The Greatest Contract Of All: 3...
Whitney Houston signs $100 million deal!
'Arista queen' Houston re-ups in $100 mil deal
By Chris Marlowe
LOS ANGELES (The Hollywood Reporter) --- Whitney Houston has signed a new exclusive
long-term recording agreement with Arista Records, label president and CEO Antonio
"L.A." Reid said Thursday.
The deal is valued at more than $100 million, with $25 million of it paid upfront. Exact
details are difficult to ascertain because the deal Houston had with Arista before
Thursday's signing still has her committed to at least six albums of new material plus two
"It's a combination of things," Reid said of the deal. "First off, Whitney
Houston is the queen of Arista Records. She really has earned this deal. But this wasn't
an exchange of money for guaranteed anything."
Asked why he would sign a new contract while the last one was still valid, Reid said,
"Because she deserved it. I want her to feel very inspired, very committed and very
happy to remain in her home."
Despite Houston's long relationship with Arista, there had been some question as to
whether she would stay with the label or join her mentor Clive Davis at his new label, J
Records. Reid took control of Arista from Davis in a very public and prolonged power
struggle slightly in May 2000. Davis, then 67, had been ousted after Arista's parent
company, Bertelsmann AG (news - web sites), opted to enforce its mandate to retire top
executives by age 60 amid strong disagreements over the corporate heir to the label Davis
had run for 25 years.
Reid strongly denied that there had ever been any doubt about Houston staying with the
"There has never, ever been a question of her leaving Arista," he said.
"The day it was announced that I would even potentially be coming in, Whitney Houston
was the first Arista artist to reach out to me and be supportive. Even when the
gossipmongers were saying the label was doomed, there was never any discussions of her
leaving. Not between myself and her, or her lawyers, or her representatives or her husband
The deal is the largest that Arista has entered into, but Reid said there is no doubt in
his mind that Houston is worth it. "We're happy," he said. "We're very,
very happy. It's a wonderful feeling."
Reid added that the deal also was better for Houston in many respects other than the
purely financial, but he declined to elaborate. He also declined to compare Houston's deal
with those signed by such other female stars as Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson.
"It's competitive with the best deals out there for recording artists of her
caliber," was all Reid would say on the subject. "And for us, it's a renewed
commitment from an artist that is the voice of her time."
Houston has been a hugely successful artist since shortly after she initially joined
Arista in 1983. Her second album, "Whitney," made her the first female artist to
enter the Billboard 200 album chart at No. 1 when it was released in 1987.
Her most recent album, "Whitney: The Greatest Hits," was released just as Davis
was being removed from Arista. The 36-track retrospective also included three newly
recorded duet singles that paired Houston with Enrique Iglesias on "Could I Have This
Kiss Forever" and with Deborah Cox and George Michael on two less successful tracks.
Including the best-of package, Houston is the only artist able to claim eight consecutive
multiplatinum albums. She also has won six Grammy Awards, 21 American Music Awards, 15
Billboard Music Awards, 11 NAACP Image Awards and numerous other recognitions of her work.
Besides her music renown, 1992's "The Bodyguard" brought Houston to movie-star
status. It also featured a soundtrack that sold 37 million units, making it the
biggest-selling motion picture soundtrack album of all time and which included the
massively successful single "I Will Always Love You."
Houston's film career has continued with 1995's "Waiting to Exhale" and 1996's
"The Preacher's Wife."
Other hit singles include "Saving All My Love for You," "I Wanna Dance With
Somebody (Who Loves Me)" and "It's Not Right But It's Okay."
Reid said he and Houston were beginning work on her new album immediately but had no time
frame for its completion. "We're having creative discussions about the direction of
the record now," he said. "We're going to work on the record for as long as it
takes to make it wonderful, so I'm not going to schedule it and put that kind of pressure
NEWSFILE: 3 AUGUST 2001