Talk about a buried lede: The industry insiders at HITS Daily Double decide to write about Alex Zubillaga’s exit from the sinking ship that is the Warner Music Group, information that is news to a select group of people. As WMG head Edgar Bronfman’s brother-in-law, Zubillaga’s departure is a little strange, and the fact that neither Bronfman nor Lyor Cohen’s deals have been extended past their expiration a year from now is also interesting. But the real news comes a bit further down the page: When the higher-ups at WMG purchased Roadrunner Records, they “forgot” to check the contract of the band they bought the entire label for in the first place, and who they’re now trying to negotiate with in a last-ditch effort to make good on their investment.
Just sayin’, if you’re going to spend seventy three million dollars to acquire the services of Nickelback, you might want to make sure they’re signed for more than just one album.
Executives within WMG now believe the board has finally figured out that Cohen has neither the talent nor the intelligence to lead the company, and that the man behind the curtain at Def Jam was obviously Russell Simmons.
A key example of Cohen’s ineptitude is the Nickelback dilemma, which comes after Cohen initiated the purchase of 73% of Roadrunner for $73m, neglecting the fact that Nickelback owed just one more LP (not three, as he’s been spinning).
Now, Warner is in the unenviable position of having to shell out elephant bucks in order to keep the band (represented by attorney John Branca) or be left with another bad deal, alongside Bad Boy, Bulldog, the Eagles and Madonna.
Nickelback’s four albums have sold a total of more than 16 million in the U.S. alone, including The State (March 2000): 713k; Silver Side Up (Sept. 2001): 5.37m; Long Road (Sept. 2003): 3.37m; All the Right Reasons (Oct. 2005): 6.64m, all but the last (which shifted over in midstream to WMG) through Roadrunner’s previous deal with Island Def Jam.
Of all the stupid things Bronfman and his cohorts have done to the once storied Warner brand (and there are plenty, forgetting to check the fine print on one of its biggest acquisitions might be among the dumbest. If Nickelback can bolt after one more album to the highest bidder, even having the Dresden Dolls under your corporate umbrella won’t be much of a consolation.
IB BAD EXCLUSIVE: IS THAT FISH YOU SMELL? [Hits Daily Double, might require some sort of sign-in]