Record half-year at Arista

Arista Records is on the road to another record-breaking year. The Clive Davis-led label topped $210 million in sales for the first six months of its fiscal year. The record half-year tally portends the label will top its 1995 fiscal tally of $400 million in sales, its best in its 21-year history.

While the label doesn’t break out profits, sources estimate profits for the pop/R&B-heavy Arista hover in the 18% range, or around $40 million.

Around $35 million in sales were generated by the label’s Nashville arm, led by Tim DuBois, likely resulting in profits of around $6 million.

Small stable

What makes the $210 million tally significant is that Davis and his contingent of savvy music makers and marketers earn the numbers with relatively few artists. The numbers cover the period from July 1 to Dec. 30, 1996.

The Music City tallies are also impressive, as the country music industry is in the midst of a leveling-off period exacerbated by increased competition among record labels and shrinking radio playlists.

Arista also posted an impressive 8.4% of the music market share for current albums, according to SoundScan’s year-end stats.

The label also closed the calendar year with sales just south of $400 million, mirroring what the company earned during its 1995 fiscal period of July 1 to June 30.

Leading the sales charge for the label were Whitney Houston’s “The Preacher’s Wife” soundtrack, which has sold more than 2 million copies in just five weeks of release; Toni Braxton’s “Secrets,” which is at 4 million copies and climbing; and Kenny G’s “The Moment,” which has sold more than 3 million copies.

The release slate in the next six months of Arista’s fiscal year includes discs from Aretha Franklin, Lisa Stansfield, Real McCoy, Sarah McLachlan and Pam Tillis, among others.

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