×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Bob Cavallo

Disney's music chairman keeps his head straight

Success hasn’t changed Bob Cavallo.

“Bob is one of the few guys in the industry completely unaffected by the trappings that come with success,” says John Sykes, president of MTV Network Development, who has known Cavallo for decades. “He knows his priorities. He’s the same regular guy — whether he’s managing Prince or running Disney music — that he has always been,” says Sykes.

An ego-free, low-profile leader was exactly what Disney’s music operation needed after two previous high-profile, but mostly unsuccessful, regimes. After 35 years as a manager, guiding the careers of acts as diverse as the Lovin’ Spoonful, Prince and Earth, Wind & Fire, Cavallo signed on as chairman of the Disney Music Group in 1998.

“It was a new challenge, and something I thought could be fun,” he says. “And I didn’t know the record business was over yet,” he adds half-jokingly.

Under his aegis, the Disney Music Group — which includes four record labels and music publishing — has evolved from a moribund operation into one grossing nearly $500 million in revenues, according to sources (Disney doesn’t break out figures), and a 3.43% market share. While a single-digit share pales to some of its double-digit competitors, DMG nonetheless has the market cornered in music for the tween set.

Sales of music from Hannah Montana aka Miley Cyrus, Jesse McCartney and “High School Musical” are filling label coffers, and the acts are benefiting from high profiles due in part to constant exposure on Radio Disney and the Disney Channel.

“I knew early on we’d need to use the Disney Channel to overcome a lack of (non-Disney) radio play for our artists. The trick was how to use it properly,” Cavallo recalls. “Hilary Duff was the model. She became a Channel star and made a mainstream record that sold 3.9 million units. She certainly turned things around for us.”

Recent breakthrough: “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus seems to be what everyone is talking about,” but Disney Music also has new records from Raven-Symone and Duff on the horizon.

Role model: “I looked up to Albert Grossman (legendary artist manager in the era of Bob Dylan and others). If I was insecure about something, I’d call him up and ask what he thought.”

What’s next: “The Jonas Brothers, we believe, are going to be big. They’re making a film, have a TV pilot and will be the next wave. Plus, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals — the real deal.”

More Voices

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    WGA, Agents Face Tough Issues on New Franchise Pact (Column)

    The Writers Guild of America and the major talent agencies are seven weeks away from a deadline that could force film and TV writers to choose between their agents and their union. This is a battle that has been brewing for a year but few in the industry saw coming until a few weeks ago. [...]

  • FX Confronts Streaming Thanks to Disney

    Kicking and Screaming, FX Is Forced to Confront Future in the Stream (Column)

    During his network’s presentation at the winter Television Critics Assn. press tour, FX chief John Landgraf made waves — and headlines — by mounting perhaps his most direct criticism yet of Netflix. Landgraf, whose briefings to the press tend to rely heavily on data about the volume of shows with which FX’s competitors flood the [...]

  • Longtime TV Editor Recalls Working for

    How a Bad Director Can Spoil the Show (Guest Column)

    I have been blessed with editing some of TV’s greatest shows, working with some of the industry’s greatest minds. “The Wonder Years,” “Arrested Development,” “The Office,” “Scrubs,” “Pushing Daisies” and, most recently, “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” I have earned an Emmy, ACE Eddie Awards, and many nominations. But whatever kudos I’ve received, over my [...]

  • Stock market Stock buyback

    Stock Buybacks Leave Firms Without Funds to Invest in Future (Column)

    Corporate giants on the S&P 500 have spent more than $720 billion during the past year on stock buybacks. Media and entertainment firms account for only a fraction of that spending, but even $1 million spent on share repurchases seems a foolhardy expenditure at this transformational moment for the industry. The record level of spending [...]

  • Hollywood Has Come Far With Diversity

    An Insider's Look at Hollywood's Diversity Efforts and How Far It Still Needs to Go

    I am a white man working in Hollywood. I grew up in Beverlywood, an all-white, predominantly Jewish, Los Angeles neighborhood sandwiched between 20th Century Fox Studios and MGM, where my elementary school had only one black student. I am compelled to write about diversity in Hollywood because “diversity” — in front of and behind the camera [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content