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I.B. BAD ASSESSES THE YEAR
IN THE MUSIC BIZ
OVERVIEW & UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP
20/20 HINDSIGHT: Historians will likely look back on 2013 as the year of David (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, a DIY hip-hop duo from Seattle that sold more than 13 million tracks) and Goliath (UMG grew so large that it took up nearly 40% of the music business). It was the year when long-absent superstar Justin Timberlake made a dramatic return, notching 2013’s biggest album. When high-profile artists like Jay Z, Daft Punk, Kanye West and David Bowie found inventive new ways to roll out and launch their albums, while Beyoncé arguably topped them all by unleashing her album with no setup whatsoever. When the Lipman brothers ran away from the field in frontline marketshare, and a new generation of entrepreneurs including John Janick and Cameron Strang helped reenergize the mainstream biz. When several prominent managers lost their biggest clients and another, Scooter Braun, made a concerted effort to create a new management empire. When Russian billionaire Len Blavatnik poured a chunk of his fortune into the resuscitation of flagging Warner Music Group. When Irving Azoff left one massive company, only to magically resurface as the co-head of another. When the focus turned in earnest to streaming and online radio, even as the debate raged on about the commercial viability of this strategy. It was also the year when several egregious snubs had many in the industry angrily asking what had caused the Grammy nominating process to turn into a travesty, leaving Neil Portnow with a big problem on his hands. Ultimately, 2013 was another turbulent 12 months in the ongoing transformation of the music business from what remained of the obsolete 20th century model to whatever it may eventually become, as traditional and nontraditional entities battled for a piece of the pie.


Lucian Grainge: The empire builder

UMG: Lucian Grainge drove Universal Music to a commanding 39.2% in overall marketshare after bringing EMI’s recorded-music operation under his control for $1.9 billion—minus Parlophone and other assets. EMI’s flagship U.K. label was snapped up by Warner Music for a staggering $765m, though it remains a distant third in what had previously been the Big Three. The UMG commander also beefed up his executive team with the addition of the experienced Michele Anthony as the New York-based EVP of the music group, initially prompting much chatter about what this move would mean for the power base of UMG East Coast overseer Barry Weiss, though the speculation seems to have died down in recent weeks.


Steve Barnett: The head coach

Grainge persuaded fellow Brit Steve Barnett to leave Columbia and take up the challenge of rebuilding the former EMI in the U.S., now flying the Capitol Music Group banner. Barnett proceeded to dramatically increase CMG’s frontline marketshare to 6.5% while climbing all the way to 7% in overall/TEA, a major accomplishment. He did so by building the company with the revitalizations of Virgin, Harvest, Caroline, Astralwerks, Priority, I.R.S. and Capitol itself, as well as the addition of the Christian Music Group. Working out of the renovated Tower, the new Capitol team demonstrated its chops with the crisply executed rollout of Katy Perry’s PRISM, with EVP Greg Thompson playing point guard. Perry’s album has moved 770k since its October release, putting it at #17 for the year. Fellow EVP Michelle Jubelirer, whom Barnett lured from a thriving law practice, oversaw CMG’s associated labels and put together an innovative major-indie partnership with Merge for Arcade Fire’s Reflektor, which debuted at #1 a week after PRISM, demonstrating CMG’s newfound competitiveness.


Monte Lipman: The champ

Fortified by a rich new contract, Monte Lipman led Republic to a runaway win in frontline marketshare with 9.1%, thanks in large part to contributions of associated labels including Slim and Baby’s Cash Money (biggest seller: #6 Drake with 1.26m), Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine (#14 Taylor Swift, with another 818k on her 2012 LP) and Jason Flom’s Lava (whose Lorde has sold 542k albums and 4m on her smash single "Royals"). Republic co-founder and President Avery Lipman spearheaded the company’s A&R efforts, while Charlie Walk led a revitalized marketing department, their efforts resulting in such breakthroughs as Florida Georgia Line (#7, 1.24m), while Ariana Grande scored a #1 debut. Lil Wayne, The Band Perry and the Les Misérables soundtrack also finished in the Top 50.


John Janick: The entrepreneur

At IGA, the ruling triumvirate of Jimmy Iovine, John Janick and Steve Berman restored the luster of the perennial powerhouse. In his first full year as President/COO, Janick deftly focused and reenergized the company, taking it to #1 in overall/TEA marketshare with 7.8%, while finishing #4 in frontline share with 7 %. This renewed focus led to an impressive array of hit albums from superstar Eminem (#2, 1.5m), newcomers Imagine Dragons (#5, 1.29m, along with #3 single "Radioactive," now at 5.3m), red-hot veteran Robin Thicke (#23, 636k, plus the year’s biggest-selling single in "Blurred Lines," with 6.4m), as well as four more Top 50 finishers in Lady Gaga, holdovers Maroon 5, rookie Kendrick Lamar, the Great Gatsby soundtrack and 2012 Idol winner Phillip Phillips.

Meanwhile, on the East Coast, the Steve Bartels-led IDJ had a frustrating year, as the company’s A&R sources failed to deliver a steady stream of music to the powerhouse marketing division that Bartels had built—though it should get a late boost from the 12/23 release of a new collection from Justin Bieber. The company did most of the heavy lifting on Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail (#8, 1.1m), though Roc Nation (which inked a deal with UMG) got the marketshare, while the challenging though critically acclaimed Yeezus from fellow rap god Kanye West (#25, 611k) limited its commercial appeal. Rihanna’s 2012 album (#29, another 581k) and the reunited Fall Out Boy (#48, 472k) were IDJ’s other Top 50 entries. Look for a big turnaround in 2014 from a reorganized IDJ as the company looks for a new head of Def Jam.

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