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Arista Expected to Lose Most of Staff

Parent Bertelsmann plans to divide the label's artist roster and cut most of 175 jobs, sources say.

March 10, 2004|Jeff Leeds | Times Staff Writer

In a far-reaching reorganization, Bertelsmann is expected to shrink its Arista Records label and consolidate the back-office operations of its North American music division under new domestic chief Clive Davis, sources said.

As part of the move, the vast majority of Arista's approximately 175 employees will be let go, sources said. Although the label is expected to retain its own small staff of marketing and talent executives, Arista in essence will be folded into Bertelsmann's RCA Music Group division, sources said.

Arista's artist roster, which includes acts such as Outkast and Pink, will be divided among the company's other major labels. The RCA division is expected to take charge of longtime Arista acts including Whitney Houston, sources said. Bertelsmann's Jive Records is expected to take on acts signed through Arista's LaFace venture, including Outkast.

The reorganization had been expected since the German conglomerate two months ago ousted Arista chief Antonio "L.A." Reid, who had been hired to run the unit after a previous Bertelsmann regime drove Davis, the label's founder, from power.

Davis, brought back to the Bertelsmann fold in 2002, last month was elevated to take charge of its entire North American music operation, excluding its country and classical units.

As part of the restructuring, Bertelsmann also is expected to integrate its various labels' finance and administrative units to form a common backbone for the North American music group.

A spokesman for Bertelsmann Music Group declined to discuss details of the restructuring but said "we are in the process of evaluating the labels and staff at BMG North America."

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