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2006 IN REVIEW
A Look Back at Another 12 Months
of Turmoil and Change
JANUARY: Don Ienner names Michele Anthony President/COO of the Sony Music Label Group, with Bruce Tyler and Michael Block tapped as EVP Promotion/Marketing Strategy and Sales Head in a short-lived experiment to oversee activities for Columbia and Epic… Sales for 2005 are 9% below 2004, with IDJ comebacking diva Mariah Carey’s The Emancipation of Mimi the top seller at nearly 5 million… UMG has 23 titles in the Top 50, including three of the Top 5 and seven of the Top 10… Jamie Foxx’s J Records/RMG bow is the year’s first #1 album… SoundScan accepts UMG’s $4 million offer for all its services, including BDSColumbia Prexy Steve Barnett names Ken Lane head of promotion and appoints Tom Donnarumma GM… Musicland files for Chapter 11 after closing 61 Media Play outlets and another 11 Sam Goody locations… L.A. indie retail stalwarts Rhino and Arons announce they will be shuttering… Matt Pinfield, Kenny Komisar, Mitchell Cohen and David Andreone are let go as senior Columbia A&R staffers… Chris Brown f/Juelz Santana are #1 on the CHR/Pop Top 50 with “Fun It”… Amy Doyle is upped to SVP of Music and Talent as part of a reorganization of MTV that includes Peter Baron expanding his VP Label Relations duties, Tony DiBari being named SVP Production and Dave Sirulnick tapped as EVP MTV Multiplatform Production, News and Music… Virgin’s KT Tunstall is the year’s first new artist breakthrough… Virgin’s Jason Flom assembles his staff, including new GM Lee Trink, promo captains Hilary Shaev and Lionel Ridenour, publicity guru Angelica Cob-Baehler and Urban music head Jermaine Dupri Prince inks a one-off deal with Monte Lipman’s Universal Republic for his new album… Cumulus, on the verge of acquiring Susquehanna to become the third-largest radio chain, raises industry eyebrows by announcing it will no longer report adds to the trades… Robert Hilburn decides to accept an L.A. Times buyout and leaves as the paper’s regular pop critic scribe. Steve Hochman’s Pop Eye is also history… Mary J. Blige climbs to #1 on album chart with The Breakthrough

FEBRUARY: In one more sign of the apocalypse, Barry Manilow debuts at #1 one week after Il Divo with his Greatest Songs of the ’50s on Arista/RMGJordan Schur moves from his co-Presidency of Geffen to fronting his own rock-based label, Suretone, while A&M head Ron Fair absorbs a number of Geffen artists to his existing roster… Rolf Schmidt-Holtz is named Chairman of Sony BMG, leapfrogging Andy Lack, with Tim Bowen the new COO, replacing Michael SmellieL.A. Reid introduces Clive Davis at the latter’s pre-Grammy soiree, officially bringing the pair’s relationship full circle from when Reid replaced Davis at Arista. Davis celebrates with four of the Top 10 albums in Manilow, Carrie Underwood, Jamie Foxx and Heather HeadleyU2’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb is named Album of the Year and “Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own” Song of the Year, while Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” is tapped as Record of the Year. John Legend grabs Best New Artist… Cox joins Cumulus in no longer reporting station adds… Beyonce f/Slim Thug’s “Check on It” is the week’s #1 song at CHR/Pop… Jaheim’s third album, Ghetto Classics, debuts at #1 on the album chart… Doug Morris and Mel Lewinter split Universal Records in two, with Monte Lipman heading Universal Republic and Sylvia Rhone Universal MotownSRC’s Steve Rifkind is given a full-service label to go along with his existing Universal Motown-distribbed imprint… Lips are wagging over the Anthony Pellicano wire-tapping scandal, which claims ex-Hollywood Records President Bob Pfeifer, who’s indicted… Burbank buzz has WMG boss Edgar Bronfman Jr. moving Warner Bros. headquarters from SoCal to Manhattan… Steve Schnur decides to stay at Electronic Arts after it’s announced he’s taken a high-level marketing gig at InterscopeRob Stevenson is upped to EVP A&R for Island Def Jam Music Group after success with signings The Killers and Fall Out BoyWMG’s Lyor Cohen shows up at all the Grammy night parties, at least in our photo spread… Spin magazine is sold to Hartle Media for $5 million after once being acquired for $42 million by Miller Publishing, who had been offered $100 million for Spin and Vibe from the latter’s founder Quincy Jones less than six months earlier…

MARCH: Disney’s phenomenon High School Musical takes the #1 spot on the chart, while Def Jam/IDJ’s Ne-Yo is the year’s first big debut with 306k sold… VH1’s Rick Krim rolls out the “You Oughta Know” program to spotlight up-and-coming artists. The first batch includes KT Tunstall, James Blunt, The Fray and Anthony HamiltonCitadel prepares for its acquisition of ABC RadioCumulus hires former Clear Channel N.Y. RVP Andy Rose as SVP, based in Atlanta, to oversee eight markets when the Susquehanna take-over is complete… Victory indie rockers Hawthorne Heights climb to #1 Vibe-RatersDisney’s High School Musical continues to grow, returning to #1 after a chart-topping debut from Atlantic’s JuvenileJordan Schur’s Suretone is launched, with Weezer, The Cure, Rooney, New Found Glory, Angels and Airwaves and The Pink Spiders, among others… Donnie Ienner is named Chairman of Sony Music Label Group U.S. by Rolf Schmidt-Holtz. (Little does he know what’s in store)… WMG’s Edgar Bronfman Jr. holds town halls in both N.Y. and Burbank to reassure employees that there are no merger discussions with EMI and that the labels will not be relocating from Cali to the East Coast… Polly Anthony is given a new job within UMG orchestrating TV and corporate sponsorships… Entercom will fight NY AG Eliot Spitzer’s payola allegations in court, insisting their spin programs have been conducted in accordance with FCC standards… Universal Motown Records Group taps Michael Reinert and Kirk Harding as EVP Business & Legal Affairs and SVP International, respectively… Mary J. Blige’s “Be Without You” is #1 on the CHR/Pop Top 50… Trans World acquires Musicland, the last major retail mall operator in the U.S…

APRIL: Prince’s Universal Republic bow, 3121, enters the album chart at #1, followed by Grand Hustle/Atlantic’s T.I., which tallies in with 531k in its first week… The FCC comes under fire from Eliot Spitzer’s office for allegedly going light on potential payola penalties levied against Clear Channel, CBS, Citadel and EntercomBertelsmann puts up its 50% of Sony BMG and wholly owned BMG Music Publishing, enlisting J.P. Morgan and CitiGroup to prepare for the sale, which is triggered by the $6 billion it needs to buy back the 25% owned by Belgium’s GBL so it can remain private… Val DeLong steps down from her SVP Promotion post at UniversalSanctuary Group CEO/President Tom Lipsky announces his departure… The Arctic Monkeys’ first tour of the U.S. gets underway… The music ringtone market will surpass $600 million in retail sales, $100 million more than 2005… America Online changes its name to AOL. What, you were expecting them to call it Yahoo?… Ann Powers is named chief pop critic at the L.A. TimesMike Davis splits UMVD to join Bruce Resnikoff’s Universal Music Enterprises as EVP/GM. He still won’t take Mark Pearson’s calls… NARM announces they’ll hold their annual confab in August at Kissimmee, FL… Sales vet Dutch Cramblitt is named VP Sales at Rhino RecordsFontana Distribution’s Steve Pritchitt celebrates its one-year anniversary with a first annual meet at Hollywood’s Bel Age Hotel featuring a performance by Rocco Deluca & the Burden from Kiefer Sutherland’s Ironworks RecordsRascal Flatts sets what will prove to be the year’s first-week sales record mark with 714k, giving Bob Cavallo’s Buena Vista Music Group 2006’s two biggest albums, alongside High School MusicalMTV’s Tom Calderone launches the networks’ 360-degree Discover and Download initiative, including MTV, MTV2, mtvU, MTV.com and MTV Overdrive… Radio chains continue to freeze their playlists in the wake of Eliot Spitzer’s ongoing payola allegations…Michael Jackson agrees to sell half of his 50% stake in Sony/ATV Music back to the company, with top-level exec Michael Wiesenthal and legal eagle John Branca, who clears a cool $20 million for his 5% in the company, arranging the deal… Ian Montone takes down his attorney’s shingle to devote full-time to managing White Stripes, the Raconteurs, the Shins and Autolux with partner Emmett Malloy, who reps Jack JohnsonClear Channel announces exclusive, on-demand content through 900 of its individual station websites…RCA’s American Idol flack Roger Widynowski is named VP Publicity… Sean Paul’s “Temperature” is the #1 song at CHR/Pop Top 50… Former DreamWorks and IGA exec Scott Van Horn is named VP Sales for Sony BMG’s Legacy

MAY: Godsmack, Taking Back Sunday, Bruce Springsteen, Avant and Rihanna make it five newcomers in the Top Five on the HITS album chart… Lyric Street ruler and veteran country exec Randy Goodman takes some well-deserved bows for the Rascal Flatts steamroller… Negotiations between EMI and WMG heat up, with the former looking to acquire the latter for $4.2 billion, representing what would be a huge windfall for Thomas H. Lee Partners, who bought WMG for $2.6 billion in 2003… John Grady is ousted from his post as head of Sony Nashville, as the division is merged with BMG’s country operation under Joe GalanteRolling Stone celebrates publication of its 1,000th issue with a gala issue based on the cover of Sgt. Pepper. Now there’s an idea… Rihanna’s “S.O.S.” is #1 at CHR/Pop Top 50… Natasha Bedingfield tops the Vibe-Raters chart… Trans World EVP Merchandising and Marketing Fred Fox leaves the company… Dave Alder ankles his post as Chief Marketing Officer at Virgin Entertainment GroupFCC Chairman Kevin Martin turns aggressive in his probe into possible wrongdoings at the four big radio groups… Volcano’s Tool debuts at #1, followed a week later by WB’s Red Hot Chili Peppers, with a hefty total of 456k for its two-disc set… Nick Lachey is #1 Vibe-Raters… The Firm launches its in-house label with the new album by Ice Cube through Virgin/EMI… EMI sweetens its original offer for WMG to $32 a share, bringing the total proposal to $4.75 billion… At the four-month pole, UMG is atop the total marketshare pile with 31.8%… Shakira w/Wyclef Jean is #1 at Mainstream Top 40…

JUNE: The Dixie Chicks debut at #1 with 516k. Take that, DubyaLive Nation acquires a controlling interest in the touring division of Michael Cohl’s Concert Productions InternationalJordan Schur’s Suretone label has a successful debut with blink-182 spin-off Angels & Airwaves debuting in the Top 5… Bertelsmann’s Liz Mohn steps up as “a power-hungry interloper in the style of Yoko Ono,” according to I.B. his Bad self… Andy Taylor is given his walking papers by Sanctuary Group, alleging he intentionally misrepresented the company’s 2005 accounting, replacing him with Twenty-First Artists Management’s Frank Presland… As EMI tries to sweeten its offer for WMG, Edgar Bronfman Jr. “frantically” attempts to raise the money to buy the company himself… American Idol winner Taylor Hicks prepares to record his debut for Clive’s Arista RecordsPhil Costello splits Reprise to move into management with John Silva’s SAM… Venerable alt weekly Village Voice, now part of the New Times empire, replaces music editor Chuck Eddy with Rob HarvilleKNDD Seattle PD Phil Manning resigns his post after 10 years at the station… Interscope’s AFI ends the Dixie Chicks’ two-week reign at #1… In a move that sends tremors throughout the industry, Don Ienner and Michele Anthony are out of the Sony Music Label Group, with U.K./Ireland head Rob Stringer, brother of Sony Corp. chief Sir Howard, taking over as CEO Sept. 1… Capitol’s Corinne Bailey Rae storms the U.S. with her debut album… Ticket sales for the Dixie Chicks concert tour are slow, according to promoter AEGVH1 launches its first-ever Rock Honors event with Kiss, Queen, Def Leppard and Judas Priest at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas… Veteran indie exec William Hein is named SVP/GM of Caroline DistributionTower Records is on the verge of being sold… Best Buy SVP Enterprise Entertainment Joe Pagano and Director of Regional Marketing Dusty Bowling take early retirement… Busta Rhymes and Nelly Furtado debut at #1 on the HITS Top 50 album chart on consecutive weeks… Electronic Arts launches Madden NFL 2007, with 36 new musical acts, including Panic ChannelJohnny Cash’s posthumous album, American V: A Hundred Highways is ready for a July 4 release… Grammy-winning music producer Arif Mardin dies of pancreatic cancer at 74… Columbia VP Alternative Promotion Ron Cerrito resigns, as does SVP Top 40 Promotion Liz Pokora-Sadowsky, her duties absorbed by newly named VP Pop Promotion Aimie Vaughan

JULY: Not so fast, WEMI. Just as the Warner Music-EMI mating dance is getting really heated, with each prospective partner determined to be on top, the European Court of First Instance throws a bucket of cold water on the whole affair by ruling that the European Commission had failed to consider certain issues when it approved the merger of Sony and BMG. With that reexamination not expected to be completed until next summer at the earliest, the two companies lick their wounds and begin brainstorming other options… On hearing the news, bizzers start Googling to find out who took the place of EC merger-buster Mario Monte, discovering the job is now held by Dutchwoman Neelie Kroes (remember that name)… Johnny Cash’s death doesn’t stop him from topping the charts with the fifth volume of the Rick Rubin-produced American Recordings series, further strengthening the A-list producer’s Grammy prospects, already bolstered by his projects with Neil Diamond, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Dixie ChicksJohn Ingrassia is tabbed to head up Sony Music’s newly formed Commercial Music Group, as the company continues to reshape itself… Mathew Knowles peels $5 million to buy back the Urban management division he’d sold to Sanctuary in 2005, as the once-profitable British company continues to shrivel, with onetime Chairman Merck Mercuriadis seemingly about to make his exit… R&R is acquired by Billboard/SoundScan owner VNU, causing mass confusion in radio land over the reporting of spins… UMG, looking to strengthen the one sector of the music biz it doesn’t dominate, emerges as the leading candidate in the upcoming auction for BMG Songs… EMI forms the Blue Note Label Group under—who else?—Bruce Lundvall… Mighty Microsoft announces plans to mano y mano with iTunes by coming out with its own music store and player, both of which will be called, Zune, oddly enough… Tower trembles as NARM burns in a Florida heatwave, with news that each of the Big Four has put the troubled chain on hold until it works out a plan to pay the roughly $70 million owed the majors for goods… At the halfway point, UMGD heads the pack with a 31.7% piece of the total-marketshare pie, .3 less than halfway through 2005, while Warner Bros. leads IDJ in the new-release label competition by a nose hair…

AUGUST: Ken Schlager and Melinda Newman out in a shake-up at Billboard, with Monitor Editor Scott McKenzie putting another flower in his hair and moving into Schlager’s office, where he searches for any sex toys left behind… Shares of Warner Music plummet from the previous high of $31 to south of $23 after the company abandons its talks with EMI, while Citigroup reiterates its sell rating and downgrades the target price from $25 to $19. The Citigroup analysis takes particular note of #2 but struggling Warner/Chappell Music, with its 7% drop in revenue and 21% decrease in EBITDA… Adam Lowenberg moves from Virgin to Island as Steve Bartels’ SVP Marketing, at which point we make the same old joke about Adam searching for Chris Blackwell’s stash… Promo vet Bob Divney becomes GM at Adrenaline Music, a new free-standing label formed by Fred Croshal and Kevin Day… In the wake of Billboard’s pick-up of R&R, the 1,100-some-odd Clear Channel stations are now reporting adds only to CC-owned Mediabase… Of the big acts dropping lead singles on radio in advance of their much-anticipated albums, Justin Timberlake, Fergie and Christina Aguilera are racking up mega-spins, while the singles from OutKast, Beyonce, Jessica Simpson and Janet Jackson perform below expectations… Tower files a second Chapter 11 petition in an effort to keep its 89 stores open for business until a buyer can be found, as the likelihood of eventual liquidation of the storied chain increases daily… The Fray’s “How to Save a Life” gets additional stickiness, as ABC uses the track in promos for the upcoming season of Grey’s Anatomy, in yet another example of the ever-growing synergy between music and TV. The band is managed by Jason Ienner… A new band-made video showing the four members of OK Go on treadmills becomes the latest clip to enjoy a viral explosion on the addictive, ever-more-popular YouTube, putting the band’s year-old Capitol album back on the charts… At the eight-month mark, IDJ slips ahead of Warner Bros., 6.3% to 6.2%, in year-to-date new-release marketshare… The dog days of summer crawl toward Labor Day weekend…

SEPTEMBER: In a stunner, MTV architect Tom Freston, a longtime favorite of Viacom ruler Sumner Redstone, gets his walking papers from the old man only eight months into his new gig as head of the “fast-growth” half of Viacom, which is outperformed by the Les Moonves-headed “slow-growth” CBS. Freston’s fall is cushioned by a $63 million golden parachute… Bertelsmann accepts UMG’s $2.1 billion offer for BMG Songs, which is hooked up to Universal Music Publishing under David Renzer. The conjoined pubberies can claim a total marketshare of around 25%, putting them abreast of longstanding #1 EMI Music PublishingRob Stringer’s arrival at Sony Music in New York coincides with the #1 debut of Modern Times from Bob Dylan, marking the legend’s first chart-topper in 30 years, and giving Steve Barnett’s Columbia the first of two consecutive #1 debuts, the second being from Beyonce. Meanwhile, the reinvigorated Dylan is also featured in an iPod TV spot… Doug Morris chooses the media summit hosted by Merrill Lynch’s Jessica Reif Cohen to publicly call out social networking sites like MySpace and YouTube for what he regards as massive copyright infringement to the tune of “tens of millions of dollars,” just after Warner Music makes a deal with YouTube… In a heartening lead-in to Q4, Jive’s Justin Timberlake scores the year’s second biggest first week at 711k, while John Mayer keeps Columbia’s hot streak going with a #2 bow at 288k. The third highest debut is scored by Capitol warhorse Bob Seger, who moves nearly 150k with his first album of new material in 11 years, as Andy Slater continues to show a deft touch with new releases from legendary acts … Gary Marella is officially named SVP Promo & Video for Sylvia Rhone’s Universal Motown, though he’s been on the job for months… Virgin’s Jared Leto-led 30 Seconds to Mars contends for artist-development story of the year as the band nears critical mass, making it an odd time for The Firm’s Jeff Kwatinetz to “fire” his clients…

OCTOBER: BMG’s Charles Goldstuck is awarded the City of Hope Spirit of Life honor… Corinne Bailey Rae remains #1 in Vibe-RatersLudacris, Janet Jackson and Tony Bennett debut 1-2-3 on the album charts… EMI agrees to sell the famed Tower to developer Argent Ventures for $50 million, then enters into a long-term lease with the company before awarding Andy Slater a top-floor condo for $2.4 million… Deb Klein is named GM of The Firm’s new in-house music label… Amy Ostler is named VP Music for CBS Entertainment and CBS Paramount Network TelevisionUMG tops the three-quarter marketshare race with 31.3%, ahead of Sony BMG (24.5%), WMG (15.8%) and EMI (9.8%), with Columbia leading individual labels in current releases (6.3%) and catalog (6.7%)… Tower Records announces that 16 companies have made bids for the beleaguered chain, with Trans World among them… Sales vet Jim Kelly rejoins the Sony BMG Strategic Marketing Group as VP New Channel Development and Sales… Ex-Reprise and Columbia exec Brad Davidson joins TVT’s promo department…Google acquires video-sharing phenom YouTube for a cool $1.65 billion… Steve Ralbovsky moves from RCA to Columbia as SVP A&R for the label… Evanescence bows at #1 on the HITS album chart, ahead of The Killers, with Rod Stewart succeeding them the following week, while Lloyd Banks and Jimmy Buffett also debut Top 5… Janet Jackson’s 20 Y.O. is her final album in current deal with Virgin, as speculation increases that she’ll leave the label with boyfriend Jermaine DupriTower’s debt to each of the Big Four is the subject of continued chatter, with roughly $25 million said to be owed to WMG, $20 million to Sony BMG, $15 million UMG and $6-7 million EMIMarty Bandier announces an early exit from EMI Music Publishing, with buzzers buzzing about a possible alliance with WMG’s Edgar Bronfman Jr.Rod Smallwood ankles Sanctuary, the company he co-founded, taking cornerstone act Iron Maiden with him… The City of Hope holds it fourth annual Songs of Hope event, with David Renzer hosting and Clive Davis honored…EMI’s indie arm Caroline Distribution changes its sales force from a brand system to “more of a national structure”… Ken Lane exits as SVP Promotion at Columbia, while Epic’s Lee Leipsner returns to the label as SVP Pop and Jon Borris becomes VP of Pop Promo. Jim Burruss remains as VP Promo Ops, while Aimee Vaughan is VP Pop, based in L.A… A New York State Supreme Court judge denies Entercom’s motion to dismiss the Eliot Spitzer suit, as the NY AG’s payola case moves forward…WLTW remains in the top spot in New York in the Summer Arbitrons… Diddy debuts at #1 and JoJo at #3 on the HITS Top 50 album chart…

NOVEMBER: Disney’s Hannah Montana, John Legend and My Chemical Romance bow in the first three spots on the HITS album chart… Dave Bakula is named VP Sales Analysis at UMGD… Former Sony Music N.A. chief Don Ienner says he’ll go into business for himself… EMI’s Alain Levy and David Munns will bankroll Jermaine Dupri’s new label venture within the company, as barrister extraordinaire John Branca handles the legal end… Jay-Z’s new single, “Show Me What You Got,” from his upcoming Kingdom Come album, is spotlighted on a new Budweiser TV ad. The rapper is also featured on spots for Hewlett-Packard, the NBA and NASCAR, among others…Indie SoBe Entertainment scores with the new, Scott Storch-produced single from Hulk Hogan’s daughter Brooke, thanks to the label’s promo exec Todd Glassman at Top 40 and indie Mike Whited at Rhythm… Blackground and Roadrunner are fingered by Eliot Spitzer for alleged unreported ad buys on Entercom stations, as they claim not to be part of the AG’s settlements with parent UMGMy Chemical Romance’s “Welcome to the Black Parade” bows at #1 on the Post Modern chart… Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel” tops the Mainstream Top 40 chart… Barry Manilow’s Arista/RMG collection of Sixties Greatest Love Songs bows at #2 right behind Hannah Montana, followed by Cash Money/Universal’s Birdman & Lil’ WayneSony Label Group’s Now 23 debuts at the top spot on the HITS chart, as Josh Groban, Keith Urban, Sugarland and Jim Jones make it five debuts out of the top six on the album chart… Joel Klaiman is named Sr. VP Promotion/Artist Development for Universal RepublicAndrea Kline is upped to SVP Pop/Rhythm Promotion at Virgin RecordsKen Gullic is tapped as SVP Sales and Marketing for Fontana. He now has a very good reason not to take Mark Pearson’s phone calls… UMG pacts with Microsoft to get a royalty of $1 for every $250 Zune sold… EMI Music Publishing’s Roger Faxon makes his presence felt by replacing EVP Creative Evan Lamberg with Dan McCarrollMichael Williams is upped to SVP Rhythm/Crossover for the RCA Music GroupHITSLenny Beer, Doors co-manager Jeff Jampol and Universal Music Publishing EVP Creative Affairs Tom Sturges announce they’ll be teaching their music business class at UCLA Extension again on Wednesday evenings from Jan. 10. Only comely co-eds need apply… The Game debuts at #1, followed by Jay-Z’s Kingdom Come the week after, which tops out at 708k in first-week sales, just below Rascal Flatts (714k) and Justin Timberlake (711k)… Thanks to a pair of simultaneous hit singles, Akon bows at #2… American Idol rocker Daughtry surprises everyone with a #2 debut on the HITS Top 50 album chart, as The Beatles, Snoop Dogg and 2Pac bow in Top 10…

DECEMBER: Jay Krugman returns to Columbia Records as SVP Adult Marketing and closet AARP recruiter, as he sets up the org to sponsor the Tony Bennett tour… Limited edition versions of Van Arno’s classic 20th anniversary issue cover homage to Sgt. Pepper and the record industry go on sale… Daniel Glass’ photo featuring the veteran exec clutching HITS magazine at the finish line of the New York Marathon appears as Pic of the Week for the 1,874th consecutive year… A number of private equity groups, including KKR, Goldman Sachs and Permira reportedly make bids for EMI MusicDoug Morris files a suit against Fox-owned MySpace for copyright infringement… Jimmy Iovine talks to Robert Hilburn for a fawning L.A. Times profile… Virgin Entertainment Group’s Jerry Suarez goes over to the other side as West Coast Regional Sales Director for Island Def JamMary J. Blige heads the list of Grammy nominees, with eight nods, including Record and Song of the Year, followed by Red Hot Chili Peppers with six; James Blunt, Dixie Chicks, John Mayer, Danger Mouse, Prince, Rick Rubin and will.i.am with five apiece… Incubus bows at #1 on the album chart… Michael Caplan and Jay Landers return to Columbia Records in SVP A&R posts… Longtime publicity maven Ronnie Lippin passes away from a rare form of breast cancer, in a year that also saw the deaths of renowned music scribes Paul Nelson and Ellen Willis and A&R legend Karin BergKelly Clarkson’s Breakaway leads the list of all American Idol grads with 5.6 million sold, followed by Carrie Underwood (4m)… Beyonce’s B’Day album rebounds with the success of the third track, “Irreplaceable”… Justin Timberlake’s “My Love” tops the Mainstream Top 40 chart… Sony Urban is absorbed into Columbia Records, as Lisa Ellis is named EVP of Sony Music Label GroupBruce Tyler is named EVP of Columbia Records Group from Sony Music Label Group, where he was EVP Promotion/Market Strategy. Now, he’s breathing some real rarified AIR… European private equity firm Permira emerges as the main bidder for EMI, though their bid is deemed not high enough for shareholders’ liking… Layoffs at Sony Music Group prompt a restructuring at Columbia, where the promo department is divided into national specialist cells by format… Ciara debuts at the top of the HITS Album chart over Eminem and Gwen Stefani… Veteran label exec Phil Quartararo exits EMI to form his own strategic marketing company… Dreamgirls enters the Oscar season as the odds-on favorite for Best Picture of the Year, with ex-Idol Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy touted for Oscar noms… The year’s last big release is expected to be the debut album from The Firm-managed 2006 American Idol champ Taylor Hicks, on RCA/RMG, streeting Dec. 19... Primera decides to pass on EMI, refusing to match, let alone exceed WMG's bid last summer... Industry legend Ahmet Ertegun passes away...

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Cue Archie Bell & the Drells. (11/24a)
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A new drum beat in D.C. (11/30a)
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Bring your umbrella.
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Mulling possible surprises.
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We're virtually stuffing ourselves.
TRUMP'S LAWSUITS
He's lost 25 out of 26, and so tired of winning!
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