NEWS ITEMS:
I.B. Bad on the Breaking of James Blunt...

It's a Trans World After All

One-Day Sales: The Prince of Tides

Bulletin Board


Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

March 27, 2006

SAVED BY THE BLUNT: It now appears that Atlantic Chairman Craig Kallman may be able to hold onto his job after all, and his savior is James Blunt, who has brought the beleaguered label the first smash of the current regime. Ironies abound in the chain of events that led to Blunt's breakthrough. Then-Elektra Chairman Sylvia Rhone was responsible for bringing Blunt in through a label deal with Linda Perry's Custard imprint, but after Lyor Cohen put his executive team in place, the U.S. company wanted to drop both Blunt and Custard. It was dissuaded from doing so by execs at WMG's U.K. company, who believed in the artist. They were proved right, as the album exploded in the U.K. and Europe—it's just south of 8 million worldwide—and now it's finally selling in the U.S., generating huge bottom-line numbers for the stripped-down WMG. By the end of 2006, Back to Bedlam could be at 15 million globally and 5 million stateside, making it a virtual lock for Album of the Year at this point in time. In short, Blunt's breakthrough has eliminated the need for a scapegoat. Further removing Kallman from harm's way is the fact that his main claim to fame, Sean Paul, whose follow-up LP was stiffing, is being resuscitated by a late-breaking single. All of which goes to show that no label stays cold forever. Nonetheless, when Cohen stated in the press that Kallman would be around for "years to come," one high-profile manager quipped, "Lyor only lies when he moves his lips." Additionally, for what it's worth, the majority of attorneys and managers queried are still saying, "Craig's toast."... Speaking of Atlantic hits, those in the know say the label's Juvenile deal was extremely expensive—$2.5 million—and with no radio play driving sales, the marketing costs for the project are expected to be huge, inevitably resulting in the spilling of a lot of red ink. Most believe the sales Juvenile has accrued simply aren't sustainable with no hit radio track... In Blunt sidenotes, insiders say that when Elton John made the deal with the Sanctuary Group that included his management company 21st Century Artists, he made a point of talking up the potential of the then-unknown Blunt and the material he was coming up with, including "You're Beautiful," which has frequently been compared Elton's own 1971 breakthrough, "Your Song." Blunt's champion at 21st Century was Todd Interland, son of veteran promo man Brian Interland. Within Atlantic, A&R exec Mary Gormley kept Blunt in front of the label during the transition period, arguing persuasively against Cohen's initial decision to get rid of him. And the rest, as they say, is history... Meanwhile, on the corporate level, WMG topper Edgar Bronfman Jr. felt the need to hold "town halls" in both N.Y. and Burbank in order to reassure employees that there are presently no merger discussions with EMI, but also pointing out that, because Warner Music is a publicly traded company, things could change down the line. Some insiders believe that Bronfman's real reason for calling these meetings was to give Kallman a vote of confidence, which he did. What Bronfman did not do, interestingly, was to deny the rampant rumors that Warner/Reprise and Warner/Chappell will be relocated to New York in what would amount to massive cost savings. Another topic that failed to come up was the fact that many WMG execs are being offered one-year deals, with those in the know pointing out that, if WMG is contemplating a move or a merger or both, it's in the company's best interests to keep employee contracts short-term... The smoke is starting to clear at Interscope, with Jordan Schur and Ron Fair both getting new deals, but managers with acts on the label are dumbfounded that Fair rejected the idea of bringing Polly Anthony into his organizational chart, asking how the label could possibly be better without her. Fair's decision puts an even bigger burden on Steve Berman, but the IGA marketing guru has extremely broad shoulders... Speaking of Polly, wonderers are wondering exactly what Iovine and Morris have up their sleeves by giving her a new job overseeing TV. Is there a network series being developed as a platform; i.e., will UMG be unveiling its answer to American Idol?... While both UMG and EMI are expected to settle with Eliot Spitzer in his ongoing payola investigation, the inside word is that Entercom, the first radio chain to be charged in the Spitzer probe, is fighting the charges after reportedly balking at the N.Y. Attorney General's offer of a $20 million settlement. Entercom executives and their lawyers believe they conducted their business in accordance with FCC standards. They contend that anything received from third parties in exchange for playing songs from spin programs was legitimate in that this airplay was always announced on the air as sponsored, keeping them within FCC guidelines regarding disclosure to listeners. In the matter of flatscreens and flyaways, Entercom argues that these promotions were not in return for playing specific records and hence are not illegal. The company's final point is that these matters are not within Spitzer's jurisdiction to begin with... In terms of Spitzer's allegations that the companies committed consumer fraud by using spin programs to manipulate the charts, knowledgeable parties say it's naïve to conclude that the additional play resulting from a spin program would be significant enough to impact a record's chart position, adding that the charts themselves are looked at almost exclusively by the industry and thus have little or no influence on consumers... Names in the Rumor Mill: Max Lousada, Arctic Monkeys, Jacqueline Saturn, David Byrnes, Rob Light and Mike Sigman.


HITS magazine is the most powerful information vehicle in the music industry, and is read religiously by all the top executives and everyone else.




Top of Page



Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

March 22, 2006

Trans World stands alone.

Trans World Entertainment Corporation announced today that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York has approved its bid to acquire the assets of Musicland Holding Corp., which will make it the leading, and last, major operator of mall-based music retail stores in the country.

Musicland operates retail outlets under the names Sam Goody, Suncoast Motion Picture Company, On Cue and MediaPlay.com, filed a voluntary petition to restructure under Chapter 11 last January. The transaction, valued at $104.2 million in cash and $18.1 million in assumed liabilities, is scheduled to close on March 27.

Trans World Chairman/CEO Robert Higgins said: "We are pleased that the Bankruptcy Court has approved our purchase of Musicland's assets and look forward to quickly and efficiently integrating the acquired stores into the Trans World chain. This acquisition will increase our national footprint providing important operational and marketing synergies and we believe the acquisition will be accretive to our 2006 results. We also expect to leverage Musicland's investments in its Replay customer loyalty program that has become a model in customer relationship management for its millions of Replay members across the country."

Trans World expects to retain 335 of Musicland's best performing stores and liquidate the remaining 65 stores of a total of 400 through a joint venture with Hilco Merchant Resources, LLC. Added to its current total of 800, that give them 1,135 stores around the country.

Trans World Entertainment currently operates retail stores in 46 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and e-commerce sites. In addition to its mall locations, operated primarily under the FYE brand, the company also operates freestanding locations under the names Coconuts Music and Movies, Strawberries Music, Wherehouse, CD World, Spec's, Second Spin and Planet Music.


HITS magazine is the most powerful information vehicle in the music industry, and is read religiously by all the top executives and everyone else.




Top of Page



Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

March 22, 2006

In the early going, Prince's new album on Universal Republic, 3121, is trending just shy of 200k and has a shot at hitting that sales plateau, depending on how much Starbucks weighs in. What's stunning about this activity is that the Purple One is pulling it off without a tour, extensive radio play or iTunes (he hasn't yet made the LP available to online services). That means the Hall of Famer will most probably notch up his first #1 since that Batman soundtrack, and it'll be his first studio album to top the chart since Around the World in a Day in 1985.

That said, we won't completely rule out incumbent High School Musical (Walt Disney Records), which airs again this week on the Disney Channel. That could conceivably generate another 15-20% bump, which still wouldn't quite get it over the hump, but this release is a bona fide phenomenon, so anything is possible.

The next big debut is from Virgin's Ben Harper, which should move over 50k units and possibly top 60k, depending on the total generated by downloads on iTunes, where the Inland Empire icon is currently #1.

Other chart-worthy bows are from rapper B.G. (Koch), which should wind up at 55k-60k; teen rocker Teddy Geiger (Columbia), who's #3 on iTunes and heading past 40k with a shot at 50k in an impressive first week for a developing artist; a new Capitol Nashville album from Mr. Roasted Chicken himself, Kenny Rogers, that could do as much as 40k; a live LP with studio B-sides from My Chemical Romance (WB), which is looking 35k-40k-ish; and indie rockers From First to Last (Epitph/ADA), who are on the way to around 25k.

Dollying back to take in the big picture, ccording to our research, the market was down 2-3% vs. last week according to our research, and down about 4% compared to the same week last year. That puts year-to-date album sales down around 3%.


HITS magazine is the most powerful information vehicle in the music industry, and is read religiously by all the top executives and everyone else.




Top of Page



By Kenny Kerner

Check out Wal-Mart's new music series called Soundcheck. The series debuted at the beginning of February with releases from Yellowcard and Switchfoot. Participating acts will record interviews and new studio material which will be made available for free streaming at the Wal-Mart online store for a mere 88 cents per track.

Louis Pearlman, the business mogul who brought us Backstreet Boys and *N Sync, is looking for a buyer so he can bring famed British classic Top of the Pops to American TV.

Myspace.com is adding a streaming video-on-demand service to its site, initially offering videos from the UMG for free ... Knitting Factory Entertainment has entered into a deal to acquire a majority interest in Bravo Entertainment, a regional concert promoter ... The top three digital albums of last year were First Impressions of Earth by the Strokes, with 24,000 scans; Back to Bedlam by James Blunt, with 14,000 scans; and Jack Johnson's In Between Dreams boasting 9,000 scans.

Allure recording artist Heiarii just returned from a two-week promotional tour of his native Tahiti. The Pop singer did a series of radio and TV interviews promoting his first CD, Dance! which yielded the Top 5 radio single, "Love Is To Set Free."

Billy Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlain will begin recording a brand new Smashing Pumpkins studio album—their first one in about six years. Other original SP members, James Iha and D'arcy Wretzky, are not participating in the project.

Well it finally happened... Larry the Cable Guy will star in his first full-length movie due out in theatres next year, entitled Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector. If you're not familiar with Larry, he has a multiple platinum comedy CD and is part of the incredibly successful Blue Collar Comedy Tour.


Top of Page











See How TAXI Works






















"I had the drive, and the passion. I just needed help, and you keep supplying it."
— Justin K.,
TAXI Member





"I just want a shot, and I feel that TAXI has given that to me."
— Roger Yeardley,
TAXI Member

"I am in awe of the sheer volume of amazing ideas to help musicians that you not only come up with, but make into real opportunities."
— Mara,
TAXI Member


"The TAXI rally was one of the most wonderful experiences I have had in our business."
— Alan Abrahams,
TAXI Member

"I am enclosing a check for my third year of membership in TAXI. You've got a great thing going, and it's fun being a member."
— Thomas Hipps,
TAXI Member


"TAXI, thanks for all your help. My song, 'Drowning In Love,' will appear in the upcoming Mirimax film, 'Takedown."
— James Kole,
TAXI Member

"I get a lot of music from many different sources, but I find the quality of the music I get from TAXI is always high caliber."
— Tom Vickers,
Senior Director of A&R,
Mercury Records





"TAXI provides opportunities to people who otherwise would have no access to the music industry."
— Tom Wasinger,
TAXI Member

"Thanks so much for forwarding "Sheree" to Dawson's Creek. It's been selected for the show!"
— DFran Lucci,
TAXI Member



"Your dedication and hard work never ceases to amaze me."
— Jimmy Clark,
TAXI Member

"I had the drive, and the passion. I just needed help, and you keep supplying it."
— Justin K.,
TAXI Member





"With help from you guys, the music is pouring out and I'm having such fun! Thanks!"
— Willie McCulloch,
TAXI Member