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LABEL NEWS: BMG North America Announces Realignment

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — In a move to expand its creative centers and profitability, BMG North America will realign its U.S. labels and operations by expanding RCA Music Group to include Arista Records and relocating LaFace Records and So So Def Records within the newly formed Zomba Label Group.

Under this plan, Arista Records will be reconfigured from a stand-alone company to a separate label under the RCA Music Group umbrella, retaining its own artists as well as A&R and marketing staffs. As part of the broad realignment, some Arista artists will be moved to the RCA Music Group, including Sarah McLachlan, Dido, Avril Lavigne, Carlos Santana, Whitney Houston, Kenny G and Babyface. Although LaFace and So So Def will remain stand-alone entities, they and their rosters of artists including OutKast, Usher, Pink, J-Kwon, Jermaine Dupri, Anthony Hamilton, Bone Crusher, Youngbloodz, Kelis, Clipse, among others, will now be included within the Zomba Label Group. Additionally, the Zomba Label Group will take on key LaFace and So So Def A&R and marketing personnel.

"This new structure underscores our deep commitment to preserving and strengthening our diverse record labels and investing in creativity and artists," said Clive Davis, chairman, BMG North America. "BMG has a peerless roster of superstar and developing artists who deserve the very best creative homes and the resources necessary to develop careers that endure and music that inspires."

With the creation of the Zomba Label Group, which will now include LaFace and So So Def along with Jive, Verity, Volcano, and Violator, Barry Weiss assumes the new title of president and CEO, Zomba Label Group. Weiss reports directly to Davis.

"I am really grateful that Barry will take on this critical role in our new structure," said Davis. "He is one of the premier music executives and has established a stellar track record during his more than 20 years in the business."

"The labels of the newly formed Zomba Label Group collectively boast one of the most powerful artist rosters in the music business," said Weiss. "I look forward to working with such an extraordinarily talented group of artists and to continuing to be part of BMG's dynamic North America team."

The move will create new efficiencies by consolidating a number of functions across BMG's U.S. labels, according to Goldstuck. In connection with the reorganization, a number of Arista employees will join the staffs of both the RCA Music Group and the Zomba Label Group.

"With today's realignment, BMG North America is setting clear priorities to sustain and enhance our creative and financial success for the future in the face of ongoing marketplace challenges," said Charles Goldstuck, president and COO, BMG North America. "We continue to strengthen our A&R focus and investment in artists while creating an organization that is more efficient, responsive and profitable."

Under this new structure, BMG's North America operations will now include recorded music companies RCA Music Group (RCA, J and Arista), Zomba Label Group, and BMG Canada, as well as BMG Strategic Marketing Group and BMG Distribution. RLG – Nashville, BMG Music Publishing and BMG Classics are not affected by the realignment. –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

Napster Appoints Santosuosso As VP Artist And Label Relations

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Napster has appointed Michelle Santosuosso as VP of artist and label relations, a new position created to ensure the service "maintains its leadership position in music programming."

Santosuosso will be responsible for managing and developing Napster's label and artist relationships, overseeing NapsterLive, the service's exclusive in-house recording sessions, and creating new opportunities for artists with Napster. Santosuosso will report to Glenn Kaino, Napster's chief creative officer.

"Michelle has a stellar reputation in the music industry for creating unique programming featuring cutting-edge content and for her unique ability to always be a step ahead of industry trends," said Glenn Kaino, Napster's CCO. "We have no doubt Michelle will continue her record of success here at Napster and will help push the service even farther ahead of our competitors on the music programming front."

Santosuosso has more than 10 years of experience in the music industry. As VP of crossover music for J Records, she worked directly with Clive Davis and was involved in breaking Alicia Keys. She also spent two years as A&R director for RCA Records and served as crossover music editor for HITS Magazine. Most recently, Santosuosso has been working as program director at KHHT-Los Angeles and national director, rhythm music for Clear Channel. Her other radio station stints include positions at KMEL, KKBT and KZZP, where she worked with Darcy Fulmer, Napster's senior music consultant. — Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner.

Jaci Velasquez Starts Record Label

(CelebrityAccess Mediawire) — After more than a decade of recording, contemporary Christian music artist Jaci Velasquez has started her own record label, Apostrophe Records. Keeping operations in the family, her key management team includes her brother and her mother. “I want Apostrophe to be a label driven by artists and songs, not just by what a marketing machine needs in order to sell, sell, sell," Velasquez says.

She adds: “I didn’t want to start a label until I found an artist that I truly believed in and wanted to promote,” she said of Michael Cook, whose debut album Imprint will be Apostrophe’s first release, due sometime in 2004.

Apostrophe Records will have its official launch during GMA week this year. — Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner