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Iconic CEO has new role at BMG

April 18, 2008|Chris Lee | Times Staff Writer

Iconic music executive Clive Davis is being replaced as head of BMG Label Group as part of a broad reshuffling within the management ranks of Sony BMG Music Entertainment.

Veteran executive Barry Weiss will take over as chairman and chief executive of BMG Label Group, Sony BMG announced Thursday.

Davis, 74, has been appointed to the newly created position of chief creative officer. Two other top BMG executives, Tim Bowen and Charles Goldstuck, will leave the company.

Credited with having a golden ear for talent and for matching performers with the right producers and image makers, Davis has butted heads with corporate overseers at BMG in the past, most notably in 2000 when they became worried that he was too old to seek and develop new talent. Davis was unavailable for comment, but the label said he would continue to work with top-tier artists.

Over the course of a legendary five-decade career, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee has overseen the careers of multiplatinum-selling artists including Whitney Houston, Carlos Santana, Barry Manilow and Alicia Keys as well as many of the finalists from "American Idol." Davis' most recent protege, Leona Lewis, claimed the top spot on the national album chart this week, selling more than 200,000 copies of her debut album "Spirit."

As the former CEO of Columbia Records, Davis was responsible for launching J Records and Arista Records, both of which were acquired by BMG in the last decade.

Although Davis' successor is a quarter-century younger, he is taking over the position with an illustrious list of accomplishments. As president and CEO of Sony BMG's Zomba Label Group, Weiss, 49, helped nurture Jive Records from a niche hip-hop label into a global powerhouse with superstars including Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys -- the kind of bubble-gum pop acts most commonly associated with Generation Y.

In recent years, Weiss has fostered the careers of a Who's Who of urban and R&B music's most elite performers including Chris Brown, T-Pain and R. Kelly.

Under Weiss' leadership, Jive became one of the first major labels to engage in so-called nonstop marketing (that is, shortening the time between the releases of an artist's albums and aggressively promoting his or her music) as well as making use of the Internet and urban-oriented "street" marketing initiatives.

Weiss will oversee day-to-day operations of BMG Label Group and its subsidiary labels, which include Arista, J Records, Jive, RCA Records, GospoCentric Records, Fo Yo Soul Entertainment and LaFace Records.

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chris.lee@latimes.com

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