& Craig Kallman
Atlantic Records Group
Record-Breaking Dynamic Duo...
Under the leadership of Craig Kallman and Julie Greenwald, Atlantic Records supplanted sibling label Warner Bros. in 2007 as Warner Music Group's largest label based on U.S. market share. It's maintained that status ever since, thanks to a roster that includes such acts as Wiz Khalifa, Bruno Mars, Cee Lo Green, B.o.B, Christina Perri, Skrillex, Lupe Fiasco, Jason Mraz, Kid Rock and Death Cab for Cutie. In 2011, Atlantic accounted for 6.7% of U.S. recorded-music sales, topping Warner Bros. at 5.8%, as well as edging out rivals RCA (6.6%) and Universal Republic (6.3%). The division of labor between Atlantic's leaders breaks down to Kallman handling decisions on the creative front and Greenwald taking charge of the business side.
Kallman has been with Atlantic since 1991, when the label acquired his Big Beat dance imprint, rising up the ranks as an A&R specialist before being named chairman/CEO in 2005. Among his key recent signings was bringing Skrillex to Big Beat/Atlantic just ahead of bass music's recent commercial resurgence.
"Craig has the hard job," Greenwald told Billboard in a 2006 cover story about Atlantic. "He's A&R. This is an A&R-driven company . . . He's the mad scientist in the studio with the artists."
Meanwhile, Greenwald, who in 2011 topped Billboard's annual Women in Music ranking for the second consecutive year, is credited by her team for creating a culture where everyone is encouraged to voice their opinion and take chances. "It's all about trying new things," she told the magazine last year. "Every day we're experimenting with new strategies and just trying to think differently."
Contributing to Atlantic's bottom line in 2011 were three new acts that made impressive debuts: Perri, whose lovestrong album-featuring the 2.9 million-selling single "Jar of Hearts"-peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200; Khalifa's Rolling Papers, which bowed at No. 2 with several hits including "Roll Up" (1.6 million digital tracks sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan); and Grammy Award winner Mars' Doo-Wops & Hooligans, which has sold 1.5 million units. Those releases capped a banner year for Atlantic, which had seven albums debut in the top 10 of the Billboard 200. Khalifa's breakout success was also a key component in the label's redoubled commitment to R&B/hip-hop. Atlantic appointed Michael Kyser its first president of black music and launched Harrell Records with veteran Andre Harrell, who discovered Mary J. Blige.
Coming this year are several high-profile projects poised to further solidify Atlantic's market status, including releases by Shinedown, Prince Royce, T.I., Estelle, Trey Songz and Matchbox 20-the first new material from Rob Thomas and the band since 2007.
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