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The buzz inside 550 Madison is that both of these veterans remain at the tops of their games, and
the fiscal Q3 numbers support this assertion.
I.B. BAD APPLAUDS A PAIR
OF HEAT-SEEKING MOGULS
A Bro Valentine to Sony's Co-MVPs,
Doug Morris and Marty Bandier
Since Doug Morris took command of Sony Music in July 2011, the company has been on an extended winning streak, orchestrating the bestselling album of the modern era in Adele’s 21, and racking up three consecutive year-over-year increases in total marketshare. And though the Japanese parent company chooses to group Morris’ recorded music and Marty Bandier’s publishing empire together in its earnings reports, the buzz inside 550 Madison is that both of these veterans remain at the tops of their games, and the fiscal Q3 numbers support this assertion. They show sizable year-over-year gains in sales (14.4%) and operating income (32.5%), with $1.38 billion in revenue and $207m in profit—and this despite a down quarter for the Japanese record company.

Bandier’s latest act may well be the strongest of his distinguished career, as he captains Sony/ATV, the 800-pound gorilla of the publishing business, into previously uncharted territory. Morris, meanwhile, has guided Sony Music to three straight quarterly increases in sales and operating income, reflective of the impressive performance during that stretch by Rob Stringer’s Columbia, which had climbed to #2 in frontline marketshare by the end of 2013 with 8%, and by Peter Edge and Tom Corson’s RCA, which ended the year at #3 with 7.7%. L.A. Reid’s Epic is also heating up—and expect Gary O's consistently strong Sony Nashvile operation to beef up the stats in Sony Music's boxscore once again this year.

Columbia’s momentum continued through the first five weeks of 2014, fueled in large part by the carryover momentum of Beyoncé’s self-titled album, which has sold 1.8m in TEA since its mid-December release, 470k of that total this year. Stringer’s label leads the field thus far in 2014 with an impressive 9.9%, and while it’s much too soon to call that lead insurmountable, the combination of carryover hits and a strong slate of upcoming releases—including what’s expected to be a big album from red-hot hitmaker Pharrell Williams—should keep Columbia in the thick of it throughout 2014.

Interestingly, last year’s top five finishers in frontline share comprise the top five of 2014. Monte Lipman’s Republic, which came out on top last year, is currently #2 year-to-date with a 7.3% share, powered by a carryover of its own in Lorde’s Pure Heroine (1.65m TEA, 365k YTD), while Steve Barnett’s CMG has moved up two spots to #3 with 7% behind Katy Perry’s PRISM (2m TEA, 375k YTD), which, like Lorde’s album, shows no signs of slowing down. Jimmy Iovine’s IGA, fourth at 6.6%, has a pair of ongoing drivers in Imagine DragonsNight Visions (2.7m TEA, 225k YTD) and Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP2 (2.6m TEA, 295k YTD). And #5 RCA, despite the lack of a high-charting carryover album, is holding steady at 6%.

There’s a significant TV component to each of the top five labels’ successes, as Beyoncé, Lorde, Katy, Imagine Dragons and Pharrell all picked up steam via their Grammy performances, while Beats ad campaigns have lifted Pharrell, Imagine Dragons and their Interscope labelmate Aloe Blacc.

Heat check: Pharrell, who has the #1 single in "Happy," hit songwriter/producer Ryan Tedder, and Tedder’s Interscope band OneRepublic, who scored a massive single of their own in "Counting Stars," are all managed by Ron Laffitte.

While Bandier is clearly still the king of publishing, Cameron Strang and Big Jon Platt are on a roll at Warner/Chappell, as WMG’s latest quarterly financial results reveal. The pubco’s revenue grew more than 10%, with digital, sync, performance and mechanical revenue all in plus territory, while operating income was up 18.8% to $19m. By contrast, quarterly revenue at Warner’s record division declined 6.1% on a loss of $37m. WCM is maintaining that momentum behind current hits from writers like Katy Perry, Beyoncé, Jay Z, Priscilla Renea (Pitbull and Ke$ha’s "Timber") and Sean Douglas (Jason Derulo’s "Talk Dirty").

Modern-day Country music can accurately be described as country rock, but Eric Church rocks so hard that he makes Country radio programmers squirm. They rejected his last single, the aggressive title track from his fourth album, The Outsiders, but the follow-up, "Give Me Back My Hometown," is #15 this week on the Mediabase Country chart and gaining momentum. Despite his erratic radio history, Church has built a sizable audience; his previous album, 2011’s Chief, sold 1.7m, and The Outsiders, which hit this week on Mike Dungan’s EMI Nashville, will be the year’s biggest debut with a total that could hit 300k. Church is a potential game changer; he’s the closest thing to a bona fide outlaw mainstream Country has produced in decades.

Names in the rumor mill: Julie Swidler, Paul McGuinness, Jason Iley, Max Hole, Dr. Luke and Simon Cowell.

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