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What’s interesting about these hot hands is that all but RCA have succeeded while undergoing significant restructuring in the last year.

I.B. BAD ON THE HIGH FIVE

The Story of the Year: Remake/Remodel/Win
What does it take to be a major-label big baller these days? It starts with the ability to roll a 7 in marketshare.

This year, Monte and Avery Lipman’s Republic has the hottest hand, racking up a 9.4% new-release share year-to-date, with Peter Edge’s RCA (7.5%) and Rob Stringer’s Columbia (7%) currently Republic’s closest rivals—and Columbia still has one more potentially huge album coming from One Direction, while RCA just released a Christmas LP from Kelly Clarkson. In the TEA sector, Jimmy Iovine’s IGA, with 7.4%, leads a tightly bunched gang of four that also includes the three above-named labels. And Steve Barnett’s rapidly rising Capitol Music Group is now at 5.9%, making it a strong #5, even as Arcade Fire and Katy Perry take the top two spots on this week’s chart.

What’s interesting about these hot hands is that all but RCA have succeeded while undergoing significant restructuring in the last year, a process Edge’s company went through a year earlier, when Doug Morris empowered Edge and Tom Corson on the heels of Barry Weiss’ departure. After Stringer lured Joel Klaiman from Republic to serve as Columbia’s EVP/GM on the heels of Barnett’s move to CMG, Lipman brought in Charlie Walk as EVP to ramp up Republic’s marketing efforts. The multitasking Iovine tapped John Janick as President/COO to reenergize the company and head up day-to-day operations in tandem with Vice Chairman Steve Berman. In the initial stage of his complete overhaul of CMG, Barnett brought in hot young entertainment attorney Michelle Jubelirer as EVP to oversee business and legal affairs as well as Caroline and associated labels, joining accomplished holdover and fellow EVP Greg Thompson as the core members of the company’s new executive team.

Each of the big five is following a particular strategy: Republic scores hit records and acts from rapid-response dealmaking and a diverse coalition of sub-labels led by Cash Money and Big Machine. RCA has added potent acts like Miley Cyrus and A$AP Rocky to a star-studded roster, including Justin Timberlake, P!nk and Foo Fighters, that was already the envy of the industry. Columbia’s high-flying A&R department is using renowned core artists from Dylan and Springsteen to Adele to attract a steady stream of prestigious young acts. The similarly A&R-driven IGA has continued its knack for fast-tracking and breaking records while its core artists deliver blockbusters like the one-two punch of Eminem and Lady Gaga. And CMG is in the process of recasting its iconic brand and unparalleled catalog while aggressively making deals with major players like T Bone Burnett, Troy Carter and Scooter Braun.

Lyor Cohen is back in the big leagues, attached to Atlantic in a slim-margin distribution deal with WMG said to involve little or no cash. Blavatnik and Cooper’s willingness to go back into business with Cohen is surprising considering that he left Atlantic’s cupboard relatively bare. The two biggest acts of the Greenwald/Kallman era, Bruno Mars and Fun., were put in the fast lane by then-Atlantic A&R execs and Elektra co-Presidents Mike Caren and Janick.

While Atlantic lost ground during Cohen’s tenure as WMG Recorded Label Chairman, Warner Bros. Records was devastated, its marketshare shorn in half. But the label is beginning to register a pulse following several dark years behind recent successes including Macklemore, Passenger, Avenged Sevenfold and Cher. The hope inside WMG is that WBR will undergo the same transformation as Warner/Chappell, which has made a dramatic turnaround in the last three years to regain its former lofty status. Just this week, WCM was named ASCAP’s Country Publisher of the Year. The pubco strengthened itself considerably last year with the hiring of Big Jon Platt, one of the top creative executives. Are further positive changes afoot for Platt?

Will the cutting of ties between Lady Gaga and Troy Carter impact the recently formed business relationship between Carter and Scooter Braun, who is continuing in his quest to roll up high-end management firms? Gaga is repped by Kenny Meisalas of Allen Grubman’s firm, who will be fielding offers from what promises to be a long list of prospective managers.

Michael Rapino’s Live Nation has secured Miley Cyrus’ upcoming tour after AEG mogul and devout Christian Phil Anschutz ordered Randy Phillips to pull his offer—at least that’s how Phillips tells it. Does this latest episode bespeak a further erosion of the relationship between Anschutz and Phillips? Insiders say the two haven’t been on the same page since the abrupt exit of Anschutz’s trusted lieutenant Tim Leiwecke last year.

Names in the rumor mill: Jay Brown, Jeff Fenster, Aaron Rosenberg, Danny Strick, Richard Palmese and Darren Baber.

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