Sure 2011 is off to a slow start album sales wise, but there's a beehive of activity happening and the promise of things really starting to heat up starting in late February the release of Adele's "22." Then March through May look unstoppable as a number of heavy hitters return. But in the meantime, as the industry licks its wounds over two weeks of unbelievably low album sales, the chatter is focused on how soon either Warner Music Group and EMI will be sold, possibly to each other. There's a lot of rearranging of deck chairs on the Titanic as Universal Music Group head Doug Morris prepares to move over to Sony Music (the only question is when) and Sony execs move over to UMG.
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1) Warner Music Group and EMI: In one of the wildest weeks that the music business has ever seen, two of the remaining big four record companies are seemingly on the block and one of them may buy each other. Other potential suitors: Guy Hands, who may in one of the most insane deals ever re-buy EMI, and Simon Cowell. The music industry has truly fallen down the rabbit hole.
2) Coachella: The 2011 edition, starring Kanye West, Arcade Fire, Kings of Leon and many more sold out a week after tickets went on sale. I guess when it’s snowing buckets, an April weekend in the California desert can look damn inviting no matter who’s playing.
3) The Decemberists: They come in at No. 1 with sales of 94,000 for “The King is Dead.” Sure, it’s not the biggest number in the world, but when you consider that its last album, 2009’s critically-adored “The Hazards of Love” peaked at No. 14 with 19,000 in sales you’ve got not only the week’s top selling album, but the week’s top story in terms of artist development. Maybe they should change their name to the Januarists.
4) Dr. Luke: Is he music’s savior or biggest sinner? The producer/songwriter who wrought Ke$ha upon the world bags his 20th No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with Britney Spears’ “Hold It Against Me.” You decide.
5) Britney Spears: As Spears celebrates "Hold It Against Me" debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 100 last week, word leaks that the official release date for her new album will be March 15. Expect another breathless day when the album title is announced. We also know from the leaked document that the album will be available in standard and deluxe versions and there will be a “major TV event” to launch the album.
6) Lady Gaga: If Britney owns March, Lady Gaga owns May. She caused an online sensation simply by tweeting the lyrics to her first single, “Born This Way,” from the May 23 album of the same name. Imagine what it’s going to be like when we actually hear it on Feb. 13. I’m going to go ahead and call it: “Born This Way” will debut at No. 1 on the singles chart and the album will sell more than 1 million in the U.S. its first week.
7) “Glee”: Even when the show is taking a break, it makes news. Ryan Murphy’s bitchy comments to Kings of Leon and Slash aside, the “Glee” continues to be juggernaut off the television screen as Gleeks rejoice at word of the ensemble cast’s two-month tour starting in May.
8) Lollapalooza: Not only is the Chicago edition thriving at a time when the concert business is tanking, the brand is expanding to South America with Lollapalooza Chile, April 2-3. The line-up, announced this week, includes Kanye West, Killers, and, naturally, Jane’s Addiction.
9) Bob Seger: He hasn’t had a hit in years, yet he announces he’ll hit the road for his first arena tour in years and he hits the top 5 trending topics. This tour will sell out. You want to know why? Rock and roll never forgets.
10) Miley Cyrus: In a week with no shortage of competition, Cyrus gets named the Worst Celebrity Influence Alive, according to an AOL poll of young girls. Even better: she’s on a roll. It’s the second year she’s won the award. You go, girl!