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Louis B. and Harry C., Make Room for Bob K.

June 11, 1995|Steve Hochman

Here's a contrast to the current glut of Michael Jackson self-deifications: An ad running in the music trade publications Hits and Billboards declares that the subject of the ad isn't God.

Still, the ad touting the launch of the new MCA-distributed label headed by former Elektra chairman Bob Krasnow is a bit more exec-aggrandizing than the usual.

Those in the music industry are likely to forgive Krasnow and MCA for the high-profile approach, though. After all, Krasnow is one of the most respected figures in the business--and this is his re-emergence after being squeezed out during the swift restructuring of the Warner Music hierarchy last summer.

Krasnow resigned after 11 years at the helm of Elektra rather than accept a role that he perceived to be cut off from the corporate inner circle when Doug Morris was elevated to the top of Time Warner's domestic music division.

The two-page spread, using tongue-in-cheek religious references, lavishly lauds Krasnow's history of shaping the careers of female pop stars (Tina Turner, the Pointer Sisters, Tracy Chapman, Natalie Cole) to introduce the first release from Krasnow Entertainment.

The new artist is another female performer, Vanessa Daou. Her album, "Zipless," is a series of songs using the erotic poetry of Erica Jong as lyrics.

"The music industry and entertainment industry were built by personalities," says Krasnow, when asked about being featured in the ad. "Louis B. Mayer, Harry Cohn, they were as big in their world as Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart were in theirs."

Today, he says, there's too often a sense of "corporate disassociation" in the entertainment industry. In fact, so soured was Krasnow when he left Elektra that he thought he might not return to the music business at all. But MCA Music Chairman Al Teller was willing to give him the kind of setting where he could inject his own personality into his business.

Krasnow stresses that his tastes are not limited to women singer-songwriters; he also is credited with bringing such acts as Metallica and the Cure to Elektra. With at least six new releases in 1996, as well as film and television ventures, he intends to show that range.

Does the general public care who runs a company, as long as it likes the music?

"The ad worked as an idea for the industry," Krasnow says. "Does it work in the marketplace? Who knows? Tomorrow they'll be wrapping fish in it."

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