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“[My dad] used to say, ‘A hit record is like a tennis ball in water.’ It always rises to the top.”
BARRY WEISS THROUGH THE YEARS
Newly Named BMG N.A. Head Has the Biz in His Blood
Woodbury, Long Island, native Barry Weiss is the son of Hy Weiss, founder of Old Town Records, a popular independent doo-wop label founded in the late ’50s, whose roster included such New York street-corner acts as the Harptones, the Earls, the Cleftones and the Fiestas. Hy named yet another label, Barry Records, for his son, who would hang around his father’s office and meet people like Simon & Garfunkel, Isaac Hayes and Tiny Tim.

“One of the most important lessons I learned from my dad is, this business is about selling an artist to the consumer, and the key element is always the songs,” Weiss recalled. “He used to say, ‘A hit record is like a tennis ball in water.’ It always rises to the top.”

Weiss’ education continued with Zomba founder Clive Calder, who hired him 26 years ago, fresh out of Cornell University, and Clive Davis. Weiss joined the newly launched Jive Records in 1982 as Manager of Artist Development, shepherding the first release by A Flock of Seagulls, subsequently working with A Tribe Called Quest, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, Samantha Fox, Kool Moe Dee, Billy Ocean and Whodini. Aaliyah, Kid Rock and Too $hort later joined the roster.

After completing his MBA at NYU, Weiss was named SVP/GM of Jive/Silvertone, eventually rising to President.

When BMG acquired the Zomba Music Group in 2002, he was appointed President/CEO to the renamed Zomba Label Group, which by that time included LaFace and So So Def.

In April 2008, he was named Chairman/CEO for BMG North America, succeeding one of his mentors, Clive Davis.

“Our philosophy,” said Weiss, “has always been to commit an artistic vision, in whatever genre, then create a support system for it. There’s nobody better at developing long-term artist careers than we are.”

Barry's son, Harrison Weiss, is a 5-11, 175-pound quarterback for Washington University of St. Louis. As a freshman last year, he played in one game for WU, completing his only pass for 19 yards. Younger son Michael plays football and is a pitcher on his high school team.

 

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