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Sony Music reboots Arista, plans publishing and management projects with its new boss

By | Published on Tuesday 10 July 2018

Clive Davis, David Massey, Rob Stringer

Sony Music in the US is relaunching Arista as a standalone frontline label. Or a “frontline creative centre” if you prefer, which I’m assuming you don’t. It will be led by David Massey who returns to Sony after a decade running labels at Universal Music.

In addition to running the revamped version of Arista – the label originally founded by record industry veteran Clive Davies in 1974 – Massey will also pursue music publishing and artist management projects with Sony. He began his career in the UK in artist management before his first stint with Sony Music began in the early 1990s.

He’ll report directly into Sony Music top dude Rob Stringer in his new job, who said of the appointment and Arista relaunch: “We are excited to be reintroducing the iconic Arista brand as a full major label under the leadership of David Massey. David is a visionary and progressive talent developer and his recent success at breaking new artists around the world only highlights his remarkable consistency of creative success year after year”.

On the planned projects beyond the Arista label, Stringer added: “As well as releasing new music to the world, David will use his vast experience in building new publishing and artist management ventures that will enhance Sony Music’s overall music strategy”.

Massey himself said: “I want to thank Rob Stringer for the phenomenal opportunity to return to Sony Music in an expansive new partnership and lead the next chapter of Arista Records. Clive Davis made the Arista name synonymous with tremendous creativity and great songs, and I look forward to continuing that identity by working with the many talented people at Sony to build a new roster of hit artists. I am also excited to join forces with Sony to drive additional growth through artist management and music publishing”.

Of course, Sony Music dabbling in music publishing is interesting, given the largest music publisher in the world is its sister company Sony/ATV. The two global Sony music businesses are run pretty autonomously, whereas at Universal and Warner – although recordings and publishing are separate divisions – they meet at the top.

Until recently, Sony didn’t own Sony/ATV outright, of course. Now it does, and it is in the process of taking control of its EMI Music Publishing subsidiary too. This means that if and when Sony/ATV chief Marty Bandier finally gets round to retiring, that could be a good opportunity for Sony Corp to more closely align its two main music companies.