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While some naysayers are predicting that this is the first part of an up-and-out move for much-maligned, highly controversial Cohen, other observers summarily dismiss that theory.
I.B. BAD ASKS, CAN COHEN?
A Significant Expansion of His Responsibilities Put the Weight Squarely on the Shoulders of the Polarizing Executive. But if Not Lyor, Then Who?
According to Warner Music insiders, Lyor Cohen was given expanded responsibilities and a Vice Chairman title because he was able to turn around the company’s previously moribund East Coast operation while significantly improving WMG marketshare as a whole during the last four years.

While some naysayers are predicting that this is the first part of an up-and-out move for much-maligned, highly controversial executive, other observers summarily dismiss that theory, pointing out that Edgar Bronfman Jr. genuinely likes Cohen—as well as being utterly dependent on him.

As parts of WMG remain competitive in an increasingly challenging business landscape, even those of us who have been most critical of Cohen’s abilities and intentions are forced to acknowledge that WMG would be in far worse shape with Bronfman running the company by himself.

While tensions between Cohen and Tom Whalley continue to simmer, insiders still believe the head of Warner Bros. Records will get his new deal, though his compensation is expected to be dramatically reduced. As Bronfman and Cohen were kicking the tires of potential replacements for the WBR chief, discussions have been initiated between Whalley and Interscope, but those in the know don’t see them amounting to anything.

Speaking of Interscope, the company’s projected fourth-quarter release schedule of a few months ago has been decimated by delays in a number of crucial recording projects. While only the U2 album has formally been bumped (following an announcement from the band that it was on a roll and intended to keep working), release dates have yet to be nailed down for Dr. Dre, Eminem or the Black Eyed Peas, making it doubtful that any of them will see the light of day before the end of 2008.

The absence of releases from three of the label’s power hitters could climax an uncharacteristic middling year for what has been the most dominant label of the last decade. Year-to-date, the Jimmy Iovine-led label is 2.6 percentage points off of last year’s 8.7% in new-release marketshare.

Interscope’s remaining hopes lie with the Pussycat Dolls (whose 2006 debut did nearly 2.9m) and Robin Thicke (1.5m), both on Sept. 30; the once-mighty Guns N’ Roses (4.2m—but that was a greatest-hits set), probably on Nov. 28, the day after Thanksgiving; and 50 Cent (1.3m) on Dec. 16.

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