Producer David Foster has inked a long-term, multimillion-dollar pact with Warner Music Group and expanded his label deal with Atlantic into a joint venture. Foster said the new deal suggests he’ll spend less time behind the recording studio boards and more time as a record label exec.
The pact, which had been expected and was in development since February (Daily Variety, Feb. 18), doesn’t give the Grammy-winning producer oversight of any execs or labels within the Warner family, contrary to industry chatter.
Informal talks between Foster and Universal Music Group chieftains earlier this year to bring the producer into the latter’s fold precipitated Warner execs stepping to the plate with a lucrative, wider-ranging deal. Sources said cost-cutting at Atlantic threatened to reduce Foster’s pact with the label, where his 143 Records is based.
Foster adds WMG senior veep stripes as part of the agreement and he will be permitted to explore opportunities with sister companies such as HBO, the Warner Bros. film studio and the conglom’s theme parks.
“This deal is really about me finding my home at this point in my career,” Foster told Daily Variety. “It’s only been in the last year that I’ve thought about really (growing) 143. At 47, I’m now ready to scale back my recording work and focus on developing a label that not only (records) pop acts but country ones as well.”
Foster, who had a year left to go on his contract as veep of Atlantic Records — a nod that came in 1994 with the formation of his 143 Records with the label — said he is looking forward to “putting his nose to the grindstone” to discover and nurture talent.
The multifaceted, multiyear agreement also makes Foster’s producing services exclusive to the labels within the Warner family.
Previously he was free to work outside the group, and is presently wrapping up work on Celine Dion’s next Epic Records disc, which is slated for a fourth-quarter release.
“David is a consummate artist, excelling in every aspect of the creative process, and we are proud and happy to have solidified Warner Music Group’s relationship with this gifted man,” said Bob Daly, chairman and co-CEO of Warner Music Group. “We look forward to watching him build 143 Records into a powerful new force in the music industry.”
Foster has produced hit songs in the past few years that have driven several No. 1 albums, including Dion’s Grammy-winning “Falling Into You.” The disc has sold a whopping 22 million copies worldwide.
He also produced Natalie Cole’s “Unforgettable”; Whitney Houston’s “The Bodyguard” disc, the industry’s bestselling soundtrack; Barbra Streisand’s “Back to Broadway”; and Michael Bolton’s “Timeless: The Classics,” among many others.
Under Foster’s guidance, 143 is credited with launching the Irish rock band the Corrs, who became Atlantic’s biggest-selling new artist outside the U.S. last year. Its 143/Lava debut sold nearly 2 million copies worldwide.
Additionally, Foster scored big with 143/Asylum Records country artist Kevin Sharp, who has achieved two consecutive No. 1 country singles from his debut, which has sold 1 million units.
Foster is currently producing and co-writing — with Daly’s wife Carole Bayer Sager — the soundtrack for Warner Bros.’ full-length animated feature film, “Quest for Camelot.” (Daily Variety, March 13, 1996).