By the end of 2006, Back to Bedlam could be at 15 million globally and 5 million stateside, making it a virtual lock for Album of the Year at this point.


…And Other Twisted Tales From the Music Biz
SAVED BY THE BLUNT: It now appears that Atlantic Chairman Craig Kallman may be able to hold onto his job after all, and his savior is James Blunt, who has brought the beleaguered label the first smash of the current regime. Ironies abound in the chain of events that led to Blunt's breakthrough. Then-Elektra Chairman Sylvia Rhone was responsible for bringing Blunt in through a label deal with Linda Perry's Custard imprint, but after Lyor Cohen put his executive team in place, the U.S. company wanted to drop both Blunt and Custard. It was dissuaded from doing so by execs at WMG’s U.K. company, who believed in the artist. They were proved right, as the album exploded in the U.K. and Europe—it’s just south of 8 million worldwide—and now it’s finally selling in the U.S., generating huge bottom-line numbers for the stripped-down WMG. By the end of 2006, Back to Bedlam could be at 15 million globally and 5 million stateside, making it a virtual lock for Album of the Year at this point in time. In short, Blunt’s breakthrough has eliminated the need for a scapegoat. Further removing Kallman from harm's way is the fact that his main claim to fame, Sean Paul, whose follow-up LP was stiffing, is being resuscitated by a late-breaking single. All of which goes to show that no label stays cold forever. Nonetheless, when Cohen stated in the press that Kallman would be around for "years to come," one high-profile manager quipped, "Lyor only lies when he moves his lips." Additionally, for what it's worth, the majority of attorneys and managers queried are still saying, "Craig’s toast."… Speaking of Atlantic hits, those in the know say the label's Juvenile deal was extremely expensive—$2.5 million—and with no radio play driving sales, the marketing costs for the project are expected to be huge, inevitably resulting in the spilling of a lot of red ink. Most believe the sales Juvenile has accrued simply aren’t sustainable with no hit radio track... In Blunt sidenotes, insiders say that when Elton John made the deal with the Sanctuary Group that included his management company 21st Century Artists, he made a point of talking up the potential of the then-unknown Blunt and the material he was coming up with, including “You’re Beautiful,” which has frequently been compared Elton’s own 1971 breakthrough, “Your Song.” Blunt’s champion at 21st Century was Todd Interland, son of veteran promo man Brian Interland. Within Atlantic, A&R exec Mary Gormley kept Blunt in front of the label during the transition period, arguing persuasively against Cohen’s initial decision to get rid of him. And the rest, as they say, is history… Meanwhile, on the corporate level, WMG topper Edgar Bronfman Jr. felt the need to hold "town halls" in both N.Y. and Burbank in order to reassure employees that there are presently no merger discussions with EMI, but also pointing out that, because Warner Music is a publicly traded company, things could change down the line. Some insiders believe that Bronfman’s real reason for calling these meetings was to give Kallman a vote of confidence, which he did. What Bronfman did not do, interestingly, was to deny the rampant rumors that Warner/Reprise and Warner/Chappell will be relocated to New York in what would amount to massive cost savings. Another topic that failed to come up was the fact that many WMG execs are being offered one-year deals, with those in the know pointing out that, if WMG is contemplating a move or a merger or both, it’s in the company’s best interests to keep employee contracts short-term… The smoke is starting to clear at Interscope, with Jordan Schur and Ron Fair both getting new deals, but managers with acts on the label are dumbfounded that Fair rejected the idea of bringing Polly Anthony into his organizational chart, asking how the label could possibly be better without her. Fair’s decision puts an even bigger burden on Steve Berman, but the IGA marketing guru has extremely broad shoulders... Speaking of Polly, wonderers are wondering exactly what Iovine and Morris have up their sleeves by giving her a new job overseeing TV. Is there a network series being developed as a platform; i.e., will UMG be unveiling its answer to American Idol?… While both UMG and EMI are expected to settle with Eliot Spitzer in his ongoing payola investigation, the inside word is that Entercom, the first radio chain to be charged in the Spitzer probe, is fighting the charges after reportedly balking at the N.Y. Attorney General’s offer of a $20 million settlement. Entercom executives and their lawyers believe they conducted their business in accordance with FCC standards. They contend that anything received from third parties in exchange for playing songs from spin programs was legitimate in that this airplay was always announced on the air as sponsored, keeping them within FCC guidelines regarding disclosure to listeners. In the matter of flatscreens and flyaways, Entercom argues that these promotions were not in return for playing specific records and hence are not illegal. The company’s final point is that these matters are not within Spitzer's jurisdiction to begin with… In terms of Spitzer's allegations that the companies committed consumer fraud by using spin programs to manipulate the charts, knowledgeable parties say it's naïve to conclude that the additional play resulting from a spin program would be significant enough to impact a record's chart position, adding that the charts themselves are looked at almost exclusively by the industry and thus have little or no influence on consumers… Names in the Rumor Mill: Max Lousada, Arctic Monkeys, Jacqueline Saturn, David Byrnes, Rob Light and Mike Sigman.