Chrysalis’ Wright set to exit for new label

Chrysalis Records Group chairman Chris Wright, citing dissatisfaction with his diminished role after selling his label to Thorn-EMI, will end his relationship with that company early next year and start a new record label.

Wright sold 50% of Chrysalis Records to Thorn-EMI in 1989 and the remainder last November. He has since been non-exec chairman of Chrysalis Records Group, a consulting position.

“My involvement with (Thorn-EMI) has been fairly minimal since they bought it ,” Wright said, “and it’s decreasing from that fairly minimal base. I’ve been spending the bulk of my time on the other Chrysalis Group activities, building up the television side over the last few months.”

Wright has tapped former Virgin exec Steve Lewis as worldwide managing director and CEO of a new music division created by the Chrysalis Group.

The new division will include a record company (as yet unnamed), all Chrysalis publishing activities in the U.K., Europe and North America, and Chrysalis interests in the Hit Label, the Speaking Book Co., Air Edel Associates and Wessex Studios.

Lewis, formerly managing director of Virgin Music Publishers, will have an equity stake in the new record company while retaining his interest in the Tuchwood record label he recently established with partner Rob Melbourne.

A London-based Lewis will report to Wright. The new label will also have an A&R presence in the Chrysalis L.A. office.

The new label will be financed by Wright, who will distribute the records through independent channels in the U.K. and will likely seek a licensing arrangement in the U.S. with a major distributor.

Wright cannot sign artists or be directly involved with a new venture until March 1, 1993, when his contractual obligations to Thorn-EMI end. Asked if he regretted the sale, Wright acknowledged that it would have been impossible to continue to operate Chrysalis without the support of a deep-pockets partner, but said his new company would look to avoid the huge overhead that sunk Chrysalis.

The new label will release about six albums in its first year, possibly growing to 10 to 12 releases in its sophomore edition. As to a name, Wright said that a design firm had come to him with what they believed was the ideal monicker for a Chrysalis successor, which is the third stage in the development of an insect: “Imago.”

Unfortunately, the name has been taken by Wright’s former Chrysalis partner, Terry Ellis, for his new BMG-backed record label.

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