RCA musical chairs

Records prez Rovner exits; Jamieson switches

NEW YORK — RCA Records prexy Jack Rovner has ankled his post after just over a year on the job, as part of yet another strategy shift at parent BMG Entertainment, which includes the dissolution of BMG’s North America management structure.

Following Rovner’s departure, current BMG North America topper Bob Jamieson will abandon that position and take up a new one as chairman of the newly reconstituted RCA Music Group, sources close to the music giant said.

With the new title, Jamieson will exert more direct control over RCA Records as well as jazz-and-classical unit the RCA Victor Group, country arm RCA Nashville, catalog division BMG Heritage and BMG Special Products.

Jamieson’s move effectively eliminates BMG North America and puts the exec back in the saddle overseeing the RCA Music Group’s creative activities. As part of the shift, Jamieson also is expected to develop ideas for new labels under the RCA umbrella.

“The whole idea behind this is to remove a layer of hierarchy and bring management closer to the creative process again,” said one source close to the situation.

Exec changes

The restructuring also precipitates some changes in the executive reporting structure at BMG. The label group’s distribution chief, Pete Jones, will now answer to chief operating officer Michael Smellie, and Arista Records topper Antonio “L.A.” Reid reports directly to BMG chief exec Rolf Schmidt-Holtz.

BMG has a tangled history of executive changes over the past few years, beginning with the controversial ouster of chief exec Strauss Zelnick and chairman Michael Dornemann in late 2000, followed by the untimely death of Zelnick’s would-be replacement, Rudi Gassner, just weeks afterward.

Schmidt-Holtz took over the post in early 2001, moving from the TV operations of BMG’s German parent, Bertelsmann. Exec promptly set to work making his mark, reshuffling the company’s senior management and eliminating several hundred staff positions last fall in an effort to stem losses.

Jamieson moved up into the BMG corporate structure last year, promoting Rovner into his old position at the helm of RCA. Richard Sanders, who took over Rovner’s slot as exec VP and GM of RCA when he was promoted, is expected to hold on to that job under the new structure.

Mixed chart

Rovner presided over some tough economic times at RCA, which fielded just five albums in the top 200 of 2001. But the exec enjoyed some success late in the year, particularly with indie-rock faves the Strokes, who have generated a mountain of critical acclaim and sold almost half a million records in the U.S. to date.

Exec had been with RCA for six years as exec VP and GM before getting upped to president. Prior to that, he was a senior VP at Arista Records, overseeing marketing, artist development and publicity. Earlier, exec held various marketing positions at Columbia Records, culminating in a VP post.