All posts tagged Columbia

Out on the Street: Pickwick picks up steam out of MusicFestNW & Hanni El Khatib’s firepower

Labels & managers courting Seattle's latest buzz-act, Pickwick

In an odd redux of 2011, and the frenzy that erupted around The Head and the Heart, many eyes are again looking to the Pacific Northwest, and Seattle, and newbies Pickwick. The band were one of the buzz acts coming out of the recent MusicfestNW festival, with various labels checking them out, and a spirited chase developing between a selection of managers, most notably Jason Colton from Redlight, and Matt Shay from Zeigeist. Strangely the parallels to THATH are several, with the band already booked by Billions, and sharing a lawyer in Ed Pierson, which obviously has the contenders hoping Pickwick can also repeat the runaway sales of the Seattle sextet.

Closer to home, a number of label scouts, including reps from Atlantic, RCA and Columbia were out for the official record release party from LA’s Hanni El Khatib at the Echo last week. The singer/guitarist, who plays live as a duo with a drummer, performed to a packed house celebrating the issue of the album Will the Guns Come Out on the Innovative Leisure label. Hanni has already toured extensively, playing more than his fair chare of high profile shows, with Florence Welch (of Florence and the Machine) being just one of his notable fans and supporters, and a definite thumbs up for the two 7″ singles released to date has helped fuel the buzz. The slew of recent local gigs showed once again that Hanni, with his swampy garage punk that echoes the finer points of both the White Stripes and the Black Keys, has the goods, as an amplifier catching on fire, a sweaty house, and a rowdy moshpit, just added flavor to his eye-popping rock’n'roll set last week. Hanni played a repeat album release show last night at Chris DouridasIt’s A School Night, and he supports Peter Bjorn and John tomorrow night, 10/05, at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles.

Year In Review: Music Biz Undergoes Big Changes in 2010, Only More to Come

As 2010 winds down, there is plenty of industry action to look back upon and even more still to come with a number of significant changes looming. It all adds up to an end-of-the-year full of more questions than answers, but at least it keeps things interesting…

Home on the Grainge

It was back in the beginning of the year that Lucian Grainge‘s assumption of the CEO position at Universal Music Group in January of 2011 was announced, beginning a year long process of reviewing the company structures on both coasts. The fate of current UMG chief executive Doug Morris remained murky until recently as reports began to fly of his likely jump to a rival music group. But what of the new composition at UMG? Still the largest of the remaining major music groups, in both recorded music and publishing, there are no signs of slowing for the Vivendi-owned company, who is positioning itself to streamline operations with new arrangements that will see labels combining some back-office efforts, or as CFO of the French conglomerate put it recently, “a lot of fat can be taken out without hurting muscle and bones.” Looking at the various labels within Universal, it appears that most current heads will stay within the group, at either their current positions or newly created ones, as will most likely be the case with Island Def Jam ruler Antonio “L.A.” Reid. Rumors began circling back in October of an imminent firing, with many claims being made that the IDJ head was as good as out, however as others predicted, a new label imprint for Reid is now the likely outcome. There is talk of an increased dominion within UMG for Universal/Motown and label prexy Sylvia Rhone as well as Universal/Republic under the leadership of CEO Monte Lipman moving forward. And though a title for Barry Weiss, who just announced his move from RCA/Jive to Universal this past week, has yet to be announced, all signs seem to indicate that he will act as Grainge’s primary lieutenant on the East Coast while the new group chief resides in Los Angeles. What roles David Massey and Steve Bartels will take in the new structure remain unclear. Look forward to more changes to come in the new year, including word to spread of a newly inked deal between Universal and a major management firm who sold the label a significant stake in the operation…

Ghost of Epic '10

With the exit of Rolf Schmidt-Holtz from Sony Music on the horizon, talk of his successor has turned squarely on Doug Morris, with sources claiming that it’s as good as done, and that earlier contender Sony/ATV CEO Marty Bandier is uninterested in taking the position. Much has been made recently of Columbia/Epic chairman Rob Stringer‘s missteps in the artist-executive hiring of Amanda Ghost, who is departing from her presidential post at Epic, and talk coming from within the building continues to forecast a murky future for the label. Will the label fold into Columbia? What will the future hold for current Epic head of A&R Mike Flynn? What is the future for the younger Stringer at Sony, and is it tied to that of Howard Stringer? The elder Stringer has denied recent reports of his interest in the chairmanship of BBC Trust, though rumors of his time coming to an end at Sony Corp continue. And will Charlie Walk find himself back in the Sony fold?… The handling of EMI by Terra Firma boss Guy Hands, has left many mystified, from the initial timing and price of the purchase, the revolving door of outside executive hires, to the recent courtroom debacle with lender Citigroup. While strong releases from Lady Antebellum and Katy Perry along with the Beatles-on-iTunes coup are all positives steps, and many have praised recent promotions in the upping of Roger Faxon to chief executive of the group and Dan McCarroll‘s promotion to oversee the Capitol and Virgin labels, it strikes most as too late. Talk of a takeover of EMI by Citigroup before the year’s end ramped up this week after reports that Terra Firma investors ruled out investing more funds into the company to meet the next debt obligation to Citi.  If the bank does indeed take control of EMI, the common belief is that it will sell off the recorded music and publishing divisions to the highest bidders – the two mentioned most often being Warner Music Group and BMG Rights Management… Shifting to the bunny, the company made industry waves in September with Lyor Cohen initiating some top-down restructuring, which started with naming Rob Cavallo as the new Warner Bros Records chairman and CEO, removing Tom Whalley, a move seen as a long time in the making, as Cohen and Whalley notoriously never saw eye-to-eye. The shake up also resulted in Todd Moscowitz and Liva Tortella being named Co-President/CEO and Co-President/COO, respectively. Following the executive shuffling, WBR departments underwent scrutiny, that led to more departures from creative and promotion executives. Eyes now turn to the possibility of acquiring EMI’s recorded music division, which would considerably boost Warner’s market share as well as narrow the major music group field to just three. If it goes down, it has many wondering what changes would be made to the executive team currently being assembled at EMI under McCarroll… Hartwig Masuch, CEO of BMG Rights Management, the joint venture backed by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co and Bertelsmann made his intentions of being counted among the top four publishers well known, and a year of aggressive acquisitions has carried through that goal. Those in the know share that KKR, a global private equity firm specializing in leverage buyouts, is the driving force behind the quick and expansive activity. High profile purchases of independent publishing companies this year included Stage Three, Evergreen and most recently Chrysalis. If the JV is able to acquire EMI Music Publishing in the event of a sale, it would see the new publishing player competing for not only a place at the table with the other major publishers, but as a contender for the current top spot held by Universal Music Publishing

Meanwhile, onlookers will be waiting to witness what the future holds for MySpace, as the once all-powerful social network continues to slide. Even with a redesign, progress on the mobile front and a new ad deal with Google in place, most believe the writing is on the wall, with more layoffs at the company expected to come down in the new year. And how will this effect MySpace Records? The label was all but shuttered in the first quarter of 2010, only to be resurrected, sort of, over the summer with the hiring of David Andreone and a new ill-defined partnership with Josh Deutsch‘s Downtown Music… And with all the reporting and speculation surrounding new cloud-based services from the likes of Apple and Google in 2010, as well as the entrance of Spotify in the U.S., all will have to go on next year’s wish lists. Google has made its plans to launch a music service well known, with the latest reports indicating that they’re willing to pay labels massive sums to get a service off the ground, while Apple continues to remain mum on any plans for a new streaming service… IN THE MIXSteve MoirSylvia RhoneDavid WolterSandy RobertonJohn RudolphJosh Abraham, Foo FightersAndrew Brightman, Greg Hammer, Nick Gatfield, Jason Flom, AWOLNATIONEd PiersonCool Hand Luke, Dan Petel, Hurley

Place Your Bets: The Shuffling Artist Deck at Majors and Indies

Weezer Going To An Indie For Next Release?

Who’s signing where, and what does it mean?  Indie acts going to majors, major label artists aligning with indies, and both systems vying to nab the same unsigned bands… Looking back at recent months there is a veritable mixed bag. There are artists with a history of at least a few successful indie releases under their belts, like Band of Horses and Iron & Wine, who have recently made the jump to major labels, Columbia and Warner Bros. respectively, while other acts like Spoon and Arcade Fire seem to continually be content on indies… Elsewhere new act Surfer Blood appears to have already made the move to a major; just 6-months following the Kanine Records release of the band’s debut album, the group had racked up enough sales and touring numbers to garner serious interest from multiple labels…  This while unsigned acts with no real sales or tour history like GroupLove and DOM, are currently being courted by both major labels and indies, seemingly so as to not miss out on what could be… What about the reverse trend? Not counting heritage acts, or the exhaustingly-debated pay-what-you-want path taken by Radiohead and NIN among others, one could point to recent examples in Interpol and Wilco as once major label artists now leaving for an indie (their own new label in the case of Wilco). But will there be more to come (or go, as it is)? Word on the street is that longtime Universal artist, Weezer, who released all seven of their previous studio albums on DGC and Geffen, are making a move to a big indie label for their next album. Hmmm… And finally where do the two now meet? A new project to watch unfold will be The Secret Sisters, who recently finished recording their debut with producers Dave Cobb and T-Bone Burnett.  A large buzz  is building with the news that the first single from the duo will be released via the Jack White helmed Third Man Records, with the full-length already slated to come out on Universal Republic this fall… Stay Tuned.

In The Bin: What’s New This Week

AWOLNATION Comes Back From Earth

Here’s a quick look at some of the new releases hitting the physical and digital shelves this week… Audra Mae‘s debut full-length The Happiest Lamb is out on SideOneDummy Records. The singer-songwriter just returned from a UK tour and is getting ready to start a North American run with Philadelphia’s Good Ole WarInfinite Arms, the highly anticipated third LP from Band of Horses drops today via the interesting label combo of the band’s imprint Brown Records along with the newly paired Fat Possum and Columbia Records… New EMI act Chiddy Bang releases their Opposite of Adults EP exclusively on iTunes this week, with a full-length expected next month.  The EP features a sample-laden title track that recently caught fire in the UK – and you were worried there wasn’t going to be a MGMT summer jam this year… Brooklyn son Gordon Voidwell unleashes his Ivy League Circus single on 12″ vinyl, checkout a video promo on Ralph Lauren‘s Rugby site, and AWOLNATION is Back From Earth

Missy Worth Shares Her Artistic License with RM64 in Our Last Q&A of ’09

Missy at the Artistic License mgmt office

When industry veteran Missy Worth finally agreed to a Q&A session with us, we knew we were in store for some great industry stories. Today she manages prolific punk rockers Rise Against along with indie stalwart Spill Canvas, but she has also guided the early development of artists such as Jeff Buckley, Alice In Chains and OneRepublic, among others. Her career spans a very colorful and exciting time in the business. A resume that includes running labels, concert promotion and artist management, while working with some of the industry’s most powerful and iconic figures —Irving Azoff, Michael Lippman, Donnie Ienner and Sandy Gallin to name a few. Pay close attention. She shares a lot of insight and perspective. You might learn a thing or two. We certainly did.

RM64: What was your first job in the music business?

MW: I worked at (entertainment law firm) Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, through a temp agency. I was 17.

RM64: Did you have aspirations to be in the music business at that time?

MW: I did. I was sitting in history class in Northridge and I was ‘what am I doing here?’ I only care about music and movies, anything to take me out of my life. I didn’t want to make movies because I couldn’t compete with my dad, he was just too good at it. I went home and said ‘I’m not going to school anymore.’ My parents said if I wasn’t going to go to school then I had to get a job. I called Apple Temp Agency on Sunset and they got me in as a temp in the file room at MS&K.

RM64: So what happened next?

MW: I meet attorneys Abe Summer, Milt Olin and Peter Lopez who were working in the music division. I suggested that they get a scout because they wanted new developing acts. Then I brought them The Motels and Milt became the band’s lawyer. Interestingly enough it also led to my next job. Michael Lippman wanted to manage The Motels because he had just left Arista Records and wanted a young rock band. So Milt introduced me to Michael and I left MS&K and went to work for Michael’s management company. I told him I was 18 and he didn’t get the band, but he did get me.

RM64: So you lied?

MW: Yes. (laughs) I was still 17.

RM64: What was your role with Michael?

MW: Well, first I was his receptionist. Then I became the production assistant for Ron Nevison and Harry Maslin helping with producer duties, like booking the studios , watching the budgets, getting food for them, very glamorous. I also worked with Eric Carmen and Melissa Manchester as kind of their day to day assistant. I worked for Michael for a long time, he taught me the business in a way I’m very lucky to have learned. He taught the big picture, record company, publishing, imaging and touring. If you knew that you could manage, if you didn’t, you had to learn it all. Nothing has been more valuable to me.

RM64: So you became a day-to-day manager?

MW: You didn’t call it that then. None of those fancy terms came about. You were paid no money. You didn’t get a TV. You got phones thrown at you and you helped throw their parties. There weren’t any ‘day-to-day’ managers or anything like that. You were their assistant. And you did whatever you were told to do. There was no entitlement, that started in the 90’s. And you were really happy to do it. I remember I got Eric Carmen the wrong blow dryer and it was a disaster. Literally, he kicked me out of the apartment. He was screaming ‘how am I going to do my hair now!’ I don’t know if you know anything about Eric, but his hair was perfect…

RM64: Quaffed hair?

MW: Yes, but it was perfect and it took him like an hour to do and I got him the wrong blow dryer. I almost got fired for that!

Eric Carmen with his perfect quaff

RM64: That’s funny. Back to management…

MW: Yes in today’s terms you would call it being a day-to-day manager. Back then you were just the assistant and you were really happy to be learning. But you could read all the contracts and deal memos that came in. And all the phones had mute buttons. It was awesome because you were on the phone taking notes for your boss, but you were really learning an immense amount. You were hearing how they manipulated the whole situation and how they negotiated and how it all worked by hearing both sides of it. Now I think people don’t even sit in the offices with their assistants. And they certainly aren’t allowed to make phone calls for you anymore or any of that stuff, but that’s how I learned everything. I sat on the couch across from Michael and I was on the phone all day.

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Musical Chairs

Columbia Wins

Columbia Wins

As reports come in, well-respected A&R veteran Ashley Newton will be staying in the Sony Music family, transitioning from RCA to Columbia Records. We were alluding to Newton in our Aug. 20th post: “Which Head of A&R is making a jump to another label? Is the move to replace a soon-to-be exiting creative head? Inquiring minds want to know…” As Sony Music ruler Rob Stringer and Columbia Records head Steve Barnett were orchestrating Newton’s transition, Warner Bros. Records was indeed courting Newton in the last minute and insiders share that the bunny was offering a 7-figure annual salary to the seasoned exec. With a new A&R player in the Columbia fold, how does this affect Rick Rubin’s role at the company? Meanwhile, what’s going on at the Amanda Ghost-helmed Epic Records?…

In The Mix: Steve Moir, Freelance Whales, Pete Giberga and Kevin Day…