"Columbia is a big company, and it needs to be a place where art and commerce can be married.”
——Steve Lillywhite
In a Stunning Development, Columbia A&R Heavy Steve Lillywhite Takes Rodel's Call!
By Rodel Delfin

The post-Ienner era has kicked into gear, with significant changes going down in A&R, particularly at Columbia. As we reported last week, the departure of Columbia Prexy Steve Greenberg has led to additional layoffs in A&R in order to make room for new hires. About five (senior and low-level) executives were let go on the Columbia A&R side, while Epic shed only one staffer on the West Coast. Insiders share that Columbia Chairman Steve Barnett and staff producer Steve Lillywhite have been meeting with executives to set up a new creative team. At the moment, the senior A&R staffers at Columbia include John Doelp, Jay Landers (whose house is profiled in today’s L.A. Times Home section) and Steve Yegelwel. A handful of scouts/managers on the East Coast are still in place. And we hear central core staffer Keith Naftaly will transition over to Columbia A&R as well. However, the departure of West Coast GM Tim Devine last month leaves the label somewhat underrepresented on the West Coast. Veteran producer Lillywhite, whose credits include U2, Peter Gabriel, Simple Minds, Dave Matthews Band and Morrissey, among many others, was gracious enough to take this industry loser’s phone call. He shared with us that Columbia’s new A&R department will consist of a “fresh creative team that’s enthusiastic and opinionated about music.” He further stated that “Columbia is a big company, and it needs to be a place where art and commerce can be married.” It seems that rock acts will continue to have its place at the label. It’s evident with some of the recent signings such as Arbedeen City, U.K. singer/songwriter David Ford and Satellite Party, which is a new project from Jane’s Perry Farrell and former Extreme member Nuno Bettencourt. We’ll keep you posted on the upcoming A&R additions. But along with staff changes in marketing and promotions over the past months, it’s definitely a new regime at the label. And talk from inside the company is that the climate and attitude has changed for the better… ON THE NOT BROKEN, DON’T FIX IT TIP: The Charlie Walk-run Epic, on the other hand, had very few changes. The label boasts a solid A&R staff, with seasoned players assembled over the past couple years by veteran A&R exec Ben Goldman. Senior staffers include Peter Malkin, Pete Giberga, Mike Flynn and Diana Fragnito, with scouts on both coasts still in place. The label sheds one staffer, but adds two to the team—Stacy Jones as staff producer and Billy Clark, who had A&R stints at Island Def Jam and most recently Atlantic. Jones was a member of rock outfit American Hi-Fi and recently produced tracks for a number of artists, including the highly sought-after Ronnie Day, who was just signed to Epic. The label’s Mike Flynn, who also serves as staff producer, gets production and signing credit for The Fray, who has been experiencing impressive success for a new artist. Expect upcoming releases from Josh Hoge and Day. Meanwhile, Epic acts Cartel, Eighteen Visions and Augustana are tracking upward, with solid radio play and tours… Finally, veteran exec David Massey, who maintains his position as President of Daylight Records, will continue to identify, sign and develop artists for all the labels within the Sony Music Label Group. Massey has signed and helped develop a broad array of artists that has sold millions worldwide with such acts as Anastacia, Good Charlotte and Phantom Planet. Meanwhile, A&R hitter Michael Caplan, who previously co-ran the Or Music label that spurred hits with Los Lonley Boys and Matisyahu, will also continue to sign and develop acts for label group as well. He will continue to be based at the RED offices downtown. 

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