Ex-Arista exec now reports to Ken Berry

EMI Recorded Music, North America, has tapped Roy Lott as deputy prexy, a newly created position that gives the industry vet wide-ranging responsibilities for the conglom’s domestic operations and marching orders to increase its profile and profits.

The nod to Lott, who inked a multi-year, multimillion-dollar pact, had been expected (Daily Variety, Sept. 18) and follows a series of moves by EMI Recorded Music prexy Ken Berry that restructured the conglom’s rank and file and cut million of dollars in costs.

Berry eliminated an expensive North American management layer, shuttered a newly established catalog marketing arm by returning it to the aegis of distribution arm EMD, and is awaiting the exit of his boss, EMI Music chief Jim Fifield. (Daily Variety, Feb. 23).

“My goal is to build on the repertoire that currently exists here while also dealing with distribution issues and Canada,” Lott told Daily Variety. “My hope is that we can challenge Warner’s and Sony for the top slot while at the same time broadening our business.”

The Berry-orchestrated cuts also allow Lott to focus on ways to actively grow the business and “take the No. 3 record company into first or second,” Lott said.

While Fifield negotiates his settlement, Berry and EMI Music Publishing chief Martin Bandier have been reporting to the EMI Group board of directors and EMI Group chairman Colin Southgate, who is eventually expected to step down into a non-exec role.

But sources suggest that Bandier is making overtures to the board to buy the publishing company from EMI, which might spin it off from the recorded music group to precipitate a sale. The estimated price tag of the publisher tops $1 billion. (Its annual revenues are said to be north of $525 million.)

While industry observers assert EMI is on the verge of being sold to a rival conglom, such as the Walt Disney Co. or Seagram’s Universal Music Group, Lott dismisses industry chatter that its execs are hamstrung in making deals as talk of a sale looms.

“It’s business as usual for everyone here,” said Lott, who officially started in the Capitol Records tower on March 16. “All of the (label chiefs) are building their businesses and my marching orders from Ken are to proactively build EMI (Recorded Music).”

Lott’s segue to EMI closed the door on a 19-year run as the key go-to guy for Arista prexy Clive Davis, where Lott forged strong relationships with execs and talent that helped build Arista into one of the music industry’s leading labels.

He joined Arista in 1979, and since 1991 has served as the label’s exec veep and G.M.

The respected and liked Lott, who received a standing ovation from 650 execs and artists at Arista’s pre-Grammy Awards bash in February, shepherded releases from Whitney Houston, Kenny G and Aretha Franklin during his tenure and was instrumental in the success of such artists as the Grateful Dead, Annie Lennox and Sarah McLachlan.

Lott also helped establish Arista’s Nashville division run by Tim DuBois and was a key player in Arista’s successes with joint-venture labels LaFace Records and Bad Boy Records.

“Roy is obviously an excellent record executive with a terrific track record in his many years working at Arista,” said Berry. “His excellent combination of music and management skills will be of great assistance to the EMI Group in continuing our development of our North American business.”

Since the beginning of the year, EMI has ranked third among the big six music distribs, behind No. 1 Sony Music and Warner Music Group’s WEA Distribution.

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