It will take some doing for Gaga to catch Adele, who is running away with the competition for the year’s biggest album.
Iovine Is Banking on Born This Way, Barnett Keeps “Rolling” With Adele, Rhone Is in Motion, Morris Can’t Wait for July, Faxon Hangs On as Bronfman and Blavatnik Plan Their Nex
Interscope’s Lady Gaga rollout, orchestrated by Steve Berman and manager Troy Carter, is gargantuan, as befits a superstar who has sold 5.6m albums in the U.S. alone between The Fame and The Fame Monster, as well as a staggering 29m tracks. With Gaga now on her third single and all over TV, Interscope is shipping nearly 2m, with a massive 21k non-traditional retail outlets carrying the album. The situation is fraught with drama. Gaga’s album is one of the keys to an IGA turnaround, as Jimmy Iovine’s onetime marketshare leader has been overtaken by the Steve Barnett-led Columbia, which is having a huge year behind Adele and the Glee franchise. In fact, IGA is currently in fifth place in new-release marketshare year-to-date at 5.4%, trailing not only first-place Columbia (at 7.6%), but also #2 Atlantic (6.8%), #3 IDJ (6.5%) and #4 Universal (6.0%). Will Gaga have a million-selling debut worldwide? It will take some doing for her to catch Adele, who is running away with the competition for the year’s biggest album. Remarkably, Columbia’s newest superstar will break 2 million in the States off the first single, the ubiquitous smash “Rolling in the Deep.”… According to UMG insiders, Sylvia Rhone is leaving her post at Universal Motown, but is still engaged in conversations with Lucian Grainge and Barry Weiss about a possible new label deal. One scenario would have Motown becoming part of IDJ, while Cash Money would go to Monte Lipman’s Universal Republic… Like Napoleon poised for his escape from Elba, Doug Morris has been sitting in his rented Midtown office suite planning his return, even as the new, improved Sony Music continues to advance its league-leading marketshare, which is 32.2% in new releases and 30.5% overall year-to-date. The rumor du jour involves the identities of those executives who will play key roles on Morris’ team, with Joe Riccitelli and Tom Corson said to be headed to Peter Edge’s RCA/Jive, while Richard Palmese, Tom Carrabba and Ivan Gavin are also believed to have seats at the table… Rumor also has it that Bob Cavallo, who has turned Disney’s music division into a force during his tenure, will exit his post in early 2012. If this is the case, who will be tapped to succeed him?… Len Blavatnik paid $8.25 a share (or $3.3 billion) for Warner Music, well above the Gores brothers’ $7.65-per-share (or $3.06 billion) bid. BMG Rights Management had offered $1.65 billion for Warner/Chappell, and the joint Ronald Perelman/Sony bid was $1.8 billion for WC and $1.2 billion for records. All of the above are now expected to go after all or part of EMI. Blavatnik’s successful bid, hastened by his threat to pull his offer if the board chose to draw out the decision-making process, represents a big win for his friend and associate Edgar Bronfman, who is now in position to enact his plan to make a move on EMI using Blavatnik’s money. Bronfman and Blavatnik are expected to then sell off Warner/Chappell—probably to either BMG or Sony—in order to get through one regulatory issue, and integrate Warner and EMI’s recorded-music assets, adding such strong-selling acts as Coldplay, Lady Antebellum (both with albums due this fall), Katy Perry and Keith Urban to the combined active roster. But a merged Warner-EMI records group will raise regulatory red flags of its own, and it remains to be seen how much, if any, trimming will need to be done in order to satisfy these regulatory concerns. Another question involves the future of current EMI chief Roger Faxon post-sale... Most expect Warner to outbid BMG for EMI, though it remains to be seen how much they’ll determine EMI recorded music holdings are worth. EMI’s U.S. marketshare for records is currently just over 9%, with each share worth $60-70 million, putting its total value at as much as $650m. But after consolidation, that 9 could shrink to a 5 or 6. Further, the assumed $350m in cost savings derived from merging EMI with another major will in fact be far less, because EMI has dramatically cut costs in recent years. The big question regarding Bronfman and Blavatnik’s quest for EMI is whether any company or deep-pocketed individual will make a concerted attempt to upset their applecart… As for the lawsuits being filed alleging that the WMG board breached its fiduciary duty in gift-wrapping the company for Blavatnik, most legal eagles expect nothing to come of them, but they note that Bronfman’s conviction of insider trading related to the 2000 Vivendi-Universal deal has made him an obvious target for litigation addicts… Names in the rumor mill: Vincent Herbert, L.A. Reid, Marty Bandier, Dave Holmes, Steve Bartels and Greg Thompson.
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