Sony Music is on a roll, increasing marketshare to the point where it’s now neck-and-neck with UMG in year-to-date marketshare.


Morris, Grainge, Weiss and Now Reid Have All Made Potentially Game-Changing Choices, With Much More of the Same to Come
One of this year’s unfolding stories, the wooing of L.A. Reid, appears to have played out, as the in-demand executive accepts an offer from Simon Cowell to join The X Factor. Most believe that Reid’s decision to leave UMG will inevitably lead to his return to Sony Music, reuniting him with a number of the acts he developed and broke there, including Usher, Pink, Avril Lavigne and OutKast (assuming he can persuade Andre 3000 and Big Boi to reconvene), and with his former UMG boss Doug Morris. It appears that both Morris and Lucian Grainge got what they wanted: Barry Weiss overseeing Universal’s East Coast label group and Morris presumably in the process of returning Reid to the label where it all started for him. But the ultimate question—whether Morris or Grainge (or both) has made the right call in luring a key executive from his biggest rival—probably won’t be adequately answered for some time to come… This has to be an especially gratifying moment for Atlanta-based heavyweight attorney Joel Katz, who handled Reid’s deal and is said to have been instrumental in helping shape the new world order… Reid and Weiss—the de facto head of IDJ following Reid’s departure—are leaving their respective companies in the midst of hot streaks. IDJ’s heat has been generated by Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Kanye West and the breaking Jennifer Lopez, as the company continues firing on all cylinders under Steve Bartels, David Massey and Chris Hicks. Now, following Reid’s departure, how will their respective roles be impacted? Figuring that out would seem to be one of the various orders of business on Weiss’ to-do list. Among the challenges the newly installed East Coast leader is facing is the mandate to “cut fat without hurting muscle and bones,“ as Grainge put it… Meanwhile, speculators are speculating about what’s going on behind the scenes—specifically, what Grainge’s next moves will be, and what other executives Morris has his eyes on… As Morris counts down the weeks until his July 1 start date, Sony Music is on a roll, increasing marketshare to the point where it’s now neck-and-neck with UMG in year-to-date marketshare. Weiss’ former empire is a key contributor, with Jive/JLG’s Chris Brown (midweek projection: 250-275k), J/RMG’s Jennifer Hudson (150-175k) and RCA/RMG’s Strokes (85-100k) all hitting this week, followed next Tuesday by Jive’s Britney Spears. Now calling the shots are Tom Carrabba and Joe Riccitelli at JLG, and Tom Corson and Richard Palmese at RMG, under the leadership of RCA/Jive COO Ivan Gavin. But where does the still-dangerous Clive Davis fit into the mix?… Sony’s prime mover in recent months has been Steve Barnett’s high-powered Columbia, which has practically been printing money with the Glee franchise, and can now claim Adele as the biggest breakthrough since Lady Antebellum and Bieber a year ago, as her sophomore album 21 (already past 1m in the U.K.) hits 750k units in the U.S. after four weeks, with 3m in this country alone a realistic expectation by year’s end. Adele won the Best New Artist Grammy two years ago behind her debut album 19; the follow-up has to be considered the early frontrunner for Album of the Year in 2012… Moving to the lower—and even more unsettled—half of the Big Four, the EMI/WMG game continues to play out, the big question being who are the serious buyers and who are the lookie-loos? Clearly in the former category is Hartwig Masuch’s BMG Rights Management, which is expected to end up with one of the two companies. Most believe Russian billionaire and Edgar Bronfman pal Len Blavatnik is not a serious bidder, while mystery surrounds the motives of another billionaire, Ron Burkle. According to insiders, Bronfman’s ultimate aim is that he winds up with a seat at the table as the head of one of the two music groups in play. How much more of his personal fortune is Bronfman willing to risk in order to achieve his endgame?... The industry buzz on gifted male/female duo The Civil Wars is nearing critical mass, as major management firms and labels go nuclear in hot pursuit of the hottest new act of the moment, under the shrewd guidance of manager Nate Yetton… Is the head of one Big Four company about to throw his most senior record executive under the bus? Lots of buzz over all the internal jockeying inside this company as it begins to go through a seismic change. Could said senior record executive turn the tables and make a move on his boss?… Names in the rumor mill: Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, Guy Hands, Roger Ames, David Munns, Ken Berry and Michael Dornemann.