HITS Daily Double
UMG’s saber rattling comes at an unfortuitous time for YouTube, which is said to be in talks with bankers about an IPO or an outright sale of the company.


Big Four Split on the Latest Internet Phenomenon. Also: Sony BMG Building Q4 Momentum, the Firing of 30 Seconds to Mars
The battle lines are being drawn as the majors wrestle with the question of how to deal with the ever-growing global colossus that is YouTube. For UMG, which has signaled its intention to take legal action against the wildly successful site on the grounds of what it regards as massive copyright infringement to the tune of “tens of millions of dollars,” it appears to be about the money, as Doug Morris eyes yet another potentially lucrative new revenue stream—one that could turn into a veritable torrent. Most believe that the perennial industry power, which has a history of aggressively going after any operation that makes its content available to the public without sharing revenue, is using the threat of shutting down YouTube as a club in order to force a favorable result... UMG’s saber rattling comes at an unfortuitous time for YouTube, which is said to be in talks with bankers about an IPO or an outright sale of the company... By contrast, Warner Music’s pact with YouTube appears to be yet another ploy on the part of Edgar Bronfman Jr. to be seen as a leader of the digital revolution in the eyes of Wall Street, in an effort to boost WMG stock. Music biz veterans find this self-spinning laughable, asking how an executive with his history of making bad business decisions could lead anyone anywhere. They further note that Bronfman, who was clearly in a big hurry to get a deal done, is taking short money for PR purposes—and possibly mortgaging his company’s future in the process… Meanwhile, EMI and Sony BMG have both acknowledged that they’re engaged in discussions with YouTube, even as the British company is benefiting in a big way from the site’s unprecedented viral-marketing clout, which has not only breathed life into OK Go’s stillborn 2005 album but turned it into a major hit via the new-paradigm equivalent of massive multi-format airplay. It's no wonder Capitol has begun posting clips from other acts on the site… The business has some encouraging momentum going into the fourth quarter, as Justin Timberlake generates the year’s second-biggest debut with 711k units (coming within spitting distance of Rascal Flatts’ 714k first week), John Mayer’s 288k bow beats expectations by a sizable margin and Bob Dylan continues to show that his 65-year-old legs still have considerable spring in them, as the worldwide sales momentum of the legend’s new Modern Times shows no signs of flagging. Dylan has gotten a sizable boost from adult-skewing outlets iTunes and Starbucks, while Columbia labelmate Mayer's strong first week was dramatically impacted by iTunes album downloads, helping Continuum to come in around 20% higher than the intelligentsia had predicted. Indeed, some believe there’s a very real possibility that iTunes may in the not-too-distant future be posting the biggest numbers of any retail account, online or terrestrial. Considering this sobering possibility, many in the music business are rooting for Microsoft’s Zune to give Apple some serious competition at long last, leveling the playing field and giving “the smartest guy in the room” a run for his money… Venerable rocker Bob Seger demonstrates surprising appeal, as Capitol moves 146k of his first album in 11 years—a testament to Andy Slater’s two-decade relationship with Seger and longtime manager Punch Andrews... Timberlake, Mayer, Dylan, Beyonce and Christina Aguilera are leading a charge into the fourth quarter on the part of a rapidly heating up Sony BMG, which has a host of potential hit albums on deck, including Clay Aiken (9/19, with 2.7m on his previous release), Kenny Chesney (9/19, 2.3m), Monica (10/3, 984k), Jimmy Buffett (10/10, 1.5m), Sarah McLachlan (10/17, 2.4m), Ruben Studdard (10/17, 1.8m), Harry Connick (10/24, 993k), John Legend (10/24, 1.7m), a Dave Matthews Band best of (11/7, 1.4m), Incubus (11/28, 1.1m) Ciara (12/5, 2.6m) and Barbra Streisand (12/5, 1.1m). SBMG looks like a powerhouse for the rest of the year, getting busy at the right time... Inquiring minds want to know what chain of events could have possibly precipitated the management company of 30 Seconds to Mars and the band’s film-actor frontman Jared Leto to “fire” their longtime clients last week, just as the Virgin act was on the verge of breaking big… Chatter once again picking up about one high-profile promotion executive being in trouble over his occupational performance anxiety… Names in the Rumor Mill: Alex Zubillaga, Johnny Wright, Tim Bowen, Merck Mercuriadis, Bill Ham, Britney Spears and Janet Jackson.