HITS Daily Double
Although Atlantic is running away with new-release marketshare, there’s a tight race for #2 between Rob Stringer’s Columbia/Epic, Jimmy Iovine’s IGA and Barry Weiss’ RMG/JLG.


Also, the Continuing Adventures of Rihanna and Chris Brown, WMG’s Roller-coaster Ride, the Expanding Singles Sector and Other Flashpoints
This week, Steve Barnett’s Columbia scored its second straight chart-topper, following John Mayer with Susan Boyle, whose 670k debut is not only the biggest of the year but also establishes a new rookie record for female solo artists. Meanwhile, Jimmy Iovine’s Interscope sold 326k Lady Gaga albums, between the new eight-song Bad Romance EP (181k) and the new deluxe edition of her debut (144k). It was the biggest week yet for the breakthrough artist, who has sold 1.8m units while never doing more than 56k in any given week until now. She’s also generated 13.5m track downloads. These numbers make her ineligibility for a Best New Artist Grammy nomination unfortunate indeed... Despite the success of the Lady Gaga EP gambit, Interscope will not repeat it with Eminem’s EP, which instead will be bundled with Relapse (1.6m) in an effort to reinvigorate sales on the album… Both Def Jam/IDJ’s Rihanna and Jive’s Chris Brown are on their second singles, as their respective labels press on in their efforts to penetrate the all-important Pop arena—and to generate sales on their acts’ new albums. Although Rihanna’s initial single didn’t go far at Pop, her 180k bow topped her previous LP’s 153k, which wound up selling 2.5m. Brown’s first track didn’t cross to Pop, which factors into the 150k projection on his Dec. 8 album, compared to a 295k debut for his previous LP, which went on to sell 1.9m. Rihanna’s new “Hard” is taking off at radio, while Brown’s Pop-leaning “Crawl” is just getting started, as both labels play catch-up… With the Doug Morris-orchestrated VEVO set to launch next week, wonderers are wondering whether the YouTube-partnered music video site will be a game-changer, with video streaming now deeply entrenched as a key online activity. It’s unfortunate, then, that the launch will take place without Warner Music and EMI, which are still negotiating their deals—though late word has EMI very close to finalizing an agreement… Although Atlantic, at 8.8%, is running away with new-release marketshare, there’s a tight race for #2 between Rob Stringer’s Columbia/Epic (7.7% year-to-date), Iovine’s IGA (7.3%) and Barry WeissRMG/JLG (7.2%). A further breakdown of the Sony Music numbers provides some illuminating detail on the performance of what was known from June 2004 to August ’08 as Sony BMG. On the new-release side, RMG, formerly Clive Davis’ fiefdom, is responsible for nearly 4.6% of RMG/JLG’s 7.2%, while Columbia leads Sony’s in-house competition with 5.5%… In terms of overall marketshare, Columbia/Epic is way out in front with a robust 11%, driven by Michael Jackson, Atlantic is 7.6%, IGA is 7.1% and RMG/JLG is 6%… For comparison’s sake, EMI as a whole is at 7.8% in new-release share, a full percentage point behind Atlantic and barely more than Columbia/Epic. The company is faring substantially better in the overall sector with 9.2%, suggesting that it’s lagging in new releases, which some see as the result of the exits of A&R-focused label heads Jason Flom and Andy Slater... It’s been a tough week for WMG, as an earnings report that caught everyone by surprise sent shares tumbling from above $7 to south of $5. But these ups and downs come with the territory for the only publicly traded stand-alone music group, whose quarterly report cards are closely scrutinized by Wall Street… Some are predicting that Christmas Day and the day after will establish a new SoundScan-era record for singles sales, as the industry celebrates one sector that is not shrinking, thanks almost entirely to the iTunes Store. Meanwhile, executives lounging on the beaches of St. Bart’s and Maui will undoubtedly be patting themselves on the back for getting that additional 30 cents per premium track from Steve Jobs… The music business will lose a bona fide record man on Dec. 31 with the retirement of Sony Music Nashville EVP Butch Waugh, who put an indelible imprint on the industry during the course of his 37-year career… What head of a major management company, who brought in a manager and his superstar act, snags the act as said manager leaves the company?... Last week’s Billboard Top 200, the first chart to combine new releases and catalog titles, contained 34 catalog albums. Nineteen were holiday LPs, Michael Jackson and Michael Buble accounted for four apiece and the Beatles had three. The actual impact of the policy change won’t be apparent until January, when the Christmas albums drop away, but cynics intone, “Be careful what you wish for,” noting that for every catalog LP that makes the chart, a current release is bounced from it… Names in the Rumor Mill: Simon Cowell, Simon Renshaw, Michael Greene, Andy Gould, Steve Bartels and Joe Galante.