HITS Daily Double
several weasel "friends" have intimated privately that their hands have been tied by the universally feared & loathed signing freeze, which has reared its ugly one at several companies lately.


Signings Freeze at Least Until Spring, as Talent Types Put Their Pens in Winter Storage

by Rodel Delfin

Though it seems like the usual A&R club-trotters hit the ground running during the first couple of weeks of the ’04, several weasel "friends" have intimated privately that their hands have been tied by the universally feared & loathed signing freeze, which has reared its ugly one at several companies lately. And unless you’ve been living in a cave, the reasons are obvious. Some A&R hitters are saying, however, that corporate bigwigs have told them they’ll be able to return to signing by April, which is the start of the fiscal year for some companies. In the meantime, will the few labels not affected by all the upcoming changes take advantage and sign up a storm to keep talent out of the competition’s hands? And who will be the first big signing of the year?

A definite contender is the Kenny MacPherson-led Chrysalis Music act Ray LaMontagne. The singer-songwriter from Maine played to one of the biggest industry-packed crowds in recent memory at the Mercury Lounge on Tuesday (1/20). Industry brass present were Atlantic’s Craig Kallman, Capitol’s Ron Laffitte, Island’s Lyor Cohen, Julie Greenwald and Jeff Fentster, Columbia’s Will Botwin, Virgin’s Matt Serletic and Josh Deutsch, Universal’s Mel Lewinter and Monte Lippman, Strummer’s Gary Gersh and Will Langolf, Sony’s David Massey, RCA’s Ashley Newton and Brian Malouf, DC Music’s Dave Holmes and Darin Harmon, ATO’s Michael McDonald and Bruce Flohr, Sire’s Michael Goldstone, Warner Bros.’s James Dowdall and Phil Costello, V2’s Andy Gershon, and Vector’s Ken Levitan, among many others. In addition, agents from The Agency Group, Little Big Man, Creative Artists and Monterey Peninsula were in the house. Look for label meet-and-greets to continue in the weeks to come. This one’s already nutty, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, after the Ray show, several label slingas jumped in their Town Cars and headed to Brooklyn to catch the Franz Ferdinand gig at the North Six. The U.K. group has been building buzz across the pond and will soon embark on a U.K. tour with the Rapture and the Von Bondies. So check it.

Chris Fudurich-produced demos of Minneapolis rockers Somerset brought out a bevy of label macks to their show last week at the Viper Room. The standout perf of the evening, however, was from the Steve Stewart/Brian Klein-repped Paige, who played immediately after. Reps from Atlantic, Maverick, Hollywood, Capitol, DreamWorks, Arista, Island, Virgin, A&M, Lava, Elektra, Columbia, Interscope, Epic, Warner Bros., Universal Music, Chrysalis Music, Warner Chappell and EMI Music were checking out both acts that night. On the pub tip, Saddle Creek artist The Faint sign with Mara Schwartz at Bug Music.

PROMOTIONS & HIRINGS: BMG Songs has promoted Benjamin Brannen to Creative Manager... New York-based entertainment law firm Phillips Nizer and ASCAP threw a joint cocktail reception (joints and cocktails, anyone?) at the swanky L’Ermitage Hotel to announce the hiring of barrister David Chidekel, who will head the law firm’s entertainment division, and Harry Poloner, who was recently hired as VP of membership by ASCAP’s recently-promoted Sr. VP Tom DeSavia. Party guest included the law firm’s film, television and music clients, as well as a smattering of label and publishing playas, who savored the flashback of what it was like to drink and eat at fancy hotels back in the day.

BUZZIN’: Rich Robinson, Small Town Killer and James Cerreta… Hit me up: [email protected].