Sony BMG Forged, WMG Bought, UMG Takes a Bite out of the Apple, EMI Stock Rises, Janet Jackson De-Frocked and a Whole Lot Less

January: Josh Groban debuts at #1, leapfrogging the previous chart-topper OutKast, with Alicia Keys #2… L.A. Reid exits Arista, with Michael Smellie named interim head… The Darkness, Jet debut on charts… Hoobastank is #1 Vibe-Rater…Edgar Bronfman Jr.’s acquisition of WMG, with investment firm Thomas H. Lee and Partners, is official… OutKast returns to top of charts by end of month… Christina Norman is named VH1 Prexy…

February: Atlantic’s Twista bows at #1… Clive Davis is appointed Chairman/CEO of BMG N.A Janet Jackson bares all at Super Bowl, causing a landslide of controversy, much of it directed at MTV, which produced the halftime spectacle for parent company Viacom’s CBS IGA boss Jimmy Iovine reportedly re-ups for six more years… Kenny Chesney, Incubus debut #1-2 on album chart… L.A. Reid named Chairman of Island Def Jam Music Group, replacing Lyor Cohen, now at WMGOutKast, Beyonce are big winners at Grammys… Happy Walters brawls with Sanctuary exec Prem Akkaraju at one of Grammy parties… Norah Jones debuts with 1.03 million in first-week sales, doubling the sales of #2 Kanye WestUMG leads BMG 28.7%-20.2% in overall marketshare after first two months, with IGA topping Columbia for individual label honors…

March: Bronfman begins setting up operations after his $2.6 billion WMG acquisition is complete, with Lyor Cohen as point guy and Elektra’s Sylvia Rhone and Atlantic’s Val Azzoli leaving… Broadcast Decency hearings get underway in Congress after Janet Jackson fiasco… Linkin Park tops PoMo chart; Nickelback heads Active Rock… Jet is #1 Vibe-Rater… Rolling Stone boss Jann Wenner inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Jackson Browne, George Harrison, Prince, Bob Seger, Traffic, The Dells and ZZ Top... Jordan Schur and Polly Anthony named Co-Presidents of Geffen RecordsLisa Ellis tapped as GM for Sony Urban MusicJoel Gallen’s Pepsi Smash renewed for summer by the WBNorah Jones #1 for fourth consecutive week… Arista absorbed into RCA Music GroupWalter Yetnikoff’s autobiography, Howling at the Moon, hits bookstores… FCC targets indecency with probe, as Bubba the Love Sponge gets canned… Hoobastank’s "The Reason" tops the singles chart on its way to becoming one of the year's Most Played records at radio… P. Diddy’s Bad Boys 10th Anniversary album debuts #2… Jason Flom is named Chairman of WMG’s Elektra-Atlantic-Lava East Coast label… UMG launches JumpStart retail initiative… Arista’s Jordan Katz is appointed head of BMG Distribution… John Boulos joins Capitol Records as head of promotion…

April: Usher sets the year’s one-week sales mark, debuting at #1 with 1.09million sold, followed by bows from Capitol’s Now 15, Geffen’s Guns N’ Roses and Bad Boy/Universal’s Carl ThomasBlink-182, Incubus top PoMo, Active Rock charts… Julie Greenwald joins Lyor Cohen at WMG as President of Atlantic RecordsBritney Spears’ "Toxic" tops Pop Top 50… J-Kwon #1 Vibe… Despite (or because of) Nipplegate, Janet Jackson bows at #2, with Lil Flip, Aerosmith, J-Kwon and Eric Clapton also debuting in the Top 10… A&R exec and ex-Zombie Paul Atkinson passes away at the age of 58… EMI stock is up… Kevin Liles reportedly re-ups at IDJ, but not for long… Idol loser William Hung graces cover of HITSFCC nails Clear Channel with 500k fine for Howard Stern violations… Sony BMG push their merger with EC boss Mario MontiHoobastank and A Perfect Circle top PoMo and Active Rock charts, respectively… Kevin Liles inks jailed rapper Jamal "Shyne" Barrow to a reported $7 million recording pact… WMG is embroiled in court battle with Maverick, accusing label of losing $66 million… Usher tops album sales chart for fifth week in a row, followed by debuts from Mario Winans and PrinceMTV announces Miami as site of this year’s VMAs since Republican convention will be held in NYC in August…

May: D12 bows at #1, Diana Krall at #3… Steve Bartels is hired as President of Island Records by old Arista boss L.A. ReidUMG (28.7%) tops BMG (20.2%) as marketshare leader at the third-way mark… Yellowcard now #12 Vibe-Rater… Usher returns to #1 spot after a week… Beastie Boys’ first single, "Ch-Check It Out," from new album To the 5 Boroughs, hits radio… HITS goes bi-weekly… Epic/Sony Nashville Redneck Woman Gretchen Wilson debuts at #2, 8Ball & MJG #3 and Teena Marie at #6… NPD Group announces digital downloads are on the upswing… Kevin Welk earns the Cup at VH1 topper Rick Krim’s Pinehurst Invitational over Epic’s Joel Klaiman, Scott Reich and Lyor Cohen

June: Avril Lavigne, Slipknot debut #1-2 on chart… Mel Karmazin exits Viacom, with MTV boss Tom Freston and CBS chief Les Moonves named Co-Presidents/Co-COOs… Ray Charles passes away of acute liver disease on June 10… EC issues statement of objections to Sony BMG merger… Velvet Revolver debuts #1 with 257k in first-week sales… WMG buys out Maverick, as Guy Oseary remains with the label…Los Lonely Boys #1 at Vibe… Larry Mestel named COO/GM of Virgin RecordsCharlie Walk is named Executive VP/Creative Marketing and Promotion for Columbia Records GroupBeastie Boys debut #1 on Top 50 album chart… EC greenlights Sony BMGLollapalooza is cancelled amid a weak summer touring slate…Piero Giramonti is named Sr. VP Video and DVD Production at Sony Music U.S

July: Interscope rapper Jadakiss and G-Unit member Lloyd Banks debut at #1on consecutive weeks… Brandy, Lil’ Wayne bow in Top 5… The Cure is #1 Vibe-Rater… Reports that EMI and WMG will reopen merger negotiations after EC approval of Sony BMG appear in U.K… RCA Nashville’s ploy to put out a country album by Jimmy Buffett pays dividends as License to Chill debuts #1, ending two-week reign of Banks… The Roots bows Top 5… Modest Mouse is #1 on Vibe-Raters… Sony BMG gets final approval, with Andrew Lack named CEO of newly annointed Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Rolf Schmidt-Holtz as Chairman… Judy McGrath is named Chairman/CEO for MTV Networks Group, giving her responsibility for MTV, MTV2, VH1, CMT, Comedy Central and LOGOVelvet Revolver tops both PoMo and Active Rock charts with "Slither"…

August: Ashlee Simpson debuts #1, but is overthrown by UTV’s Now 16, only to return to the top after a week absence … Taking Back Sunday, Terror Squad and Kevin Lyttle bow in Top 10… Jay-Z leads the way with six nominations for "99 Problems" at MTV’s VMAs, slated for Miami on Aug. 29… Franz Ferdinand climbs to #1 Vibe-Rater, followed by Alter BridgeShyne, Mobb Deep and Alter Bridge debut in Top 5… Kevin Liles joins old pal Lyor Cohen as Executive VP at WMG… The combined Sony BMG boasts a 32% current-album marketshare in U.S., slightly ahead of UMG… Ex-Hollywood Reporter music scribe Tamara Conniff named Co-Executive Editor by BillboardNARM 2004 held in San Diego… Joel Klaiman is upped to EVP Promotion for Epic RecordsDel Bryant takes over as BMI President/CEO for the retiring Frances W. PrestonCake is Most Added at PoMo… Jay-Z and OutKast top the list of winners at MTV’s VMAs with four Moonmen apiece… UMVD’s Jim Urie announces the formation of indie distrib Fontana.

September: Tim McGraw debuts #1, followed by R. Kelly, Young Buck and MaseJill Scott, Ray Charles and LL Cool J bow in Top 5… WMG’s Lyor Cohen announces The Incubator, an initiative to upstream developing artists… Don Ienner adds CEO stripes to his President title at Sony Music Label Group U.S.Microsoft announces plans to open its own online music store to challenge Apple’s iTunesAlan Jackson debuts at #1, followed by a 1-2 finish for Nelly’s Suit and Sweat albums the following week… Sony BMG COO Michael Smellie puts his worldwide team in place… Breaking Benjamin goes to #1 at Active Rock… Green Day debuts at #1, Keith Urban at #3, Chevelle at #6… Manager Scott Welch and client Alanis Morissette part ways…

October: Rascal Flatts bows at #1, with Hilary Duff, Ciara, The Used and Marilyn Manson all scoring Top 10 debuts… This marks the first-time ever that Disney’s Buena Vista Music Group scores the top two debuts on the album chart… Brian Wilson’s long-awaited Smile bows Top 20… MTV’s Van Toffler honored with City of Hope’s "Spirit of Life" Award… Sylvia Rhone named President of Motown Records and EVP Universal Records… Howard Stern announces he’ll take his show to Sirius Satellite Radio, starting Jan. 2006… Sony BMG leads ¾ year marketshare with 31.3% over UMG’s 30.2%… Thomas H. Lee and Bain Capital announce investments in The FirmWMG announces it will return $350 million to its equity investors… Bob Cavallo’s Buena Vista Music Group racks up $250 million in gross sales for its fiscal year ended Sept. 30… Jordan Katz and Bill Frohlich are named Co-Presidents of the newly launched Sony BMG Sales EnterpriseGreen Day tops PoMo chart and Papa Roach is #1 at Active Rock… George Strait bows at #1, Celine Dion, Mos Def and Sum 41 score Top 10 sales debuts… Usher’s repackaged Confessions bursts back into the Top 10 at #2… Apple launches its U2 iPod campaign… Spivak/Sobel Entertainment, whose client roster includes A Perfect Circle, Queens of the Stone Age, Three Days Grace, Yellowcard, Vanessa Carlton and The Distillers, joins The FirmSteve Barnett is named President of the Epic Records GroupNelly and Tim McGraw’s "Over and Over" explodes at radio, fueling sales of the rapper’s Suit album… BET pulls Eminem’s "Just Lose It" video after receiving complaints from Michael Jackson himself over being parodied in the clip… The Killers’ "Mr. Brightside" is #1 Vibe…. Rod Stewart’s latest Great American Songbook gives the crooner his first #1 album in more than two decades… Jimmy Eat World and Brooks & Dunn also debut Top 10…

November: R. Kelly/Jay-Z, Trick Daddy and Simple Plan debut 1-2-3 on album chart… Ashlee Simpson "lip-syncs" on Saturday Night LiveSony BMG’s Andrew Lack reportedly in talks with Shawn Fanning’s Snocap, a digital rights management initiative meant to legitimize P2P services… Queen Latifah is #1 Vibe-Rater… Bryan Turner’s Melee Entertainment inks a DVD deal with Paramount Pictures… New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer launches an investigation of independent radio promotion and payola, then announces his candidacy for Governor… Brandy leaves Atlantic, Janet Jackson parts ways with manager Roger Davies, joins Johhny Wright and Kenneth Crear’s new company… Capitol’s Now 17 debuts at #1, with A Perfect Circle #2, giving EMI the top two slots… Eminem debuts early at #1 with more than 735k in first-week sales, followed by Shania Twain, Toby Keith, Britney Spears, Fabolous and Ja Rule in the Top 10… UMG becomes the first major music company to reach an agreement with Fanning’s SnocapDr. Dre is attached by a knife-wielding assailant at the Vibe awards, as G-Unit’s Young Buck comes to his aid, and gets arrested for his troubles… Madonna splits with longtime manager Caresse Henry… Country-formatted KSON San Diego PD John Dimick is named PD at HOT97 N.Y., replacing Tracy ClohertyAlanis Morissette divides managerial duties between attorney Fred Goldring and business manager Mihaela Evans

December: U2 debuts at #1 with 838k in first-week sales… Gwen Stefani and American Idol winner Fantasia bow in Top 10… VH1 holds its Big in ’04 awards show at L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium… UMG announces it is in discussions with satellite TV provider EchoStar for a 24-hour music video channel helmed by Andy SchuonHITSLenny Beer, UMPG’s Tom Sturges and The Doors manager Jeff Jampol will teach a UCLA course, "The Music Business: Now," starting in January… Jay-Z/Linkin Park "mash-up" CD/DVD bows at #1, followed by RCA/RMG American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson (#4),Columbia/Sony Urban’s Nas (#5) and Atlantic/Atl G rapper T.I. (#6)… David Renzer upped to Chairman/CEO for Universal Music Publishing Group Worldwide… Kanye West tops the list of Grammy nominees, with a total of 10, followed by Alicia Keys and Usher with eight, Ray Charles with seven, Green Day with six and Norah Jones, Loretta Lynn, Prince and engineer Al Schmitt five apiece… Don Ienner taps Keith Naftaly as Sr. VP A&R for Sony Music Label Group U.SKen Bunt is upped to Sr. VP Marketing for Hollywood Records... Look for big things from vets Steve Greenberg and Greg Thompson at Columbia and IDJ, respectively, in the new year... Ludacris bows at #1, Lindsay Lohan debuts #4… We’re outta here until 2005. Happy holidays, everyone!

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