So the Universal Music Group held a showcase, and to insure that Retail Track attended, they held it practically across the street from Billboard's office at Joe's Pub. Oh yeah, they threw in a sweetener too -- an open bar -- and they played to the reporter in me by presenting the Capitol Music Group's release schedule being assembled by label chairman/CEO Steve Barnett and his team. Who can ask for better than that? Once upon a time major label showcases were so plentiful that Track actually became jaded about attending them, but its been a while since Retail Track has had the pleasure of seeing one, and I found out I didn't realize how much I missed them, because the UMG event turned out splendid. The UMG team hit it out of the park, presenting seven bands to music retail accounts.
First up was the new kid on the block, the Capital Music Group's senior VP of sales Ron Spaulding, who started out by reeling off the upcoming titles from the group of labels that constitute the company. He said that an Eagles DVD would come on April 30; and Rod Stewart would issue a new album on May 7, and added that its the first time the singer has entirely produced one of his albums on his own. Other upcoming releases include 30 Seconds From Mars on May 21, with Alice In Chains and Terrence Blanchard albums coming the following week; Empire of the Sun and Serena Ryder will put out albums on June 18; and a long-awaited Anita Baker album is due June 25. Other artists that Capitol plans to issue albums for this year include Ryan Adams, Robert Randolph, Sick Puppies, Elton John, Joe Walsh, Gov't Mule, and Michael Franti, but Spaulding either didn't say dates for those albums and/or Retail Track produced sub-par note-taking. He then introduced electronic pop band Capital Cities, who turned in a high-energy set.
UMGD's senior director of sales George D'Errico and Universal Music Enterprises regional sales & marketing director Tony Kulzer consult one another to make sure things are running smoothly at the showcase.
Next up was the Concord Music Group, with their director of mobile and online sales Phillip Bailey reporting that comedian/banjo player Steve Martin had collaborated with Edie Brickell for an album produced by Peter Asher which is coming out in April, and that the label would also release albums from Sir Tom Jones and reissue Sir Paul McCartney's Wings Over America, with an elaborate package on May 28. They reported that Booker T. Jones was back home on Stax Records and was preparing an album for release, and that the album for John Mellancamp and Steven King's upcoming musical, Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, will be out in June, and will feature Roseann Cash, Neko Case, Elvis Costello, and Kris Kristofferson. Finally, he introduced Valerie June, who played an acoustic blues set that showed off all of her roots, having grown up in Jackson, Tennessee, which is in between Nashville and Memphis. Interscope recording artist and soul singer Aloe Blacc was up next, turning in possibly the best set of the day.
Over by the bar, Caroline VP of marketing Dan Cohen and director of sales and marketing Kathie Merritt compare notes on which retail accounts in the room they have already touched base with and which ones still needed to be worked.
UMG's East Coast Label Group senior VP of digital and mobile Russell Fink presented both Republic Records and Island Def Jam's release schedule, starting out with the former by saying the label was gearing up for albums from Lil Wayne, the Band Perry, James Blake, Tyga, Kid Cudi, Youngblood Hawke, and Black Sabbath, and then he introduced Pacific Air, who turned in the rocking-est set of the day. Fink began the Island Def Jam presentation by playing a reel of synch placements garnered by Gin Wigmore's "Black Sheep" track, which included the song in either TV shows, TV promos or commercials, including Revenge, Guinness, Fear Factor, Park Avenue, Blue Bloods, Arrow, Nashville, Teen Wolf, Deception, Gatorade and the Mob Doctor, and then segued into another song from the artist, "Man Like That," in a Heineken commercial. He then introduced Jhene Aiko, who played a set of pop music.
Nigeria was in the house as Storm 360 founder Obi Asika, on the left, and The Beat FM CEO Chris Ubos, in the middle, lay out their plan for on how Aloe Blacc can break in their country.
After the labels, it was independent distribution's turn and first up was INGrooves Fontana, with senior director of sales and label management Kevin Engler and regional account representative Denise Garbo presiding over the segment. They revealed that their release schedule includes albums from Joe Bonamassa, LCD Soundsystem, Tech N9ne, Butch Walker and Mac Miller, and then they brought out soul singer Raheem DeVaughn, who turned the club into his living room during his smooth soul set. Finally, the revitalized Caroline closed out the day with its newly appointed president Dominic Pandiscia telling about upcoming releases, which include the Knife, Junip -- which includes Jose Gonzales, who also issues under his own name -- John Fogerty, Five Finger Death Punch, Raekwon, Pete Yorn's new band the Olms, Ice Cube, Alter Bridge, City and Colour, Goldfrapp, Matt Nathanson and Korn.