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Grading the Industry's Presidential Timber

POP EYE

June 06, 1993|David Adelson

So who's next for a record company presidency?

Even before Gary Gersh, 37, takes his post on July 1 as head of Capitol Records, industry insiders are already making book on other presidential contenders.

In a poll of top music executives, managers and attorneys on both coasts to handicap who the industry's next young label head will be, these are the names Pop Eye heard cited most frequently:

* Danny Goldberg, 42, senior vice president of Atlantic Records. Jumped to Atlantic after successfully building Gold Mountain into a major management force with such acts as Bonnie Raitt, Sonic Youth and--everybody's heroes--Nirvana. He's known to be a favorite of Atlantic co-chairman Doug Morris.

* Jim Guerinot, 33, senior vice president and general manager of A&M. Quietly anointed to his current position two weeks ago by company president/CEO Al Cafaro, Guerinot carries one of the industry's hottest "one to watch" tags. Happy and content for now . . . but wait. Insiders mention his keen marketing instinct for a wide variety of musical genres--from Social Distortion (whom he manages) to Amy Grant (the A&M gospel star).

* Michele Anthony, 37, executive vice president, Sony Music. Recruited by Sony Music President Tommy Mottola to oversee the company's massive operations, including the Columbia and Epic labels. She's considered a master at the art of negotiation and was instrumental in a number of key signings, including the monster Aerosmith deal.

* Richard Griffiths, 38, executive vice president of Epic Records and president of Epic Associated Labels. Although currently packing a presidential title at the tiny Epic Associated imprint, Griffiths is an A&R wiz, known for having a sharp ear for hit songs. Our panelists see him taking over the helm of a major label in the near future.

* Benny Medina, 35, senior vice president of A&R and general manager of the black music division of Warner Bros. Records. Oddly, some observers felt he wouldn't be satisfied with simply being the head of a record company. Medina's interests stretch to television and client Wil ("Fresh Prince") Smith through his Medina/Pollack Entertainment company. Others argue his multimedia perspective is perfect for the music business of the '90s.

Other names receiving mentions were Giant Records black music division president Cassandra Mills, Geffen A&R guru John David Kalodner, Warner Bros. senior vice president and director of A&R Michael Ostin and manager Tony Dimitriades, who guides the careers of Tom Petty and Billy Idol.

Ironically, multiple mentions went to Hale Milgrim, whom Gersh replaced as president at Capitol. Since he apparently walked away from Capitol with a settlement estimated at more than $5 million, Milgrim can easily afford to wait for a choice opportunity.

"The smart money is on new blood in today's record industry," said one panelist, who pointed to the plethora of first-time presidents, including A&M's Cafaro, EastWest's Sylvia Rhone, Mercury's Ed Eckstine, MCA's Richard Palmese, EMI Record Group's Daniel Glass, Motown's Jheryl Busby, Epic's David Glew, RCA's Joe Galante and PLG's Rick Dobbis. "If you're young, smart and know how to play the game, the jobs are there for the taking."

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