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COVER STORY : Rock's Top 40

August 28, 1994

MICHELE ANTHONY, 37, executive vice president of Sony Music Entertainment.

This former Los Angeles attorney, whose clients included Guns N' Roses and Soundgarden, is widely admired for being skilled at both day-to-day operations and for relating to artists. She played a pivotal role in securing deals with Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and the return to Sony of Aerosmith.

KEN BERRY, 42, CEO of EMI Records Group International and Virgin Music Group.

This Brit quietly built Virgin into one of the industry's most attractive independent labels. If Virgin maintains its momentum, Berry--who besides running Virgin is the No. 2 man in EMI's international operation-- could add the U.S. operations to his domain if business doesn't improve domestically for EMI.

CHRIS BLACKWELL, 57, chairman of Island Records.

After selling his Island Records to PolyGram in 1989 for $300 million, the word was that Blackwell--who helped make Bob Marley and U2 international forces--had lost interest in the music business. But he's back full-time following a new arrangement with PolyGram.

JOHN BRANCA, 43, attorney.

He must be tired by now of hearing that he looks more like a rock musician than a lawyer, but one of the reasons Branca's the industry's top legal gun on the West Coast is that he relates so well to the artists, including Michael Jackson, Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones. He was instrumental in sculpting the Interscope and American Recordings deals.

TONY BROWN, 47, president of MCA Records/Nashville.

You got a sense this year of just how hot Brown is when other labels began throwing money at him, hoping to lure him away from MCA, where he had either signed or produced records by such stars as Reba McEntire, Vince Gill, Wynonna Judd and Lyle Lovett.

JHERYL BUSBY, 45, president and CEO of Motown Records.

Things have been slow at Motown, but this is a cyclical business and Busby is a hard worker with savvy instincts. So he remains a factor, especially with a roster that includes Boyz II Men, Queen Latifah and (don't forget) Stevie Wonder.

CLIVE CALDER, chief of Jive Records.

You may never see a photo of Calder even in the trades, but you certainly hear the hits from his label. In Top 40 now: R. Kelly's "Your Body's Callin' " and Aaliyah's "Back and Forth." So why does this South African native in his mid-40s keep such a low profile? Responded his assistant, "No comment."

CLIVE DAVIS, 61, president and CEO of Arista Records.

Critics may not always agree with the taste of this hands-on music exec (bestsellers include Ace of Base and Kenny G), but no one can argue with his results. Last year, Arista racked up $220 million in U.S. sales in 1993--the best in its 18-year history.

DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY

SoundScan's Mike Shalett, 42, and Mike Fine, 51, introduced a computerized monitoring system that for the first time told labels exactly how many of their albums were sold each week. Now look for a similar impact from Broadcast Data Systems, a tracking system that gives companies the same accuracy when it comes to radio airplay of records.

MICHAEL DORNEMANN, 48, chairman and CEO of Bertelsmann Music Group.

Don't expect this former IBM and BMW executive to ever be mentioned in the same breath as Clive Davis or Mo Ostin, but BMG has moved during his watch past EMI and MCA into a third-place share in the domestic record industry. 1993 worldwide sales: $3 billion.

DR. DRE/SUGE KNIGHT, both 29, co-owners of Death Row Records.

Rap producer extraordinaire Dr. Dre, left, and partner Marion (Suge) Knight couldn't get anyone to finance their gangsta rap record label three years go because both had criminal records and contract disputes. But Interscope took a chance and it paid off with an estimated $60 million in sales this year.

TIM DUBOIS, 46, president of Arista Nashville.

After early success as a songwriter (the novelty gem "She Got the Goldmine, I Got the Shaft"), this former financial analyst moved into production and then to his current post. Results of his golden touch at Arista: Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn and Diamond Rio. He's been rewarded with his own Texas label.

DON ENGEL, 64, attorney.

It's understandable why record executives get nervous when Engel's on the phone. The dapper Los Angeles attorney may come across as low-key, but he's widely regarded as the toughest litigator in the industry. When artists, including Clint Black and Don Henley, want to break or revise their contracts, Engel gets the call.

JAMES G. FIFIELD, 52, president and CEO of EMI Music.

There was lots of snickering two years ago when everyone thought this former General Mills manager, who heads the long-troubled, $2.64-billion EMI Music global empire, paid w-a-a-a-y too much ($1 billion) for Virgin Records. But Virgin is now the jewel of the EMI stable. Future challenge: Shore up the rest of that stable.

DAVID GEFFEN, 51, founder of the David Geffen Co.

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