Morris, who has been mentoring Grainge to take over the CEO post next summer, will remain Chairman for the duration of his current deal—and will continue to cast a giant shadow over the company’s operations.
This Week’s Boldfaced Bigwigs Include Iovine, Barnett, Morris, Grainge, Phillips, Hands, Bronfman, Cohen, Kallman and Greenwald
Like an NFL coaching staff making in-game adjustments on the fly, Interscope’s Jimmy Iovine and Steve Berman did some last-minute maneuvering around the release of 50 Cent’s Before I Self Destruct following worldwide Internet leaks weeks prior to the original street date. In rapid succession, they pushed forward the physical release date from Nov. 23 to Nov. 17—the soonest the CD could be manufactured and shipped—while also working out a one-week exclusive with iTunes for the digital album, to take effect Nov. 10. In return, iTunes agreed to go against its standard policy and “locked” the album, with only the single available a la carte, selling 46k album downloads during the exclusive window. Additionally, the compilers of the charts agreed to include the initial iTunes sales in the total for first week of general release. This last bit of news raised the hackles of rival label executives at Sony Music and EMI, who had been preparing for a two-way battle for #1 on next week’s charts between Columbia’s John Mayer and Blue Note’s Norah Jones. But now, they would not only be facing a potential challenge from 50 Cent, they’d be spotting his record 46k going into the contest... This situation is nothing new for Interscope, which moved up the date of 50’s debut album, Get Rich or Die Trying, by five days in February 2003 for the very same reason, moving a whopping 806k units during that time. Ironically, the anticipated chart-topper prior to Interscope’s maneuver was Columbia’s Dixie Chicks, who wound up bowing at #2. But that isn’t likely to happen in this case, as Mayer cruises toward #1 next week with a projected 275-300k, while Jones is slightly ahead of 50 in the contest for #2. Decca’s Andrea Bocelli Christmas album, off only 6% in its second week, and debuting Christian rock band Casting Crowns are the wild cards... Mayer’s likely chart-topper will be followed a week later by a potential contest for #1 between IDJ’s Rihanna and Columbia’s Susan Boyle, giving Steve Barnett a shot at two in a row, as the label gains momentum at just the right time... Some industry watchers misinterpreted the news that Lucian Grainge will succeed Doug Morris as UMG Chairman, assuming the changeover would be imminent, when that is far from the case. The legendary, universally respected record man still has nearly three years left on the four-year deal he signed in 2008, and Grainge is Morris’ hand-picked choice, the UMG leader having touted the highly regarded English executive to Vivendi as his eventual successor some time ago. Morris, who has been mentoring Grainge to take over the CEO post next summer, will remain Chairman for the duration of his current deal—and will continue to cast a giant shadow over the company’s operations, focusing on the rollout of VEVO and other digital initiatives. Some wonder if, at the end of his deal, Morris will consider a new challenge either inside or outside of Vivendi/UMG, noting that he has shown no signs of slowing down… As This Is It passed the $200m mark worldwide, Cirque du Soleil’s proposal of a spectacular devoted to the music of Michael Jackson created a panic within AEG Live, which had been planning to put together its own Las Vegas show featuring the This Is It troupe. Insiders say that Cirque’s proposal was greeted with unabashed enthusiasm among Sony executives and the keepers of the estate, who are said to have “had it up to here” with Randy Phillips’ arrogant behavior. In his latest misstep, Phillips has reputedly been bad-mouthing James Taylor manager Sam Feldman after losing the Taylor-Carole King tour to Live Nation… Some are characterizing Guy Hands as courageous, while others are calling him “delusional” for his willingness to pour another £1 billion ($1.7 billion) into EMI Music if Citigroup agreed to restructure its debt by writing off £1 billion of its £2.6 billion loan—an offer the lender turned down. As much as the Terra Firma chief seems determined to prove he was right for buying EMI, most believe that unless he can work out a new arrangement with Citi on that massive debt load, he’ll have no choice but to sell off assets. The prevailing belief is that Edgar Bronfman Jr. would still be a willing buyer of EMI’s recorded-music operations at the right price... Bronfman and Lyor Cohen have reason to smile, with WMG stock back above $7, Atlantic leading the new-release marketshare race with an impressive 8.9% year-to-date and the Twilight Saga: New Moon soundtrack poised to make a sizable jump following the Nov. 20 opening of the film... Names in the Rumor Mill: Jim Urie, John McClain, Simon Renshaw, Kevin Weatherly, Jack Rovner and Nick Gatfield.
Are you free Wednesday afternoon? (11/12a)
How's that for a tease, Bieber Nation? (11/12a)
Not the same as the old bosses (11/12a)
This sure feels like her moment. (11/12a)
It's down to two bidders. (11/12a)
They'll soon be here, and then we can start obsessing about who'll win.
Forget Brexit--it's our yearly survey of doings in Blighty. And if you still can't forget Brexit, try drinking.
Who's going to land the hottest unsigned property in music?
That's what Hollywood smells like. Seriously. 24/7.

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