In an unexpected move, Christopher “Tricky” Stewart has exited his post as Epic Records’ president of A&R to concentrate on producing. The Grammy Award-winning songwriter/producer Epic-distributed Vested In Culture.
In a statement given to Billboard, Epic chairman/CEO Antonio “L.A.” Reid said, “Tricky Stewart is and always will be a very special friend and one of the most talented people people in our industry. I completely support his decision to return to the studio full time.”
Billboard Power 100: Antonio “L.A.” Reid
Stewart’s departure is the latest in a series of executive changes at Epic. Both COO Mark Shimmel and senior VP of promotion Erik Olesen left the label in January following Reid’s decision last December to not return as a judge on “X Factor.” Former exec. Vice president of marketing Angelica Cob-Baehler exited in August 2012 after less than a year in the post. Most recently, Michael “Sha Money XL” Clervoix was named exec. VP of urban A&R for Epic (billboard.biz, May 13, 2013). He’d previously served as senior VP of A&R for Island Def Jam.
Stewart, whose career credits include such hits as Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” exits his A&R post as Epic works to build its market share. Among current album sales, the label’s market share stands at 0.90% through June 23, according to Nielsen SoundScan. A year ago at this point (June 24, 2012), Epic’s share was 1.81%. To compare, its sister Sony labels Columbia and Sony Music Nashville stand at 6.43% and 2.69%, respectively, year to date.
Epic finished 2012 with 1.53% market share of current album sales — a growth over the previous year (1.29%), though down from 2010 (2.18%). (Reid arrived at Epic in July of 2011, nine months after former president Amanda Ghost exited.)
Epic’s top selling album of 2012 was Future’s “Pluto” (245,000), followed by the Fray’s “Scars & Stories” (217,000), Fiona Apple’s “The Idler Wheel…” (205,000) and Michael Jackson’s “Number Ones” (165,000). This year, Epic’s biggest seller isn’t a new release; it’s Jackson’s 1982 album “Thriller,” with 84,000.
So far in 2013, Epic has debuted three new single-artist driven albums on the Billboard 200 chart: Marcus Canty’s debut EP “This is Marcus Canty,” Joe Satriani’s “Unstoppable Momentum,” and the Quadron set. Other albums on deck for the label: Sara Bareilles’ “The Blessed Unrest” (July 16), Karmin’s upcoming full-length Epic debut, singer/songwriter Bonnie McKee’s debut album, and X Factor girl group Fifth Harmony’s debut.