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Given the perceived limitations of the other strategic bidders, the favorite to wind up with Parlophone, ironically enough, appears to be WMG owner Len Blavatnik, who tried to derail the merger.
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With final approval of the UMG-EMI merger getting final approval from the EC today, those entities that covet Parlophone, the most attractive of the soon to be divested assets, are poised to make their moves.

Sony has some familiarity with the drill, having earlier this year cobbled together a coalition of investors to purchase EMI Music Publishing. Parlophone would be a great fit for Sony Music in the U.K. and the U.S., but will the cash-strapped Japanese parent company, which lost $5.7 billion last year, be willing to shell out for another label?

Wonderers also wonder whether BMG, whose own parent company has long been known as a bottom fisherman—although Bertelsmann and partner KKR did shell out for Chrysalis (for a reported $168m) and Bug Music ($300m)—will be willing to dig deep into their pockets once again in order to score the catalog-rich label. The problem here is that BMG ruler Hartwig Masuch has expressed a desire to be in the front-line business, which is not part of KKR’s business strategy.

Given the perceived limitations of these two strategic bidders, the favorite, ironically enough, appears to be WMG owner Len Blavatnik, who tried to derail the merger. Universal brass may hold a grudge against the Russian billionaire, but the old adage still applies: It’s not about the money, it’s about the money.

Jared Leto’s film Artifact, a recounting of the legal drama between Thirty Seconds to Mars and EMI during the Guy Hands regime, which took place as the band was making its 2009 album This Is War, premiered to rave reviews at the Toronto Film Festival, where it won the People's Choice Award for best documentary.

Incidentally, 30STM and Katy Perry were both signed by Virgin U.S. during the Jason Flom regime and thus will not be impacted by the Parlophone divestiture, nor will the EMI Nashville artist roster, reuniting UMG Nashville chief Mike Dungan with the acts he broke at EMI, including Keith Urban and Lady Antebellum.

According to insiders, Greg Thompson has just signed a new deal with EMI U.S., and many believe Dan McCarroll has re-upped as well.

Scooter Braun is taking the talent he’s wrangled and masterfully spreading it around the individual UMG labels, with the explosive success of his latest label signing, PSY, whose sales ceiling appears to be unlimited, causing those skeptics who doubted that the dynamic youngster was the real deal to eat their words.

Braun is part of a youth movement that is now beginning to make its mark in a business long dominated by an aging subculture whose principals’ best years are receding in the rearview mirror. Joining Braun in the next generation of movers and shakers are John Janick, Brandon Creed, Troy Carter, Jay Brown, Scott Borchetta, Mike Caren, Patrick Moxey, Nate Yetton and Cameron Strang.

The latest major move in Strang’s rebuilding plan for Warner/Chappell was winning the competition for the services of Big Jon Platt, whose track record for the last 15 years has been unrivaled in the publishing arena.

The talent lineup assembled by Tom Poleman for this weekend’s iHeartRadio Music Festival, including Taylor Swift, Green Day, Rihanna, Aerosmith and Pink, is the modern-day equivalent of Live Aid. It’s certainly the most star-studded musical event in recent memory.

The deluge of initial preorders for Take Me Home, the sophomore album from One Direction (Syco/Columbia, 11/13), is giving the release the look of a commercial giant, with most expecting a first week north of 500k. That will give it a good shot at being the year’s second biggest debut behind Taylor Swift’s Red (Big Machine, 10/22), for which a rare million-selling bow appears to be within reach.

As for the comparative performances of the singles driving the big upcoming releases, they range from disappointing in the cases of Green Day (#3 Alt, #29 Hot AC) and No Doubt (#17 Alt, #18 Pop)—with second singles just serviced on both—to spectacular for Swift and Carly Rae Jepsen.

The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey” (Dualtone) tops the Modern Rock chart this week, followed by Mumford & Sons’ “I Will Wait” (Glassnote), marking the first time in history a pair of indie records has held the top two spots at the format.

Names in the rumor mill: Irving Azoff, Joel Katz, Simon Cowell, Jim Guerinot and Chris Wright.
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