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"Look, I'm just a schlepper, okay? We're trying to sell some records. There's nothing complicated here."
——David Munns
MEET THE NEW EMI NORTH AMERICA
David Munns, Matt Serletic and Roy Lott Talk
To HITS, for Reasons Known Only to Them
By David Adelson

Less than a week after Alain Levy reshaped EMI's North American operations, David Munns, Matt Serletic and Roy Lott spent a few painful minutes conversing with us about the shape of things to come.

Munns recounted to HITS the upshot of a Monday Virgin staff meeting: "I wanted New York to be on the table, because I can't stand anyone having secrets. The office move won't be until later in the year. We have a new building in New York. It's a hundred years old and needs to be retrofitted. I don't expect that to happen until September at the earliest. The message, in the meantime, is that we have a job to do. We have some records out, and we have some good records coming out. We have a Lenny Kravitz record. We have a Gorillaz tour and record. I told everybody to please keep their heads focused. Don't worry about playing politics and get on with your job. And everybody will get a very fair hearing. One thing I can guarantee is that the people who won't be part of a new Virgin are those who spend more time on politics than doing their job."

Munns was also quite clear about the pairing of Serletic and Lott: "Matt is responsible for all the creative issues and logically responsible for the future success of Virgin Records. Roy is the guy who stands behind him, running the business issues, counting the money and installing some business disciplines that this company needs. I think it's an interesting concept. I hope it works. I couldn't find one rocket scientist, so I had to find two."

That said, Serletic sounded like a cross between a politician and a rocket scientist: "This is an amazing opportunity to reach out to a larger number of artists and work with a lot of talented people. I wouldn't have this opportunity being a producer slaving away for four months on one record. So I'm sort of taking this creative, amazing opportunity to build a new roster of incredible artists, while working with some of the best that are on Virgin."

Lott, who's done this dance before, sounded quite, well, polished: "Alain and David are being enormously supportive of Matt and myself, and with Matt's creative vision and his desire to look at new models in the music industry, we're ready to go." Munns took the opportunity to add, "He likes being up to his neck in shit, Roy does."

As for the task of turning EMI North America around, Munns downplayed the pressure. "Look, I'm just a schlepper, okay? We're trying to sell some records. There's nothing complicated here. Is this the worst job in the record business? I don't know. It's kind of fun right now. This is a great company, and there's no reason we can't sort this out. We have some great records, and there's no reason we can't make more money next year than we made this year."

Munns also revealed a bit about his personal life: "I have two wives. One's called Ann and she's beautiful. The other's called Alain Levy, and I'm only doing this because he's doing it with me."

And for those of you who might have been in a coma last week, here's a quick recap of what went down:

—Levy named his right-hand man, Worldwide Vice Chairman Munns, Chairman/CEO of EMI Recorded Music North America. All EMI Recorded Music business heads on this side of the pond now report to Munnsy. The rest of the existing EMI crew reporting to Munns consists of Andy Slater (President/CEO Capitol), Deane Cameron (President EMI Music Canada), Richard Cottrell (President/CEO EMI Music Distribution), Mike Dungan (President/CEO Capitol Nashville), Steve Greenberg (President/CEO S-Curve Records), Bill Hearn (President/CEO EMI Christian Music Group) and Bruce Lundvall (President Angel/Blue Note).

—Levy and Munns made producer Serletic Chairman/CEO of Virgin Records America. Serletic is best known as the producer of "Smooth" from Santana's mega-selling/Grammy-winning Supernatural and for discovering/ producing Matchbox Twenty. Two years ago, he formed Melisma Records, a joint venture with Arista. Melisma and Arista have since parted ways.

—They appointed former Capitol President/ current EMI Recorded Music North America Deputy President Lott President/COO of Virgin Records America.

—Concurrently, they removed Ray Cooper and Ashley Newton as Virgin America Co-Presidents.

—They further announced that Virgin HQ will move from Beverly Hills to Manhattan in September. EMI's New York headquarters will move to 150 Fifth Avenue this fall as well. The Slater-led Capitol will serve as EMI's main West Coast presence.

—Roger Faxon, who for the past three years has been EMI Music Publishing's CFO, has been appointed CFO of EMI Group and joins the company's board. In his new role, Faxon reports directly to Eric Nicoli, EMI Group's Chairman.

—Levy announced that Stuart Ells will join EMI  Recorded Music as CFO. Ells, who is currently CFO and a director of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group, will assume his new role by the end of February.

—Faxon and Ells succeed Tony Bates, who since January 2000, has combined the role of Group Finance Director with that of Executive VP and CFO for EMI Recorded Music. Bates is leaving the company by mutual agreement. He will stay with the Group until May in order to ensure a smooth handover of his responsibilities.

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