All posts tagged Columbia Records

Relentless Records to Sony Music

Best known as once the label home of Joss Stone, KT Tunstall, Jay Sean and Cage The Elephant, it was announced today that UK label Relentless Records has Read more…

In Through the Out Door: Rick Rubin & American Recordings done at Sony?

Among the many industry plot-lines running through the major record label sector at the moment, is the uncertain future of Rick Rubin as co-chairman of Columbia Records. To many observers it seems he’s had one foot out the door since first taking the post back in 2007, with his lack of presence and producer projects at the label being well-noted along the way. While there has been no official word from Columbia or Rubin as to his future with the label, his contract expires next year, and speculation about his departure has increased following Doug Morris‘ crowning as Sony Music CEO this year and the restructuring that has followed. Evidence of what lays ahead for Rubin and Sony may also be found with the news of changes afoot at his imprint label American Recordings. Word started filtering through at the tail end of last week about staff changes at the storied label, which Rubin brought with him to Sony from Warner Bros. in 2007. No information has been officially released, but insiders are signaling a departure of the imprint’s A&R staff, while for the moment at least, it seems label GM Dino Paredes will be staying on in some capacity. Are the changes a sign that the label – best known in more recent history for signing System of a Down, Johnny Cash, The Jayhawks and The Avett Brothers – is getting out of the new artist business? Speculation is abundant as to whether American will be sold off, shuttered altogether, or will just continue on with the current catalog, however with no A&R department it seems at a minimum there would be a moratorium on signings at the imprint. It’s also worth noting what the label’s uncertain fate might spell for The Avett Brothers – undoubtedly the crown jewel of the current roster, with a healthy sales base, the band would certainly be much sought after if they suddenly became free agents… Stay tuned.

Bits & Pieces: Live Nation + UMG, Facebook’s f8 Conference & more…

Monday afternoon saw the official news of a major deal that has been in the works for months that unites Live Nation Entertainment and Universal Music Group in a new pact joining UMG’s management properties, including Sanctuary, Twenty First Artist (and presumably the new producer management arm Twenty First Republic that was formed earlier this year with World’s End) and 5B Artist Management, all under LN’s Front Line Management… Apprehension by banks to finance private-equity firms in buyouts and mergers is growing, according to an WSJ article this week, and that might mean the stable of bidders for EMI is shrinking. It might also mean the likelihood of the music group being sold intact is also lessening… Tomorrow is Facebook‘s big f8 conference, where they will announce many new features and major redesigns, and music fans are looking forward to the expected integration of new streaming services like Spotify, MOG and Rdio. Some are expecting Pandora to be added to that list as well, given the redesigned and relaunched player from the web radio service today, which includes among other things increased sharing capabilities and the removal of the cap on free-listening hours. Exactly how seamless the integration of media services into the social network is unclear, as MediaMemo points out, FB was originally planing on allowing users to access music and video services without ever leaving the site, however now that has changed. Announced speakers and panelists at the conference will include CEO’s from Spotify and Turntable.fm along with Clear Channel Chairman‘s Bob Pittman who has been busy promoting iHeartRadio and manager Troy Carter among many others…  Elsewhere, video site Vimeo has launched a Music Store in a new partnership with Audiosocket, that will help video creators easily find and license music… R.E.M. is calling it quits after three decades… Van Halen is reportedly ending their longtime relationship with Warner Bros. Records and heading to Columbia Records… And Jeremy Summers has been named EVP/Chief Marketing Officer at Interscope Geffen A&M.

Bits & Pieces: Citi Receives 10+ bids for EMI, KOL Cancel Tour to Tune of $15million, Turntable.fm & more…

Worth more than Warner Music?

The first round bids for EMI are in, with multiple reports pointing to more than 10 offers received for either the whole or individual recorded music and publishing arms of EMI Group, from interested parties including Sony, Universal, Warner Music, BMG Rights Management and a host of private equity groups. At least one analysis this week claimed that Citigroup could possibly fetch more than $4 billion for the company based on a similar multiple used in the recent Warner acquisition. An article in FT.com yesterday claims that the current tendered bids range from $3 – $4b, and that between four and six of the submitted offers were for the entire music group. Citi is expected to respond to the opening bidders this week…  While less humorous than last summer’s Kings of Leon bird droppings incident, the band’s cancelation of the remainder of their current U.S. tour dates following an abrupt termination of a set in Dallas last week, may prove much more damaging. Rollingstone.com takes a look at other recent tour cancelations with somewhat dubious explanations, and according to reports, the KOL cancellation may cost policy holder, Loyds of London, as much as $15 million in payouts to promoters and others affected… The much talked about Turntable.fm has secured a $7.5 million financing round led by Union Square Ventures, which has some wondering if the startup will next seek licensing agreements with the record labels and music publishers. Lady Gaga and Kanye West are also reportedly among those who contributed to the funding… And The Shins are following fellow former Sub Pop label mates Band of Horse, in moving from the venerable indie to a new imprint-label deal with Columbia Records for their next release.

Exclusive: New Sony Music Boss in Talks to Expand Label with Hitmaker Dr. Luke

A major restructuring of Sony Music among its label groups and executive ranks has begun, with the news already released of Antonio “LA” Reid‘s taking the chairmanship at Epic Records, and the break up of the RCA/Jive label group that has some key executives moving to Epic while others will take up at RCA. But more than a game of musical chairs is needed to compete with Universal Music Group, who holds the top spot in the market and is making aggressive moves of its own under new CEO Lucian Grainge… According to insiders, a top priority for new Sony Music CEO Doug Morris, is completing a substantial label deal with hit producer and songwriter Luke Gottwald (aka Dr. Luke) that will encompass both records and publishing. There’s no word as to whether a deal has been finalized yet (the two sides are said to have been locked in negotiations for months), but from what we’ve learned, it would be a major opening statement from Morris as new label chairman and a key component in the new Sony structure. Luke’s Kemosabe Entertainment label (which Ke$ha is signed to) is already under Sony/RCA, but as it’s understood, the new label (it’s unclear if the name will change), would be put on a similar playing field as Columbia Records, Epic and RCA, including a full staff. Those in the know believe that Morris is positioning to create the next Interscope Records under the Sony umbrella, with arguably the biggest hitmaker in the world right now in a Jimmy Iovine-like role. The most significant component being that Luke comes armed with a entire camp of writers and producers that are developing new talent and already creating chart-topping tracks. Notable emerging producers and writers like Benny Blanco and Bonnie McKee, who are affiliated with Dr. Luke’s publishing companies, have had a number of successful cuts in recent years including tracks with Britney Spears, Katy Perry, 3OH!3 and Wiz Khalifa. Luke himself has been responsible for helping create over 18 No. 1 hits in the last five years, producing and writing for artists like Pink, Avril Lavigne, Katy Perry, Taio Cruz, Ke$ha and many others, since his 2004 Kelly Clarkson breakthrough smash “Since U Been Gone”. All of which makes it a smart move for Sony/ATV Music Publishing to seek a significant stake in Luke’s publishing, as is rumored to be part of the overall Sony deal as well… Will Morris’s bold move prove to be a massive success, pushing Sony past UMG? Or another failure in a recent Sony track record with producer-helmed labels including Rob Stringer‘s blunder at Epic with Amanda Ghost and Rick Rubin‘s ineffectiveness and lack of presence at Columbia? Stay tuned…

Bits & Pieces: EMI Auction Expected this Month, Universal Music taps INgrooves for NA Digital, the Latest in Signing Derbies & more…

UMG taps INgrooves for digital in North America

According to The Wrap, the auction of EMI Group by Citigroup will begin this month, as the bank has been preparing the offering that has potential bidders, which include private equity firms, billionaires and rival music groups lining up. While recent reports have Warner Music auction winner, Len Blavatnik‘s Access Industries, the likely frontrunner for acquiring EMI in an attempt to merge the two, the article’s sources have Citi officials carefully watching the current shareholder lawsuits contesting the WMG sale… Universal Music Group will be replacing its current North American digital music supply chain with INgroovesONE Division, which will now be responsible for all online and mobile deliveries to retailers such as iTunes, Amazon, AT&T, Verizon and others. UMG first partnered with INgrooves back in 2008, becoming a strategic investor in the digital distribution provider helmed by CEO Robb McDaniels… UK-based fundraising platform PledgeMusic has announced it is launching in the U.S. and Randy Sabiston has been named Managing Director. A veteran of music publishing, Sabiston previously held executives positions at S1 Songs America, Warner/Chappell, Polygram/Island Music Publishing and EMI Music Publishing… Meanwhile, after Sony Music recently landed bidding-derby act Odd Future, signing them to a high seven-figure imprint label deal with Sony/RED, Columbia Records has signed Kreayshawn (who also has OFWGKTA associations). A&R player Mark Williams inked the Oakland-based artist, who has been the subject of a label derby as well, following her song “Gucci Gucci” racking up over a million YouTube views in a matter of weeks. Speaking to MTV about all the recent attention, Kreayshawn, whose real name is Natassia Zolot, said “I’m not a person who just made a song and happened to get it popping off of one song. I think there’s a lot of songs that are going to sound even better and are a different genre,” adding, “Honestly, do you really [think] somebody would sign someone off of one song? Being like, ‘Oh, we’re just gonna take a gamble?’” Incidentally, new debut releases on Columbia from Foster the People, Cults and The Vaccines are out now…

Guzik to their Ears: Red Bull Records Hires Head of Promo

Guzik has Wings

Red Bull Records has hired longtime East Coast promo man Joe Guzik to oversee the newly created promotions department at the label. Guzik began his career doing marketing at Roadrunner Records in 1997, before landing at Sony Music in 2000, where he would spend over ten years, most recently as VP of Alternative & Rock Promotion at Columbia Records. Guzik joins Red Bull Records, which was stealthily established in 2007, as the label continues to expand, most recently with growing momentum behind the label’s two latest signings, AWOLNATION and INNERPARTYSYSTEM. Both acts are currently making waves at alternative radio…

Ghost Story: As Epic Records Prexy Exits, What’s Next…

Ghost Exiting as President

The news that Epic Records president Amanda Ghost will be leaving her post at the end of the year was announced yesterday, with Columbia/Epic chairman Rob Stringer commenting “Amanda has been an important creative force at Epic in the past two years. In returning to the natural focus of her artistic career, I look forward to us working together in the future,” – the news came as little surprise in most industry circles… But what role will this leave for Epic Records head of A&R Mike Flynn? His background as a producer and A&R executive with an impressive track record that includes The Fray, seem to make him a prime candidate to fill the position. Insiders share Stringer preferred Flynn’s creative direction and that an internal struggle over operations between Ghost and Flynn played a role in her departure, compounded by her lack of executive experience that made daily operations and artist campaigns a challenge for label staff. Stay tuned…

Out & About: Parade of Lights @ Foundation Room

On the Weasel Short List...

While hordes of music fans and industry folks were occupying the main room of the House of Blues-Sunset last night (8/26) for the Slash Tribute Event, which was also part of this weekend’s Sunset Strip Music Festival, there was also a private industry showcase happening at the Foundation Room for Parade of Lights. The Las Vegas-based group had packed the room with industry folks including several labels. Meanwhile, we were pleasantly surprised to see returning A&R veteran/Columbia Records exec Mark Williams, who commented on the A&R presence with…”it’s just like hot-tub time machine.” Meanwhile, POL rocked through an impressive short set with new songs. The group had perked numerous label reps with their release last year, but the band went on hiatus after members were hired to join/tour with bands Hello Goodbye and 30 Seconds to Mars, while drummer Anthony Improgo continued his stint as a formal member of now defunct Metro Station. Keep your eyes on this one…

Friend Request Accepted: David Andreone to Head MySpace Records

Photo Taken Off Facebook; Sorry David

David Andreone has been appointed the new head of MySpace Records, reporting to MySpace Music‘s Courtney Holt (President) and Sam Wick (SVP Music). Andreone was formerly an A&R executive at Columbia Records and Warner Chappell Publishing - where his signings included DisturbedMichelle Branch and Hoobastank…  Those keeping score will remember the exit of nearly the entire MSR staff earlier this year, leaving many to wonder what the future would hold for the label. Stay tuned for more clues…

Indie Dispatches: The Unstoppable Local Natives & The Shins New Album

Local Natives Building Momentum with Non-Stop Touring

One look at Local Natives upcoming tour schedule should leave little doubt that the LA five-piece are one the hardest working young bands out there. The group has always been a touring machine, but the list of forthcoming shows for the remainder of 2010 would make even a seasoned road warrior gasp in admiration. And showing that rewards are there for those who work, all their time on the road seems to be paying dividends. It was barely 15 months ago that Local Natives were playing SXSW for the first time, getting a Local who? response and a collective shrug of the shoulders from record labels; few suitors stepped-up with an offer to sign the band before they ultimately inked a deal with NY indie label French Kiss. Since then the group has become a global presence and have built a fan base the old-fashioned way, by touring, touring, touring. This summer sees them playing a host of A-list festivals worldwide – Oya, Glastonbury, Pitchfork, Reading, Leeds, Roskilde, Summer Sundae and Fuji Rock in Japan to name a few. This is all before setting off on North American dates that stretch from September 17th to October 28th.  The opening show of the tour at the Henry Fonda Theater in their hometown sold-out in a matter of hours, requiring the addition of a second date (the sell-out nights also seem to have brought some bigger labels sniffing around). Whether or not the sales of their album Gorilla Manor are commensurate with their live business, there’s no disputing that Local Natives are rapidly turning into the indie rock version of The Little Engine That Could.

In an interview for Pitchfork last week, James Mercer announced his next project will be a fourth album from his main combo, The Shins. Since the band have fulfilled their initial Sub Pop record deal, the two million dollar question is, which label is in line to release the album? Will it be the Seattle indie in some new-model arrangement? Or will Mercer follow the path of former label-mates Band of Horses and bring The Shins to Columbia Records – also the current home for his Broken Bells project with Dangermouse?   There’s always the possibility of another label stepping up with an offer too good to turn down, but Mercer & co. are also in a position to go it alone and turn their backs on the traditional label system. With the three prior Shins releases selling in massive quantities (both Oh Inverted World and Wincing the Night Away received gold certifications) and Mercer currently riding high with Broken Bells, to say the album is highly anticipated is an understatement.

-Cool Hand Luke

In Case You Missed It: Who’s In & Who’s Out Edition

MySpace Co-Prez Jason Hirschhorn (L) leaves; Mike Jones (R) Remains

With an announcement out of London this morning, Roger Faxon is in as the new group chief executive for EMI, moving from his previous position as chairman and chief executive of EMI Music Publishing. Recently appointed non-executive chairman of the group’s recorded music division, Charles Allen, will now become an advisor to EMI and Terra FirmaMySpace co-president Jason Hirschhorn is out as shared head of the troubled social network, leaving Mike Jones to remove the “co” from his title… News yesterday revealed that veteran A&R executive Mark Williams is in as the new Sr. VP of A&R at Columbia Records. William’s most recently worked on M.I.A.‘s new album for Interscope RecordsLimewire is in for more trouble as members of the National Music Publisher’s Association including EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group and Warner/Chappell filed a copyright complaint in federal court against the file-sharing service this week… And free concerts are out in NYC, as the city cracks down after the recent Drake concert fiasco…

And the Livin’ is Easy, Fish Are Jumpin’: Our Pre-Summer Industry Roundup

Columbia Records Hoping for Pumped Up Hit from Foster the People

Summer is around the corner and things are heating up all around the industry with bidding-derbies, swelling festival line-ups and a new batch of summer-infused singles dropping… The buzz surrounding the Monotone Inc-managed Foster the People turned into a good old fashion label bidding-derby recently. Their song “Pumped Up Kicks” is being touted as the next potential summertime hit. With lots of label suitors coming to the table, it looks like congratulations are in order for Columbia Records, who has apparently closed the band…  On the management front a different kind of derby is winding up, as managers are vying to land The All American Rejects. The band recently parted ways with their former management, but kept their longtime day-to-day man Nick “Fish” Fishbaugh. We heard Fishbaugh has been meeting with numerous management companies for a new management home for him and the band. We hear the short-list is down to only a few. Stay tuned… The grass is only getting greener over at the Josh Abraham-helmed Pulse Recording, where Jason Bernard and the manager/publisher coterie has had producer Luke Walker working on material with new Universal/Motown signing Christian TV, including the first single released this week, “When She Turns 18,” while Bonnie McKee co-wrote Katy Perry‘s latest single and ode to Cali, “California Gurls” – we just hope the fellas keep the daisy dukes at home… More heat out of EMI Publishing where the pubco’s Matt Messer and Amanda Berman recently signed Nations Afire, a band comprised of former members of Rise AgainstIgnite and Death By Stereo. The group is currently writing and recording new material, and will play the Detroit Bar in the O.C. this Saturday. Messer will be BBQing at the show… Speaking of BBQ, the 2010 Austin City Limits lineup was announced this week with The Eagles and Muse taking top spots, while a host of other notables include YeasayerThe xxGaslight Anthem and Local Natives; see the whole list here… Finally, expect a lot of industry folks to be at the Troubadour in the next couple nights, as Casxio and Imagine Dragons take the famed-stage tonight (Thursday), while on Friday, radio-darlings Dead Country will support Far whose new album comes out next week (May 25)…

IN THE MIX: Carl Stubner & Paul Pontius

Indie Dispatches: Columbia’s Horseplay & Remembering Ian Curtis

Band of Horses Release New Album 'Infinite Arms'

This week marks what will be another interesting case study in the annals of indie-artist-gone-major with the release of Band of Horses third full-length, Infinite Arms, the act’s first album on a major label.  After two well-received and bestselling albums for Sub Pop, the former Seattle-based combo’s latest effort is out via Columbia Records. The question for many is whether they can achieve the same level of sales as their prior releases – both of which easily topped the quarter of a million mark on the legendary Northwest indie label.  In making the switch, Band of Horses are following a similar path as former labelmate, James Mercer, who transitioned from Sub Pop to Columbia for his Broken Bells release.  That album has seen healthy sales so far, but is it poised to out-strip the numbers The Shins sold?  The jury is still out, but the history of indie rock is littered with tales of bands making the switch from independent label to the major label world, many times with damaging consequences. So will the new Band of Horses album embolden more indie bands to make the leap to major labels, or will it reinforce the grass isn’t actually greener attitude of acts like Spoon and Arcade Fire?

An altogether different milestone is this week’s 30 year anniversary of the untimely death of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, who committed suicide on the eve of the band’s US tour in 1980.  Joy Division, of course, were a groundbreaking act. Recording for legendary UK indie Factory Records, they were a major influence for a host of maudlin rockers since. Their neo-gothic majesty has been a template for everyone from New York’s Interpol and UK acts like Elbow and The Editors, right up to current day favorites The National - whose new album High Violet just smashed into a #3 chart debut this week.  Even three decades later, the argument could be made that the Manchester band’s run of singles from “Atmosphere” to “Love Will Tear Us Apart” remain unsurpassed through today.

And a final notable item for the week… Treats, the debut album from Sleigh Bells that was released last week on Mom & Pop Records, looks to have unexpectedly smashed into the top 40 chart.  With no prior records this is quite an achievement for the Brooklyn duo, though maybe most significant is the fact that the sales were 100% digital – a physical release is slated for next month.  Welcome to 2010 – it’s a different world out there…

-Cool Hand Luke

Indie Dispatches: L.A. gets Waved Out & Dangerbird’s Signing Spree

Dangerbird Records Signs Manchester's Delphic

The balmy Los Angeles weather had a whole stack of music fans and industry folk checking out bands on the rise, eating bacon-wrapped hot dogs and generally hanging out in historic Echo Park for the recent inaugural Waved Out Festival at the Echo/Echoplex. Kudos to the folks at Spaceland, who with help from Aquarium Drunkard put on the eastside event that was full of good vibes and from what we’re told is the first of what will be a series of similar affairs coming in 2010. Think of a mini-version of NY’s Siren Festival. The ‘one admission’ ticket across the two venues encouraged people to check out acts that they otherwise might have not investigated. This included local up-and-comers Gamblehouse and Atlanta’s The Coathangers, who came out with classic Pacific Northwest 90′s Riot grrrl rock swagger. The surprise of the day was San Francisco’s psychedelic Moon Duo – the two-piece is buzzing after some Pitchfork love for their recent SXSW shows. The all-day event was topped off with sets from Best Coast, the nom de plume of L.A. local Bethany Cosentino who has over 20k digital downloads and more than a couple premier indie labels in pursuit, followed by one of this year’s most-talked about acts at SXSW, Surfer Blood.  The latter played to a packed room, including a heavy contingent of top brass from Warner Bros. Records. Their release Astrocoast has sold over 20k on Kanine Records, and many are wondering if they will be the next act from the indie to be launched onto a major label following Chairlift‘s promotion to Columbia Records

More from the indie label front as Dangerbird Records continues their signing spree. After recently announcing the addition of both Minus the Bear and Hot Hot Heat to their expanding roster, this week they added more international flavor by signing Manchester’s Delphic. The combo’s new album Acolyte debuted in the UK top 10 earlier this year and will see a June release in the states.

- Cool Hand Luke

The Brits Are Taking Over

With today’s announcement from Vivendi on the appointment of Lucian Grainge as Chief Executive Officer of Universal Music Group, expect the rumor mill to pump up the volume on what changes we can expect to happen within the UMG labels in the coming months. But before we delve into conjecture on the UMG side, it’s significant to point out the number of British executives running US major labels. Outside of Warner Music Group, the remaining three major label groups are run by Brits. The UK presence is quite prominent at the Rob Stringer-run Sony Music, particularly with the addition of Amanda Ghost at Epic, the recent addition of Ashley Newton at the Steve Barnett-helmed Columbia Records. And the Terra Firma-owned EMI Music Group maintains its US operations under Nick Gatfield, who served under Grainge during his stint as President of Island Records UK prior to his EMI post. Aside from Ghost, the aforementioned execs have solid working experience in US music companies. Barnett has been in the Sony US system for years, Newton’s previous post at RCA and his tenure co-running Virgin Records US makes him a very well-respected US exec, while Gatfield ran Polydor Records in the states during the ‘90s.

Back to UMG, Grainge will assume his new post on Jan. 1, 2011, succeeding current UMG CEO Doug Morris. Rumors of Grainge assuming Morris’ position have been swirling for months. Grainge is scheduled to relocate to NY in July as part of the transition. Industry insiders share that Universal Republic head Monte Lipman and brother Avery will have an expanded role at the music group, as well as Mercury Records head David Massey. It leaves to question the future roles of Island Def Jam ruler LA Reid and Universal Motown head Sylvia Rhone, who was a longtime Doug Morris protégé. And it’s fair to expect no major changes to happen at Jimmy Iovine’s Interscope label. Stay tuned…