WB Records pulls trigger on Whalley

Interscope prexy ankles post, will reside over second-half release slate

After more than a year of waiting, Interscope prexy Tom Whalley has finally ankled his post and begun a new career as chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. Records, consummating a reported $30 million deal negotiated with Warner Music topper Roger Ames last May.

Whalley, who began work at Warner’s Burbank offices on Monday, had been serving out the remainder of his contract at Interscope, which was due to expire on Jan. 1. Industry sources said the two majors finally hammered out a deal to let the exec go early.

It was not clear whether the accord included a payout to Interscope for the early termination.

Deal to bring Whalley on board was seen at the time as a bid by Ames to revitalize Warner Bros., which holds a rich back catalog but had signed little in the way of new hitmakers. Recently, the label has improved its position, posting platinum releases from metalers Linkin Park and Disturbed.

Whalley, who has worked with a diverse group of artists including Tupac Shakur, Bonnie Raitt and Nine Inch Nails, will preside over Warner Bros.’ second-half release slate, which boasts work from Madonna, Green Day and Barenaked Ladies.

Fills void

Exec’s appointment fills a void left by the departure of former chairman and CEO Russ Thyret, who ankled the label last March, in the middle of a staff restructuring that saw roughly 600 Warner Music employees leave the fold. Thyret’s duties had been temporarily taken up by Warner Bros. prexy Phil Quartararo, who is expected to remain on under the Whalley regime.

Move also brings Whalley full-circle professionally: He began his music-industry career 20 years ago in the Warner Bros. mailroom, before going on to Capitol Records and, in 1989, Interscope.