According to the announcement, the label will become an “all-new frontline creative center” within Sony Music led by Massey, who will serve as president and CEO. He will continued to be based in New York and will report directly to Stringer. The announcement also says that :Massey’s leadership of Arista is part of a new broad-based creative partnership between the hitmaker and Sony Music.” Sony Music and Massey have entered into a new joint venture for Massey-led artist management and music publishing businesses; Massey’s daugher Clio, currently an executive at Sony/ATV Music Publishing, is expected to join him in that venture.
Over the years Arista released top-selling and widely influential albums by Whitney Houston, the Kinks, Patti Smith, the Grateful Dead, Carlos Santana, Barry Manilow, Aretha Franklin, Lou Reed and many others. Davis left the company in 2000, in a battle with then-parent company BMG that saw him founding J Records; both labels were folded into Sony in 2011.
Said Stringer, “We are excited to be reintroducing the iconic Arista brand as a full major label under the leadership of David Massey. David is a visionary and progressive talent developer and his recent success at breaking new artists around the world only highlights his remarkable consistency of creative success year after year. As well as releasing new music to the world, David will use his vast experience in building new publishing and artist management ventures that will enhance Sony Music’s overall music strategy.”
Said Massey, “I want to thank Rob Stringer for the phenomenal opportunity to return to Sony Music in an expansive new partnership and lead the next chapter of Arista Records. Clive Davis made the Arista name synonymous with tremendous creativity and great songs, and I look forward to continuing that identity by working with the many talented people at Sony to build a new roster of hit artists. I am also excited to join forces with Sony to drive additional growth through artist management and music publishing.”
Said Davis, “I am really delighted to see the Arista name return to a place of prominence under an executive with the talents of David Massey. David is a true music man who has tremendous respect for artistry, and he is the ideal choice to carry on the label’s great tradition.”
Massey is a London native whose mother, Marion, was one of the first female artist managers and orchestrated pop singer Lulu’s rise to stardom in the 1960s. He began his career as an artist manager for groups like Wang Chung in the ’80s before moving over to the label side — and New York — by taking a top A&R job at Epic in 1991. During his 16 years at the company he signed Oasis as well as pre-superstardom iteration of the Jonas Brothers. In 2007 joined Universal, where he signed Avicii and Iggy Azalea. In 2007 he signed on as president of Mercury Records, where he worked with Duffy, Portishead, Taio Cruz, Neon Trees and others, and was named president of Island in 2013. At the company, he has overseen hits from Shawn Mendes, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, The Killers, Fall Out Boy, Mike Posner, Elton John, Bon Jovi, and Tove Lo, among others. He stepped down from the company in April, and while sources confirmed to Variety that he was launching a joint venture with Sony, the Arista news eluded the gossip mill.
Prior to joining Epic, Massey was based in London where he had a successful career in artist management, working with artists such as Wang Chung, in addition to heading his own independent record company, Big World Records. He holds a Masters in Law from Cambridge University.