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NEAR TRUTHS: PUMP
AND CIRCUMSTANCE

NIPPER, FETCH: Rumor has it that longtime Peter Edge sidekick Keith (KMEL) Naftaly will be upped to President of A&R at RCA. Naftaly heads up the label’s A&R team, which has been utterly on fire of late; another key A&R player at the label, Tunji Balogun, is also said to be on the verge of a new deal in the wake of said hot streak.

PRIMING THE PUMP: The Lil Pump deal, which turned into the most contentious signing contest in the biz before WMG prevailed, offers another example of Warner aggressiveness under Max Lousada; in order to keep the breakout rapper, who’s repped for legal by John Branca and David Byrnes, on Tom Corson’s Warner Bros.,, the company closed the deal. Meanwhile, the artist’s management team, Tha Lights Global (repped by Todd Rubenstein), had been claiming that the teen rapper would definitely not be staying at the Bunny before Team Max and Tom prevailed.

The very generous $8m advance is said to cover the rapper’s debut (released by Warner Bros. last October) and another set, believed to be well underway. Lil Pump’s self-titled first album has hit 650k in total consumption.

Rumor has it that as part of the negotiations, Tha Lights Global was released from its exclusive arrangement with Warner Bros. and is now free to negotiate a new deal elsewhere, which is thought to have generated considerable interest.

Meanwhile, the exec who originally signed Pump, former WBR boss Cameron Strang, has settled his very rich employment contract, and because the company stock he got—at the price it held when Len Blavatnik bought WMG, according to rumor—has more than doubled in value, his golden parachute is said to be worth in excess of $20m. Damn.

THE TOWER’S PLAN: Without fanfare, Steve Barnett’s Capitol Music Group has done away with the old-school marketing model that kept domestic, international, digital and sales in separate departments. Now that he’s merged all four into one Global Marketing Department—with a new “Innovation Team” at its center—will CMG’s competitors follow suit?

SETTING THE TONE: Industry eyes are on Doug Morris as he launches his new label, 12 Tone. Apple is believed to have given Morris a sizable advance to help bootstrap the company, but there will be no window of exclusivity on the newco’s releases. Steve Bartels is doing much integral heavy lifting at the firm. What company (or companies) will handle distribution? And will Morris make a splash with his first signing? The buzz is that the act has major cred and a big brand, and that 12 Tone has already hooked up one huge look.

#THEMTOO: Execs across the industry are in the process of intensive self-examination regarding their treatment of female co-workers, as they ask themselves whether they crossed the line, and what impact it may have had on the other party. There hasn’t been this kind of introspection in the business since the Marko Babineau controversy at Geffen in the early ’90s.

Everyone in the business is on notice—which is the first step in stamping out the toxicity that has plagued the business for decades, resulting in countless innocent victims. Still, the pace of change is driving no small amount of concern at the majors, particularly where public charges result in instant condemnation and viral notoriety before scrutiny of said charges is possible.

It’s unquestionably a new era, but HR departments across the biz are tasked with the same primary mission:  protect the company’s assets. Meanwhile, what are grounds for dismissal now? Where do consensual relationships fall in the evolving climate?

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