Quantcast
Most believe Warner’s self-hyped nine consecutive quarters of marketshare gain have come at the expense of the bottom line, while a major chunk of its new income has been derived from the selling off of assets.

I.B. BAD SCARES UP SOME ACTION DURING A SEEMINGLY QUIET WEEK

Forget Susan Boyle... We’ve Got Ingrid Chung
Goldman Sachs analyst Ingrid Chung’s assertion last week that Warner Music’s management, led by Edgar Bronfman Jr., has shown “continued superior execution“ has drawn a hearty round of guffaws across the music business. Bronfman’s performance (or lack thereof) since appointing himself Chairman of the company five years ago has been the subject of ongoing industry-wide derision. It has also inspired a number of roundly negative assessments in business periodicals, one characterizing the Seagram heir as “the clown prince,” others branding him as a three-time loser who has systematically squandered the family fortune while jeopardizing the health of every musical entity he’s taken over.

Tapping the much-maligned Lyor Cohen to run the operation has enabled Bronfman to deflect some of the criticism from himself, some note, because Cohen is infamous for his brashness and propensity for Yogi Berra-like non-sequiturs. To his credit, though, Cohen has managed to breathe life back into WMG’s moribund East Coast operation, and even his harshest critics acknowledge that he’s always been able to put points on the board.

Nonetheless, WMG stock was in free fall, dropping to an all-time low of $1.58 a few weeks before Chung’s timely save. Most believe Warner’s self-hyped nine consecutive quarters of marketshare gain have come at the expense of the bottom line, while a major chunk of its new income has been derived from the selling off of assets, e.g., the $123m WMG took in for selling its stake in Front Line to Ticketmaster in October, following the $18m it received for selling a piece of said stake to MSG last June.

The proposed merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation has been getting a ton of bad press as well as inspiring a number of politicos to eagerly jump on Bruce Springsteen’s populist soapbox after he accused TM of overcharging his fans. (No matter that some found Springsteen’s rant while raking in around $1m a show from ticket sales somewhat disingenuous.) Nonetheless, most antitrust mavens believe that Azoff and Rapino will be able to make a deal with the Justice Department. The concessions necessary to clear regulatory will likely include the selling off of secondary-market operations such as TicketsNow as well as a number of owned and operated venues.

Which music-sector company is drawing the ire of affiliated artists, managers and staffers, all of whom complain that no one appears to be in charge, and consequently nothing ever seems to get done, while its organizational grid resembles a black hole. Virtually everyone who has had dealings with said company believe it’s only a matter of time before it’s either sold or goes out of business.

Ranking music-business executives are hopeful that VEVO, UMG’s ad-supported premium video platform in partnership with YouTube, will gain sufficient traction to make it another viable new online revenue stream, not just for “Digital” Doug Morris but for the entire Big Four. Insiders say it’s only a matter of time before the other majors climb aboard.

The initial reaction to MTV’s reentry into music-video programming has been overwhelmingly positive. With Amy Doyle spearheading the initiative, MTV once again appears to be committed to premiering clips and giving them multiple rotations, as sister channel VH1 has been doing so effectively with its Rick Krim-orchestrated “You Oughta Know” program, a key factor in breaking such acts as Adele, Duffy and Corinne Bailey Rae.

TV concerns were behind the moving up of next year’s Grammy Awards to Jan. 31: the CBS telecast would have been obliterated by NBC’s Winter Olympics in its traditional slot. The shift has shortened the eligibility period by a month, from last Oct. 1 to Aug. 31, with initial voting on prospective nominees commencing soon thereafter.

While most in the music business are encouraged by the initial data on the iTunes variable-pricing structure, there’s widespread anxiety about the proposed Internet sales tax becoming a reality. If congress approved, say, an 8% across-the-board sales tax on all online purchases, the move would add 10.32 cents to the final coast of premium downloads at the iTunes Store, hiking the price tag to north of $1.39. It would also bring the cost of a standard download to $1.07, effectively eliminating the psychological comfort zone of the 99-cent price point. The question on everyone’s lips: If such a bill became law, how big an impact would it have on digital sales?

Names in the Rumor Mill: Nick Gatfield, Simon Fuller, Neil Portnow, Andy Schuon, Steve Schnur and Chuck Schumer.

BEESE DOCKS AT WARNER U.K.
Former Island chief gets his own label. (6/16a)
1 TRENDING TOPIC: “LEVITATING” TO #1
How'd they do that? (6/15a)
SIGNS OF HITS LIST
We're reading the tea leaves. (6/15a)
REOPENING DELAY CRIPPLES LIVE BIZ
"Variant" is a scary word right now. (6/15a)
MUSIC’S HOTTEST FIRMS: GRUBMAN SHIRE MEISELAS & SACKS
Is there a lawyer in the house? (6/15a)
RHYTHM, BLUES AND THE FUTURE
The musical tapestry we know as R&B.
WHO'S NEXT?
Predicting the next big catalog deal.
JUST THE VAX, MA'AM
Once we all get vaccinated, how long before we can party?
WORLDWIDE GROOVE
How is globalization bringing far-flung territories into the musical mainstream?
 Email

 First Name

 Last Name

 Company

 Country
CAPTCHA code
Captcha: (type the characters above)