Arista, Flyte Tyme enter joint venture

Grammy-winning duo to produce artists in 3-year deal

Arista Records has entered into a joint venture with Flyte Tyme Records, the label headed by veteran hitmaking songwriters-producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.

Under the terms of the exclusive three-year agreement, Jam and Lewis will produce artists on Arista and its other labels, as well as produce new and established artists for Flyte Tyme, while Arista will assume all marketing, promotion, sales and distribution responsibilities for Flyte Tyme. Jam and Lewis are free to produce acts for other labels as well.

Jam and Lewis first came to prominence as members of funk-rock group the Time. In 1983, they segued into record production, scoring their first hit with the S.O.S. Band’s “Just Be Good to Me.”

Since then, they’ve had a hand in more than 100 gold, platinum and multi-platinum albums for such artists as TLC, Boyz II Men, Mary J. Blige, Michael Jackson, Patti LaBelle, New Edition, Elton John, Robert Palmer, Lionel Richie, Luther Vandross, Rod Stewart, Vanessa Williams and Jordan Knight. They also have won several Grammy awards, including producers of the year in 1986.

String of hits

Earlier this year, Jam and Lewis scored a No. 1 single with Mariah Carey’s “Thank God I Found You.” They also produced the nation’s current No. 1 single — Janet Jackson’s “Doesn’t Really Matter” — and Yolanda Adams’ present hit, “Open My Heart.”

“This is a dream come true,” Arista prexy-CEO Antonio “L.A.” Reid told Daily Variety. “Jimmy and Terry always have been heroes of mine and Kenny ‘Babyface’ Edmonds from the time we were in the Deele and they were in the Time. As name brand producers, they set the tone for whatever success Kenny and I had later.

“These are not some has-beens, either — look at today’s charts. But there’s definitely a missing element in today’s urban music as far as musicians that can play and sing. We’re hoping we can influence the current generation of urban musicians to revive and develop those skills. Jimmy and Terry know how to make records, and Arista has the executive talent to nurture the acts they sign and turn them into career artists.”

“We’ve known L.A. and Babyface a long time,” Jimmy Jam told Daily Variety. “Like us, they were in a band and they’re Midwest guys, so we share a lot of the same values. And it was also very important to us to be in business with people who were musicians — real music guys — and there aren’t too many of them running record companies these days.

“We’ll probably come out with three new acts within the first year,” Jam said, noting they could be producing records as soon as the fourth-quarter of this year.

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