All posts tagged Epic 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…

Dueling plot lines continue at Sony & Universal Music; Interscope headed to a crossroads?

Big changes ahead?

The action at Sony Music under new leader Doug Morris has been closely followed and well-publicized, after less than two months under his belt at the top spot, with the recent somewhat brackish news consisting of new appointments and promotions as well as layoffs at the label group. Last week saw reporting that two more senior Jive executives who were thought to be heading to the new Epic label group under L.A. Reid, are instead leaving the building. Now it seems time for the dueling plot lines at Universal Music Group under Lucian Grainge to take the spotlight for a moment, with the CEO giving his first “major” interview to the New York Post (whose music biz coverage has continued to ramp up), appearing over the weekend. Grainge’s comments focused almost entirely on his A&R philosophy and conflict-based management style, saying “I’ve always liked to work in a state of creative conflict. It doesn’t mean you fall out with people in your company or an artist; it’s about discussing a song or direction.” Also emphasizing a “completely global approach,” which coincides with the naming yesterday of Andrew Kronfeld to a newly created position of President, Global Marketing. More new appointments include Karen Kwak to Executve Vice President, Head of A&R at the newly forming Island Def Jam Music Group, a promotion from previous senior A&R positions at the label, while Roc Nation producer No I.D. has been handed EVP A&R stripes at Def Jam Records. However, other comments from Grainge might be a different kind of omen, with word of layoffs in the A&R department at Interscope Records coming at the close of last week. Some insiders are indicating that label chief Jimmy Iovine, whose name could be considered synonymous with the Interscope brand, is losing interest in running the label and becoming more and more interested in outside ventures. Observers are curious what Grainge’s move would be if his resident hit-maker were to depart of his own accord, and who might be in line for his seat? Stay tuned…

More Executives Named as New Structures Emerge at Universal and Sony Music

This week saw official announcements from Universal Music Group and Sony Music that reveal more of the emerging structure at both music groups under the new leadership of Lucian Grainge and Doug Morris respectively. As expected, Sony announced that A&R veteran Peter Edge would assume the role of CEO at the reshaping RCA Music Group, which will be comprised of RCA, Jive, J and Arista, while Tom Corson will act as COO of the label group. Morris also named Edgar Berger the new head of international at Sony Music, coming to the role from his previous post as CEO of Sony Music in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Berger, who came to Sony from Bertlesmann in the 2004 BMG merger, began overseeing label operations in Germany in 2005, remaining in place after the two split… Meanwhile, Universal Music has tapped Rob Stevenson as Executive Vice President of A&R, a “newly created position” at Universal Republic Records. This sees Stevenson returning to Universal after leaving his senior A&R post at Island Def Jam in 2006, and most recently serving as EMI‘s Virgin Records U.S. prexy until departing last year under the incoming Roger Faxon and Dan McCarroll. Some astute observers are wondering what the appointment of Stevenson means for Uni/Republic’s Tom Mackay, who has served in the same role of EVP of A&R since 2009? Recently overseeing Universal’s partnership with NBC show The Voice, and spearheading the formation of the label’s new JV with World’s End Management, Twenty First Republic, it’s yet to be seen what new role Grainge may have in store for Mackay. Other names being bandied about as expected arrivals within UMG include former Warner Bros. Records CEO Tom Whalley and songwriter and former president of Epic Records, Amanda Ghost… Stay tuned.

Bits & Pieces: BMG Bids, Warner to Unload Weight & New Motown/Island Def Jam Takes Shape

Transitions to IDJ Group

The New York Post reported this week that KKR and Bertelsmann-backed BMG Rights Management, as expected, submitted their bid for EMI last Friday, while the other favorite Warner Music is believed to be submitting this week ahead of a July 28 deadline. The Post also reported that new Warner owner, Access Industries, is preparing for cutbacks in the WMG workforce up to 5%, primarily outside of the U.S. – reductions that are believed to be directly related to a possible EMI acquisition. Others are noting the dramatic uphill climb the new Warner Music owners face in an industry that reported growth of just 1.6% this year, the first time in 7 years, with album sales still in decline. Is a successful EMI merger the only way for Len Blavatnik to avoid ending up as the next Guy Hands?… Meanwhile, as first reported by The Wrap, Universal Music is preparing to install Universal Music Publishing Group executive Ethiopia Habtemariam as head of Motown, as the label transitions into the Island Def Jam Group. At least one veteran IDJ A&R executive is said to be heading back to Universal in the new Motown/IDJ group after previously departing under CEO L.A. Reid, who is now chairman of Epic Records.

More Exec Shuffling at Sony Music; Gatfield Named Head of U.K. & Rhone Rumored to Revive Portrait

Sylvia Rhone reviving label at Sony?

A number of high-level executive moves at the changing Sony Music structure have shaken out this week, the first on the job for new CEO Doug Morris. We tipped the hotly pursued deal with hit producer/songwriter Dr. Luke for an expanded label mimicking Interscope last week, while this week began with the official naming of Antonio L.A. Reid as CEO and chairman of Epic Records, news that was widely reported in the previous weeks. Assigning of current acts on the Sony roster to Reid’s new domain has already begun, along with new signings underway – it’s also expected that contestants from the X-Factor series will be developed by Epic – Reid is serving as a judge on the American version of the show. On the international front, which is said to be a major focus for Morris, came the revelation yesterday that Nick Gatfield will be taking over Sony’s U.K. operations, replacing outgoing CEO Ged Doherty. Gatfield previously served as head of Universal‘s Island Records U.K. from 2001 to 2008 and held an international A&R executive title at EMI until leaving last year. The move to replace Doherty is being deemed as sudden by some, however it seems more likely that Morris was pulling strings well before officially taking his new title. After departing EMI in 2010 toward the end of the troublesome Guy Hands era, Gatfield was believed to likely end up back in the Universal Music fold, under the incoming CEO Lucian Grainge, whom he worked closely with at Island, however it never came to pass. He was also said to have been in talks with Sony late last summer, but a deal was never reached. Then back in February of this year, Gatfield was hired on at Sony U.K. with the somewhat vague title of President/New Music, reporting to Doherty, who he has now replaced. Richard Sanders, the head of Sony Music Interational based in New York, is also out… According to reports, one of the main functions for Gatfield in his new role, will be to maintain relationships with Simon Cowell and his operations under Syco, which Sony owns a 50% stake in… An abutting storyline to the current UMG and Sony rivalry that has some observers intrigued, is the lawsuit filed this week involving a dispute between American Idol‘s Simon Fuller and Simon Cowell over the new U.S. X-Factor series – the shows are aligned with Universal Music and Sony Music respectively… And the latest rumor according to a story in Page Six this morning, is that departed Universal Motown prexy Sylvia Rhone will be relaunching the Portrait Records label at Sony. According to the report, the label will work closely with L.A. Reid’s Epic, and Cyndi Lauper, who was on Portrait in the 80′s, will be the first artist signed to the revived imprint… Stay tuned.

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…

Closing Out 2010; Change is in the Air…

Industry in Transition

Heading into the final stretch of the year, and further into a major transition period, the industry continues to be abuzz with uncertainty as questions surround the situation at all the music groups… Is the die cast for now at Warner Music Group under new chairman Rob Cavallo and co-prexies Todd Moscowitz and Livia Tortella? Many saw the courtroom defeat of Terra Firma in their lawsuit against Citigroup as the final blow to EMI Music‘s future, is it now only a matter of who and for how much?  Will heavy changeover proceed well into the new year at Sony Music? The recent exposé of Epic Records under Amanda Ghost had tongues wagging, but the real story is at the top. And will Universal Music Group come out relatively clean? The restructuring efforts under Lucian Grainge have already begun, but the market dominance in both recorded music and publishing continues… Stay tuned.

Tuesday Roundup: More Spotify Numbers, Spotlight on Sony, Management Moves & more…

New stats show unsure future for mixed model

The latest Spotify stats show a mixed forecast for the the digital music service, as the number of users has increased substantially, both free and paid subscribers, but significant losses continue. The biggest contributing factor to the hefty costs comes from licensing fees for content, and while continued increases in users (and a U.S. launch) might help the company turn a corner, as Matt Rosoff reported, the startup may be in a particularly tough spot being a hybrid model that has both ad-supported and subscription options. He points out that rights holders calculate royalty payments at a rate for either one or the other, not both – the subscription rate being higher.  So if Spotify is paying the higher royalty rate for all of its users, not just the paying ones, can they sustain such heavy payouts?… While EMI has received the brunt of public scrutiny in recent times, all four major music groups are amid a transition phase, with initial shake ups already happening and most predicting much more to come.  After last week’s Hollywood Reporter piece, which picked apart Epic Records recent struggles under exiting Amanda Ghost at length and had Sony Music chairman Rob Stringer going on record about his failed decision to bring aboard the songwriter as label president, the industry chatter has ramped up about the impending new guard at Sony. Whether or not the new CEO will come from within the Sony ranks is still unclear, though most don’t expect the younger Stringer will be named to the top spot, leaving many to wonder if a dark horse will emerge as Rolf Schmidt-Holtz‘s successor in the end… Elsewhere, Primary Wave Talent Management, who recently grabbed a high-profile client in Cee Lo Green, has announced that writer/producer manager Tom Maffei will head up the independent publisher’s new management efforts on the West Coast… Downtown Music, who is also seen as positioning itself to shift toward increased management operations, has upped Michael Pontecorvo to oversee label operations and development… And ahead of Kanye West‘s latest release, his manager talks to The Daily Beast about the business strategy and development to expand Kanye Inc…

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…

A&R Briefs…

Ohio's Downplay sign to Epic Records

For Those About to Rock: Ohio active rock act Downplay recently signed to Epic Records under the watch of head of A&R Mike Flynn.  The band was also picked up by Bill McGathy for management. Epic scout and party promoter Jake Livingston described the typical signing process earlier this year to Ohio’s The Post, “The way to get on our radar is to get big in your region, like southern Ohio, and then the attorney signs you, and then the attorney gets you a manager, and then the music gets to us and then we fly out to see them.” Easy enough, right?… Elsewhere L.A. locals Eastern Conference Champions appear to be signing to Roadrunner Records. The band, a staple of the L.A. indie rock scene, was previously signed to Jordan Schur‘s SureTone label. The group also recently landed a highly-soughtafter inclusion on the Twilight Saga: Eclipse soundtrack with their song “A Million Miles an Hour.” A definite coup for the band’s longtime publisher Chrysalis Music

Frequent Flyers: Looks like a A&R folks are going bush to catch New Zealand’s The Naked and Famous. Industry whale riders are making the long flight down under in droves to meet the band, whose single “Young Blood” recently debuted on the New Zealand chart at number one. They’re also among the nominees for the Silver Scroll, NZ’s premier songwriting award… Others are booking southbound travel to see Florida act Fit For Rivals.  The band has been turning heads on Warped Tour dates throughout the south and industry ears with a new set of recordings. They play a homecoming show in Jacksonville on August 14th.

Free Agents: The “yet-to-be-named independent label” that Weezer recently tipped they’d be signing to for their next release, after leaving longtime label home Universal, has a name and it’s Epitaph Records. The band’s new forthcoming album is set to be released in September.

Our post-Coachella-Monday hangover A&R Report?

Sick of Sarah @ The Roxy, Friday 4/23

As quickly as it came, the annual rock n’ roll oasis in the desert known as Coachella is over. So while you tend to that lingering sunburn and exercise the last of those acid-demons, let’s play catch-up on some new signings and stories we’ve been following… Los Angeles indie-label Dangerbird Records, who has been on a recent signing-spree stocking their coffers with a wide spectrum of artists, has put paper to Fitz & the Tantrums and we hear negotiations are in motion. FATT opened for The Specials last week at Club Nokia and will be joining Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings on tour in May… We hear Epic Records is finalizing a deal with Denver’s Joel Jorgenson. The singer is managed by Michael Goldberg and Isaac Hayes for 108 Management (we’ve also confirmed that 108 does not stand for their combined IQs)… Momentum continues to build for Las Vegas-act Imagine Dragons, who played to a sold-out room last Wednesday for the BMI/KROQ-presented show at The Viper Room. Having only played a handful of L.A. dates, it was impressive to see industry take a literal back seat to a sweaty crowd of fans singing along to the band’s late-night set. With a growing regional fan base and an impressive live show, labels seem to be closing in – we hear an East Coast major is looking to shut it down early, while publishers and booking agents have joined the scrimmage too… Radio continues to build for L.A. locals Dead Country with adds at Santa Barbara’s KJEE and KROX in Austin, as well as spikes at Live 105KNRK in Portland and Denver’s modern rock KTCL; spins are also continuing in their hometown on KROQ. Could there be outside forces at work here? The band just finished a tour with The Bronx and will be supporting Far on a series of upcoming dates. Their self-titled EP is out now… And if you slept on the radio action on South Carolina’s Villanova, it looks like the band is now off the market. We hear an East Coast major is finalizing paperwork to close the act who are getting serious spins on influential modern rock station WARQ… Look for Steve Greenberg’s S-Curve Records to release new albums from Seinking Ships and The Belles on June 8th. Eric Matthews, formerly on Sub Pop, collaborated with Ohio musician Christopher Seink to record the new full-length Museum Quality Capture, while Lawrence, KS combo The Belles will release their sophomore album Times Flies When You’re Losing Your Mind… It certainly does… Finally, catch Minneapolis’ Sick of Sarah tomorrow night in L.A. for the early show at The Roxy. The band, who has been compared to Sleater-Kinney and The Breeders, is building a big following in the mid-west and is one of two artists featured during the month of April in Journeys stores nation-wide…

IN THE MIX: Jay Lewis, Purevolume, Ben Roethlisberger

It’s Been Said…

DIY Currency: Solid Gold

SXSW is 6 weeks away and if you’re starting your ‘must-see’ list, be sure to add Minneapolis’ Solid Gold. The indie-electro trio has been building one of the more impressive DIY stories of late. They’ve sold close to 10,000 albums, received press nods in Billboard, NME, Pitchfork and Filter among others and their new video is premiering on MTV2 and mtvU this month. We hear labels are circling in on this one with some offers already in. The band has two upcoming hometown shows if you want to beat the SXSW rush.

Labels and pubcos are taking notice of Oren Lavie, as the buzz continues to build around the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter. Lavie, who has now garnered over 10.5 million views of his “Her Morning Elegance” video on YouTube, played a string of recent dates at the Hotel Cafe that brought out majors and indie A&R folks (with no record or pub deal in place, and an a new album’s worth of material, it’s no surprise). Attorney Ben Laski is handling legal duties…

The story keeps building on Matthew Mayfield. His new EP Breathe Out in Black was sitting at #1 on the iTunes singer-songwriter chart this morning, just two days after being independently released. In fact the entire EP was recorded, mixed, mastered and up for sale digitally in the span of a week. Check out www.matthewmayfield.com for more… Keep an eye on L.A. locals The Sequel. The band has been popping up on label radars of late and has more than a few showcases already on the horizon. EMI Music Pub players Dan MacCarroll and Declan Morrell snapped up the band early for publishing. Get on it…

Young gun Ben Adelson settles in at a new A&R gig at Epic Records. Adelson was previously at Universal Republic and brought in Flobots and Owl City. He also co-manages recent Roadrunner signing Young the Giant (formerly The Jakes)…  Meanwhile, we hear there is an established big-rock act who is currently a free-agent and is being courted by multiple labels on both coasts. Inquiring minds want to know? Here’s a hint, they didn’t play the Super Bowl Halftime Show

IN THE MIX: K Sera, Moonlight Bride and Tyrone Wells

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…