Former CBS Records chief Walter Yetnikoff may be the next deposed label head to surface with a new venture: The music industry vet is in talks to helm a boutique label backed by the owners of New York nightspot the Bottom Line.
Sources say Yetnikoff and producer Hank Medress will team with club owner Allan Pepper to establish a label that is likely to be named after the popular club. Pepper did not return phone calls.
The label pact would return Yetnikoff to the music industry after a four-year absence following his departure as CBS Records’ prez/CEO. The cantankerous exec left the label less than two years after the Japanese conglomerate purchased CBS Records in December 1987 for $2 billion. He reportedly earned a $20 million bonus and a $2.5 million salary as a result of the purchase.
Yetnikoff, whose high-profile antics and abrupt management style were said to have miffed Japanese corporate heads and led to his ouster, also is credited with negotiating the megadeal that extricated feature film producing team Peter Guber and Jon Peters from their Warner Bros, deal and into a lucrative pact with Sony-owned Columbia Pictures.
If the label deal closes, Yetnikoff would join former Virgin Records chiefs Jeff Ayeroff and Jordan Harris in returning to the music wars, as the pair last month announced they would run a West Coast-based label for Sony Music.