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The contraction of the Big Four to the Big Three now seems that much more likely, while the chances that EMI will be broken up are greater than ever.

I.B. BAD ON BIG RED AND THE MARKETSHARE WARS

Columbia Running Away From the Field,
While SME Vs. UMG Is Too Close to Call
Marketshare leader Columbia has topped the charts the last two weeks with Tony Bennett (marking the veteran’s first #1 ever) and J Cole (a Jay-Z-signed Roc Nation rookie who came out of nowhere), while Adele has by far 2011’s top-selling album and single, and Foster the People is the year’s biggest rock breakthrough. Clearly, anyone who doubts that Rob Stringer and Steve Barnett are top-tier players is grossly misinformed. Additionally, the label has re-signed Barbra Streisand, who’d been pursued by rival UMG. As a result of its heavy hitters, Columbia holds a sizable lead over the competition going into the fourth quarter with 9% in new-release marketshare—a jump of three percentage points from a year ago at this time... RCA/Jive (now simply RCA under new head Peter Edge in the reorganized Sony Music) holds second place at 7.7%. Though Doug Morris’ Sony (29.8% overall) maintains a half-percentage lead over UMG (29.3%) year-to-date, Universal’s Q4 release schedule—which includes albums from Drake, Florence + the Machine, Taylor Swift (live), Enrique Iglesias, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Taio Cruz, Young Jeezy, Andrea Bocelli, Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent and a Lady Gaga remix album—should be enough to pull it ahead by year’s end. And hitting this week is Scotty McCreery, the first act to be released under the deal between 19 Entertainment and Interscope. Jointly A&R’d by Iovine and UMG Nashville chief Luke Lewis, the album was looking like 150k at presstime, despite the surprising fact that the American Idol winner’s first single isn’t yet hot at Country radio... Looking ahead, the balance of power could conceivably shift in 2012 or ’13, as UMG’s distribution deals with Slim and Baby’s Cash Money and Disney come up for renewal. On the A&R front, how much additional firepower will L.A. Reid, Edge, Simon Cowell and Dr. Luke’s full-service Kemosabe label bring to Sony? Will it be enough to counter the fruits of Lucian Grainge’s mandate to his label heads to ramp up Universal’s A&R team, starting with his own tapping of David Foster to oversee Verve? Thus far, Monte Lipman has brought in Rob Stevenson as well as the soon-to-arrive Tom Whalley at Universal Republic (#3, 7.1% year-to-date); Jimmy Iovine has added Gee Roberson to Interscope (#4, 7.1%); and Barry Weiss has re-upped Karen Kwak while bringing in Ethiopia Habtemariam, Brandon Creed, No ID and Breyon Prescott to IDJ (#6, 5.8%)… Sources inside Live Nation, which signed Shakira to a big-money deal in 2008, say that the artist, who is out of her Sony contract, is at least a year away from completing an album, at which point they’ll lock in a label partner. Up to now, most superstars signed to LN have ended up staying put because of catalog, meaning there’s a strong chance Shakira will choose to remain at Sony… In the bottom half of the marketshare bracket, Lyor Cohen’s Warner Music has dropped a whopping 2.4 percentage points in new-release share from a year ago, to 11.9% from 14.3%, but Warner brass say they’re making a killing on their 360 deals. EMI has lost ground in overall share from a year ago, to 9.3% from 10.4%, with the sizzling Coldplay, fueled by a massive campaign, the company’s last chance this year to turn things around, as Citi’s auction proceeds… The contraction of the Big Four to the Big Three now seems that much more likely following the reported mass exodus of financial players, with Ron Perelman, who’s said to want recorded music, the lone remaining billionaire in the mix. And given the fact that, of strategic bidders WMG, UMG, Sony/ATV and BMG, only Warner is likely to bid on the whole company, the chances that EMI will be broken up are greater than ever… There’s a lively debate going on about Spotify’s impact on record sales, with many assuming the service is having a negative effect. Some are predicting that the majors will begin holding back their biggest releases from being added to Spotify for a period of time in order to avoid the potential undercutting of initial sales, and in fact one big act is said to be doing just that with its Q4 release. Despite these concerns, since the service launched on July 14, year-to-date sales over the corresponding week of 2010 have actually increased two percentage points to 3.4%… Mumford & SonsSigh No More has become the third album to sell more than a million digitally, putting the Glassnote release behind only Adele’ 21 and Eminem’s Recovery, which was the first LP to surpass 1m paid downloads. Not only that, but Mumford’s overall total of 1.8m equals those of Katy Perry and Lady Gaga… Names in the rumor mill: Mel Lewinter, Clive Davis, Diane Warren, Ceci Kurzman, John Branca, Conrad Murray and Randy Phillips.
56TH ACM AWARDS: THE WINNERS
Maren! Luke! Carly! (4/19a)
NEW & DEVELOPING ARTISTS: Q2 EDITION
Who's next? (4/16a)
STREAMING SONGS:
POLO'S SOLO
"RAPSTAR" is accurately titled. (4/16a)
HITS LIST: RULES
FOR ENTRY
It's exclusive, but you're invited to come on in. (4/19a)
CHART FINAL:
TAYLOR'S VERSION
"Fearless" takes flight. (4/16a)
RHYTHM, BLUES AND THE FUTURE
The musical tapestry we know as R&B.
WHO'S NEXT?
Predicting the next big catalog deal.
JUST THE VAX, MA'AM
Once we all get vaccinated, how long before we can party?
WORLDWIDE GROOVE
How is globalization bringing far-flung territories into the musical mainstream?
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