Mike Elizondo, who has worked with Eminem, Dr. Dre and produced Fiona Apple’s 2005 album Extraordinary Machine, has joined Warner Bros. Records as a staff producer and Senior VP of A&R, the Hollywood Reporter has learned.
It’s the same title recently installed WBR chairman Rob Cavallo held in a previous position at the label. And like Cavallo, Elizondo is known primarily for his production work, having played a key role in some of the biggest hits of the last decade including Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady” and 50 Cent’s “In Da Club,” which he co-wrote. For his publishing work, Elizondo is repped by Arthouse Entertainment, the company owned by Kara DioGuardi, who is also a top A&R exec at Warners.
“Mike’s raw talent is a perfect fit,” Cavallo tells THR. “He just had a No. 1 country record with Carrie Underwood, we just had a big success with Avenged Sevenfold, which he produced. He does heavy metal, pop, rock, hip hop — the guy can do anything!”
Indeed, much of Elizondo’s new role at the label that’s home to Green Day, My Chemical Romance and Josh Groban will be creative. “There’s a great tradition here at Warner Bros. Records, which established the staff producer philosophy early on, where they could sign stuff and go into the studio and bring to fruition a vision to really help the artist,” adds Cavallo. “And at the same time, the artists have a producer with both feet in the label so they’re always aware of what the current landscape is like.”
Elizondo’s hiring is the latest move in a dramatic restructuring of the venerable label’s A&R team, initiated in fall 2010 by Warner Music Group head Lyor Cohen. Signs so far point to a realignment with a heavy urban focus (former Jive A&R exec Jeff Fenster is also WBR-bound with a tentative start date of Jan. 17), but Cavallo says it’s about finding “great” talent no matter what the genre. “If I was to find a great rock band right now, or a pop artist, or a hip hop artist, we’d sign it,” he says.
As for additional restructuring, Cavallo reassures the label’s darkest layoff days are behind it. “We’ve been through all the major personnel changes, it’s only minor tweaks now — no wholesale changes,” he adds. “Our team is in place for the most part, we’re still analyzing the roster and aggressively looking to sign new things. Those are my priorities: breaking new artists and doing a great job by the artists we have here.”