Thomas D. Mottola, who has spent 14 years at the helm of Sony Music Entertainment, has resigned as chairman/CEO, effective immediately. There is no word yet on a replacement, but a high-level source a

Thomas D. Mottola, who has spent 14 years at the helm of Sony Music Entertainment, has resigned as chairman/CEO, effective immediately. There is no word yet on a replacement, but a high-level source at Sony Music says it will likely be someone from outside the music industry. A Sony Corp. statement says a successor will be named within "the next few days."

Mottola, whose contract is up in 2004, is said to have been pushing for a renewal, but apparently switched gears. He will now start up his own label, in partnership with Sony.

"I have been thinking about taking up this new challenge for about a year, and really made the decision to go forward only recently," Mottola said in the statement. "I am thrilled that I will continue my long-standing relationship with Sony to create a company that I believe will become a blueprint for the music business in the coming years."

In his time with Sony, Mottola became one of the most high-profile music executives and a personality in his own right. He discovered Mariah Carey as an 18-year-old waitress, and later married the one-time Sony artist. He is currently married to Latin star Thalia.

Before joining the Sony family, Mottola was a manager for such artists as Hall & Oates, Carly Simon, and John Mellencamp. He became president of Sony's CBS Records in 1988 at age 37, and a year later was named president of Sony Music. Mottola became president/COO of Sony Music Entertainment in 1993 and was named chairman/CEO in 1998.

Sony Music's labels include Columbia and Epic, which are home to acts such as Jennifer Lopez, Bruce Springsteen, B2K, Dixie Chicks, Nas, Pearl Jam, and Celine Dion.