Industry vet slides into urban music prexy slot

Industry veteran Jheryl Busby has joined DreamWorks Records as head of its urban music arm. The move, which had been expected (Daily Variety, Dec. 4), marks the label’s latest expansion as part of its quest to become a full-service outfit trading in all musical genres.

Busby, who is no stranger to starting black music arms, having bowed similar outposts for MCA Records and A&M Records, will have input throughout DreamWorks Records, though his primary focus will be on developing DreamWorks’ presence in the urban music marketplace.

Busby, who enhanced the profile of Motown Records with such artists as Boyz II Men following its purchase by then-MCA Music Entertainment Group, will be charged with building at DreamWorks a roster of artists and assembling a potent exec team. He has already tapped marketing maven Bruce Walker.

Busby has been officially working on behalf of DreamWorks since January.

“Jheryl has done this before — starting an urban music division nearly from scratch — and he has succeeded spectacularly in every instance,” said DreamWorks Records co-captain Mo Ostin. “The best and brightest urban artists will be attracted to DreamWorks for many reasons, but without question, one of the most significant will be Jheryl Busby.”

The expansion comes at a time when urban music is paying huge dividends for many labels involved in the genre, although Geffen Records recently transferred its urban roster to MCA Records, enabling the former to concentrate on its core rock and growing pop business.

The bowing of an urban arm follows DreamWorks’ move last July to open a Nashville outpost to jumpstart its country music interests.

“Artist development is a real concept here, and that’s been my strong suit over the years,” said Busby. “I’m here to set down our footprint, determine who we are and what we should be about in urban music.

Busby, who exited Motown in 1995 and has been a consultant to artists and labels since, is currently working with Atlanta rap group P.A. and R&B crooner David Hollister (formerly of Blackstreet), who is linked to DreamWorks through a production deal with producer/talent finder Erick Sermon. P.A. and Hollister are expected to release albums in July.

Busby has also been shepherding an album of music inspired by the upcoming film “The Prince of Egypt,” the debut animated feature from DreamWorks. The disc is being prepped for an early November bow.

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