"Last week’s BMG convention forced us to come together pretty quickly. It jump-started the team and now we are up and running."
—Arista Prexy L.A. Reid
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Incoming Arista Prez Announces "Dream Team"
After months of speculation, newly crowned Arista Records head honcho Antonio "L.A." Reid has put together his senior executive staff, charged with guiding the company in a post-clive davis',390,400);">clive davis',390,400);">Clive Davis world.

Joining Reid at the highest levels at the new Arista are Larry Mestel (Executive VP/GM), Jerry Blair (Executive VP) and Lionel Ridenour (Executive VP, Black Music). HITS Magazine and its redheaded online stepchild, hitsdailydouble.com, have covered the threesome's expected appointments for months now.

Reid, who took the reins on July 1, has the daunting task of following music legend and Arista founder Davis, the only leader the remarkably successful label has known since its inception in 1975.

After the initial brouhaha of Reid's appointment as Arista's President/CEO (hitsdailydouble.com 5/8), speculation abounded about which artists would stay on at the label and which would follow Davis out the door. Similar gossip surrounded the question of which executives would be brought in and who would leave with Davis—and whether Reid could stabilize the Arista ship after demoralization among its crew was widely reported following the shakeup.

With Reid taking command and Davis' new venture at BMG being green-lighted, the political controversy has subsided and Reid raised the curtain Monday (7/17) on his new executive staff.

Characterized by Reid as his "dream team," the roster is comprised of seasoned Arista veterans and other executives culled from the recording industry, film, and artist management. Reid's staff announcement comes on the heels of what was characterized by participants as a "highly successful" BMG Distribution convention in Toronto last week.

Other players making up the Arista senior staff include Steve Bartels (Senior VP, Promotion), Matt Flott (Senior VP, Finance & Administration), Steve Gawley (Senior VP, Business & Legal Affairs), Dorsey James (Senior VP, Arista Ventures), Jordan Katz (Senior VP, Sales), Ken Levy (Senior VP, Creative Services), Mark Shimmel (Senior VP, Artist Relations), Laura Swanson (Senior VP, Publicity), Richard Sweret (Senior VP, Contemporary A&R) and Matt Walden (Senior VP, West Coast).

Bartels, Flott, Katz, Levy, Shimmel and Swanson had all been expected to take on top roles at the company.

Other top execs include Jess Auerbach (VP, Production), Jeff Backer (VP, Field Operations Promotion), Chris Chambers (VP, Publicity), Sheila Coates (VP, Urban Marketing), Drew Dixon (VP, A&R/R&B), Jim Elliot (VP, Top 40 Promotion), Robert Gandara (VP, Marketing Planning & Administration), Michael Johnson (VP, R&B Promotion), Melinda Kelly (VP, Video Production), Karen Kwak (VP, A&R Administration), George Levendis (VP, International), Tom Maffei (VP, Crossover Promotion), Josh Sarubin (VP, A&R), Nancy Taylor (VP, Business & Legal Affairs), Carolyn Wright (VP, Sales), Mark Young (VP, Publicity, West Coast) and Marc Zimet (VP, Video Promotion).

"I truly believe that this is the ultimate executive staff I could ever have hoped to assemble," said Reid. "The combination of experienced Arista senior management working alongside an aggressive, energetic slate of new faces at the label makes for the best possible arrangement of talent. Everyone of these people can look forward to a world of new challenges, starting immediately. Which reminds me—I need a mocha frappuccino with whip, stat."

A series of individual executive announcements will commence in the weeks ahead. After making the staff announcements Monday morning, Reid granted an interview, mapping out the new structure and the company's future goals.

Since the last time we spoke, a lot has happened both personally and professionally. You are newly married and the company has begun to take shape. Are you happy with the progress you've made in relatively short period of time on the job? And do you think you have assembled a winning team?

I feel really good about the team we have put together combining some Arista veterans and some new people. I think we have found some really committed people who are eager to win and get out and show everyone what Arista is now about.

Now that the political corporate mess has settled and you have your executive players in place, what's next?

Records and artists. It has always been about the records and artists. We already have a lot of records that are already in play that are carryovers from Clive. I want to make sure nothing falls through the cracks and we make the smoothest transition possible.

How long do you think it will take for the staff to get into a comfortable groove?

In about another 24 hours. We've been working pretty hard over the last week and a half. Last week's BMG convention forced us to come together pretty quickly. It jump-started the team and now we are up and running.

What releases are coming down the pipe and which are you particularly psyched about?

We have so many upcoming releases. I'm looking forward to a rock band called Electrasy, who have a strong first single; I'm excited about Dido and the new Run-DMC. We also have a new Outkast and we're still working Toni Braxton. The Whitney Houston-George Michael single will be hot. I'm also pumped about new releases from Pink and Usher and a debut from Latin artist Joy Enriquez in the near future.

Thus far, have the artists at the label and BMG brass been supportive during this realignment?

I think everyone at every level has been pretty supportive—as much as can be expected. A lot of these relationships are new. I have spoken to most of the artists and have received nothing but support. They want to know that we are committed to their careers.

Without getting specific, there has been talk that you have approached some well-known industry veterans about potential future alliances. Are you looking at any joint ventures or alliances to help propel business?

Yes, I'm always looking into that sort of thing. I developed a small company in Atlanta through joint ventures and alliances. I helped bring in people like Puffy and Bad Boy Entertainment. My eyes and ears will be open to new opportunities and alliances as we move forward.

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