Biggest Smallest Labels

When Warner Music U.S. honcho Doug Morris served a self-congratulatory press release to industry media last week, the language and timing of the missive irked Arista topper Clive Davis.

Morris used the seven-page release to tout the successes at the record labels under his charge by recapping-with particular emphasis on Atlantic Records-the high points of the year.

“One out of every 10 recordings sold in the U.S. in 1994 (was from) an Atlantic Group artist,” the release said in part. It also lauded the market share and sales levels of its acts.

But Davis, not to be outdone, responded with his own spin on Arista’s banner year, regurgitating the oft-used “record-setting sales” phrase in a press release.

Sources said Davis, whose soon-to-be-signed megacontract renewal with BMG is expected to send Shockwaves through the industry, objected to the release’s touting of Atlantic’s achieving a 10.23% market share while being a relatively small label.

“Clive feels that (Arista’s market share), when extrapolated over the small number of artists, towers over any of the other labels,” said a Davis lieutenant. “And he wants that message shouted from the rooftops, that he has done more with less.”

But while both execs were busy touting their labels’ respective virtues, industry observers noticed that Morris centered on his Atlantic Group alma mater and that Davis failed to credit any other execs for Arista’s boon.

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