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For the first time since 2005, the #1 record for each of the four weeks of January will have racked up more than 100k, and each is a debut, which has never happened before.

I.B. BAD ON A MERGER THAT MATTERS FOR THE MUSIC BIZ

In Other Matters of Interest, What Do Ke$ha, Vampire Weekend, Hope for Haiti Now and
Lady Antebellum Have in Common?
After 11 months of utter uncertainty, the DOJ not only gave the green light to the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger, it dropped this bombshell at a particularly dramatic moment, with the music industry poised to gather en masse for Grammy Week. The primary concession—putting AEG in the ticketing business by licensing TM’s Host technology—in reality represents a devastating blow to Live Nation’s bitter rival, whose brass had been doing everything in their power to derail the union. In the big-picture sense, the merger moves the balance of power further away from the record companies and toward the artists, which has been Irving Azoff’s intention all along, even as Michael Rapino has been focusing on transforming Live Nation into a full-service entertainment colossus by signing superstars Madonna, Jay-Z, Nickelback, Shakira and U2. Rapino’s division is expected to oversee ticketing, concert promotion and production, while Azoff focuses on his power alley: artist representation and moving players around the chessboard to serve his agenda. With the deal done, will Azoff close additional management acquisitions, which had reportedly been on hold pending the DOJ ruling?... In a side note, much of the heavy lifting in getting the deal OK’d was done by longtime Azoff associate Colin Hodgson on behalf of Ticketmaster… The principals threw a big bash at Ago Monday night, with one executive shouting, “Let the games begin,” over the popping of champagne corks… Doug Morris will receive the Recording Academy’s President’s Merit Award at the Clive Davis-hosted Pre-Grammy party Saturday night, which will serve as a celebration of the myriad accomplishments over the decades of this still extremely active and effective music man… The industry is showing signs of life at a most unlikely historical moment, with SKU counts and floor-space shrinking at an alarming rate, as are major label staffs following another round of layoffs. For the first time since 2005, the #1 record for each of the four weeks of January will have racked up more than 100k, and each is a debut, which has never happened before. What makes this phenomenon especially encouraging is that these chart-toppers were rookie Ke$ha (Kemosabe/RCA/RMG), in a major coup for her svengali, Dr. Luke; indie band Vampire Weekend (XL); and the MTV-produced Hope for Haiti Now, the first digital-only album to hit #1. The six-figure run will continue next week with Capitol Nashville’s Lady Antebellum (previous album debut: 44k; sales to date: 1.3m), which is projected to bow north of 400k. Momentum is expected to ratchet up further following the band’s Grammy performance, as Greg Thompson and team prepare to blow the record out at Pop radio, in what’s shaping up as a perfectly timed and executed launch… Lady Antebellum and Corinne Bailey Rae (Capitol/EMI, 41k, 1.89m) are the first acts with a history of moving the needle to release albums in 2010, with six more scheduled thus far for Q1. Cash Money/Universal Motown’s Lil Wayne streets next week (1m, 3.45m), and Epic’s Sade (67k, 657k) hits Feb. 9, followed by J/RMG’s Jamie Foxx (1.1m) on March 2 and another EP from Island/IDJ’s Justin Bieber March 23, with LaFace/ZLG’s Usher (1.2m) and Arista Nashville’s Alan Jackson (962k) streeting March 30… The indie sector is clearly the new rock hotbed, as the majors move away from the genre. Spoon (Merge) bows in the Top 5 with 51k, besting the band’s previous first-week tally, while Glassnote’s French import Phoenix is nearing 300k en route to an overall total that some predict will hit 1m. The numbers expected to be generated by these groups and Vampire Weekend are above the ceiling for most major label rock acts, with RCA’s Kings of Leon and Third Man/WB’s White Stripes standing as notable exceptions… Terra Firma and Citigroup continue their game of chicken, as both companies hemorrhage money in the run-up to a sizable payment due the lender in March. One possible scenario has Citi taking ownership of EMI, which many believe it has little interest in doing. These acrimonious negotiations are having a curious trickle-down effect on EMI, which has now cut costs, personnel and services to an all-time low for a major label—and as a result has begun to show a profit… Is a seismic shift in the balance of power about to occur at one of the majors in the very near future?... Names in the Rumor Mill: Tim Leiweke, Tommy Mottola, Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, Mike Dungan, Levitan/Rovner, Ken Ehrlich, Allen Grubman, Elliot Roberts and Rob Light.
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