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BMG Cuts 150 Employees in Shake-Up

March 25, 2004|Jeff Leeds

Bertelsmann Music Group on Wednesday announced a long-rumored reorganization resulting in a loss of about 150 employees.

As expected, the German-owned conglomerate folded its Arista Records label into its RCA Music Group division. The move comes even as sales reports indicate Arista will claim the top spot on the nation's pop chart next week with R&B singer Usher's "Confessions" album. It's on track to sell more than 800,000 copies and become Arista's biggest chart debut.

Sources said about 110 of Arista's 170 employees were let go Wednesday. The rest will stay on as the label comes under the RCA umbrella, or be shifted to Bertelsmann's Jive Records.

The reorganization had been expected since the conglomerate two months ago ousted Arista chief Antonio "L.A." Reid. He had been hired to run the unit after a previous Bertelsmann regime drove the label's founder, Clive Davis, from power. Davis returned in 2002 and now heads BMG's North American operations.

As part of the latest reorganization, Jive chief Barry Weiss will take charge of an expanded division that will include acts signed through Arista's LaFace venture, including Outkast and Pink. Weiss will report to Davis.

-- Jeff Leeds

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