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I.B. BAD CLEARS
THE AIR

THE GRASS ISN’T ALWAYS GREENER: Our rundown in the previous issue of certain top players who were rumored to be considering making new career choices has caused quite a blowback in some quarters. Given the reactions to the piece, it seems prudent to provide some additional detail in an effort to clear the air. To begin with, some readers saw this singling out of certain players as a “power list,” while it was simply an attempt to put the spotlight on certain much-gossiped-about individuals who are thought to possibly be in play at this particular time.

Top players including Steve Barnett, John Janick, Peter Edge, Steve Berman, Craig Kallman, Julie Greenwald, David Joseph, Jason Iley, Mike Dungan and Randy Goodman were purposely left out of the discussion because no one is chattering about them going anywhere. The same is true for Jody Gerson and Jon Platt—although rumors floating around six months ago had the latter two publishing execs being enticed to move to the label side, but neither expressed any interest. During the same time frame, Greenwald’s attorney reportedly floated the possibility of a $5m guarantee as the lever for his client to jump ship, but that gambit never went anywhere. Nonetheless, if it’s true, that $5m figure suggests that Greenwald is probably being paid somewhat less than the label heads at Sony and UMG, who are thought to be making $6m+. In any case, Greenwald and Kallman are having a great run, and some believe she’s the highest-paid label exec at the company. That illustrates the point we made in the previous column about lower salaries at WMG. But some say that the company’s recent strong earnings have created a more aggressive atmosphere when it comes to poaching top executives—in which case Warner is no longer locked into paying considerably less for top executive talent than its rivals.

Among the loudest criticisms we received had to do with the absence of females in the list of execs potentially in play. The fact is that Gerson, UMG’s Michele Anthony, Sony’s Julie Swidler, Republic’s Wendy Goldstein, CMG’s Michelle Jubelirer, Motown’s Ethiopia Habtemariam, Caroline’s Jacqueline Saturn, Warner/Chappell’s Katie Vinten, UMG Nashville’s Cindy Mabe and First Access Entertainment’s Sarah Stennett appear to be solidly placed at this point. All of them not only hold lofty titles, they also have real clout and can move the needle. What’s more, these female players aren’t known to gossip about their next deals, in contrast to some of their alpha-male counterparts named in the last issue. Meanwhile, Epic head Sylvia Rhone, who is running one of the hottest labels in the business, is looking to hire some top players in a few key areas.

Others whose names have appeared on many a shortlist in recent months include Spotify’s Troy Carter and Capitol’s Scott Greer, who moved over to Def Jam as part of Paul Rosenberg’s new team just after our last issue went to press, and Def Jam EVP Rick Sackheim. On the heels of the announcement of Steve Bartels’ upcoming departure from Def Jam, Sackheim is being pursued by a West Coast label. The highly regarded promotion exec, who lives in Malibu, has been commuting to New York every other week since he joined the label in 2005. Vegas bookies think it’s 8 to-5 that he’ll move on, but in the immortal words of Yogi Berra, it ain’t over till it’s over.

What we haven’t seen in many years is a top lawyer moving from private practice to head a major label; the last legal eagle who took this flight path was Peter Paterno, who journeyed to Frontierland back in the early ’90s. But there’s some scuttlebutt suggesting another law-to-label move could be happening soon. 

With Bartels’ exit and the arrival of hip-hop specialist Rosenberg, some believe Justin Bieber is headed to Republic, where he and Scooter Braun have had a number of successes, including Ariana Grande, Psy and Martin Garrix, as well as Bieber himself on his remix of Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito” and “Friends,” his recently released collaboration with Bloodpop. But this rumor is just smoke—Braun and Rosenberg are said to have an extremely strong relationship.

The early favorite for the Democratic governorship of California, Braun is doing a spectacular job managing the career of the off-cycle Bieber, who has been hotter than ever since his last album ran its course. Like Rosenberg, Braun would keep his client while playing his new role; he’d also move the state capital from Sacramento to Brentwood. Fake news?

As for Rosenberg, he flew to the U.K. last week with Eminem, who headlined the Reading & Leeds Festivals (8/25-27) as part of the run-up to his forthcoming album, which is being described as a work in progress, with a strong shot at a late-2017 release.

...Go to Part One, "Taylor Swift's Grand Ambition"

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