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The scores won't be final for a few weeks, and it remains to be seen how the Top Five will finish in the frontline and overall/TEA competitions.
I.B. BAD TAKES A HARD LOOK
AT THE 2013 SCOREBOARD
Just Think of The Year’s Winning Labels
as Five for Fighting

The Top Five labels of 2013 achieved success despite the fact that four of the companies were retooling while they worked, although the internal changes they were making appeared virtually seamless to the outside observer. Columbia and Republic did significant remodeling to their marketing/promotion departments, Interscope was under new leadership, and Capitol Music Group was completely overhauled. The lone exception was RCA, which got its mojo working in year two of that label’s new regime. The scores won't be final for a few weeks, and with Columbia’s One Direction charting this week with sales of 530k, it’s hard to say how the Top Five will finish in the frontline and overall/TEA competitions.

Rob Stringer’s strong leadership at Columbia became unquestionable this year, as his patience in the development process proved successful time and again. Not only did Stringer put his celebrated A&R prowess on the line as he continued to sign artists who are the envy of the industry, he also snagged an aggressive senior marketing exec with the hiring of Joel Klaiman as EVP/GM—a crucial move that helped propel Daft Punk, J Cole and The Neighbourhood to career years. The company has been active on several fronts, expanding the reach of One Direction, positioning HAIM for long-term success and setting the table for the breaking of new artists in 2014, while prepping upcoming releases from Columbia’s legendary artist roster, including Beyoncé, Bruce Springsteen and Foster the People, along with major new signings Pharrell and Hozier.

Steve Barnett took CMG, which had struggled through the Terra Firma years, and transformed it into a competitive force to be reckoned with in less than year. He made several key hirings, starting with EVP Michelle Jubelirer, as well as empowering Greg Thompson to deliver the mail. The partnership with Arcade Fire and the fast start of Bastille helped shape the identity of the new CMG as a cutting-edge label, and the company is now in almost every deal that comes down the pipe. In his ambitious reorganization, Barnett has put CMG in the indie distribution, country and Christian businesses, relaunched Virgin and Harvest, and captained a picture-perfect project from Capitol superstar Katy Perry. This exhaustive undertaking enabled CMG to put together a respectable marketshare showing, taking the company from an also-ran to a major player. If Barnett’s A&R team has great 2014-15 seasons, he could contend for a championship banner to place atop the Tower.

Peter Edge and Tom Corson rolled all year long, as Pop sensation P!nk carried over to Justin Timberlake, who then passed the baton to Miley Cyrus, as the RCA co-leaders dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s like the consummate pros that they’d become. This executive partnership combines top-notch A&R with talented artists and impressive marketing, along with a great sense of knowing when to throw the switch, as exemplified by the stellar performances of the above three acts. RCA also boasts what is widely considered to be one of the top promotion departments in the biz, overseen by EVP/GM Joe Riccitelli. The label appears to be poised to continue putting up points via new-artist development in 2014.

John Janick’s arrival at Interscope could not have been better scripted—or better timed. The company, long known as having one of the best, if not the best, music in the business, with top-selling acts like Eminem, Imagine Dragons, Robin Thicke, Kendrick Lamar and Phillip Phillips, still needed Janick’s entrepreneurial focus in order to begin to concentrate all the departments on getting those hit acts across the finish line. That may sound simple, but it takes rarefied skills to read the tea leaves and make the right calls. Just ask anyone who does it for a living. Janick got a big assist from longtime IGA insider Steve Berman, who continues to do much of the heavy lifting.

While the above four labels have performed impressively, the Lipman brothers have had a career year, so much so that Republic’s dominance in the race for frontline honors has been written in stone since September. The company’s share has held steady at 9+ for much of 2013, as this hit factory scored its points the old-fashioned way, closing out one hit single after another from locales as far-flung as Iceland and New Zealand. New EVP Charlie Walk was a difference maker, as he applied his considerable marketing savvy to hugely successful projects from the likes of Florida Georgia Line, Drake, Taylor Swift and potent newcomers Lorde and Ariana Grande.

Names in the rumor mill: Jonathan Dickins, Sylvia Rhone, Barry Weiss, Jeff Kwatinetz, Don Passman and Brian Manning.

 

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