While terms of the deal were not disclosed, sources say that Sony is paying $60 million dollars to Dr. Luke to start a new label and produce music exclusively for the company. The latter ingredient comes after the lesson learnt from the costly mistake of naming Rick Rubin as co-chairman of Columbia Records nearly five years ago only to see him produce more hits for other labels than he did for Sony.
While the Times story suggests that the new label, Kemosabe Records, could be of the same stature as Columbia, RCA and Epic Records, it more likely will grow organically.
For its part, Sony music is not sharing any further details beyond confirming what appeared in the New York Times article. But Mark Beaven, Dr. Luke's manager, says, "The idea is, as it grows, he has the ability to build the label."
Of course, Dr. Luke already has a label called Kemosabe and it has issued records by Ke$ha and Sabl, but in those instances the label acted more like a production deal, with the former going through, and being worked by, RCA while the latter went through and was marketed by Warner Bros. Records. While those records will stay where they are, all future signings will come out through the Kemosabe label that Dr. Luke expects to staff and base in Los Angeles.
While Dr. Luke is red hot having produced and/or co-written hit songs for Katy Perry, Taio Cruz, Flo Rida, Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson, staffing could be a key ingredient to how the label starts off , says one industry observer. "Don't forget, in the early days of Interscope, Iovine had executives like Tom Whalley, [who went on to be chairman/CEO of the Warner Bros. Records]; Steven Stoute, [who went on to found of Translation Consultation & Brand Imaging] and Steve Berman, [who now is Interscope's vice chairman]."
But Beaven says an even more intriguing question is to wait and see which artist is used to launch that label. But for that, we will just have to wait and see.