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NEAR TRUTHS BY I.B. BAD
Gerson Gets What She Deserves;
Strang, Reid and Bartels Get Busy
BREAKING THE GLASS CEILING: In one of the summer’s bigger stories, Jody Gerson becomes the first female CEO of a major pubco, as she takes the top post at UMPG. Lucian Grainge is being applauded for making an inspired pick, while Marty Bandier deserves accolades for developing another state-of-the-art publishing executive. With Gerson at UMPG, his former lieutenant Big Jon Platt running Warner/Chappell and the man himself helming Sony/ATV, all three major pubcos now bear Bandier’s imprint. Will he look for a replacement on the West Coast to complement President/East Coast head Danny Strick?

MAKING MOVES: As the dozen major labels gear up for Q4, the jockeying for position on the charts and in the marketshare scrum has intensified. At the top, Steve Barnett’s CMG has vaulted from 7.4% to 8.4% in frontline share during the last two months to take a sizable lead in that competition, while Republic’s timely pickup of David Massey’s sizzling Island (with 2% in TEA) has given Monte Lipman the top spot in the track-equivalent standings with 7.8%. CMG, #2 with 7.5%, presently has a slim lead over Columbia, whose Rob Stringer keeps putting points on the scoreboard without the benefit of what he pointedly and colorfully refers to as "bolt-on marketshare." But there’s just as much drama deeper in the standings, as two iconic labels and a third newly minted standalone operation are making strong moves in the old-school manner—by breaking new artists at radio, the result of expert efforts on the parts of Peter Gray, Todd Glassman, Rick Sackheim and their teams.

Warner Bros. Records was suffering from years of mismanagement when Cameron Strang took charge of the moribund label in December 2012. What a difference 20 months has made. During that stretch, WB has gained a full point in TEA to 5.8%, racking up hit album/single combos from Jason Derulo (5.7m in single sales, 786k in TEA) and The Black Keys (391k in TEA), while giving Tom Petty the first chart-topper of his long career. "Am I Wrong," the debut single from Norwegian duo Nico & Vinz, should pass 2m by the end of August. What’s more, "Cool Kids" from rookie Alternative band Echosmith is growing nicely, moving 50k last week.

At this time last year, Epic registered 1.1% in frontline share, but since then the label has made a dramatic turnaround, more than doubling its share to 2.5% under Chairman L.A. Reid and President Sylvia Rhone. Their run started with the breakthrough of Pop duo A Great Big World, whose "Say Something" has sold nearly 4m in the U.S. alone. Then came South African sibling band KONGOS, whose "Come With Me Now" has become one of 2014’s biggest crossover singles after topping the Modern Rock charts, reaching 1m in sales. More recently, "All About That Bass," the debut single from a third newcomer, Meghan Trainor, has exploded, hitting #1 on iTunes; it will pass 500k this week, and it looks like a giant in the making.

Steve Bartels was in the midst of resuscitating IDJ when the label group was reshuffled in April, as Island went to Republic and Motown was reassigned to CMG, leaving the savvy music-biz veteran with Def Jam, a brand with a distinguished history. Rather than fretting, Bartels immediately redoubled his efforts, and the results are evident in a .7% frontline increase from a year ago. Among the acts putting points on the board are August Alsina (227k in TEA) and Jeremih, whose "Don’t Tell ’Em" single is building the buzz on his 9/30 album release. But the big story is Iggy Azalea, a prime contender for breakout artist of the year. Her smash "Fancy" has now sold 3.2m, good for #4 year-to-date, while generating steady sales on her debut album, New Classic (697k in TEA).

The Aussie rapper took a circuitous route to stardom. She was nearly signed by Interscope in 2012 after catching the ear of SVP A&R Neil Jacobson, but those talks were abruptly broken off at the eleventh hour. Enter Sarah Stennett and her U.K.-based Turn First company, which took on Iggy for management. Next, Mercury U.K. head Jason Iley signed Iggy to the label shortly before the now-Sony U.K. chief left the company. Massey then picked her up for Island U.S., playing a significant role in developing her. Following the April 2013 signing, IDJ primed the pump by working a pair of tracks to the format, while keeping Iggy on the road nonstop to build her base. Stennett points to a fortuitous meeting with then-IDJ/now-Def Jam promotion head Sackheim and VP Rhythmic Noah Sheer at L.A.’s Peninsula Hotel, during which they expressed the belief that the previously overlooked "Fancy" could be a major U.S. hit, as a pivotal career moment for her client. The track had just hit the Top 25 at Rhythmic when Def Jam became a standalone label. Four months later, Iggy finds herself on the brink of superstardom, and a prime contender for a Best New Artist Grammy nomination.

Names in the rumor mill: Zach Horowitz, Evan Lamberg, Rick Krim, Pentatonix, Ted Cockle and Hozier.

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