Tom Whalley, president of Seagram's Interscope/IGA record division, has accepted an estimated $30-million deal to run Time Warner's Warner Bros. Records division when his contract expires on Jan. 1, 2002, sources say.
Whalley has been a behind-the-scenes force at Interscope Records since its 1989 launch, signing some of the company's biggest hit makers including Tupac Shakur and the Wallflowers.
The 48-year-old executive, who was also instrumental in the careers of such acts as Bonnie Raitt and the Beastie Boys, is widely regarded as one of the most consistent discoverers of talent in the music business and has been involved with recordings that have sold an estimated 30 million copies.
Whalley's lavish contract was secretly negotiated over the past several months by Warner Music Group Chairman Roger Ames, the architect of Time Warner's proposed $20-billion merger with EMI Group. The move is the first indication that Ames intends to implement sweeping changes at the media giant's flagship label, which has seen its market share and credibility plunge in recent years under the current management team of Russ Thyret and Phil Quartararo.
Whalley didn't return phone calls Monday. Executives at Seagram's Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group declined comment.