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Retail watchers expect big things from the Jan. 26 release of the second LP from Capitol Nashville’s Lady Antebellum, with wonderers wondering if the LP will cross over to Pop, as label head Mike Dungan continues his hot streak.

I.B. BAD FINDS SOME SIGNS OF LIFE IN THE 2010 MUSIC BIZ

The Biz Is Breaking Acts, the Grammys Look Like a Horse Race, There’s Action Out of Nashville, iTunes Is Playing Hardball and Rock Is Alive and Well Outside the Major Label System
The new decade is kicking off in encouraging fashion indeed for the music business. The year began with Columbia rookie Susan Boyle capping her five-week sprint to superstardom by breaking 3 million domestically and 8 million worldwide—the bulk of it physical product, amazingly enough. Now, three more new acts—RCA/RMG’s Ke$ha, Universal Republic’s Owl City and Island/IDJ’s Justin Bieber—are churning toward platinum after getting big lifts of their own during the holiday season. Could any or all of these newcomers come up big at the 2011 Grammys?… As for this year’s Grammys, the big question among industry observers is, who will own the night? Opinions are split among Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, the Black Eyed Peas and Beyonce—or none of the above, with the Grammy voters’ love spread around. The closest thing to a sure shot, say Grammy watchers, is the Zac Brown Band, which many believe will take Best New Artist while notching wins in the Country categories, as Atlantic makes its most successful foray into Nashville thus far… Speaking of Nashville, retail watchers expect big things from the Jan. 26 release of the second LP from Capitol Nashville’s Lady Antebellum, with wonderers wondering if the LP will cross over to Pop, as label head Mike Dungan continues his hot streak. Dungan had EMI’s three biggest 2009 sellers in Lady Antebellum’s debut album, Darius Rucker and Keith Urban... In what retail watchers are likening to the old days of brick-and-mortar, Apple appears to be playing hardball with labels that attempt to place exclusives on high-profile acts with AmazonMP3. Last week, the iTunes Store pulled the marketing on Katharine McPhee after Amazon put her new Verve release on sale for $3.99, the sudden disappearing act causing the album, which had been Top 10 at iTunes before the yank, to plummet. Absent from the iTunes welcome page this week are XL’s Vampire Weekend and MusicworksOmarion, AmazonMP3’s current $3.99 specials—though Vampire Weekend is iTunes’ #1 album nonetheless, with a shot at topping next week’s chart… IGA has split with Marilyn Manson, continuing its move away from the commercially limited Rock sector. Industry veterans note that deals made three or four LPs ago tend to have huge, escalating options that are essentially unattainable in today’s marketplace, so it makes no sense for their labels to go forward with them. At the same time, certain veteran rock acts, including the Eagles, Journey, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins and Filter, have managed to continue viable careers independent of the major label system. The latest example of a onetime multi-platinum powerhouse finding new life in the DIY sector is Pearl Jam, now on its second Top 10 single and approaching 500k in album sales on Backspacer. Much of the credit goes to manager Kelly Curtis and consultant Michele Anthony, who have worked with the band for years… Industry veteran Daniel Glass has reinvented himself as an indie-label entrepreneur, with his Glassnote label boasting a quality international roster including France’s Phoenix (at 275k and still growing behind that Cadillac spot) as well as a pair of buzzing newcomers in Australia’s The Temper Trap and the U.K.’s Mumford & Sons. Glassnote came on the scene in 2007 with S.F.-based Second Hand Serenade, whose two albums have collectively sold 385k. Remarkably, Glass is achieving these successes with a staff of less than 20…. Roger Ames, brought in by Irving Azoff last August to oversee Ticketmaster’s international operations, played a key role in the EU’s passage of the proposed Live Nation-TM merger. Ames has some history with the EU, which in 2000 rebuffed the then-Warner Music head’s attempt to merge with EMI… Names in the Rumor Mill: Doug Morris/Lucian Grainge, Irving Azoff, Rick Rubin, Monte Lipman, Greg Thompson and Dan Field.
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