Whitney Moves To J Records...
Bell Tolls for Arista Records
Fri Mar 12, 8:32 PM ET Add Entertainment - Reuters to My Yahoo!
By Gail Mitchell
LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - RCA Victor Group's rebirth as a stand-alone
division of RCA Records is a harbinger of an impending massive
reorganization at sister label Arista Records, according to sources.
Those sources confirm that most of the BMG North America label's 170
staffers will be let go. The downsized label would retain a small A&R and
marketing staff but be placed under the RCA Music Group banner.
The label's artist roster will be divided among sister divisions Jive, RCA
and J Records.
It's widely thought that the LaFace-affiliated acts (OutKast, Usher, Pink,
Cee-Lo) will be transferred to Jive. Sarah McLachlan (news), Dido and Avril
Lavigne (news) would shift to RCA, and Whitney Houston (news), Kenny G and
rap newcomer J-Kwon would go to J Records.
Arista staffers already have been notified about the impending
restructuring. No definitive time frame for the reorganization could be
confirmed at press time.
But sources generally agree that most changes will occur only after the
release of key albums by Usher (March 23) and J-Kwon (March 30).
Also unclear is the fate of Arista's imprints, which include Jermaine
Dupri's So So Def (Dupri is also a senior VP at Arista), Jimmy Jam and Terry
Lewis' Flyte Tyme and the Neptunes' Star Trak.
BMG declined to confirm or deny any element of the impending reorganization.
When contacted by Billboard, a spokesman issued the following statement:
"BMG is in the process of evaluating the labels and staff in North America.
We will announce any decisions or changes at the appropriate time."
Talk about Arista's future heated up after the announcement that Arista
Associated Labels would revert to the RCA Victor Group moniker. A year ago,
BMG Entertainment split the RCA Victor Group into BMG Classics and Arista
Daily operations of the stand-alone division are now supervised by Jeb Hart,
who continues as senior VP of worldwide marketing for RCA Records.
Hart reports to Richard Sanders, RCA's executive VP/general manager, and
Ashley Newton, executive VP of A&R for RCA. He succeeds David Weyner, who
departs from his post as executive VP/GM for Arista Associated Labels.
Sources say Arista Associated VP of A&R Joe McEwen and director of A&R
Jonathan Miller also have exited. Again, BMG refused to confirm or deny the
departures or other possible staff changes within the RCA Victor Group.
The reformed RCA Victor Group comprises the Private Music, Windham Hill,
Bluebird and Victor labels.
Its collective roster includes R&B/rock singer Etta James, pianists Jim
Brickman (news) and George Winston and singer-songwriter Rachael Yamagata.
"Under this new structure, the RCA Victor Group will maintain its
independent culture while benefiting from the depth of RCA Records' A&R and
management strength," Charles Goldstuck, president/COO of BMG North America,
said in a statement.
Arista's expected restructuring follows the termination of former president/CEO
Antonio "L.A." Reid. He succeeded label founder Clive Davis in July 2000.
Davis has since been appointed chairman/CEO of BMG North America. Reid has
moved on to Universal Music Group as chairman of Island Def Jam.
In recent weeks, the industry has seen UMG fold its DreamWorks label into
Geffen Records and the Warner Music Group consolidate its venerable Atlantic
and Elektra labels into a single operation.
(Ed Christman in New York contributed to this report.)
12 MARCH 2004