The Greatest Contract Of All: 4...
Whitney trills $100 mil from Arista
By Justin Oppelaar
NEW YORK (Variety) - Inking what appears to be the biggest recording deal in the history
of the music biz, superstar diva Whitney Houston has reupped with Arista Records in a
contract worth $100 million.
Under the terms of the pact, Houston will deliver at least six albums and two
greatest-hits compilations for Arista, which has been home to the R&B chanteuse since
the start of her career. She is expected to head into the studio within weeks to begin
work on her first LP under the new deal, to be executive produced by Arista president
Antonio ``L.A.'' Reid.
The contract eclipses the reported $80 million-plus offer used by EMI imprint Virgin
Records to woo Mariah Carey from Sony Music in April. Carey, whose first release under the
deal is the soundtrack to her upcoming film ``Glitter,'' suffered a physical and emotional
breakdown earlier this week, and is being treated in a New York-area hospital.
The Houston deal represents a mammoth bet on the future for Arista parent BMG
Entertainment, which is facing a $150 million loss for the year and planning to lay off
hundreds of employees worldwide.
News of the Houston re-signing also quashes speculation that the singer was mulling a
defection to J Records, the year-old startup founded by her mentor, Arista founder Clive
Reid said Houston was committed to staying with the label all along.
``We didn't have to fight for it,'' he told Daily Variety. ``Whitney was a big supporter
of the company from the get-go -- there was never any conversation about her leaving.''
Davis was ousted from the top spot at Arista and replaced by Reid in May 2000 amid a
disagreement with executives at BMG over succession at the label.
At the time, speculation ran high that many top Arista acts, including Houston and
multiplatinum-selling guitarist Carlos Santana, might bolt the label out of loyalty to the
former chief. To date, Arista has managed to hang on to most of its major acts.
Houston is one of the biggest-selling solo artists of all time, shifting more than 140
million albums, singles and videos in her 18-year career at Arista. Her most recent
release, a double-CD greatest-hits compilation that bowed in April 2000, has sold more
than 8 million copies worldwide.
NEWSFILE: 3 AUGUST 2001