A conundrum arises if non-contractually bound artists choose to leave Front Line, while their highly paid managers are bound by their employment contracts to stay.


An Overview of the Key Players and Plotlines
in a Radically Reshaped Music Business
The wholesale changes that shook up the music business continued into the new year, as some heavyweights expanded their turfs while others made their exits—for now, at least. UMG ruler Lucian Grainge initiated much of this change by acquiring EMI Recorded Music and choosing Steve Barnett to head the Capitol Music Group, setting off a far-reaching domino effect.

Barnett has the basis of his handpicked team in place, tapping Greg Thompson as his right-hand man, working in the adjacent office on the executive floor of the Tower. In Dan McCarroll, newly named Virgin creative head Ron Fair and Blue Note’s Don Was, Barnett has also assembled a formidable A&R team. The CMG chief let everyone know last week who will and won’t be making the cut, as some new faces appear while other longtime members of the rank and file take their leave.

In a New Year’s Eve shocker, Irving Azoff exited Live Nation, causing rampant speculation as to how he’ll leverage his new management company to create a multifaceted entity that boasts the same muscle as his previous creation, with possible partners including the Todd Boehly-led Guggenheim and James Dolan’s MSG. Azoff’s departure makes Michael Rapino the most powerful figure in the live business.

Regarding Front Line, it will be interesting to see whether any artists defect on the heels of Azoff’s exit. Almost all of the FL contractual agreements are with the managers, not the artists. A conundrum arises if non-contractually bound artists choose to leave, while their highly paid managers are bound by their employment contracts to stay.

Word is that Republic chief Monte Lipman is getting a fat new deal, ending those nagging rumors of his possible exit from UMG. But when will Charlie Walk start, and what will his responsibilities be?

Less than four months into his job as IGA COO, John Janick is on a roll, racking up hit albums from Imagine Dragons, Kendrick Lamar and Phillip Phillips, as the former indie entrepreneur brings new energy and insight to Jimmy Iovine’s perennial powerhouse.

Joel Klaiman is settling in as EVP/GM at Rob Stringer’s Columbia, and it will be interesting to see how the red-hot exec’s expanded role plays out over the next year. Will Klaiman be able to help maximize the buzz on David Bowie’s first album in a decade?

At sister label Epic, L.A. Reid has shaken up his staff, with COO Mark Shimmel and SVP Promotion Erik Olesen the biggest names to exit, while Jacqueline Saturn becomes the interim head of promotion. Will she prove worthy this time as she gets yet another shot? As he reshuffles the deck, who will Reid turn to in his search for Mr. or Ms. Right to lead the company with him?

Recently upped EVP/GM Joe Riccitelli has hit the ground running at Peter Edge and Tom Corson’s RCA, with a potentially massive new record from Justin Timberlake, whose last LP sold 4.4m.

At WMG, Cameron Strang now has two big companies to oversee in Warner/Chappell and Warner Bros. Records (essentially replacing Todd Moscowitz). How will Strang turn around the label, which has released a series of under-performing records from some of its biggest acts? Will the WBR Urban roster be moved to Atlantic? Additionally, Blavatnik and Cooper have hired former Sony financial guru Rob Wiesenthal as Warner’s COO. What is his immediate agenda? Buying Parlophone?
Continuing curiosity surrounds Lyor Cohen, as wonderers wonder where he’ll rise up next, while paying particular attention to what’s going on between Cohen and Kanye West. People are also speculating about the status of West’s G.O.O.D. Music joint venture with IDJ.

We may be in the midst of a major shift in the Top 40 format, with a growing number of Alternative Rock records on the air and competing for spins. The next rock band to cross following Gotye, fun., The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men and Imagine Dragons will be Mumford & Sons.

As Dr. Dre and Iovine turn their attention to the Beats streaming service, code-named Daisy, observers are debating whether it’s possible for a late entry in this highly competitive sector to emerge victorious. Spotify, the consensus pick to achieve dominance when it launched in the U.S. 18 months ago, is now seen as vulnerable. Spotify doesn’t even pretend to be artist-friendly, and it lacks iTunes’ sexiness and elegance—the very qualities Iovine and Dre employed to transform the moribund headphone business. In this sense, their hiring of Topspin’s Ian Rogers, who has a similar M.O., could prove to be a savvy move.

Names in the rumor mill: Ken Levitan, Jordan Feldstein, Clive Davis, Rob Cavallo, Michelle Jubelirer, Jerry Greenberg and Daniel Ek.
The lay of the land at the top of the year (1/21a)
America's most wanted (1/20a)
Lin-Manuel and Ken sing in harmony, inspiring industry applause. (1/21a)
The dashboard light has dimmed. (1/21a)
Winning hands in the early action (1/20a)
You're gonna make a poor boy outta me.
...than 24 hours in a day.
on a Saturday night
Lamborginis and caviar Dry martinis, Shangri-La

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