[From New York Daily News]
Arista loses Toni Braxton
Bombshell diva Toni Braxton's exiting Arista Records, following a disappointing showing for her last album.
The songstress who's been associated with Arista chief Antonio (L.A.) Reid since the beginning of her career is heading to Blackground Records, a small label distributed by Universal Music Group's Universal Records.
"She needed to do something different to rekindle the fire," Blackground chief Barry Hankerson told the Daily News.
Hankerson - the uncle of deceased r&b singer Aaliyah - is also Braxton's manager. Braxton will get an estimated $10 million from Blackground for a three album deal.
"It's the biggest deal we've ever done," said Hankerson, who refused to discuss numbers.
Braxton's departure points to a larger problem at BMG-owned Arista, where sales from its once formidable stable of divas are rapidly fading.
Her latest album, "More Than a Woman," released last year, has sold just 375,000 units in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. Her previous CD sold 2.1 million copies.
Arista's biggest star, Whitney Houston, has proved to be a far greater disappointment. After renewing her contract for a reported $100 million two years ago, her latest release, "Just Whitney" has fallen to No. 129 on the Billboard charts in just 13 weeks.
In an interview at his W. 57th Street office earlier this week, Reid said he expects sales of the CD to ramp up from the recent release of its third single, "Try It On My Own," a classic Houston ballad.
"It's too soon to judge the record, it's just igniting now," Reid said before playing a copy of the song's video on a big screen in his office. "I'm committed to Whitney. I believe in her. I wouldn't be investing in her if I didn't believe I could do well."
While his divas have slumped, Reid, who took over from music legend Clive Davis, has been credited for overall strong performance at Arista, thanks to mega hits from rockers Avril Lavigne and Pink.
Yesterday he was handed the additional responsibilities of running several other BMG labels including Windham Hill and Victor.
Originally published on March 15, 2003
NEWSFILE: 17 MARCH 2003
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