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Working with the combined rosters of Capitol and Virgin, Flom has a real shot at a new-release marketshare in the neighborhood of 5-6%, which will definitely be enough for CMG to become very profitable, according to numbers crunchers.
I.B. BAD ON THE
DAWN OF THE FLOM ERA
Veteran Label Exec Is Being Counted on to Lead a Turnaround
Less than a month into 2007, the landscape of the music business has been dramatically altered, as EMI’s newly named CEO Eric Nicoli reconfigures the company’s U.S. operations as the Capitol Music Group under the capable leadership of respected executive Jason Flom. According to insiders, Flom’s ascension was predicated on several key factors, including his people skills, which make him an effective manager, as well as his strong relationships with the key creative execs at the U.K. companies.
 
Flom’s suddenly very big plate contains a number of active projects, including his own upwardly mobile Virgin acts KT Tunstall (whose sales are nearing 1 million), 30 Seconds to Mars and Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, as well as the breaking Corinne Bailey Rae and promising newcomers Lily Allen and rapper Mims from the Capitol roster.
 
In the coming months, the CMG ruler will be overseeing priority releases from Interpol, Coldplay, the Beastie Boys, Korn (with two scheduled albums, one unplugged, the other a studio LP), Joss Stone, Lenny Kravitz and Flom’s latest score, the much-coveted Sick Puppies. Another part of his mandate will be to fix the Urban division, often thought of as EMI’s weakest link. Expect an announcement about how he’s doing to do that in the near future.
 
The preponderance of Rock acts on the release schedule corresponds encouragingly with Flom’s career-long strength, demonstrated time and again over the course of his 25 years at Ahmet Ertegun’s Atlantic, where he learned the nuts and bolts of the business, including the nuances of team building, from his mentor Doug Morris, who has shown himself to be a master of that crucial skill set. A good student indeed, Flom was later rewarded with the expansion of his Lava imprint into a fully staffed, free-standing label.
 
The infamous “LAX ambush,” where he was handed his walking papers by WMG topper Lyor Cohen in August 2005, put an abrupt end to Flom’s hit-studded Atlantic run, but EMI Music chiefs Alain Levy and David Munns quickly took the hot free agent off the market, installing him at the top of Virgin U.S. just two months after the Atlantic termination. By the time he was tapped to run EMI’s newly streamlined U.S. company last week, Flom was well into guiding Virgin’s comeback from a moribund label to a well-staffed major with an increasingly competitive artist roster. 
 
Working with the combined rosters of Capitol and Virgin, Flom has a real shot at a new-release marketshare in the neighborhood of 5-6%, which will definitely be enough for CMG to become very profitable, according to numbers crunchers.
 
Although EMI’s recent struggles are well-known, what is often overlooked is that the company already has three profitable U.S. divisions in its Nashville-based Christian and Country operations, along with Blue Note, paced by the big-selling Norah Jones.
 
In the days following last week’s big-picture announcement, key details came to light. CMG will contain two promotion departments, there will continue to be a West Coast presence, and the Tower will continue to house EMI employees. While some of the changes that will be made as the restructuring continues will inevitably generate criticism, it’s unlikely that anyone will question the wisdom of putting Jason Flom in charge of the show.
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