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In the mainstream music business, if you don’t have a top exec like Steve Bartels, Greg Thompson, Joel Klaiman, Joe Riccitelli or the returning Charlie Walk to oversee your promotion activities, you’re playing the game at a distinct disadvantage.
I.B. BAD ON THE YEAR IN MUSIC,
PART THREE: COGS IN THE WHEEL
In the Final Installment, HITS’ Industry Insider Looks at Publishing, Touring, Next-Gen, Legal, Promo, Digital, Distribution, Digital and TV
PUBLISHING: As the longtime head of EMI Music Publishing, Marty Bandier became accustomed to holding the #1 position in marketshare, and now, with EMP added to his Sony/ATV, he’s back on top, surrounded by his capable team of Jody Gerson and Danny Strick. Universal Music Publishing, now headed by Evan Lamberg, is #2… After stepping down from EMP in June after 17 years, most of them spent working under Bandier, Big Jon Platt assumed the top creative post at Warner/Chappell, and with Cameron Strang getting both Warner Bros. Records and Rhino, it’s quite conceivable that Platt could take reins of the pubco… Hartwig Masuch has built BMG Rights Management into a major pubco, and he’s said to be eager to add major catalogs to the company’s holdings, starting with making a run on Parlophone. And Larry Mestel’s relatively recent entry Primary Wave continues to be a presence

TOURING: Live Nation had a huge 2012, handling such lucrative tours as Madonna, Roger Waters, Dave Matthews Band, Van Halen, Coldplay, Barbra Streisand, Jason Aldean and Brad Paisley. Chief rival AEG Live promoted Kenny Chesney with Tim McGraw (in partnership with the Messina Group) and Justin Bieber. Cirque de Soleil’s Michael Jackson The Immortal, behind only Madonna in the States this year, was promoted by Cirque itself. While the Jackson tribute grossed $200m worldwide this year, production expenses were said to be gigantic. On the agency side, The clients of Rob Light’s CAA included Bruce Springsteen (booked in conjunction with Barry Bell), Bieber, Van Halen and McGraw; Peter Grosslight’s William Morris Endeavor repped Waters, Paisley and the Red Hot Chili Peppers; the Marty Diamond-led Paradigm handled Dave Matthews Band and Coldplay.

THE NEXT GENERATION: Scooter Braun has taken the talent he’s wrangled—including Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen and The Wanted—and masterfully spread it around the individual UMG labels, with the explosive success of PSY causing those skeptics who doubted that the dynamic young entrepreneur was the real deal to eat their words. Braun is part of the youth movement that is now beginning to make deep inroads into the mainstream music business. Joining Braun in the next generation of movers and shakers are Interscope’s John Janick, IDJ’s Brandon Creed (who manages Bruno Mars) and Karen Kwak, Troy Carter (Lady Gaga, John Legend), Jordan Feldstein (Maroon 5, Robin Thicke), Roc Nation’s Jay Brown (Rihanna, Shakira), Dave Holmes (Coldplay) and Warner Music’s Cameron Strang.

LEGAL: John Branca is having a mega year as caretaker of the Michael Jackson estate, while Joel Katz had a hand in a number of the highest-profile executive negotiations, and Aaron Rosenberg rose to prominence. Meanwhile, Peter Paterno, Don Passman and Eric Greenspan, three respected veterans, continued to lead their respective firms. The low-key Steve Shapiro and Peter Lewitt continued to play a major role. And Allen Grubman, the Godfather, once again had his fingerprints all over the music business.

PROMOTION: In the mainstream music business, if you don’t have a top exec like Steve Bartels, Greg Thompson, Joel Klaiman, Joe Riccitelli or the returning Charlie Walk to oversee your promotion activities, you’re playing the game at a distinct disadvantage. Even as the majors have focused on building their A&R teams and stockpiling rainmakers, old-school radio promotion has demonstrated its ongoing central role in building marketshare and profitability by its unparalleled ability to break records and fast-track artists’ careers. Much has changed in the music business in recent years; what hasn’t changed is that nothing sells records like radio.

DISTRIBUTION: Jim Urie’s UMGD and Darren Stupak’s SMD were once agin the dominant players in the field. In the indie-distribution sector, Bob Morelli and Alan Becker’s RED had a milestone year, racking up 5.2%, while INGrooves acquired Fontana from UMG, with Robb McDaniels leading the combined company.

DIGITAL: While iTunes remains the 800-pound gorilla in the digital music space, two of the most viable recent entries were launched by old-media powers: Sony and UMG’s VEVO (conceived by Doug Morris and led by Rio Caraeff) and iHeartRadio, a digital initiative from Clear Channel’s Bob Pittman and Tom Poleman. Thirteen years after the Napster revolution, which threatened the very existence of the music business, the remnants of the old mainstream have managed not only to survive but also to show renewed signs of life by adapting to the new realities.

TV: During its two “seasons” this year, The Voice has become increasingly popular, while significantly boosting the fortunes of Adam Levine and Maroon 5. The band scored the #10 album in Overexposed (834k), as well as two smash singles. The Voice has consistently pulled better ratings than season two of The X Factor, though the latter show’s ratings are improving leading up to this month’s finale. The judges’ panel was revamped, as pop divas Britney Spears and Demi Lovato (who’s rumored to be one and done) were paired with industry heavyweights Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid. American Idol, which returns for its 12th season in January, lost a sizable portion of its once-massive audience last year, but it still drew far more viewers than either of its challengers. Will this trend continue with new judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban? In its last two seasons, Idol yielded a pair of potential career artists in Scotty McCreery and Phillip Phillips—an achievement neither of its challengers can yet claim… Lest there be any doubt about the potency of music on TV, consider that the Grammys generated bigger ratings than the Oscars this year.

THE EMPEROR: A tsunami wave of chatter surrounds Irving Azoff's next major move, though no one has a clue what that might be. Will he buy or sell, expand or contract? Only Big Shorty knows for sure.

NAMES IN THE RUMOR MILL: Chris Blackwell, Richard Branson, Clive Calder, Clive Davis, Ahmet Ertegun, David Geffen, Berry Gordy, Goddard Lieberson, Jerry Moss and Mo Ostin.

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