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It’s expected that Walmart and Target will opt to go largely, if not exclusively, with the Velocity versions, but it has yet to be seen whether Best Buy or indie retail will be able to deal with the smaller margin.
THE GOOD, THE I.B. BAD & THE UGLY
In His Latest Look at This Nutty Business, Our in-House Pundit Finds Reasons to Be Cheerful, Reasons to Be Hopeful and Reasons to Start Looking for Another Line of Work
EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND: This week’s big retail stories are LaFace/JLG’s Usher, who bows with an impressive 346k, and his 16-year-old protégé Justin Bieber, whose Island/IDJ album is up 4% in its second week with another 292k, compared to the typical week two drop of 60-70%. Though many were surprised to see Usher sell so well in the absence of a major radio hit, dial watchers point out that the cumulative audience on the five tracks from the LP spinning at radio is as large as that for one across-the-board hit. Manager Scooter Braun and Usher, who teamed to form the Raymond-Braun Media Group, brought Bieber to L.A. Reid… Meanwhile, Braun has his hands full with another matter, following his arrest on misdemeanor charges for his failure to tweet fans to stay away from Bieber’s appearance at Long Island’s Roosevelt Mall last November when the crowd threatened to become unruly. IDJ SVP Sales Jim Roppo was previously arraigned on the same charges. Braun has pleaded not guilty... UMG is preparing to launch its new Velocity program of stripped-down, lower-priced albums, starting with the April 20 release from Mercury Nashville’s Laura Bell Bundy. UMGD topper Jim Urie says the initiative will eventually encompass most of its releases, alongside conventionally packaged and priced CDs. It’s expected that Walmart and Target will opt to go largely, if not exclusively, with the budget versions, but it has yet to be seen whether Best Buy or indie retail will be able to deal with the smaller margin… The ongoing EMI saga reached a fever pitch last week, as the company reportedly tried, and failed, to make a deal with rivals UMG and Sony Music, amid a flood of contradictory press coverage. As the beleaguered music group and its Terra Firma owners continue in their last-ditch efforts to drum up the $190 million it will take to avoid default by the June 12 deadline, there are still many more questions than answers. Was Terra Firma attempting to forge a licensing agreement or a distribution deal with UMG and Sony Music? If it was a licensing deal, would EMI have to do the typical 50/50 split with the acts? Does it have the contractual right to license the recordings of the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Coldplay, Norah Jones and other key acts? Was the deal being discussed for physical product only, or digital as well? Is it still possible that a deal could be made, and if so, with whom? What, if anything, can Guy Hands reasonably expect to salvage from this debacle? Does recently appointed EMI head Charles Allen have a sufficient understanding of the music business to handle the negotiations on such a complex matter? How any of these prospective deals would have impacted EMI’s infrastructure is still unknown... Looking ahead, will Terra’s lawsuit against Citigroup have to be resolved before things can move forward, and how might it impact the eventual outcome? If and when Citi gains control of EMI, it’s assumed that Dick Parsons’ experiences as head of Time Warner—and the seller of Warner Music—will cause him to be acutely aware of the critical need to keep the perceived and actual value of the company as high as possible in front of the expected eventual sale of assets. But is it possible that Parsons might consider holding on to EMI? Some industry veterans, noting Parsons’ close relationship with Roger Ames during his time as WMG chief, are asking whether there might be a role for Ames in the post-Terra Firma EMI hierarchy. If Citi sells the recorded-music assets to WMG, as is being widely speculated, the agreement will trigger another extended period of uncertainty, as the new owners go through a drill with which they’re painfully familiar: trying to get the deal through European and U.S. regulatory. Ames, incidentally, was instrumental in getting approval from the EU of the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger. He was unable to get the proposed 2000 merger of Warner and EMI through the gauntlet, but historians point the finger at Ames’ EMI counterpart for its failure... Most believe that it will take more than a year, though probably less than two, from the initial agreement to the closing of the deal… Meanwhile, against all odds, EMI continues to have a very good year, primarily behind its Capitol Nashville acts—resulting in new-release marketshare of 12.2% year-to-date, a mere half a percentage point behind the strangely quiet WMG… Names in the Rumor Mill: Lucian Grainge, Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, David Munns, Ken Berry, Jeff Kwatinetz, Simon Renshaw, Joe Galante, Peter Grosslight, Marty Diamond, Marty Bandier and Larry Mestel.
NEW RELEASES: LE RETOUR DE CELINE (UPDATE)
Best read while dramatically thumping one's breastbone. (11/18a)
ICYMI: HARRY ON SNL (UPDATE)
He's so dreamy. (11/18a)
ARIZONA GOES TO COLUMBIA
Bring on the remixes! (11/15a)
ROSAL√ćA WINS BIG AT LATIN GRAMMYS
A harbinger of things to come? (11/15a)
WILL REI AMI BE THE NEXT ACT TO POP?
Pass the popcorn. (11/18a)
THE GRAMMY NOMINATIONS
They'll soon be here, and then we can start obsessing about who'll win.
U.K. SPECIAL
Forget Brexit--it's our yearly survey of doings in Blighty. And if you still can't forget Brexit, try drinking.
WHAT'S GOING ON BENEATH OUR WINDOWS?
The latest in Hollyweird.
WEED!
That's what Hollywood smells like. Seriously. 24/7.
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