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The idea may well have come to Hands after hearing the common refrain from staff and managers, “They’re not working my record.”
I.B. BAD WEIGHS THE PROS AND CONS OF GUY HANDS’ PLAN FOR EMI
New Chief’s Newly Designed Infrastructure Is Both Logical and Radical, but It Will Take the Right People to Make It Work
At the industry’s other hotbed of recent activity (see 1/31 story on WMG), Guy Hands is getting mixed reviews on his wall-to-wall revamping of the EMI infrastructure. Advocates see the separation of A&R and marketing and the elimination of territorialism within the worldwide operation as a shrewd fix for a longstanding problem.

The idea may well have come to Hands after hearing the common refrain from staff and managers, “They’re not working my record.” But while it’s certainly true that executives would prefer to break their own records, neither would the smart ones walk away from a hit, no matter where it came from.

Further, most veterans believe it’s not about the system, it’s about the people.

The Hands regime is expected to go after fewer records, backing only potential winners—but who will determine which records to chase? Pre-release decision-making has long been based on historical data and the finely honed instincts of a specific few—rainmakers like Clive Davis, Doug Morris, L.A. Reid and Jimmy Iovine. Will global A&R head Roger Ames play that role at EMI, or will it be his as-yet unnamed marketing counterpart?

In a sidenote, the latest scuttlebutt is that Tony Wadsworth wasn’t fired but opted out of his deal after being asked by Hands to take a lesser role in the new hierarchy. Most believe Jason Flom will not follow in Wadsworth’s footsteps when given his own new marching orders.

Among those apparently not persuaded by Hands’ acumen are the Rolling Stones, who have decided to shop their post-ABKCO catalog (from 1970’s Sticky Fingers onward). Interestingly, U.S. sales on the catalog dropped from nearly a million in 2006 to under 600k last year, but that decline has more to do with the loss of Tower Records and general retail shrinkage than any failure on the part of EMI.

Considering that the band derives the bulk of its revenue from touring and its close working relationship with Live Nation’s Michael Cohl, is it possible the Stones will follow Madonna’s lead and leave the major-label system in favor of a company more closely aligned with its strengths (a scenario that also occurred to Fox’s Roger Friedman)?

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