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"We're always looking at special things like that and it was incredibly exciting doing this Beatles project, as you can imagine. But the Beatles are the Beatles, and they are a bit of a one-off."

KEN BERRY ON THE RECORD

EMI King Allows Himself To Be Misquoted By Our Frequently Animated Editor In Chief

Yesterday (3/27), EMI Recorded Music President and CEO Ken Berry formally announced the appointment of Andy Slater to the Presidency of Capitol Records (hitsdailydouble.com, 3/27). In the following exclusive interview, Berry talks about his new guy in the Tower, the label's Beatles franchise and the proposed EMI-BMG merger.

What's Andy Slater's mandate regarding his new job?
Basically, I've asked Andy to make sure that Capitol is a music-driven business, frankly.

With this appointment, you're obviously focusing on A&R. What else do you seek from him aside from boosting Capitol's A&R presence and finding hit acts?
I think Andy has all of the potential for a really great record executive. A lot of people who come out of management over the years have done very well running record companies, because it's one of the few areas where you get an all-around perspective on how to work with artists and how to make records, as Andy does. You also know how to set up records, and how marketing and promotion works. By being on the outside of the label system, he's dealt with a number of different companies over the years and he's gotten a very good insight on what works and what doesn't work. Obviously, you can't do anything unless you have the music first, and I look to Andy to bring that in. Then, the next thing is just, how do you set up the marketing and promotion. These are all the areas Andy is very, very comfortable in.

Will he be given the ability to construct his own staff? Do you expect many changes there?
The idea with Andy coming in is that he will have the ability to decide how he wants to make the business successful. He will have the ability to do what he wants in terms of staffing. But I wouldn't expect him to make that many changes. He first has to get in there, meet the people and then determine what needs to be done.

Are you looking to Andy to rebuild Capitol's black music division?
Andy and I have already discussed the need to get back into the genre. Capitol is a mainstream record company and has to have the ability to deal with rock, pop and urban records—the whole slate.

Will Andy be involved in producing any artists on the Capitol label?
I don't think he will have the time for that. But I'm sure he'll have a strong interest in exactly what people are doing in the studio, because he's of value there. It's the same with Tommy Mottola, Doug Morris or Jimmy Iovine—these are CEOs who know music, and they're not intimidated by going into the studio and seeing what's going on.

Moving to other matters, do you have any plans to follow up the hugely successful Beatles album with a special release for the coming holiday season?
We're always looking at special things like that and it was incredibly exciting doing this Beatles project, as you can imagine. But the Beatles are the Beatles, and they are a bit of a one-off. So we are looking at other projects and planning new things over the next couple of years—maybe not in the scale of the Beatles, because the Beatles are extraordinarily unique. There are different ways of selling music, which I think the whole industry is trying to do now, and I think some of the stuff we've done with the Beatles or the "NOW" projects point to a different direction in music.

What about the merger talks between EMI and BMG?
They are still ongoing.

As you have with the Slater appointment, it seems now is the time for you to move forward.
We're running our business whether the merger happens or not. The bottom line is, Capitol is and always has been a flagship company, and the selling of records is the front end of our business.

 

HITS LIST: AMPERSANDS
Dynamic duos (12/3a)
TAYLOR'S TREMENDOUS YEAR
She'd make one helluva CEO. (12/3a)
THEY CALL THE WINDFALL MARIAH (HOLIDAY EDITION)
Ch-chingle bells (12/3a)
SONG REVENUE:
BOWS OF HOLLY
Adele is money. (12/3a)
UTA MUSIC EXPANDS IN NASHVILLE
Reshuffling the deck (12/3a)
CHESTNUTS
Roasting.
STOCKINGS
Stuffing.
PIPERS
Piping.
SANTA
Coming.
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