×

RCA prexy gives Nipper something to bark about

IT’S BEEN ROUGHLY 2 1/2 YEARS since Joe Galante took over the presidency of Bertelsmann Music-owned RCA Records. As with Bill Clinton, the early days of Galante’s administration weren’t a piece of cake, with staff changes and roster shuffling the prime business of the first 30 months.

But this week Nipper finally has something to bark about, as the Sisters With Voices album “It’s About Time” is set to become the first platinum pop album of the Galante era, passing the 1 million units mark and likely heading toward double platinum.

“It’s been tough,” the longtime Nashville executive and native New Yorker admitted. “This business judges too quickly. We went the last two years with little product flow, the U.K. label still in transition. The industry should understand — BMG is about commitment. Short term for us is five years.”

After a period of downsizing, Galante said his West Coast staff is now larger than before, and noted that senior A&R VP Dave Novik continues to build his staff in contemporary music.

He also pointed to the achievements of his black music department, constructed after his arrival (and the subsequent end of a licensing deal with Jive), and the startup of a second country music label, BNA, which has so far yielded a platinum record by John Anderson and a gold by Lorrie Morgan.

With those areas growing, Galante now plans to turn his attention to the rock and alternative music side, which has shrunk to 15 acts, roughly 25% of the normal major-label complement.

Albums are on the way from Chapterhouse, This Picture, Rick Astley and ZZ Top , in addition to Bruce Hornsby, whose album should get a goose from an upcoming “Unplugged” performance featuring Hornsby teamed with Pat Metheny and Bonnie Raitt.

“We’ll get there,” Galante said. “We’re in the game. We’ve got the people — and we’re getting the music.”

ONE OF L.A.’s WORST-KEPT SECRETS should be made official some time in the next week, as Capitol VP Larry Jenkins segues to Columbia Records in New York to become that department’s veepee of media and artist relations.

Sources say Jenkins will report to Fred Ehrlich, the Columbia general manager , and will be joined by Leyla Turkann, the owner of Set To Run public relations. What will happen to Set To Run has not been determined.

The Jenkins/Turkann team is expected to arrive at Columbia sometime in August , according to sources, with current department head Mary Ellen Cataneo moving to a corporate PR role whose parameters are still being developed.

While Jenkins, who grew up with a job goal of record label publicist, has apparently hit the jackpot, other lean and hungry publicists around town are casting a covetous eye at his Capitol position. The jockeying for this one should be fierce.

SPEAKING OF COLUMBIA: Company insiders confirm that the Sony Music U.S. president will be referred to as “Thomas” Mottola in all future public correspondence, a change from the casual days when “Tommy” was the preferred form of address. Apparently the thinking is that “Tommy” sounds like that snot-nosed kid you play catch with, while “Thomas” is the head of a major international software corporation.

Of course, Mottola is still free to refer to his boss, Michael Schulhof, as “Mickey.” (Note to Mr. Mottola: Calling him “Mikala” got your predecessor in hot water, if “Hit Men” is to be believed.) And we’ll bet that Columbia Records’ president is still called “Donnie” Ienner more often than the more formal “Don” in casual conversations.

But this trend could get out of hand. Should we call the Interscope Records president “James” Iovine instead of Jimmy? Is it more proper to address the Warner Bros. Records chairman as “Morris” Ostin instead of Mo? Or the WB Records president as “Leonard” Waronker instead of Lenny?

And wouldn’t it seem extremely Alphonse & Gaston if someone thought to call Joe Smith “Joseph,” EMI Music chieftain Jim Fifield “James,” or A&M vice chairman Herb Alpert “Herbert”?

RUMBLINGS: A decision in the long-rumored sweepstakes between Sony Nashville and Arista Nashville for the services of Tim DuBois is said to be imminent. No one is sure which way the pendulum will swing, but sources say BMG chairman Michael Dornemann took a personal hand in negotiations with DuBois … Some sources speculate that Geffen A&R exec Gary Gersh may have found an early exit out of his contract, which reportedly has six months to go … Is Hollywood Records giving A&R exec Bob Pfeiffer his own label as part of his new pact? … Don’t believe the hype regarding powerful entertainment attorney John Frankenheimer heading to BMG as its North American CEO … Believe the hype that powerful entertainment attorney Joel Katz plans to open a New York office for his firm.

Popular on Variety

More Music

  • Monkees/Badfinger/Nazz Supergroup Takes Beatles' 'White Album'

    Monkees/Badfinger/Nazz Supergroup Gets Back to '68 by Touring Beatles' 'White Album'

    The 50th anniversary re-release of 1969’s “Abbey Road” may be just days away, but that doesn’t mean Beatles fans have been there and done that when it comes to celebrating ’68. Todd Rundgren, the Monkees’ Mickey Dolenz, Badfinger’s Joey Molland and several other name musicians of a certain vintage are teaming up to go out [...]

  • Rob Cowan, Greg Silverman'The Conjuring 2'

    Greg Silverman’s Stampede, School of Rock Team for Unscripted Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Former president of Warner Bros. Pictures Greg Silverman is partnering with School of Rock through his content creation company Stampede. The collaboration with the music school will create exclusive content, starting with the development of an unscripted series.  School of Rock operates a network of performance-based education franchises that offer students of all ages guidance [...]

  • 'Downton Abbey' Music Gets 'Bigger, Better,

    As 'Downton Abbey' Hits the Silver Screen, the Music, Too, Gets 'Bigger, Better, Grander'

    When “Downton Abbey” fans hear that familiar strings-and-piano theme, a Pavlovian response ensues: Get to the television immediately, because you don’t want to miss a minute of the addictive Crawley family melodrama to follow. This week, with the “Downton Abbey” movie reaching theaters on Friday, fans can’t wait for their fix of Lady Mary and [...]

  • Saweetie

    Saweetie's 'My Type' Is a Smash, but Is it Too Provocative for Top 40?

    Saweetie’s “My Type” is a smash. The high-energy, up-tempto, bad bitch anthem has proven to be an undeniable force. Having won the hearts of TikTok users, radio (rhythmic, urban and now Top 40, logging more than 81,000 combined spins, according to Mediabase) and streaming, where BuzzAngle Music records 160 million U.S. streams to date and [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Peter Coyote Riffs on 'Country Music' and How He Admires and Challenges Ken Burns

    Though an instantly recognizable face from films such as “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “A Walk to Remember” and “Erin Brockovich,” it is Peter Coyote’s voice — a coolly authoritative baritone with a Zen master’s holy roll — that has endeared him to documentary lovers and makers. Alrhough director-writer Alex Gibney used Coyote’s wisened narration for “Enron: [...]

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Reaches Deal With Record Labels on Music Videos

    SAG-AFTRA has reached an agreement with the major record labels on a three-year successor contract to their music video agreement. The union announced Friday that the deal achieves important economic and safety gains for performers working in music videos. Details of the new agreement will not be released until after it is reviewed by the [...]

  • Album Review: Samantha Fish’s ‘Kill or

    Album Review: Samantha Fish’s ‘Kill or Be Kind’

    At a time when rock music remains in a deep recession — to put it politely — there are few more encouraging sights to see than a badass, slide-guitar-wielding female from Kansas City lobbing some blueswailing rock and roll. That’s exactly what Samantha Fish has been serving up for the better part of a decade, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content