Capitol: Whalley or won't he?
Universal Republic Records today will announce a label deal with former Warner Bros. Records Chairman/CEO Tom Whalley's Seven Four Ent, Billboard.biz can exclusively reveal. The announcement will be made by Barry Weiss, Chairman & CEO of Island Def Jam Music Group & Universal Republic, Monte Lipman, President & CEO of Universal Republic, and Whalley.
Billboard.biz reported that Whalley was in talks with Universal about a joint venture back in July of last year.
"Tom is a fearless creative executive, respected industry-wide for his A&R instincts and great artistry," Weiss said in a statement. "He has been responsible for the breakout success of many of the world's most exciting, original artists and we are delighted to be partnering with him on the launch of Seven Four Ent."
"Tom has always been a fierce competitor who constantly operates outside the traditional boundaries," Lipman said. "His innovative approach towards discovering, signing, and marketing new artists has always been inspiring. I'm thrilled that he's joining forces with Universal Republic."
"As we continue to expand opportunities for new artists and their music, Tom and his label are a natural fit," said Lucian Grainge, Chairman & CEO of Universal Music Group. "His renowned ability to spot new talent and work in true partnership with artists complements the creative vision that Barry, Monte and I share for our East Coast company."
"This is a great time for artists and music fans and I am excited to be part of it," Whalley added. "I want to continue my tradition of signing independent minded artists and building their careers while using Universal's ability to deliver music to everyone everywhere. Lucian, Barry and Monte's commitment to me on my new venture gives me the platform to continue to nurture artists' careers."
Whalley began his career in the Warner Bros. Records mailroom before working his way into the label's A&R department. There, he had early success with acts like Modern English and the Cure. He later joined Capitol Records as Head of A&R, where he worked with many of the label's most important acts including Bonnie Raitt, Poison, Crowded House, the Beastie Boys, and MC Hammer. After Capitol, Mr. Whalley helped launch Interscope Records, eventually serving as president of the label. There, he signed artists including Tupac Shakur, Nine Inch Nails, Wallflowers, Limp Bizkit, Four Non Blondes, Helmet, Primus and Smash Mouth. In 2001, he returned to Warner Bros. Records as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, where he signed a number of artists including Michael Bublé, The White Stripes, Muse, My Chemical Romance, Avenged Sevenfold, Big & Rich, Jason Derulo and Damien Rice, among others, and worked closely with Metallica, Green Day, Red Hot Chili Peppers, R.E.M., Seal, Linkin Park, Josh Groban, Enya, and Faith Hill.
Whalley left Warner Bros. in September of 2010. Late last year rumors began circulating that the joint venture was off the table and Whalley would take the helm at Capitol Records once the company became part of Universal. While it seems that scenario is still a possibility in one or another form, a source told Billboard.biz that it is still far too early in the process of the proposed Universal-EMI merger to make such a decision.
Billboard.biz will have more on the situation as it develops.