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Losing Nickelback may well go down as one of the defining moments of the Bronfman-Cohen Reign of Error.
I.B. BAD: OOPS—THEY DID IT AGAIN
How Did Bronfman and Cohen Let Nickelback Slip Through Their Fingers?
Disbelief spread across the industry in the wake of last week’s announcement that Live Nation had snatched Nickelback away from Warner Music just 18 months after the latter company spent $74 million for 74% of Roadrunner in order to secure the band’s services. The question on everyone’s lips, from entertainment attorneys to rival executives, was, how could Edgar Bronfman Jr. and Lyor Cohen have overlooked the fact that Nickelback was nearing the end of its Roadrunner deal?

“Have those two clowns not heard of due diligence?” asked one aghast barrister. “The WMG board should nail them both for malfeasance and fiduciary irresponsibility.”

Cohen has to feel especially mortified for this mega-snafu given his history with the band, having orchestrated IDJ’s pact with Roadrunner in his previous job (while Bronfman was running UMG). But as the company’s ranking executive, Bronfman bears the primary responsibility for this disastrous mistake, and has once again made himself the laughingstock of the industry. Losing Nickelback may well go down as one of the defining moments of the Bronfman/Cohen Reign of Error.

With Nickelback joining Madonna in the fold, Live Nation has been feasting on WMG superstars—the result of the dysfunctional duo’s chronic inability to form solid relationships with their artists. These two prizes join a growing list of onetime Warner stalwarts including AC/DC and The Eagles, with Fleetwood Mac, Van Halen, Metallica, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Eric Clapton all thought to be ready to exit ASAP.

Having lost the big fish they thought they’d hooked, Bronfman and Cohen now turn their attention to replacing Warner/Reprise ruler Tom Whalley, who has just over a year left on his contract. As they shop Whalley’s job, they’re telling prospects that they’re making the move because his weaknesses in the urban, pop and country arenas outweigh his strengths in rock.

Meanwhile, Whalley is said to be eager to escape from the oversight of his two superiors, no longer even trying to mask his contempt for both. WMG insiders further note that he’s been shut out of the windfall that has put tens of millions in Bronfman and Cohen’s pockets. The big question is, who can they persuade to come in as Whalley’s replacement?

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