Blair exits Arista amid turmoil at BMG

Parting 'amicable,' no reason cited

After little more than a year at his post, Arista Records executive VP Jerry Blair has ankled the BMG Entertainment label, effective immediately.

Arista reps described the parting as “amicable,” but didn’t give a specific reason for Blair’s split. Exec was tapped by then newly installed topper Antonio “L.A.” Reid in July of 2000 to oversee all marketing and promotion for the label’s non-urban releases.

Reid has been under pressure to produce more hits outside the urban music arena, where he has experienced the bulk of his considerable success. Aside from a strong perf from California alt-metal act Adema in the album charts this August, Arista has been thin on hit rock acts.

Blair came to Arista from an 11-year tenure at Sony Music’s flagship imprint Columbia Records, where he most recently held the title of exec VP, Columbia Records Group. He began his career as a college rep for CBS Records, and later held promotion and marketing posts at Chrysalis.

Industry sources said Blair may yet remain under the BMG umbrella to start a new Latin music imprint. While still with Sony, exec presided over the marketing campaigns for such Latin superstars as Ricky Martin and Marc Anthony.

Blair’s move comes at a time of turmoil for Arista parent BMG, which plans to begin substantial layoffs within days as part of a plan to trim costs by roughly $100 million. As part of the plan, BMG is said to be considering shuttering its Black Music division and folding it into Arista.

The restructuring plan, expected to eventually affect several hundred staffers, came in response to news that BMG would report a $150 million loss in fiscal 2001.

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