Some believe that if Sir Howard Stringer were to elevate Lack to a higher post, which remains a possibility, Ames would appear to be on the short list to replace him at the top of the music division.


Smellie’s Exit Puts Spotlight on the Sony-BMG Assimilation (or Lack Thereof); Will Springsteen Leave Columbia After More Than 30 Years?
On the heels of Michael Smellie's decision to ankle his post as Sony BMG COO, speculators quickly started speculating on his replacement. The first names to be tossed around were those of Charles Goldstuck and semi-free agent Roger Ames. Clive Davis protégé Goldstuck is rumored to be one of Andy Lack's choices for the job, but some argue that there's no upside for Goldstuck to leave Clive's side, considering he's been doing well in his recent career path as the legend's right-hand man, the added benefit being that Davis provides Goldstuck with shelter from the storm. It's no secret that Smellie virtually disappeared from U.S. operations following Lack's takeover of the combined company 11 months ago. Instead, despite a title indicating hands-on oversight of SBMG, the Aussie BMG vet was exiled to the international sector, where he’s functioned as the de facto head. Insiders say Lack and Smellie never really clicked, despite the rhetoric in the press releases. When the merger went down, these insiders explain, with Lack in charge and his BMG counterpart Rolf Schmidt-Holtz reduced to a non-operational executive role, BMG insisted on their man getting the #2 job, and that job turned out to be Smellie’s. But Sony insiders say the the combination of Lack and Smellie instantly felt like oil and water, making Smellie’s decision to return to Sydney a no-brainer. Some say the smart money is on Roger Ames, another Lack favorite. The two talked even before Ames exited as WMG Chairman, and some believe that if Sir Howard Stringer were to elevate Lack to a higher post, which remains a possibility, Ames would appear to be on the short list to replace him at the top of the music division. Ames, now consulting non-exclusively with EMI, may view a top SBMG post as more compelling than continuing to wait around for the possible merger of Warner and EMI. Meanwhile, the two companies continue as distinct separate cultures sharing one operating system. Both label groups would like to see someone from their organizational chart get the gig, but this one is 100% Lack's call… Bruce Springsteen’s Columbia deal is up, and so far no new arrangement has been worked out. Springsteen gurus Jon Landau and Allen Grubman are beginning to test the marketplace for a potential deal with another label while continuing their talks with Sony. Springsteen is reportedly looking for a deal in the neighborhood of $50 million, and most believe only Sony could come up with a figure of that size because the company has the artist’s entire catalog. Some speculate that Bruce’s long-term relationship with Jimmy Iovine, which dates back to 1975, when Iovine engineered and mixed the breakthrough Born to Run, would put the IGA chieftain at the top of list if the Hall of Famer were to leave Columbia after 33 years. While there's certainly a possibility that Bruce could make his next album for a label other than Columbia, it's nonetheless hard to conceive of… Speaking of free agency, EMI/Virgin appears to be in position to close a deal with Korn. Said deal is for two albums and a one-third interest in the band’s publishing, merchandising and ticket sales as part of a new contractual model, a la Robbie Williams. The fine points are being hammered out by attorney Gary Stiffelman and manager Jeff Kwatinetz on the band’s side of the table, and by EMI N.A. head David Munns and Virgin topper Matt Serletic… As Steve Jobs adjusts his laurels after selling 20 million iPods and a half-billion downloads, is resentment building among the majors because the Apple chief is rolling in clover while the traditional record industry continues to slump? These same labels are privately kicking themselves for failing to see the big picture, enabling Jobs to seize the opportunity to use the standard commodity of the music biz—namely, music—as the means rather than the end in his own game, which was all about selling iPods. To use the Gillette analogy, music was just the razor, when for Jobs it was really all about selling razor blades. Some believe the innovative Jobs is now eyeing the a la carte video-download business, despite his denials, with the introduction of color displays on all models and the recent merging of the iPod and iPod Photo lines setting the stage for a possible video offensive. If that is the case and Jobs takes the plunge, will the majors be able to negotiate a better deal with Apple than the one for audio downloads? … What label power player has started a territorial war with the company's star A&R exec about their relative closeness to a major urban artist who was brought into said label by said A&R exec?... And what head of A&R at a major is close to bailing after securing serious money from Wall Street high-rollers to start a new venture, following in the footsteps of Octone’s James Diener and OR Music’s Michael Caplan?... Big buzz about Newscorp’s scooping up of spam netco Intermix—the owner of red-hot MySpace—for a hefty $580 million. Times have changed since 2001, when Vivendi spent $372 million on MP3.com, which created the blueprint for the MySpace music area, only to sell the pioneering site to CNET at a bargain-basement price that we reported to be in the $700k-800k range at the time, but in actuality the number may well have been a fraction of that amount (like, take away a zero). Was MP3.com an example of a good idea before its time?... Names in the Rumor Mill: Rick Dobbis, David Munns, Gary Gersh, Mark Williams, Ken Antonelli and Michele Anthony.