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WHEELS & DEALS:
WILL A&R SEE AN UPSWING IN '05?
Some Signs, Including Hirings and Indie Deals, Point to Yes; Meanwhile, The Arcade Fire, April Sixth and the Happy Endings Are Getting the Ball Rolling
By Rodel Delfin

A&R REPORT CARD 2005: Among the four major music groups left, we count 15 major-label imprints still in the new-artist business. And the number of major-label reps in Rock, Pop & Urban A&R departments tops out over the 140 mark domestically. The period from Q4 2003 through Q2 2004 was marked by dramatic, across-the-board layoffs in A&R (and everywhere else, it seemed). The slashing was brought about by the shuttering of several major labels, Edgar Bronfman Jr. and partners’ acquisition of Warner Music Group and by generally crappy conditions throughout the business and the economy. However, by the beginning of Q4 last year, the weasel community at large seemed to be getting back in the swing of things and even indulged in a few signing derbies in the seven-figure range. And the latter half of the year saw a number of A&R hires and promotions that seemed to spur activity. The good and the bad news, of course, is that no fewer than four majors are still actively seeking new reps. So, what to expect in 2005? With all the talk of a WMG IPO in the spring, one has to wonder whether such a move would make more cash available for new-artist signings. And will we see more high-profile WMG indie-major “incubation” deals as the springtime and the rumored IPO approaches? If WMG’s IPO play proves successful, might another music group follow suit? Who might we be talking about? Is that group already planning its own IPO play? But enough gazing into the crystal ball; let’s talk about what weasels are weaseling about this week... The buzz surrounding The Arcade Fire continues as the Montreal-based group is scheduled to play two sold-out shows at the Troubadour in L.A. this weekend (1/15 & 1/16). Word on the street is that the band is still not interested in signing to a major at this point. We’ll keep you posted... Several label reps were present at the Trevor Hall show at Molly Malone’s before the holiday break. Are labels now opening their checkbooks?… Pub interest brewing around the Bret Bair/Scott Bradfordrepped April Sixth, who just finished their upcoming album In Memory on Columbia. The record’s got Hits (no pun intended), so get on it... Octone President/J Records A&R exec James Diener signs the Ben McLane-repped Happy Endings to J. And with the success of Octone/J’s Maroon 5, Diener and crew definitely gets props for their skill with long artist-development campaigns. Meanwhile, another Diener-signed J Records act, Gavin DeGraw, is finally hitting his stride as his single “I Don’t Want to Be” hits #1 at Mainstream Top 40 this week. Whoa... Lastly, former Cherry Lane Music Publishing exec Al Smith comes over to the dark side, taking an A&R gig at Epic. While at Cherry Lane, Smith signed the Black Eyed Peas and, most recently, hot Sony Urban artist John Legend. Smith will report to Epic’s Ben Goldman... BUZZIN’: Rock Kills Kid, Every Move A Picture, Gil Dvoretsky and The Blood Arm... Hit me up, poindexter: [email protected]

BUZZ/GIGS

48 MAY 
Thursday, Jan. 13, 4 pm, at Swinghouse Studios, L.A.

THE ARCADE FIRE
Saturday, Jan. 15, time TBD, at the Troubadour, L.A.

ROSE HILL DRIVE
Friday, Jan. 21, time TBD, at the Troubadour, L.A.

ANOTHER BILLIE BANGER? (UPDATE)
Are you free Wednesday afternoon? (11/12a)
BIEBER BY CHRISTMAS?
How's that for a tease, Bieber Nation? (11/12a)
NEAR TRUTHS: MEET
THE NEW BOSSES
Not the same as the old bosses (11/12a)
CMA CENTERPIECE
CARRIE UNDERWOOD
This sure feels like her moment. (11/12a)
WHO'S GETTING ZERVAS?
It's down to two bidders. (11/12a)
THE GRAMMY NOMINATIONS
They'll soon be here, and then we can start obsessing about who'll win.
U.K. SPECIAL
Forget Brexit--it's our yearly survey of doings in Blighty. And if you still can't forget Brexit, try drinking.
ZERVAS STATION
Who's going to land the hottest unsigned property in music?
WEED!
That's what Hollywood smells like. Seriously. 24/7.
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