Grainge still has one key slot to fill, as speculators speculate about the names on his list of candidates to head up EMI Music. Could it be another Brit?


Doug Morris, Lucian Grainge and Their Brit Players Are Locked in an Fierce Battle for Supremacy in the U.S. Music Biz, and They're Deadlocked Four Months Into 2012
The Brits are leaving a gigantic footprint on the U.S. music business, starting with UMG’s Lucian Grainge, whose company is battling with Doug MorrisSony Music for U.S. marketshare supremacy. Sony is nearly a percentage point ahead in overall share, 30.4% to 29.5%, but Universal is up with TEA included 30.4% to Sony’s 29%.

Grainge has three of his trusted U.K. lieutenants working out of Universal’s Santa Monica headquarters following his reorganization of core corporate functions on a worldwide basis: Global CFO Boyd Muir, President of Global Digital Business Rob Wells and Global Head of H.R. Malcolm Swatton. But Grainge’s biggest British play by far is the acquisition of EMI. Many believe that in order to get this deal done, Universal will have to make major divestitures.

During his 16-month reign as the sole head of Universal, Grainge has also shifted a number of pieces on his U.S. chessboard. His key moves included snagging Barry Weiss from Sony Music as his East Coast chief, promoting Evan Lamberg to President of Universal Music Publishing and installing EMI Nashville chief Mike Dungan as the head of Universal Nashville.

Most recently, Grainge moved Zach Horowitz from his post as UMG President/COO to Chairman of UMPG. Horowitz already had publishing reporting to him in his former job, so in effect his responsibilities have been dramatically reduced, to the extreme relief of many who have had dealings with the unpopular company man. Tellingly, Universal CFO and Horowitz henchman Chuck Ciongoli has just left the company.

Grainge still has one key slot to fill, as speculators speculate about the names on his list of candidates to head up EMI Music. Could it be another Brit? And what current senior EMI execs will be part of the new team?

Sony Music closed out its fiscal year with a profit of $450m, in an early coup for Morris, who has only been in power since last July. The wily veteran is doing it with his own team of Brits, all of them proven creative executives: Columbia’s Rob Stringer and Steve Barnett, RCA’s Peter Edge and Syco’s Simon Cowell. The Sony front line also includes Epic chief L.A. Reid and recent arrival Sylvia Rhone, both of whom followed Morris from UMG to his new home.

Syco/Columbia sensations and X Factor U.K. alumni One Direction (who have the #5 album year to date with 625k) went clean on a dozen shows at London’s O2 Arena on the heels of a sold-out U.S. tour, complete with massive merch sales. What’s really jaw-dropping is that the boy band has already sold out an amphitheater tour of the States for the summer of 2013. This is a huge win for the Syco/Sony joint venture. Sony made a reported $50m investment in its joint venture with Syco, which includes all revenue generated by Syco and its acts.

Some observers believe American Idol may have just one more season after this one. But that could also be the case with The X Factor if Cowell’s show doesn’t pick up in the ratings during season two, which should benefit from the addition of youth-skewing new judges Britney Spears and Demi Lovato. The Voice, presently generating the strongest ratings of the three shows, appears to be solid for another couple of years.

Who is winning from these shows? Epic and Columbia are both formulating plans for various finalists from The X Factor’s first U.S. season; will any of them be developed into bona fide stars? Are there any potential stars on this season of Idol? Hardly anyone, including UMG, expects The Voice to throw off any significant record sales aside from those from the coaches themselves, whose camps are reportedly feuding over the fact that Christina Aguilera’s $10m salary is double those of the other three. When will Aguilera use the prime-time platform to launch her next album, as her fellow coaches have done?
With the next Aerosmith album nearing completion, wonderers are wondering what impact Steven Tyler’s high-profile Idol gig will have on sales of the Columbia release. Meanwhile, there’s word of increasing drama between band manager Trudy Green and attorney Dina LaPolt, who represents Tyler, over the respective roles of the frontman and guitarist Joe Perry, who have a long history of butting heads over the band’s direction.

RCA and IDJ both have a great deal riding on upcoming big-money releases from Usher (6/12; previous LP now at 1.3m), Chris Brown (7/3; 875k) and Justin Bieber (6/19; 3.13m on My World 2.0).

Names in the rumor mill: Kanye West, Gary Overton, Richard Griffiths, Julie

Greenwald, Mark Shimmel, Joe Riccitelli, Monte Lipman, Troy Carter and Harvey Geller.

Day one begins. (9/23a)
Whoa, that's early. (9/21a)
Stars across the board (9/21a)
A history lesson from I.B. Bad (9/23a)
As UMG goes solo, Grainge discusses leading the band. (9/20a)
A chronicle of the inexplicable.
We make yet more predictions, which you are free to ignore.
2022 TOURS
May we all be vaxxed by then.
Power pop, global glam and the return of the loud.

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