Cityfile New York Music Profiles

“ is a guide to the most notable and influential New Yorkers, more than 2,100 people divided into 27 industry categories.” Some nice material in the music category:

Tommy Mottola

Mottola went on to spend 14 years running Sony Music and presided over the company during some of its most profitable years: On his watch, Sony signed the Dixie Chicks, Destiny’s Child, Shakira, Mariah Carey, Ricky Martin, Celine Dion, and Jennifer Lopez, among many others. Everything changed, though, when the economics of the music industry started to shift in 2000. Sony Music reportedly lost $100 million during Mottola’s last year at the company, at which point his legendarily lavish ways became less as amusing to his corporate masters looking at the bottom line. In 2002, Sony’s CEO, Howard Stringer, cut Mottola loose.

Mottola is largely on the sidelines these days but he remains an influential figure in the biz. Shortly after he was ousted at Sony Music, he took over the long-defunct Universal-owned label Casablanca; the company has generated little buzz, though, save for its signing of sexually ambiguous pop singer Mika as well as Lindsay Lohan, although even she jilted the label after a year in favor of Motown Records

Clive Davis

It’s only a modest exaggeration to say that most of the biggest musical acts of the past half-century have Davis to thank for their fame. Just some of the careers he’s nurtured: Janis Joplin, Barry Manilow, Rod Stewart, Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead, Annie Lennox, Aretha Franklin, Kenny G, Notorious B.I.G., Dionne Warwick, and Sarah McLachlan. Davis was the first exec to give Sean Combs his big break when he backed Combs’s Bad Boy Entertainment in the early ’90s. (Combs and Davis were introduced by Reid.) Davis also masterminded Santana’s surprising return from obscurity in the late ’90s: He got behind the guitarist’s 1998 album Supernatural, which sold over 25 million copies worldwide and garnered Santana eight Grammys—and one for Davis, as well.

David Bowie

Bowie is estimated to be worth $120 million. He was the first musician to sell bonds backed by the future revenues generated from his record masters and publishing rights; the deal put an estimated $55 million in his pocket in 1997.

Bowie says he’s lost large “chunks” of his memory from substance abuse, and explained that he “can’t remember, for instance, any of 1975.” When pal Iggy Pop was in a psychiatric hospital in 1975, Bowie and actor Dennis Hopper smuggled drugs inside. Faithful friend Bowie recalled: “We thought we should bring him some drugs, because he probably hadn’t had any for days.”

Robert Hurwitz

Nonesuch is now the home of artists in disparate genres ranging from jazz to alternative to country to avant-garde. Some of the big-name artists Hurwitz has worked with over the years include David Byrne, k.d. lang, Adam Guettel, Steve Reich, Stephen Sondheim, the Gipsy Kings, Caetano Veloso, the Kronos Quartet, the Magnetic Fields, the Buena Vista Social Club, John Zorn, and Mandy Patinkin. In recent years, the label has done especially well with indie rock outfit Wilco, who in 2004 became the first Nonesuch group to appear in the Top 10 on the Billboard charts.

Steve Gottlieb

A Yale and Harvard Law grad, Gottlieb is an unlikely mogul in the world of rap and hard rock. In 1985, he founded the record label TVT out of his apartment with plans to release TV theme songs. (TVT once stood for “Tee Vee Toons.”) But Gottlieb quickly branched out and he earned first big success with Nine Inch Nails’ Pretty Hate Machine, following up with other successful hard rock acts like Marilyn Manson and Ministry. In the mid-’90s, the label expanded into rap, hiring Irv Gotti who signed up Ja Rule and Lil’ Jon. TVT has suffered from the same woes that have befallen the rest of the industry in recent years as music sales have plummeted. But TVT has had to deal with its own unique problems as well. In 2007, a federal jury concluded that it had sabotaged another company’s plan to release old recordings by TVT rapper Pitbull. The $9.1 court judgment prompted TVT to file for bankruptcy and lay off about half its staff in 2008. The company has since announced plans to sell its assets to The Orchard, a distributor of digital music

Edgar Bronfman Jr.

In 1995, he sold the company’s enormously valuable (but boring) stake in the chemicals giant DuPont and then plunged headlong into the entertainment business, purchasing the film studio MCA/Universal for $5 billion and, later, the record company Polygram for $10 billion. Hollywood’s savviest players promptly took the naïve, inexperienced heir to the cleaners, although Edgar Jr.’s most disastrous deal came in 2000 when he combined Universal with the French utility company Vivendi in a $33 billion transaction. Vivendi unraveled shortly thereafter, diminishing the Bronfman family fortune by an estimated $4 billion and establishing Edgar Jr. as one of the worst stewards of a family fortune in history.

When he was a songwriter, he penned tunes that were recorded by Dionne Warwick, Celine Dion, and Barbra Streisand.

Lyor Cohen

In 1999, Simmons and Cohen cashed out, selling Def Jam to Universal for an undisclosed—but very hefty—price tag. (Cohen later testified at a trial that he made more than $100 million on the sale.) Simmons left Def Jam following the sale but Cohen stayed on, serving as CEO. He remained at the company until 2004, when he moved over to Warner Music.

Bruce Lundvall

Over the years Lundvall has been responsible for signing an impressive roster of talent, including Willie Nelson, Herbie Hancock, James Taylor, Wynton Marsalis, Natalie Cole, Suzanne Vega, and Anita Baker. His biggest hit—which came as a big surprise to everyone at the label—was Norah Jones‘s insanely successful debut album in 2002, Come Away with Me. A No. #1 Billboard hit with a No. #1 hit single (“Don’t Know Why”), it earned Jones an album of the year Grammy, not to mention paid Blue Note’s bills for years to come.

Barry Weiss

Weiss’s father, Hyman “Hy” Weiss, was the founder of Old Town Records, which pioneered the doo-wop genre in the ’50s and ’60s with acts like Solitaires, the Harptones, and the Capris. Native Long Islander Barry began working for his father while a student at Cornell, promoting songs on the radio in upstate New York. In 1982, fresh out of college, he was hired by Clive Calder to join a new record label that Calder had founded, Zomba; Weiss found success with acts like A Flock of Seagulls and Billy Ocean and branched out into rap and hip hop with Whodini and KRS-One. Weiss eventually became Calder’s right-hand at the company; while the notoriously secretive South African billionaire lurked in the shadows, over the course of the 1990s Weiss helped turn Zomba into the biggest independent record label in the world, thanks to acts like Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, and N*SYNC. Following Calder’s sale of his share of Zomba to BMG in 2002 for $2.7 billion, Weiss was named Zomba’s CEO. He moved up to chairman and CEO of BMG Label Group in 2008.

Jason Flom

Few in the music biz have much to brag about these days, but Flom has had an especially rocky tenure since moving to the Capitol. Notwithstanding a few successes (such as Norah Jones‘s 2007 release), Capitol’s labels have had few hits in recent years. One particularly big disappointment was Janet Jackson’s 2006 album 20 Y.O: Not only did the record flop, it led Flom to force out Janet Jackson’s boyfriend, producer Jermaine Dupri, as the head of Capitol’s urban music division.

Steve Barnett

Barnett is the co-chairman of Columbia Records with legendary music producer Rick Rubin. The former music manager who once repped AC/DC, Cyndi Lauper, and Foreigner, Barnett now reports to Rob Stringer.

Allen Grubman

In the entertainment business, there’s one sure sign that you’ve made it: Allen Grubman is your lawyer. A partner at the firm Grubman Indursky & Shire, he’s represented the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Calvin Klein, and Bruce Springsteen.

Rob Stringer

Raised in Britain, Stringer jumped into the music business after graduating art school, joining Sony Music’s U.K. operations in 1985. He rose through the ranks to become managing director of Epic Records in 1993, signing Brit bands like Manic Street Preachers, The Lightning Seeds and teenage girl group B*witched during his tenure. In 2000, he was elevated to CEO of Sony Music UK; four years later, following the corporate marriage between BMG and Sony Music, he was named CEO of the combined company’s operations in Britain and Ireland. Stringer moved to New York in 2006 when he was named chairman of the Sony’s U.S. label group, following the ouster of longtime execs Donnie Ienner and Michele Anthony.

Steve Bartels

The president of Island Records and one of LA Reid‘s key deputies, Bartels is the man who brought you The Killers and who breathed new life into the careers of Melissa Etheridge and nutty pop diva Mariah Carey.

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