HITS Daily Double
Warner’s present woes beg the question: do the private equity players in the company’s ownership have any regrets about that $32-per-share offer from EMI that was rejected last year?


This Episode’s All-Star Cast Includes L.A. Reid, Doug Morris, Mel Lewinter, Sylvia Rhone, Monte Lipman, Edgar Bronfman Jr., Lyor Cohen, Rick Rubin, Lohan Presencer and Marty Bandier
LET’S MAKE A DEELE: Doug Morris is in the final stages of hammering out a new deal for L.A. Reid in acknowledgment of his first three years on the throne of IDJ—a run that has seen the A&R specialist orchestrate Mariah Carey’s dramatic comeback while breaking such acts as The Killers, Fall Out Boy and Ne-Yo, maintaining the label’s hip-hop franchise and snagging hot-shot exec Jermaine Dupri. Under Reid, IDJ has also posted consistently strong marketshare, coming in at #2 in new releases last year at 6.3%. Morris’ resounding vote of confidence in one of his go-to guys is consistent with the UMG chief’s signature approach: assemble a team of savvy executives, give them the autonomy to do their thing and reward their performance… Morris and Mel Lewinter’s Solomon-esque move of splitting Universal in two 14 months ago is a win-win, as Sylvia Rhone’s Universal Motown has a big and very active hit with Akon, who is at 1.6 million and counting, while Blue October nears 900k, with big things anticipated from rapper Lloyd. On the Universal Republic side, the 2 million-selling Hinder continues to be a big story for Monte Lipman… The vibe is somewhat less upbeat at Warner Music following EMI’s emphatic rebuff of Edgar’s latest proposal, which was in the neighborhood of $4 billion. Many question the seriousness of the bid, considering that WMG didn’t offer to cover the costs of passing through regulatory, as UMG did in its negotiations with Bertelsmann over BMG Music Publishing. WMG’s unwillingness to pony up suggests to some that the bid was essentially another Edgar move intended to pump up its sagging stock, with Warner’s release schedule promising no real relief until Linkin Park’s Rick Rubin-co-produced album streets on May 15. The company’s present woes beg the question: do the private equity players in WMG’s ownership have any regrets about that $32-per-share offer from EMI that was rejected last year?... The only present positive for WMG is that the decision to let Rubin out of his contract so that he can join Steve Barnett atop Columbia has put an end to the latest chapter in the ongoing pissing contest between Lyor Cohen and Tom Whalley… On a related note, IMPALA and U.K. affiliate AIM continue to take heat—especially from indie Ministry of Sound and its “shocked” and “outraged” MD, Lohan Presencer—for refusing to disclose the details of the international indie org’s arrangement with WMG. Many believe the Warner rulers have insisted that the IMPALA brass keep the deal to themselves so as not to further impact the morale of an already reeling workforce with details of the possible disposal of assets or new distribution and licensing agreements with various IMPALA members. Further speculation involves the possibility that the Bunny has also promised the indies that they’ll be included in some as-yet-unrevealed sweeping technological initiative. Given IMPALA’s endorsement of WEMI while at the same time reiterating its opposition to Sony BMG, wonderers are wondering whether the WMG coup has inspired Sony BMG to approach the organization about hammering out a similar arrangement in hopes of improving the SBMG merger’s chances of gaining EC approval. That said, one cynic notes that only a handful of staffers inside Sony and BMG’s U.S. companies would be upset if the EC rules against the merger, although most believe that outcome is highly unlikely. If the companies were de-merged, however, all agree that it would be a horrific mess to untangle… In other indie action, Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible has a decent shot of debuting at #1 on Tuesday’s chart, as Merge’s initial shipment reaches 400k—a big number for an indie-rock release, and one made even more staggering by the lack of a conventional hit single or video… While skeptics doubt that the major-indie playing field will become more level as a result of the side deal between the big radio chains and A2IM, the details are promising: According to A2IM chief Peter Gordon, the 8,400 half-hour blocks will be enacted between 6 a.m. and midnight and will be played out to some degree on a local basis, a potential boon for regional acts. Advocates of the new paradigm are hoping that the long tail will be wagging in earnest once this wide-ranging initiative is fully in place… As Marty Bandier prepares to take the helm at Sony/ATV, there’s much chatter about the degree of his participation in the growth of the company, which current and former EMI Publishing executives may join him at the company and what names are on his list of potential acquisitions, with Viacom’s Famous Music thought to be at or near the top of said list… Names in the Rumor Mill: Jody Gerson, Allen Grubman, Rob McDermott, Martin Mills, Scott Sperling and Rob Wiesenthal.