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What will the poised and knowledgable Rhone do next? Could she reunite with her former boss Doug Morris at Sony Music?
I.B. BAD LOOKS BACK ON LUCIAN GRAINGE’S FIRST 120 DAYS
The UMG Chief and Barry Weiss Are Well Into the Process of Rehaping the East Coast, but Change Has Come to Santa Monica Too
Four months into the Lucian Grainge era, the UMG ruler and his right-hand man, East Coast chief Barry Weiss, are making their presence felt, with a number of executive changes expected. According to insiders, Universal Motown President Sylvia Rhone has been offered the job of heading up a new 360 entity encompassing records, publishing, merch, touring and management. But those in the know say it’s unlikely that she’ll accept the offer. At this time, it appears that Rhone will no longer run Universal Motown, where she orchestrated a string of breakthroughs, including Lil Wayne, Nelly, Nicki Minaj, Drake and Kid Cudi. According to some, the label will be consolidated with Universal Republic under Monte Lipman, while others say that Weiss will oversee the day-to-day running of Motown. Weiss is also supposedly looking for a new head of Def Jam. In any case, the relationships moving forward between Republic and Motown, Island and Def Jam remain somewhat unclear. What is clear is that there will be some reductions in headcount, as certain services are consolidated. As for Rhone, what will the poised and knowledgable executive do next? Could she reunite with her former boss Doug Morris at Sony Music? It’s possible that UMG could force her to sit on the sidelines for a period of time, just as it prevented Morris from starting his new job until July. Rhone’s UMG deal runs until the end of 2012… Some are wondering whether there will be any fallout from the departures of Rhone and L.A. Reid, UMG’s two highest-profile African-American executives. Is this development catching the attention of Al Sharpton?… Ron Fair’s deal is up, and he’s leaving his presidency at Geffen, where he worked with such IGA acts as the Pussycat Dolls, Mary J. Blige, Keyshia Cole and Semi Precious Weapons. The veteran executive/staff producer will remain part of Jimmy Iovine’s American Idol team. Also entering the picture is David Foster, who has made a huge deal at UMG. Will he have the kind of yank that Fair did, or will UMG be able to keep both Foster and Fair busy, the latter in a nonexclusive role? Or could Fair also be headed to 55th and Madison?… High-profile manager Gee Roberson, the founder and head of Hip Hop Since 1987, whose clients include Kanye West, Lil Wayne and Drake, is believed to be weighing an offer to oversee a newly created, East Coast-based urban A&R entity within IGA… Meanwhile, industry lips are flapping about Iovine’s intensive level of involvement in American Idol, which has clearly benefited the show, though some wonder whether there are enough hours in the week for him to do three jobs, including his Beats Audio business with Dr. Dre… A big but fast-burning first single and a controversial second track have resulted in lowered projections for Lady Gaga’s next album, hitting May 23 on Interscope, from upwards of 750k units to the 500k range. That said, pop divas have recently experienced slow starts, but first-week totals have little bearing on ultimate performance. For example, Katy Perry’s 1.43m album sales and 16m track sales to date have obscured the initial shock of Teenage Dream’s 194k debut. Gaga has already demonstrated her commercial clout with 4.14m units on her previous LP and a mind-boggling 29m paid track downloads. Beyonce, too, is off to a challenging start following a leak on the first single that resulted in it being rushed out by Columbia without the all-important video. But her previous album’s performance, with 2.94m units plus 13.4m singles sales, bodes well for the forthcoming release. Jennifer Lopez’s situation is more perplexing, as retail reports on her IDJ debut point to a first-week tally of 50-75k, despite her immense popularity since becoming a judge on Idol, which averages well over 20m viewers. The disparity is causing media mavens to wonder what’s behind the disconnect, though her performance on the show this week could push the total higher… Names in the rumor mill: John Branca, Steve Berman, Mel Lewinter, Tom Corson, Troy Carter and Craig Kallman.
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