Sep 28

September 28, 2012 | By Ed Christman, New York
Below is the story “Lyor Mulls Next Move” — an in-depth look at the options facing Lyor Cohen who this week stepped down as CEO of WMG’s recorded music and how WMG may fill the vacancy — from this week’s edition of Billboard Magazine, which also features a cover story on superstar Bruno Mars who gives an exclusive preview of his wide-ranging second album Unorthodox Jukebox. Also, a special section on Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw’s “Brothers of the Sun” Tour and how it made country music history; a guide to ad agency music supervisors; an up-close look at both Universal’s acquisition of EMI and how the deal may hinder the digital market; and a piece on how Clear Channel’s direct deals with labels could hurt Pandora, as well as our incomparable columns and charts, and much more. You can buy a copy of the issue here, and subscribe here.

With Lyor Cohen’s sudden exit from Warner Music Group as chairman and CEO of recorded music the industry rumor mill has been working overtime naming his replacement, but insiders say that CEO Stephen Cooper may stay in place running the company and just have the labels heads reporting into him, as they are doing since Cohen resigned.

Warner Music’s parent company Access and Cooper are not into layers of management, says one Warner Music Group insider. “Cooper, besides being frugal, likes to have the shortest point between people,” says that executive. “But I don’t think this [Cohen’s departure] was planned.”

In the beginning there was a rocky start between Cooper and Cohen, but it seemed like they were finally working things out and that they would be walking down the road together. So we were all shocked when it happened.”
Lyor Cohen Stepping Down as Warner Music Chairman/CEO
When the Warner Music Group had company meetings in Germany two weeks ago, “Cohen was acting very strong, very presidential, very much in charge, which is why I was really surprised” when he left, says one Warner Music Group executive.

So what happened to turn things around? All along sources have been saying that the key sticking point had been Cohen’s contract, which a year after Len Blavatnik and his Access Industries had acquired WMG, still hadn’t been signed to take into account his promotion to chairman of recorded music on a worldwide basis. According to company insiders, the problem didn’t so much concern a money dispute as to how bonus and incentives based on performance can be worked out in the absence of a publicly-traded stock, which is how Cohen’s previous contract and pay was structured. But others say that Access had a problem with the industry’s executive high payment schemes. Two people close to the situation said there had been disagreements over future company structure and strategy, which would give him a modified role he was not keen on.

Warner Music and Cohen declined to comment.

Some industry executives still believe Cohen could wind up at Sony Music as Doug Morris’ successor or helming Capitol Records; others, including WMG executives, say its more likely that he will align with a private equity firm and start a management company or maybe even become one of the bidders for the record label catalogs being divested by the Universal Music Group.

As one executive who is familiar with Cohen put it, “Lyor is an entrepreneur and he could only deal with so much of corporate.” That executive bets that Cohen will start a management firm/label operation, rather than wind-up at one of the other majors.
Billboard Power 100: Lyor Cohen
A Daily News story on Sept 27 said Cohen has been secretly working on building a management company for the last two years and would continue to pursue that opportunity.

“Lyor’s forte is to ‘move artists’ as he and [Atlantic Group chairman/COO] Julie [Greenwald] like to say,” another executive says. “If there is no room at UMG or Sony, Lyor may have to turn to private equity and build a new company.”

For their part, sources at Universal and Sony say there is no room for Cohen, although they officially decline to comment.

While the press have been working overtime in installing soon-to-exit EMI boss Roger Faxon as Warner Music CEO, sources within WMG say that is not happening. They say that while Faxon would be a good replacement for Cooper, he could never handle Cohen’s job because he doesn’t have the A&R chops. He also does not have the close relationship with Blavatnik that Cooper does. But while some executives question if Cooper has the vision to run a major record company, WMG insiders say it doesn’t appear he is going anywhere.

One music industry executive, who says he knows Cooper and his limitations says, “you need a music guy in the top spot and Access is crazy not to have one there.”

But a WMG insider said the move makes some sense. “If Cooper wants to stay, why should they replace Cohen? You cut out a big chunk of overhead, and if you feel the separate record companies are running well why do you need to bring in someone else?”

Atlantic Records’ team of Greenwald and chairman/CEO Craig Kallman receive a lot of praise from executives within WMG. But they add, the jury is still out on Warner Bros. management team comprised of chairman Rob Cavallo, co-president/CEO Todd Moscowitz and co-president/COO Livia Tortella.

One possible money-saving solution would be to give Greenwald, Kallman and Warner/Chappell Music Publishing chairman/CEO Cameron Strang more responsibilities, suggests another WMG executive. With Big Jon Platt recently joining the publishing company as president of creative for North America that could free up Strang, if he was needed.


Sep 28

Malawi President Joyce Hilda Mtila Banda addresses the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)


AP Interview: Malawi unlikely to ax anti-gay laws By DAVID STRINGER, Associated Press – 5 hours ago

NEW YORK (AP) — Malawi isn’t ready to repeal laws which criminalize homosexuality, the country’s reforming leader said Friday, despite her pledge after taking office to work to overturn the legislation.

Joyce Banda, a longtime rights campaigner who became Africa’s second female head of state in April after her predecessor died in office, told The Associated Press that national debate had shown a lack of public support so far for the change.

“Anyone who has listened to the debate in Malawi realizes that Malawians are not ready to deal with that right now. I as a leader have no right to influence how people feel,” she said, speaking in New York after addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

After assuming the presidency following the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika, Banda said she had hoped Malawi’s Parliament would support the repeal of the nation’s indecency and unnatural acts laws.

The country faced international condemnation in 2010 for the conviction and 14-year prison sentences given two men who were arrested after celebrating their engagement and were charged under the laws. Both men were later pardoned, but Mutharika said they had “committed a crime against our culture.”

“Where Malawi is and most African countries are, is maybe where America or the U.K. where about 100 years ago,” Banda said. “The best thing the world can do is to allow each country to take its course, to allow each country to have that debate freely without the pressure of being pushed.”

She said that the risk of pressing too fast for reform could be to incite violence. “We have seen countries where homosexuals have been killed. Why? Because, in my view, the country — the nation— wasn’t ready,” said the 62-year-old leader.

Banda, who will serve out Mutharika’s term until 2014, has been praised for her efforts to reform Malawi and tackle its poverty, including by Secretary of States Hillary Rodham Clinton, who visited for talks last month.

In an attempt to woo back the support of the International Monetary Fund and aid donors, Banda devalued Malawi’s currency — a step seen as vital, but one she acknowledges has hurt poor Malawians.

Banda has announced that, in response, she will take a cut to her presidential salary, sell off or lease the presidential jet and sell a fleet of 60 luxury government vehicles.

“I have told Malawians that it will get worse before it gets better. At a time when it gets worse, then I must demonstrate that I am passing through this period with them, that I am suffering with them,” Banda said.

She explained that using the presidential jet it took her about two hours to visit Mozambique or South Africa, or one hour to Zambia or Tanzania. “Without a jet, it takes me two days to visit those countries, but it is good for Malawians to see me jumping on a commercial flight, it is my one small demonstration that at a time such as this, I am prepared to take an extra mile as well in feeling the pain,” Banda said.

Banda also acknowledged her disappointment after Madonna scaled back charity efforts in Malawi. In 2009, the singer — who has adopted two children from Malawi, David and Mercy — announced plans for a $15 million academy for girls. Earlier this year, she said that her Raising Malawi foundation would instead provide $300,000 to a non-governmental organization to develop 10 schools.

Madonna insists the new approach in Malawi will serve twice as many children as the original plan.

“It is a very painful matter for me to discuss right now,” said Banda, a longtime campaigner for female rights and better education.

“I have spent my adult life trying to save Malawians and the last thing I want to discuss is when people come and make a promise and do not come back,” Banda said. “Then you realize that there is a lot of money that didn’t end up there, so that is a very painful matter.”

Banda said she hoped her leadership would serve as an inspiration to young women in Malawi and across Africa. “I feel that it is very important for women to be sitting side by side with me at the political debating tables, because they must participate and address issues of poverty … issues of education,” she said.

The leader also vowed not to compromise on tough decisions to create jobs and tackle shortages of sugar, fuel and other basic commodities when she seeks election in 2014.

“I will not go out and buy votes to make sure I get back in that position, but I will do all it takes to correct the situation in Malawi, which includes making difficult decisions,” Banda said.

Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Aug 13

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Apr 28

Chad Dawson wants what he believes is rightfully his.

He had the TKO victory against Bernard Hopkins.

He had the WBC light heavyweight title in his hands.

Both were stripped from the 29-year-old Dawson before he had enough time to savor his TKO victory against the ageless Hopkins in their October bout in Los Angeles.

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Dawson turned the fight into an amateur wrestling match when he lifted Hopkins and tossed him to the canvas late in the second round. Hopkins dislocated a joint in his left shoulder and was unable to continue.

The ref waved off the fight and ruled it a TKO, crowning Dawson the new champion.

Not so fast. After a review because of Dawson’s controversial tactics, the decision was ruled a no-contest and the belt returned to the 47-year-old Philadelphia fighter.

Dawson and Hopkins have their rematch set for Saturday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic, N.J.

This fight, “Bad Chad” vows to leave nothing up for dispute.

“I am here to fight and finish off what should have happened the first time we fought,” Dawson said. “I was supposed to be crowned light heavyweight champion.”

Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs) gets a second shot at taking the title and perhaps retiring Hopkins (52-5-2, 32 KOs) for good.

Hopkins has heard all the criticism for years. He’s a boring fighter. He’s too old. He’ll never hold a major championship pushing 50. Dawson added a new twist when he flat-out called Hopkins a faker.

Hopkins landed awkwardly on the edge of the ring and told referee Pat Russell he could fight with one arm. When Russell called it off, Dawson went over to Hopkins and motioned at him to get off his stool, repeatedly cursing at him. He taunted him, and called him weak and a quitter.

Dawson feels the same toward Hopkins six months later.

“I really don’t believe Bernard Hopkins was hurt,” Dawson said. “He showed that he really didn’t want to be in the ring with me that night.”

As Hopkins draws closer toward retirement, the days of winning major middleweight fights and frugally saving his millions should have allowed him to retire at peace with his legacy. Even with big bouts and title defenses behind him, the ugly and controversial finish has only fueled him to keep going against Dawson.

“I know what a win would do and what a win won’t do for me, only me,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins knows each fight could be his last. The idea that his lasting image could have been him clutching his shoulder while Dawson stood tall over him was something he could not swallow.

“I guess it’s all about his legacy,” Dawson said. “I mean if I was him, I wouldn’t want to go out on a bad note like that.”

Hopkins threw only 29 punches and landed 11 before his injury.

“I tried to get Bernard to fight, but he didn’t show any signs that he wanted to fight until the fight was over,” Dawson said.

Hopkins hasn’t knocked out an opponent since Oscar De La Hoya in September 2004 — 13 fights ago. His bouts have been decided by decision ever since, with the exception of a draw in the first Jean Pascal fight in 2010 and the no-contest against Dawson.

In the Pascal rematch, Hopkins won and dethroned George Foreman as the oldest boxer to win a world title.

So, no matter the outcome of the rematch, Hopkins is already a legend. And Dawson wants to become one.

“I want to become the world champion,” Dawson said. “I want the same recognition that Bernard gets.”

Hopkins goes into Atlantic City — where he fought many of his earliest bouts — hoping Dawson doesn’t get that recognition at The Executioner’s expense.

“I believe that I’m the most underrated fighter that ever laced a pair of gloves on, that reached a level that I’ve reached in my 24 years,” Hopkins said. “And that’s a motivation for me to keep pushing, to prove that I’ve been and who I am.”
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press