COVER STORY : Rock’s Top 40

MICHELE ANTHONY, 37, executive vice president of Sony Music Entertainment.

This former Los Angeles attorney, whose clients included Guns N’ Roses and Soundgarden, is widely admired for being skilled at both day-to-day operations and for relating to artists. She played a pivotal role in securing deals with Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and the return to Sony of Aerosmith.

KEN BERRY, 42, CEO of EMI Records Group International and Virgin Music Group.

This Brit quietly built Virgin into one of the industry’s most attractive independent labels. If Virgin maintains its momentum, Berry--who besides running Virgin is the No. 2 man in EMI’s international operation-- could add the U.S. operations to his domain if business doesn’t improve domestically for EMI.


CHRIS BLACKWELL, 57, chairman of Island Records.

After selling his Island Records to PolyGram in 1989 for $300 million, the word was that Blackwell--who helped make Bob Marley and U2 international forces--had lost interest in the music business. But he’s back full-time following a new arrangement with PolyGram.

JOHN BRANCA, 43, attorney.

He must be tired by now of hearing that he looks more like a rock musician than a lawyer, but one of the reasons Branca’s the industry’s top legal gun on the West Coast is that he relates so well to the artists, including Michael Jackson, Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones. He was instrumental in sculpting the Interscope and American Recordings deals.


TONY BROWN, 47, president of MCA Records/Nashville.

You got a sense this year of just how hot Brown is when other labels began throwing money at him, hoping to lure him away from MCA, where he had either signed or produced records by such stars as Reba McEntire, Vince Gill, Wynonna Judd and Lyle Lovett.

JHERYL BUSBY, 45, president and CEO of Motown Records.

Things have been slow at Motown, but this is a cyclical business and Busby is a hard worker with savvy instincts. So he remains a factor, especially with a roster that includes Boyz II Men, Queen Latifah and (don’t forget) Stevie Wonder.


CLIVE CALDER, chief of Jive Records.

You may never see a photo of Calder even in the trades, but you certainly hear the hits from his label. In Top 40 now: R. Kelly’s “Your Body’s Callin’ ” and Aaliyah’s “Back and Forth.” So why does this South African native in his mid-40s keep such a low profile? Responded his assistant, “No comment.”

CLIVE DAVIS, 61, president and CEO of Arista Records.

Critics may not always agree with the taste of this hands-on music exec (bestsellers include Ace of Base and Kenny G), but no one can argue with his results. Last year, Arista racked up $220 million in U.S. sales in 1993--the best in its 18-year history.



SoundScan’s Mike Shalett, 42, and Mike Fine, 51, introduced a computerized monitoring system that for the first time told labels exactly how many of their albums were sold each week. Now look for a similar impact from Broadcast Data Systems, a tracking system that gives companies the same accuracy when it comes to radio airplay of records.

MICHAEL DORNEMANN, 48, chairman and CEO of Bertelsmann Music Group.

Don’t expect this former IBM and BMW executive to ever be mentioned in the same breath as Clive Davis or Mo Ostin, but BMG has moved during his watch past EMI and MCA into a third-place share in the domestic record industry. 1993 worldwide sales: $3 billion.


DR. DRE/SUGE KNIGHT, both 29, co-owners of Death Row Records.

Rap producer extraordinaire Dr. Dre, left, and partner Marion (Suge) Knight couldn’t get anyone to finance their gangsta rap record label three years go because both had criminal records and contract disputes. But Interscope took a chance and it paid off with an estimated $60 million in sales this year.

TIM DUBOIS, 46, president of Arista Nashville.

After early success as a songwriter (the novelty gem “She Got the Goldmine, I Got the Shaft”), this former financial analyst moved into production and then to his current post. Results of his golden touch at Arista: Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn and Diamond Rio. He’s been rewarded with his own Texas label.


DON ENGEL, 64, attorney.

It’s understandable why record executives get nervous when Engel’s on the phone. The dapper Los Angeles attorney may come across as low-key, but he’s widely regarded as the toughest litigator in the industry. When artists, including Clint Black and Don Henley, want to break or revise their contracts, Engel gets the call.

JAMES G. FIFIELD, 52, president and CEO of EMI Music.

There was lots of snickering two years ago when everyone thought this former General Mills manager, who heads the long-troubled, $2.64-billion EMI Music global empire, paid w-a-a-a-y too much ($1 billion) for Virgin Records. But Virgin is now the jewel of the EMI stable. Future challenge: Shore up the rest of that stable.


DAVID GEFFEN, 51, founder of the David Geffen Co.

The big question is what he’s going to do with his $1 billion once his contract with Matsushita (which now owns Geffen Records) expires at the end of this year. If he leaves the music business, it may be because the sharpest man in the industry wants new challenges. On to politics?

DAVID GLEW, 53, chairman of Epic Records Group.

With input from such aides as Richard Griffith and Glen Brunman, Glew has expanded the Epic image boldly in such varied areas as contemporary rock (Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine) and soundtracks (“Sleepless in Seattle” and “Forrest Gump”).


DANNY GOLDBERG, 44, president of Atlantic Records.

This former manager of Bonnie Raitt and Nirvana was brought in by Doug Morris three years ago to strengthen the label’s rock credentials. In a remarkable series of moves, Goldberg, cut deals with four promising indie labels: Matador, Mammoth, Rhino and Curb Records. Look for him to be elevated to head of the entire Atlantic Music Group by year’s end.

ALLEN GRUBMAN, 51, attorney.

One reason so many superstars turn to him when it comes to renewing contracts is that Grubman is the man that the industry kingpins--from David Geffen to Tommy Mottola--also turn to when they need counsel. Billy Joel once accused Grubman of conflict-of-interest, but other stars who rely on him include Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and Mariah Carey.


ANDRE HARRELL, 33, CEO of Uptown Entertainment.

After the dramatic success of such acts as Mary J. Blige and Jodeci led to a spectacular $50-million pact with MCA in 1992, Harrell, to some degree, is on trial, following the loss of talent scout Sean (Puffy) Combs and staff producer DeVante Swing, who signed a production deal with Death Row Records. But he’s still got the acts and is making a move into TV and movies.

DON IENNER, 41, chairman of Columbia Records Group.

Known as a sagacious worker with a quick temper, Ienner has reportedly doubled profits at the Columbia label, devoting as much time to such young mavericks as Cypress Hill and Alice in Chains as such established superstars Pink Floyd and Billy Joel. He’s skyrocketing.


JIMMY IOVINE / TED FIELD, 41 and 42 respectively, Interscope Records.

Just as doomsayers two years ago were saying that there was no longer room in the conglomerate era for the maverick vision that built the industry, financier Field (left, above) and record producer Iovine parlayed a strong vision (for cutting-edge forces such as alternative rock and gangsta rap) and a Time Warner financial stake into the pop success story of the ‘90s.

CHARLES KOPPELMAN, 52, chairman and CEO of EMI Records Group North America.

The veteran music man was lauded for luring talent guru Gary Gersh away from Geffen Records, helping orchestrate last year’s Frank Sinatra comeback for Capitol and the unexpected success this year with the Benedictine Monks on Angel. But many feel his ERG division is still in need of a life-support system.


L.A. REID & BABYFACE, 38 and 36 respectively, LaFace Records.

Antonio Reid and Kenny Edmonds (top, above)--whose credits include writing and producing Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” and much of the Toni Braxton album--may have called it quits as a studio team, but they’ll continue running this hugely successful R&B; and rap Atlanta label.

ALAIN LEVY, 47, CEO of PolyGram International.

As head of a $3.8-billion global operation, this Frenchman continues to try to find the formula to put PolyGram in position to make a serious run at the industry dominance of Sony and Warner Music. The latest, pricey acquisitions: Motown and Def Jam distribution pact.


JUDY McGRATH, 41, president of MTV Music Television.

There isn’t anybody you’d rather have owing you a favor than McGrath because MTV remains the best way to build an audience for a new record. With the full support of chairman and CEO Tom Freston, McGrath is the one who pushed the cable channel to take a higher political and social profile in recent years.

ROBERT MORGADO, 50, chairman of Warner Music Group.

Morgado’s bold directive to Doug Morris to overhaul Atlantic Records has resulted in dramatically increasing not only the bottom line, but the credibility of the company’s artist roster. Now the industry is waiting to see if his equally daring moves in restructuring Warner Bros. and Elektra also pay off. 1993 global sales: $5.4 billion.


DOUG MORRIS, 54, chief operating officer of Warner Music USA.

No one has made more impressive strides since the last Calendar Top 40 in 1992 than this New Yorker, who came out from the shadow of legendary Atlantic chairman Ahmet Ertegun into his own when Robert Morgado asked him in 1990 to rejuvenate the slumbering label. Morris delivered so well that Morgado elevated him to the No. 2 U.S. post.

THOMAS D. MOTTOLA, 44, president and chief operating officer of Sony Music Entertainment. This former talent manager (Hall & Oates and John Mellencamp) hasn’t just prevailed at Sony, he is now widely regarded as a formidable player with strong leadership qualities. With Sony’s troubles in its movie and TV ventures, Mottola’s Music division is the jewel in the Sony entertainment complex.

MO OSTIN, 67, chairman of Warner Bros Records.


Tick . . . tick . . . tick. That’s the sound of an era ending as this legendary figure in the business for three decades steps down on Jan. 1. He not only brought to the Burbank label a philosophy in the ‘60s that the artist is king, but he also instituted a competitive management system that remains a model for the industry.

PEARL JAM, rock band.

Any rock act that sells 12 million albums in two years has power, but few use that muscle for anything other than to build a career. Pearl Jam (with singer Eddie Vedder, above) is the exception. In a complaint filed with the government in May, the band charged that Ticketmaster is a monopoly that prevented the group from staging a low-price summer tour.

SYLVIA RHONE, 42, CEO of Elektra/EastWest Records.


The status of women was so low in the industry two years ago that no one interviewed nominated a woman for Calendar’s Top 40 list even though Rhone was already CEO of EastWest Records, whose roster included En Vogue. But Morris and Morgado were watching and they named her to head Elektra Records, one of the industry’s most distinguished labels.

FRED ROSEN, 45, chairman of Ticketmaster.

If you want to go on tour in America, the road leads through Rosen’s company, which virtually controls the nation’s pop-rock ticket distribution system. But Rosen’s power is being tested by the Pearl Jam antitrust complaint--a move that he dismisses as a publicity stunt.

RICK RUBIN, 31, founder of American Recordings.


His label seemed ideally positioned two years ago to attract all the new cutting-edge rock and rap acts, but Interscope appears to have steamrolled past him. Though Rubin’s roster--which includes Danzig, Black Crowes and Sir Mix-a-Lot--still has some punch, his strength may be tied more to his production credits.

MICHAEL P. SCHULHOF, 51, CEO of Sony Corp. of America and Sony Music.

When it comes to the revitalization of Sony in the ‘90s, this former physicist began the ball rolling by orchestrating Sony’s $1-billion purchase of CBS Records and then installing the unproven Mottola to run it. The result: worldwide grosses of $4.5 billion, which puts Sony right on the heels of perennial leader Warner Music.

RUSSELL SIMMONS, 37, chairman of Rush Communications.


Simmons may often seem like he’s moving in 10 directions at once--from movies to TV to music--but he’s got a feel for the street pulse. That’s why PolyGram’s Levy paid an estimated $50 million for a record label that rivals say has been losing money. Latest Def Jam hits: Warren G and Onyx.

SEYMOUR STEIN, 52, president of Sire Records.

You don’t hear as much about the godfather of alternative music as in the ‘70s and ‘80s when he was signing Madonna, Talking Heads and the Pretenders. One reason is the rest of the industry has learned from his daring and now competes with him for the acts that once seemed on the commercial fringe.

AL TELLER, 50, chairman of MCA Music Entertainment and executive vice president of MCA Inc.


Besides running MCA Records, Teller oversees the entire MCA music distribution network, which includes the hot Nashville country division and the always potent Geffen Records. Respected as a sharp strategist and keen manager, Teller still needs to expand MCA’s low domestic market share. 1993 worldwide sales: $1.6 billion.


What to do if you can’t get your controversial rock or rap videos on MTV? You turn to the Box, founded by former MTV executive Les Garland to play videos 24 hours a day. Selection of videos on the Box cable channel is determined by viewer requests and “playola"--a system that, for $27,000 from a label, gets play for a specific video. And don’t think executives leave request lines to chance. They reportedly hire phone solicitors to jam the lines.

LENNY WARONKER, 52, president and CEO of Warner Bros. Records.


Because he has been so closely identified with Mo Ostin, it’s hard for many industry observers to imagine Waronker taking over the reins at Warner Bros. Records. But he’s going to start Jan. 1--and he’s a popular choice within the company because he’s so artist-oriented.


No one knows exactly which budding computer genius will revolutionize the record business by changing the way we think about hearing and seeing music. But the chances are the hotshot already has a subscription to Wired, the Rolling Stone of the emerging computer culture. Companies already are scrambling to set up on-line services to tap into the world of virtual reality--and exploit it.