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Stein steers Sire banner

In a move that sets up a fourth group of labels under its umbrella, the Warner Music Group has bowed the Sire Records Group under the aegis of industry vet Seymour Stein.

The nod to Stein and the formation of the group had been expected (Daily Variety, April 29). It sets the stage for the creation of a boutique label and a group that will acquire or distribute fledgling labels and back them with the potency of the Sire operation.

Stein has tapped promotion and marketing exec Randy Miller as his second-in-command.

The naming of Miller, who will hold an exec veep/G.M. title, also had been anticipated (Daily Variety, July 21). It gives the group a strong No. 2 with skills that complement Stein’s.

The formation of the group, which also includes Discovery Records (the label reopened by Jac Holzman after his exit from Elektra), reflects the recent restructuring of Sire Records.

The label had been a part of WMG’s Elektra Entertainment Group since 1995 but now becomes a freestanding company.

Stein said he plans to create a label with a “manageable” roster that boasts 20-30 releases each year and one that offers music that reflects his left-of-center creative leanings.

“It’s a perfect time for a full-service label which can pick up where some of the labels that have been taken over by the large corporations left off,” Stein told Daily Variety.

He said Sire will continue to be “a cutting-edge company looking far afield for tomorrow’s music.” The exec added that he’s particularly fond of the newly developing Americana/Alternative Country genre, which is reminiscent of k.d. lang’s early days.

He said releases will either be funneled through WMG’s distribution titan WEA, or Alternative Distribution Alliance, a web of indie distributors 80% owned by Warner.

Sire Records Group will also be able to draw upon the marketing resources of Warner Bros. or Reprise Records for aid in touting select releases.

Stein segued to SRG from prexy of Elektra and has since been working with EEG chairman Sylvia Rhone in building the company into one of the Warner family jewels.

He also played a major role in developing Asylum Records, the EEG country label bowed by Kyle Lehning.

Last year Stein named marketing maven and former Capitol Records (Nashville) chief Joe Mansfield as Asylum’s co-prexy/co-CEO.

“Seymour’s unerring musical instincts have made him a legendary figure in the business,” said Warner Music Group co-chairman/co-CEO Bob Daly. “We’re confident that he will continue his amazing track record with Sire Records Group.”

Spacehog, Aphex Twin, Tina and the B-Side Movement, Muscadine, Deadsy and Hurricane #1, will comprise Sire’s initial roster.

Stein founded Sire in 1966 and has signed and shepherded the recording careers of Madonna, Talking Heads, Seal, the Ramones and the Pretenders, among many others.

Miller, prior to Sire, had a brief stint at Red Ant Entertainment which he joined from his post as exec VP/G.M. at MCA Records.

During his tenure at MCA, the label registered five consecutive record-breaking years and enjoyed numerous successes from a diverse group of artists and genres.

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