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Look for Grainge and Barnett to attempt to revitalize the storied company by pumping cash into A&R and marketing, while marrying the U.S. and U.K. operations into the international machine that is Uni.

I.B. BAD WEIGHS IN ON THE SHIFTING BALANCE OF POWER

Capitol Music Group Joins Universal in L.A., While Sony Music Rules the Roost in New York
Steve Barnett, Lucian Grainge’s handpicked choice to lead EMI in the U.S.—now known as the Capitol Music Group—started his new job on Monday (11/26), after Sony Music let him out of his deal four months before it was scheduled to expire. Barnett will oversee all of CMG’s domestic businesses, including Blue Note, Caroline, Astralwerks and Capitol Christian Music Group, as well as flagship labels Capitol and Virgin; he’ll also have an interest in acts on Mike Dungan’s Capitol Nashville roster through an upstreaming arrangement.

Look for Grainge and Barnett to attempt to revitalize the storied company by pumping cash into A&R and marketing, while marrying the U.S. and U.K. operations into the international machine that is Uni, run by UMGI COO Max Hole and Global Marketing President Andrew Kronfeld. Additionally, expect a refurbishing of the Capitol Tower, EMI’s U.S. headquarters, which had fallen into disrepair during the Terra Firma era.

Barnett is said to be elevating Greg Thompson, who will be moving to L.A., where Capitol/Virgin President Dan McCarroll has already taken up residence. The new CMG ruler, who’s known for team building, will likely infuse some fresh executive blood into the organization, while the current staff is relieved that the company is being run by real music people for the first time in decades.

On the heels of Barnett’s exit from Columbia, CEO Rob Stringer tapped red-hot Republic promotion chief Joel Klaiman, who begins his new job as EVP/GM next week in a significantly expanded new role for the savvy exec. Klaiman leaves Republic as the year’s #1 label in overall radio chart share, according to Mediabase.

Meanwhile, at Peter Edge and Tom Corson’s RCA, Joe Riccitelli has inked a new deal as that label’s EVP/GM. The Riccitelli/Klaiman combo gives the Doug Morris-led Sony Music the top two promotion execs in the business, according to many observers. Aaron Rosenberg brokered Klaiman’s deal, while Riccitelli’s negotiation was handled by Steve Shapiro.

Both RCA and Columbia are on big rolls heading into the final four weeks of the year, with One Direction and P!nk selling like hotcakes, while Alicia Keys (label projection: 275k) is expected to top next week’s chart, with Ke$ha (label estimate: 125k) streeting next Tuesday (12/4)… Bruno Mars, the year’s biggest remaining high-profile release, hits a week later, with Atlantic projecting 200k. The strong debuts this week from IDJ’s Rihanna and Interscope’s Phillip Phillips were bolstered by an extremely busy Black Friday.

Sony and the Hartwig Masuch-led BMG are believed to be talking about making a joint bid on Parlophone, as Bertelsmann seeks to replace joint-venture partner KKR with a financial backer interested in going into the frontline business. Bertelsmann has also reportedly talked to Ron Perelman, Apollo and Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries about a prospective partnership. Most observers still believe Blavatnik will wind up with Parlophone, if only because he’s capable of writing the biggest check.

On the same subject, chatterers are chattering about a possible expanded role for Cameron Strang that will take him beyond Warner/Chappell and Rhino into recorded music at a high level.

Rumor magnet Lyor Cohen generated yet another round of intrigue after being spotted recently on the 32nd floor of the Sony building. People throughout the industry are trying to understand what his new pitch is all about beyond “Throw down with me—I've been successful in the past and I will be again,” although some see that as a valid point. Cohen reportedly wants to involve artists in his new deal but is looking for others to be their managers. Rumor has it, for example, that he’ll pick up Kanye West for management while also bringing in West’s manager, Izzy Zivkovic. Is Cohen trying to steal a page from Irving Azoff’s playbook by rolling up management companies?

Speaking of the king of kings, Azoff’s next move is the subject of constant chatter. Most Azoff observers expect something dramatic to happen in 2013, which begs the question of who his financial and strategic partners might be.

Season three of The Voice and season two of The X Factor will conclude in mid-December, with The Voice consistently drawing the larger audience—10.4m to X Factor’s 7m a few weeks ago. Are there any viable recording artists on either show? American Idol, which returns for its 12th season in January, lost a sizable portion of its once-massive audience last year, but it still drew far more viewers than either of its challengers. Will this trend continue with new judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban?

Names in the rumor mill: Julie Greenwald, Craig Kallman, Levitan & Rovner, Richard Griffiths, Big Jon, Jimmy Iovine and Simon Cowell.

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