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Last weekend’s N.Y. Times report of turmoil in Columbia Records’ executive suite came at an awfully strange time, just as Sony Music boss Rob Stringer’s hand-picked rulers Steve Barnett and Rick Rubin were hitting their stride.
TEAM COLUMBIA IN GRAMMY GLARE
N.Y. Times Article Comes Just as Label Heats Up
Don’t believe everything you read.

Last weekend’s N.Y. Times report of turmoil in Columbia Records’ executive suite came at an awfully strange time, just as Sony Music boss Rob Stringer’s hand-picked rulers Steve Barnett and Rick Rubin were hitting their stride, experiencing a mega-successful Grammy night, with the label picking up nine awards, including Rubin as Producer of the Year.

Leading the way was Adele’s win in the prestigious Best New Artist category and her performance of the smash, “Chasing Pavements,” which has catapulted her debut 19 album to #2 at iTunes at press time. She also earned a Best Female Pop Vocal nod for the song, which she performed in a show-stopping turn on the awards show telecast.

The U.K. diva has been Barnett’s personal project since winning a competitive bidding war to secure the singer’s stateside rights through her British label XL. The album is now over 400k, and certain to be one of the major beneficiaries of a post-Grammy sales spike.

Grammy fave John Mayer picked up a pair of statuettes, including a Best Male Pop Vocal Performance nod for “Say,” a track from his album Continuum, as well as a Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance for “Gravity” from his DVD Where the Lights Is—Live in Los Angeles.

Bruce Springsteen, whose Working on a Dream debuted at #1 last week and is #2 on the new HITS Album sales chart, earned Best Rock Song, a writer’s award, for “Girls In Their Summer Clothes,” a track from Magic.

Other Columbia Grammy honors went to Mary Mary’s “Get Up” for Best Gospel Performance, a track from their album The Sound, and Best Album Notes to Francis Davis for her work on Legacy’s deluxe reissue of Miles DavisKind of Blue: 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition.

Columbia also succeeded in breaking two more new acts in The Ting Tings and MGMT, the latter earning the label’s ninth Grammy, a Best Remixed Recording nod for Justice’s remix of “Electric Feel,” from their debut Oracular Spectacular, now nearing 340k in sales.

Rubin’s win in the Producer of the Year category came for three separate Columbia albums, including Neil Diamond’s Home Before Dark, OursMercy (Dancing for the Death of an Imaginary Enemy) and Jakob Dylan’s Seeing Things.

The label’s success goes beyond the Grammys to the successful launch of AC/DC’s Wal-Mart exclusive Black Ice, one of the year’s best-selling rock releases, and Beyonce, whose new album I Am…Sasha Fierce is closing in on 2 million, having produced three consecutive smashes. The latest, “Diva,” is #1 at Urban, which gives the label 13 straight weeks at the top of that chart, the first time it’s been done since 2001.

The Times should be a-changing its tune. With a combination of poor fact-checking and questionable sources, it may well have missed the big picture at Columbia, which appears to have turned that creative tension into artistic and commercial success.

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