Though Perelman has a two-fold advantage over the two music groups in that he wouldn’t face regulatory scrutiny and can write his own check, the prevailing belief among industry observers is that Blavatnik will once again come out on top.


Our In-House Pundit Handicaps the Contests for Records and Publishing, Looks at Another Veteran Band Proving There’s Life After the Majors, and Notes a Shift in the Spotlight on Televised Musica
As Citi enters the endgame of the EMI auction, there’s a two-way contest for publishing, while three bidders vie for recorded music. Handicappers have made BMG Rights Management a slight favorite over Sony/ATV in the bidding for EMI Music Publishing, and if BMG does win out, many expect current EMI Group and former EMP chief Roger Faxon to be installed as the head of the combined company. If EMP goes to Sony/ATV, Marty Bandier gets back the pubco he’d previously built into the industry’s marketshare leader before being succeeded by none other than Faxon—an outcome that would surely be sweet for Bandier. On the recorded-music side, Citi must choose between Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik, UMG and billionaire investor Ron Perelman, and if either strategic player is chosen, it must assume the full risk of dealing with regulatory. Though Perelman has a two-fold advantage over the two music groups in that he wouldn’t face regulatory scrutiny and can write his own check, the prevailing belief among industry observers is that Blavatnik will once again come out on top. But if he doesn’t get EMI, many observers believe Blavatnik will become a seller sooner rather than later, while Edgar Bronfman Jr. could be out of a job… One reason the bids came in lower than expected is the $600m pension-plan issue that recently came to light... Meanwhile, Guy Hands continues to badmouth Citi and Faxon, pathetically boasting that he’ll wind up getting the company back... As the surrounding drama plays out, EMI flagship band Coldplay is getting another impressive setup for the Oct. 24 release of Mylo Xyloto, with EVP/GM Greg Thompson and manager Dave Holmes once again calling the shots, as they did on the picture-perfect 2008 rollout of Viva La Vida, which bowed with 721k. Retail mavens are predicting first-week sales in the 500k neighborhood... The Sea of Memories, the new self-released album from the reformed Bush, on leader Gavin Rossdale’s Zuma Rock label, is off to an extremely strong start, as lead single “The Sound of Winter” becomes the first-ever self-released record to hit #1 at Alternative radio; the track is also Top 5 at Active Rock. This chart-topper is an important step for the reformed band, which is providing further evidence that there’s life after the majors. Bush’s accomplishment comes at a time when the major labels are pulling back from rock, whose commercial upside has greatly diminished in recent years, causing more and more bands to strike out on their own, sometimes with resounding results, as Rossdale and company follow successful transitions from the likes of Radiohead, Pearl Jam and Nine Inch Nails. The new LP (distributed by Alan Grunblatt’s eOne Music) is Bush’s first release in a decade... Evan Lamberg’s selection as the new head of UMPG is being applauded as a good call on the part of Lucian Grainge, who chose a bona fide music man rather than a bean counter, making the anointment of Lamberg consistent with the UMG chief’s prioritization of A&R on the label side… Maroon 5 is delivering the last record to UMPG under its current publishing deal, which could make the band free agents at an opportune time, as Adam Levine rides a worldwide hit with “Moves Like Jagger,” while his featured performance on “Stereo Hearts,” his co-write with Gym Class Heroes, hits the Top 5. Will Lamberg attempt to re-sign the band?... People who have heard the new Madonna album, which is slated for a spring release, are hailing it as a return to form for the archetypal pop diva. What major will Madge and Live Nation, which acquired the rights to her records in a 2007 mega-bucks deal, choose as the releasing label? Those in the know say it won’t go to WMG, Madonna’s home since the beginning of her career in 1983… Thus far in its first season, the ratings for the U.S. version of The X Factor are less than jaw-dropping, despite Simon Cowell’s bold predictions. Interestingly, the spotlight in the proliferating field of televised musical competitions has shifted from the contestants to the judges. The careers of The Voice’s Adam Levine and Idol’s Jennifer Lopez are skyrocketing via this prime-time exposure, which is also providing a lift for Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Blake Shelton and Steven Tyler. But amid this shift in focus, 2011 Idol winner Scotty McCreery is showing surprising strength, with a relatively modest second-week drop of just 55% as his debut album closes in on 300k… Names in the rumor mill: Jordan Feldstein, John Branca, Hartwig Masuch, Jimmy Iovine and Rob Kahane & Paul Palmer.