HITS Daily Double
The voracious appetite of Wall Street for music publishing assets could push the price of the company to record levels, possibly as high as 20 times its net publisher's share, which is estimated at around $100 million.


Dixie Chicks Are Less Red but Far From Dead, While Liz Mohn Raises Her Voice, Edgar Breaks Ranks and Andy Taylor Takes Up Gardening
NOT READY TO SUCK UP: The Dixie Chicks’ unwillingness to play the Nashville game may have cost them major spins at Country radio, but it turned out to be the right move at the right time for these free-thinking musicians, as their album sold north of 500k to debut at #1 last week. Credit for this coup is shared by manager Simon Renshaw and Columbia’s Steve Barnett, both of whom signed on when the Chicks decided not to make a Nashville album, and marketed the group as the genre-transcending act they most certainly are, even as an ever-growing majority of Americans has come to share their critical view of the Bush administration... In other notable chart activity, Jordan Schur’s new Suretone label galloped out of the starting gate in impressive fashion with the 127k, Top 5 debut from Blink-182 spin-off Angels & Airwaves… German scholars say the sudden emergence of Liz Mohn, the much younger wife of 84-year-old patriarch Reinhard Mohn, as the new voice of Bertelsmann has rankled other members of the ruling family, notably her company-man stepson, with many in Gutersloh viewing the 64-year-old as a power-hungry interloper in the style of Yoko Ono. It was Mrs. Mohn who publicly stated that the family would never allow the company to be taken public, as they greenlighted the buyback of GBL’s 25% piece of the Mohns’ media empire to ensure that outcome, and signed off on the jettisoning of BMG Songs (but not Bertie's 50% of Sony BMG) in order to raise a hoped-for $2 billion. While that figure may be high, the voracious appetite of Wall Street for music publishing assets could push the price of the company to record levels, possibly as high as 20 times its net publisher's share, which is estimated at around $100 million. In any case, most expect that there will be no shortage of bidders when Bertie holds its auction later this month. The list of potential buyers includes such strategic players as Sony, UMG, Famous Music, Bono’s private equity firm Elevation Partners (which is being consulted by former Warner/Chappell head Les Bider) and Larry Mestel’s Primary Wave Music and his deep-pocketed investment bankers. Are telecom powers such as Verizon and Cingular, also in the mix, as the mobile phone business looks to content acquisitions for its ubiquitous devices?... As EMI prepares to make an enhanced offer for Warner Music, Edgar Bronfman Jr. is frantically trying to raise the money to buy WMG himself, or, if the company is sold, to bid on the divested Warner/Chappell. Most believe Bronfman’s seemingly desperate desire to remain in the music business stems from the fact that his identity is so wrapped up in it, further noting that they don’t believe he’s the real deal… Big changes continue at another British music company, Sanctuary Group, which once seemed impervious to the problems facing the majors, as the board puts co-founder and Executive Chairman Andy Taylor on gardening leave, so to speak, alleging that he intentionally misrepresented the company’s 2005 accounting, and replacing him with Twenty-First Artists Management’s Frank Presland. Wonderers now wondering what further changes will go down at the company, and whether the highly regarded Merck Mercuriadis, who is credited with co-authoring the Sanctuary business plan, is himself in any danger. Insiders point out that Mercuriadis’ situation is greatly strengthened by his managerial relationships with Elton John and Guns N’ Roses, each of whom he’s credited with helping bring to the company. Also in question is the status of Sanctuary Artist Management N.A. head Carl Stubner… The extraordinary numbers of viewers and votes generated by the season finale of American Idol would seem to indicate that Taylor Hicks’ first album will be a readymade blockbuster. The big question among music biz types is, what sort of debut album will Idol musical impresario Clive Davis dream up for the gray-haired former journeyman, and will Hicks get a run for his money from the far more photogenic runner-up, Katharine McPhee?… Many surprised that Reprise promo domo Phil Costello spurned a big-money offer with increased responsibilities from Tom Whalley in order to move into management with John Silva’s SAM. Insiders saying that the wholesale changes in the company, which now hardly resembles the Warner/Reprise of old, are not what Costello signed up for nearly 10 years ago… Names in the rumor mill: Alain Levy, Marty Bandier, Hummer Winblad, John Branca, Polly Anthony and Rick “The Gardener” Sales.