1999 was music to Arista ears

Santana, TLC help push sales to $425 mil, best ever

Despite turmoil in the executive ranks, Arista Records enjoyed the best revenues in its 25-year history thanks to hit releases by Santana and TLC, the label said Sunday.

The New York-based company, a unit of closely held German media giant Bertelsmann AG, posted sales in excess of $425 million in calendar 1999, surpassing the old record of $420 million in 1998.

Sales in the six months to December reached $300 million, bettering the old six-month record by almost 20%. November was the best month in Arista’s history with sales of $85 million.

The label’s president and founder, Clive Davis, 66, is engaged in a very public spat with Bertelsmann, which is easing him out in favor of producer Antonio “L.A.” Reid, a co-owner of LaFace Records, a hit-making joint venture with Arista.

Arista suffered some setbacks in 1999 as a hugely hyped album by rap mogul Puff Daddy dropped out of the top 10 after just two weeks. A reunion album by British duo Eurythmics also failed to muster up much commercial or critical acclaim as did the return of Prince.

On the other hand, Santana’s album “Supernatural,” the veteran rock band’s first for Arista, has sold almost 5 million copies. R&B trio TLC’s “FanMail” is also five-times platinum.

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