Sony taps tune topper

Ienner to sing lead, o'seeing flagship labels

NEW YORK — Columbia Records Group topper Don Ienner has officially been tapped chief of U.S. operations at the label’s parent group, Sony Music, as the recording giant continues to implement its major restructuring initiative worldwide.

The move, which had been expected (Daily Variety, March 27), also boosts Sony’s commitment to consolidating many of the major functions at its two flagship label groups, Columbia and Epic, in a bid to cut overhead to the bone.

Ienner, who reports directly to recently installed Sony Music chief Andrew Lack, will oversee both imprints, as well as Sony’s Classical, Nashville and Soundtrax units, plus children’s division Sony Wonder and catalog unit Legacy Recordings.

He’ll also continue to implement the restructuring scheme, including big organizational changes within the sales and distribution arms.

Late last month, Sony began its retooling, which is expected to result in layoffs of 1,000 staffers — or 10% of the company’s worldwide employment. Sales and distribution have been especially hard hit, with the closure of one manufacturing plant alone accounting for nearly 300 jobs.

Ienner has been a rare island of stability within both Sony and the industry as a whole, holding the chairmanship at Columbia for nearly a decade and the presidency for 13 years before handing off to Will Botwin last year. (Botwin will oversee all day-to-day operations at Columbia, while Epic Records topper Polly Anthony will continue in her post.)

Before that, Ienner spent six years as exec VP and general manager of Arista Records under Clive Davis, working with such acts as Whitney Houston, Carly Simon and the Grateful Dead. Exec got his start in the Capitol Records mailroom, and later ran his own publishing and recording companies.

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