Rubin reconsiders

Record producer may jilt WB for Sony

Rick Rubin, who recently renegotiated the terms of his joint venture agreement with Warner Bros., may have changed his mind, and has been shopping a new deal to other labels.

Sony is said to be the most eager of the congloms to ink a pact with Rubin, with an eye on using the signing as a calling card.

The Sony deal, though still under discussion, is also said to be richer than the proposed Warners pact and less restrictive in terms of Rubin’s services outside the joint venture.

Though Rubin and execs at Warner Bros. had come to lucrative terms for a new venture and a dissolution of his previous pact, the prolific producer apparently feels he can get a better deal elsewhere.

However, some label execs contacted by Daily Variety expressed surprise at the terms of the lucrative five-year Warners pact, to include a $12 million credit line, a $750,000-a-year salary for Rubin and a 50-50 division of profits.

No losses from the previous joint-venture were to have been carried forward to the new one, but Warners was to have been able to recover $10 million by taking 100% of the profits of discs released before the new contract went into effect, and 25% of the profits generated after the pact was inked.

The pact also called for Rubin — who recently restructured his American Recordings label by pinkslipping 40 staffers — to be exclusive to the joint venture, except for being permitted to produce one outside artist per year. The audio-books division was also to be sold.

Back-office functions (sales, marketing, promotion) would be handled by either Warners or Reprise staffs, with expense caps set for each release.

But sources close to Rubin suggest his successes with such artists as Black Crows, Slayer and the Jayhawks, his reputation within the industry as a magnet for talent, and the label’s catalog, all call for a bigger pact and more artistic freedom.

None of the parties involved would comment.

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