Davis, label hit high notes with Keys #1 album, upcoming releases

Clive Davis isn’t known for his modesty. But even the most cynical industry-watcher wouldn’t begrudge him a little bragging, given the run his new label, J Records, has had over the past few weeks.

That success is particularly poignant given that J is now a leading light at financially troubled BMG, which pushed Davis out of the top spot at its Arista imprint in May 2000.

J, formed as a 50/50 venture between Davis and BMG with an unprecedented $100 million-plus in financing, scored its first-ever No. 1 bow on the album charts with sultry newcomer Alicia Keys and its first platinum record with O-Town’s eponymous debut.

Davis’ marketing machine also powered Luther Vandross’ newest release to a No. 6 bow — the R&B vet’s best-ever opening.

BMG, meanwhile, is expected to report a loss in the neighborhood of $150 million for the fiscal year, and it may be forced to layoff hundreds of workers.

BMG is also at risk of losing its distribution relationship with teen-pop hit factory Jive Records, home to such cash-cows as ‘N Sync and Britney Spears.

Meanwhile, J is adding new staff daily and plans to keep up its aggressive pace of releases: On deck are a half-dozen new discs, including work from rappers Busta Rhymes and Erick Sermon.

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