Anthony stood out among her peers because she possessed the rare ability to combine a rarefied business acumen gained from her deal-making experience as an entertainment attorney with an affinity for winning the trust of artists on the creative side.


UMG's New EVP Will Be Working Alongside Several of Her Onetime Sony Music Cohorts

Joining Lucian Grainge’s executive team as EVP of UMG brings Michele Anthony back in close proximity with fellow former Sony Music execs Barry Weiss, Steve Barnett and Charlie Walk, with whom she has some deep history.

The era during which Anthony gained her experience and went on to make her mark on the music business began in 1990, two years after Sony acquired CBS Records, following the departure of longtime company head Walter Yetnikoff (who had lost it by then, in the view of most of his contemporaries) and the subsequent rise to power of Tommy Mottola and his inner circle: Don Ienner, Dave Glew, Mel Ilberman and Anthony, newly arrived from Manatt, Phelps, et al, in L.A. initially as EVP. Together, the 55th Street Gang, as they were known, ran Sony during its most productive years leading up to the BMG merger in 2004.

During her years at Sony, Anthony was extremely well liked, in stark contrast to some of the other major execs she worked with, whose gruff personalities and intimidating leadership styles engendered widespread negative feelings. She stood out among her peers because she possessed the rare ability to combine a rarefied business acumen gained from her deal-making experience as an entertainment attorney with an affinity for winning the trust of artists on the creative side.

In the end, Mottola was undone by the combination of his inability to manage upward and the negative fallout from the Mariah Carey divorce, forcing Sony Corp. overlord Sir Howard Stringer to fire him. Taking Mottola’s place was longtime TV exec Andy Lack, who tapped Ienner and Anthony to oversee the Sony labels (Glew had retired shortly before Mottola was axed). Ienner moved Barnett from heading Epic to running Columbia, while putting Walk in charge of Epic.

Lack helped engineer the BMG merger but couldn’t figure out how to get the combined companies to work together during his three years at the helm. In 2006, he was replaced by BMG veteran Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, who reorganized both units, forcing out Ienner and Anthony and replacing the Sony chief with Rob Stringer, who was brought over from the U.K., while making Weiss the head of BMG, moving Clive Davis sideways and getting rid of Davis’ right-hand man, Charles Goldstuck. But like his predecessor, Schmidt-Holtz failed to bring the culturally divergent merger partners into harmony. It wasn’t until Doug Morris took over SME in 2011 that the two companies finally began to function in tandem.

That brings us to the present moment, which is shaping up as a memorable for one of the former BMG labels, with Peter Edge’s RCA turning up the heat entering Q4 fueled by two of 2013’s most effective marketing campaigns, both put into motion by Tom Corson. The debuting second half of Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience brings total sales on the collection to 2.7m, as well as putting him in the center of the Grammy conversation, while early retail reports indicate that Miley CyrusBangerz, which hit this Tuesday, is blowing past previous estimates, which were at under 200k as recently as Monday; the question now is how much over 250k it will sell in week one. According to Cyrus herself, Morris played a key role in bringing her to RCA.

This may be a watershed moment for young female artists, with the Lava/Republic full-length debut of precocious teen Lorde selling an impressive 127k in its first week, just as "Team," the follow-up to her massive hit "Royals," begins amassing sales even before radio starts playing it, suggesting this talented youngster is just getting started.

The Scooter Braun-led roll-up of managers is moving along briskly, with Brandon Creed (Bruno Mars) reportedly following Troy Carter (Lady Gaga) into the mix. Braun is now said to be in talks with Larry Rudolph (Britney Spears, Cyrus) and Drake’s management team about becoming part of his new venture; he’s also thought to be looking for a Nashville play.

Lyor Cohen is rumored to have finally found a home for his new venture at Atlantic Records, returning him to Warner Music as a last resort after Grainge and Morris showed no interest in working with him again. Inquiring minds want to know how Atlantic co-heads Julie Greenwald (a Cohen protégé) and Craig Kallman managed to convince Blavatnik and Cooper to give him a deal after they’d fired him, which had led Cohen to publicly bad-mouth the WMG bosses.

It isn’t yet known whether the not-guilty verdict in the Michael Jackson wrongful-death trial will save controversial AEG Live boss and individual defendant Randy Phillips. Some insiders insist that AEG Corp. magnate Philip Anschutz is down on Phillips, though he claims he has four years left on his deal and that his relationship with Anschutz is unchanged. According to these insiders, COO Jay Marciano was ready to take Phillips down either way. AEG spent millions defending itself in the court case.

Names in the rumor mill: Will Botwin, Richard Griffiths, Michelle Jubelirer, Peter Paterno and Josh Abraham.

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