Chief Creative Officer, Sony Music
Chief Adviser, New York University’s Clive Davis
Institute of Recorded Music
Power Move: If a reunion with Aretha, a new album from Jennifer Hudson and his memoir recapping the last five decades of the music business wasn’t enough, there’s also throwing the industry’s most hotly anticipated party each and every year.
Rundown: Based on history alone, Clive Davis deserves a place on any music industry power list -- and indeed, Billboard gave him his own special page apart from last year’s inaugural tally. But there’s plenty of current evidence as to why the chief creative officer of Sony Music, chief adviser of New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music and golden-eared A&R legend is still just as powerful at age 80 as he has been throughout his nearly 50-year music career.
Start with his list of upcoming music projects, which include a much-anticipated reunion with Aretha Franklin, a third LP from Jennifer Hudson, the debut from 2012 U.S. “X Factor” winner Melanie Amaro and a new album with Carlos Santana. Davis is also co-producing a Broadway revival of “My Fair Lady,” which his mentor at Columbia Records, Goddard Lieberson, was instrumental in bringing to Broadway in 1956. Then there’s his memoir, “The Soundtrack of My Life,” for which he received a substantial advance -- and the most requests for major media coverage that publisher Simon & Schuster has seen since Bill Clinton’s “My Life.” Davis scored a keynote slot at South by Southwest in anticipation of the book’s release, with more appearances to be confirmed.
And last but certainly not least, there are his efforts to memorialize his protégée Whitney Houston, including scoring Hudson for a last-minute tribute at the 2012 Grammys, executive-producing RCA’s I Will Always Love You: The Best of Whitney Houston greatest-hits collection and an accompanying tribute special on CBS. It’s no surprise, then, that the guest list for his legendary pre-Grammy gala was filled at its fastest rate ever for 2013 -- with Hudson, Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Patti Smith, Frank Ocean, Lyor Cohen and Quincy Jones among the many bold-faced names expected, and who knows how many more are still calling Davis and pulling favors just for an invite. Now that’s power.
Clive Davis photo by Gavin Bond