bros. rockers will prevail on next Tuesday’s chart.

But with acts like Bieber and Maroon 5, who boast so much firepower in the singles sector, album sales alone don’t begin to tell the story. Bieber has already sold north of 3m tracks leading up to the new LP’s release, giving him an album plus TEA total of around 700k. Maroon 5’s “Payphone” has moved 2.9m, following 5.2m on “Moves Like Jagger” and another 3.4m on the Gym Class Heroes’ “Stereo Hearts” featuring Adam Levine, who also co-wrote the song. These numbers are a more accurate barometer of the two acts’ actual commercial clout.

Lucian Grainge and Jimmy Iovine are in the process of trying to shape a new executive structure at IGA, Universal’s most productive label group for most of the last decade and a half. There’s speculation that Iovine’s time at IGA will come to an end when his deal is up in a few years, as this multitasker takes Beats to its next incarnation with the addition of the much-talked-about MOG streaming platform. But insiders say that Iovine is reengaged and reactivated as he begins to write what could be the final chapter of his history-making two-decade run at Interscope, further enriching his legacy.

The hiring of John Janick as IGA President/COO brings an indie-label entrepreneurial look to the big major. This rising star has skillfully used alternative marketing to break acts below the radar dating back to Fall Out Boy’s initial breakout on his Fueled by Ramen. It's a bold move to bring in a major player from the outside. The question on everyone’s minds is, how big an impact will Janick have on the company and how soon will it be felt? Janick’s deal is up end of 2012; will Warner let him out sooner?

This significant addition was closely followed by a significant subtraction, as talented A&R exec Martin Kierszenbaum resigned.

Irony abounded last Thursday on the Senate floor as WMG “director” Edgar Bronfman Jr., who had been thwarted time and again in his obsessive quest to take control of EMI, disingenuously argued against the merger of UMG and EMI. Where there were six major companies 15 years ago, he noted, now there are four, which would be reduced to three with approval of the merger. Bronfman neglected to mention that he was personally responsible for the previous contraction when, as the owner of MCA, he acquired PolyGram in 1998, creating UMG, before selling the whole thing to Vivendi two years later.

Nor did Bronfman or anyone else point out that it was he who had put Warner in its reduced state by firing thousands of employees and dropping scores of acts, while major artists including the Eagles, Madonna, Nickelback and Metallica thought so little of his leadership of Warner that they exited the company. Considering his seven years of mismanagement, it isn’t hard to understand why Bronfman’s banker/investors, led by T.H. Lee’s Scott Sperling, sold Warner from under him, or why Len Blavatnik subsequently stripped him of power.

Irving Azoff came off as the voice of reason, noting, “Mr. Bronfman has been talking about combining Warner and EMI for the better part of a decade… Warner had a chance to outbid Universal in this process—but chose to walk away. Now, they regret their decision and are spending millions to fight the deal. Well, I don't think the government should step in to give them another bite at the apple. That is not how our free-market economy works.”

In another bizarre moment, current EMI ruler Roger Faxon half-heartedly endorsed the merger while also acknowledging that regulatory approval would put him out of a job. In the sense that Faxon’s next job may be at WMG, his tepid endorsement of the merger is perfectly understandable. But there’s more to the story.

Faxon has a deal that, within 30 days from the time the first of the two regulatory processes is complete, requires him to choose between remaining with either publishing or recorded music. If he chooses publishing (which received conditional but not final approval from the EC), there’s a good chance Marty Bandier will let him go with an as-yet unspecified check. If he chooses to remain with recorded music, the more likely scenario, according to insiders, he won’t be out of a job as soon, because the UMG-EMI prospective merger will take longer to be resolved. Either way, Faxon is guaranteed an $8 million golden parachute when both UMG-EMI and Sony/ATV-EMP close.

In the wake of Sen. Herb Kohl accusing Universal of making life miserable for digital content providers, industry fingers are pointing at Zach Horowitz as the culprit. UMG’s former President/COO, a notorious technophobe, is infamous for his wrongheaded refusal to license start-ups in the tech sector. An example: Horowitz litigated for years against MP3.com and never settled. He finally bought the site for $372 million in cash and stock. After not being able to manage the acquisition, he closed it and was forced to write off the purchase price. Clearly, Horowitz’s vision of music and technology was the leading factor in the thrashing the music sector has taken during the last decade.
Another hot rumor has panned out, as Big Jon Platt confirms that he’s leaving EMP. Will he remain in publishing, go to a label or become an entrepreneur?

Names in the rumor mill: Steve Shapiro, Aaron Rosenberg, Jordan Feldstein, Sylvia Rhone, Lyor Cohen and Bryan Coleman.

Posthumous release looks massive. (7/13a)
A "Moon" shot. (7/10a)
Is a Best New Artist nom in the cards for acclaimed writer/artist? (7/13a)
The gradual ascent of a gifted, prolific artist. (7/10a)
Juiced with a big D2C initiative. (7/7a)
Would you like some Swiss cheese with your nachos?
Oh, sorry--we were just singing to ourselves.
Family is everything.
Are they coming for Kanye? Yes.

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