Above, L-R: Publisher of Billboard magazine Tommy Page, Paul Oakenfold, founder co-CEO of AAM Andy Kipnes and Editorial Director of Billboard magazine Bill Werde
Grammy predictions and Warner Music's acquisition of Parlophone Records were among the topics of conversation at Thursday night's intimate 3rd Annual Friends 'N' Family dinner, held at Scarpetta restaurant at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. Members of the host committee gathered together for a quiet meal before tonight's (Feb. 8) outsized Friends 'N' Family 16 commences.
The invite-only FNF 16, held on the Paramount Studios lot, will feature performances by Carly Rae Jepsen, Paul Oakenfold, Melanie Fiona, Wallpaper, Angel Haze, Chad Hugo, John Martin and Dallas K. The inaugural Friends 'N' Family drew 150 people to the Argyle Hotel on Sunset in 1998. Around 3,000 people are expected to attend Friday night's event. The not-for-profit event picks an annual charity to give back to. This year's recipient is Rock The Vote.
FNF co-founder Mark Beaven started the dinner in 2011 with his fellow Advanced Alternative Media co-CEO and FNF co-founder Andy Kipnes. "Everybody became so caught up in the evening itself that we didn't actually get to spend time with each other, so we thought we would start doing a dinner and do something where all of our friends can have a more intimate evening with each other," Beaven says.
Around 100 music industry executives attended the dinner, including Paramount Pictures president of music Randy Spendlove, Electronic Arts Music Group president Steve Schnur, Kobalt Publishing CEO Willard Ahdritz, Warner/Chappell president of creative Jon Platt, RCA Music Group president/COO Tom Corson, RCA Music Group CEO Peter Edge, Sony Music Group EVP of business affairs Julie Swidler, ASCAP senior VP Randy Grimmett, songwriter/producer Evan Bogart, Prospect Park Management co-founder Peter Katsis, Loma Vista Recordings founder Tom Whalley, songwriter/producer Brett James, and newly-minted Island Records president David Massey (Island Def Jam Music Group announced his appointment Friday morning).
L-R: Guest, Head of Business Affairs for Interscope Records Rand Hoffman and Executive VP of Business Affairs/General Counsel for Sony Music Entertainment Julie Swidler
Massey, who served as president of Mercury Records since 2007 and will continue to oversee the imprint under the Island umbrella, has already worked with a number of Island acts in an A&R capacity, including Bon Jovi, the Killers and the returning Fall Out Boy.
He left the dinner early to attend Fall Out Boy's sold-out show at The Roxy, but first talked to billboard.biz about the group's album, Save Rock And Roll, out May 7 and its first set since 20008's "Folie A Deux."
"The record is amazing," Massey said. "It's a very fresh and modern sound for them [with] huge production by John Hill and Butch Walker." The Pete Wentz-led group, which announced the new project on Monday, had been "quietly working on it for several months."
Not surprisingly, the talk at the dinner included predictions on who would be the big winner at Sunday's Grammy Awards with fun. the act most attendees mentioned to billboard.biz.
"They're kind of everyone's favorite," Warner/Chappell's Platt noted. "It's a feel-good story."
"I'm a huge fan of the fun. record," said songwriter James, who's topped Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart with such tunes as "When The Sun Goes Down," recorded by Kenny Chesney and Uncle Cracker, and Carrie Underwood's "Jesus, Take the Wheel." "They've got a lot of Queen in them. It's a very unique project. I'm a fan. I think the songs are brilliant."
L-R: President, FEA Merchandising Bruce Fingeret, President/COO of RCA Music Group Tom Corson, Founder/Co-CEO of AAM Andy Kipnes and CEO of RCA Music Group Peter Edge
People were also talking about Warner Music's acquisition of Parlophone Label Group from Universal, which was announced earlier in the day on Thursday. "It's a good move for Warner Brothers," said Bogart. "We were in [the studio] with [Atlantic act] Simple Plan today and they were like, 'Wow, cool! We're distribution label mates with Coldplay!"
For Platt, he hopes having a new roster of artists in the Warner Music Group family will mean more opportunities. "We're going to try to get our writers' songs on those projects," he said.
Though album sales are relatively flat this year, a number of people felt optimistic about where the industry is headed. "I think the business is going to be growing over the next five years," predicted Sony's Swidler. "Not dramatically, but I think it will be enough to allow [labels] to really invest in creative people and talent more than they have in the past five."
Kobalt's Ahdritz sees an industry still in transition. "I think we're going to continue to see restructuring in the industry," he said. "I think we're going to see more big deals continue to happen while the industry creates its new form."