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While Columbia’s Daft Punk strategy—along with the album’s retro-futuristic sound—has inevitably alienated a portion of the group’s EDM core fans, the label has had a far bigger target audience in mind since Stringer and Columbia President Ashley Newton signed DP months ago.

AS I.B. BAD LOOKS ON,
THE WORLD GOES DAFT

Fresh Sounds From Daft Punk and Vampire Weekend Are Reinvigorating Radio and Retail, While Sony Drives a Hard Bargain With Apple

Rob Stringer’s Columbia appears to have a massive global hit on its hands with Daft Punk’s much-ballyhooed Random Access Memories. Team Columbia, led by EVP/GM Joel Klaiman, is in the process of pulling off a rare feat, as “Get Lucky,” the lead single of this genre-defying album, is poised to reach critical mass at Rhythmic, Top 40 and Alternative.

This phenomenon brings to mind OutKast’s “Hey Ya!” and Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”—but those multi-format hits crossed to Alternative after breaking at Rhythmic and Pop, whereas “Get Lucky” is climbing the three airplay charts simultaneously, along with Hot AC and a smattering of adds at Triple A and Urban as well.

While DP has been putting out cutting-edge electronic albums since the mid-’90s, they’ve never previously scored a 100k debut in the U.S. But initial retail reports suggest a first week of 300k or better, the result of a brilliantly conceived and executed campaign overseen by marketing head Scott Greer, which has in essence mainstreamed a brand that up to now has existed within the parameters of cultdom.

While the strategy—along with the album’s retro-futuristic sound—has inevitably alienated a portion of the group’s EDM core fans, the label has had a far bigger target audience in mind since Stringer and Columbia President Ashley Newton signed DP months ago. The result: an album people across the demographic range believe they need to own. The evidence is abundant, including what may be the biggest worldwide preorder in iTunes history, including 100k +/- in the U.S. alone, around 27k in physical preorders on Amazon and a new modern-era record on vinyl preorders with 10k+.

One beneficiary of this breakthrough is Pharrell Williams, who appears to be on the verge of finally becoming the big star that many believed he could be years ago, the dual result of his lead vocal appearance on “Get Lucky,” which he co-wrote and co-produced, and on Robin Thicke’s concurrently breaking “Blurred Lines,” which Williams wrote, produced and appears on. Belatedly or not, Williams (who’s managed by Ron Laffitte) is on the verge of having his most significant career moment. The multi-talented veteran, who was also signed to Columbia by Stringer and Newton, is working on a solo album for the label. Chances are, it won’t be long before the former N.E.R.D. leader is selling records under his own name.

As for Thicke, “Blurred Lines,” is looking like it may turn out to be the blue-eyed soul singer’s biggest hit yet, to the delight of manager Jordan Feldstein.

In the wake of Google trumping Apple by securing deals with the Big Three for its All Access sub service, will iTunes guru Eddy Cue choose to launch iRadio without Sony Music or wait until the tech giant breaks the present impasse in the grinding licensing negotiations. According to insiders, Doug Morris and his team don’t like the proposed two-year deal now on the table because advertising revenue is a major component of projected overall revenue, and Apple’s track record at generating ad revenue is spotty at best.

The biz has been abuzz with rampant rumors about one top-level exec who’s not getting along with his boss, as handicappers lay odds on how much longer said exec will remain at the company unless he can heat up his label.

Nearly six months after the big buyout from Live Nation, there’s still nothing definitive regarding Irving Azoff’s next move or when he’ll make it. But Azoff has been having backroom conversations with MSG’s Jim Dolan and Guggenheim PartnersTodd Boehle.

The Ian Montone-managed Vampire Weekend is the latest act to stand tall in the ongoing indie renaissance, as Modern Vampires in the City (XL/Beggars) bows with 135k, making it the art-rockers’ second straight chart-topper, while “Diane Young” is well on its way to becoming VW’s very first Alternative hit single, believe it or not.

In other indie activity, Coran Capshaw’s ATO is rumored to be shopping a new distribution deal, taking Alabama Shakes (whose debut album is at 585k), My Morning Jacket (nearly 200k on their most recent LP) and the breaking Allen Stone with them to their new home. Where will the indie (which logged a new-release share of .5% in 2012) wind up?

Hollywood Records is heating up under recently named Disney Music Group President Ken Bunt and promo domo Scot Finck, as the label lands two singles in the Top 10—from Demi Lovato (whose album debuted at #3 this week with 112k) and Selena Gomez (with an LP hitting soon)—for the first time since the heyday of Radio Disney.

Names in the rumor mill: Big Jon Platt, Scott Rodger, Scooter Braun, Richard Palmese, Ron Perry and Livia Tortella.

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