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LEVY-NG NO STORE UNTURNED
New EMI Recorded Music Boss Earning Points for Quick Action

Alain Levy may have been away from the music industry wars for awhile, but he's wasting no time making his mark as Chairman/CEO of EMI Recorded Music.

The man has earned high grades from observers for his decisiveness—ironically, a quality he was not particularly noted for in his days as PolyGram chief.

The new EMI Recorded Music boss is striving to get as much of his restructuring costs rolled into the current—already bleak—fiscal year, which ends March 31, the theory being that a big write-off now will go down on Ken Berry's watch and give Levy and team the opportunity to dramatically improve earnings in the quarters ahead. Will the move of Virgin Records to New York find its way into the current year's P&L? Some are saying Levy's new-found taste for action already gives him a favorable profile over other, less bold, group heads.

Levy has already installed David Munns as head of North America and showed an acumen for balancing artist savvy with label know-how in pairing producer Matt Serletic with industry vet Roy Lott at Virgin. Levy has fulfilled his promise to put EMI's colonial holdings in American hands at the label level, while his choice for trusted second in command ended speculation that he would be bringing back some of his former North American PolyGram lieutenants.

Eyeballers now eyeballing the Joel Katz-repped Lott and Serletic, as the new duo takes control. Observers point to Serletic's creative hot streak as key in strengthening Virgin's artist roster, while Lott's operational acumen, sharpened under Clive Davis at Arista, will help keep the lid on, business-wise.

With the announcement that the Virgin move to New York won't take place until September, how will Munns and his new team motivate a demoralized group of employees, most of whom will not be making the trip East with them? While the move makes strategic sense for a company headquartered in London, many are wondering how Virgin will compete in the marketplace during the transition. New tracks from Lenny Kravitz and Gorillaz will be among the records needing attention. It will be up to Levy and Munns, as well as Serletic and Lott, to keep the troops on point.

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