HITS Daily Double
Cohen would be sorting through multiple offers were he to become a free agent, which appears to be a distinct possibility given the present situation at Warner Music.


Grammy Spikes and Grammy Gossip, the Contentious UMG-EMI Merger, Tumult at the Top of WMG and a Battle of the Brit Boy Bands
The biggest stories coming out of the extremely eventful four days between Grammy eve and Valentine’s Day were Adele, who did something unprecedented, selling 716k on a year-old album, with another 86k on her first LP; and Whitney Houston’s death on Feb. 11, as grieving fans bought 170k copies of her hits collection.

A host of A-listers gathered at Cecconi’s for the Sony Music after-party, during which host Doug Morris introduced his new boss, Kaz Hirai, to the company’s stars, who’d won the lion’s share of awards earlier that evening. Hirai’s obvious delight during the shindig served to allay the fears of executives who’d been anxious about how the parent company will view Sony Music once Sir Howard Stringer passes the baton to his successor. In any event, Stringer has at least three more years under Sony’s succession plan.

Rob Stringer, Steve Barnett and the Columbia team celebrated a big Grammy night that included a boatload of awards and memorable performances by Adele, Bruce Springsteen and Tony Bennett. The buzz is building around Springsteen's March 6 release, with LPs from The Shins, the Ting Tings and Jack White on deck.

All eyes are now on the prospective UMG-EMI merger following Universal’s Feb. 17 filing with the European Commission, amid the anti-merger lobbying efforts by Impala and Warner Music. A Monday story in the U.K.’s Guardian claimed that Lucian Grainge is reportedly on the lookout for a CEO to oversee EMI, lending further credence to his previously stated intention to keep the British company intact. But critics continue to insist that this position is just spin, and that UMG instead needs to make big cuts at EMI in order to make the deal work.

Much of the Grammy gossip was centered on the wildly successful Lyor Cohen and his tenuous relationship with Warner Music CEO Stephen Cooper. Cohen, who has become extremely wealthy while at WMG, would be sorting through multiple offers were he to become a free agent, which appears to be a distinct possibility given the present situation.

The big question is, who would Cooper and Len Blavatnik choose as Cohen’s replacement? Could they possibly make the classic mistake of presuming they know more than music people and do to Warner what every non-music executive of the last two decades has done to the company he’s been empowered to oversee, leaving it in far worse shape than before? This rogues’ gallery of the clueless includes Morgado/Fuchs, Lack, Nicoli, Hands, Schmidt-Holtz and Edgar Bronfman.

On the same subject, those Roger Faxon-to-WMG rumors are getting warmer by the day, partly because Faxon isn’t denying them, suggesting that there may be some smoke here.

Rick Rubin’s label deal is said to be going to Monte Lipman’s Universal Republic, a la Tom Whalley’s new deal with the label, as Lipman beefs up his hitmaking team, having also recently brought in Rob Stevenson.

Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games” has been a radio and sales hit all over the world, while thus far it’s simply a sales hit in the U.S. Is Hot AC ready to fall for this no-brainer smash? Del Rey’s Born to Die album has already exceeded 800k ex-North America.

The first track from an X Factor finalist to go to radio is Chris Rene’s J.R. Rotem-produced “Young Homie,” the original song that propelled him into the finals of the show. Rene, who’s now under the wing of L.A. Reid at Epic, is riding some real momentum, having amassed 13 million YouTube views and 200k Twitter followers.

Speaking of momentum, Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” (#10 Pop, #5 Adult) is shaping up as another big winner for Peter Edge’s RCA.

The Civil Wars cemented their status as career artists with a Grammy performance that lasted just one minute, leading to sales of 34k in the DIY upstarts’ biggest week yet.

Spotify’s Daniel Ek maintained an extremely high profile at the Grammys in an attempt to spin the service as artist-friendly. Will he succeed?

Industry observers are watching a competition that is shaping up between a pair of U.K. boy bands and their labels: Columbia’s Brit Award-winning One Direction and IDJ’s Scooter Braun-managed The Wanted.

Shakira, whose label and management deals are over, is summoning prospective managers to Barcelona for meetings, while she’s expected to either return to Sony Music or head to Interscope.

What will happen when VEVO’s deal with Google/YouTube ends early next year? Could VEVO’s next home possibly be Facebook?

Names in the rumor mill: Richard Russell, Dr. Luke, Madonna, Troy Carter, Clive