Those affected by downsizing consider their options
By Beverly Keel
FEBRUARY 15, 1999:
The nine country acts who were dropped from Decca and Mercury find
themselves in the difficult position of trying to land another record deal
at a time when labels are reducing their rosters. Interestingly enough,
their managers mostly seem optimistic about future prospects. Here's what
several plan to do:
Danni Leigh: "I think we have another deal," says manager Ron
Cotton. "It's a little premature to mention names, but there have been two
labels who have expressed interest in doing something. I called them just
as soon as I knew this was happening.
"I think it would be easier for a new act to get another deal," he adds.
"Dolly Parton is a legend in her own time...but unfortunately most labels
today see her and George Jones as people who aren't going to sell platinum
albums or get airplay."
Chris Knight: This relative newcomer is in the middle of recording a
new album. Once his departure from Decca is finalized, manager Rick Alter
will begin shopping him around to other labels. "It's an opportunity to
move forward because we had been in a neutral stage for so long," Alter
says. "Now at least we know where we are. Labels have called from
Nashville, New York, and L.A., curious about what we are going to do. At
this point, we are trying to move the recording process along as much as we
can." Label executives will get a chance to see Knight perform at
Caffé Milano on Feb. 25.
John Anderson: "I've had calls from three different major labels and
a couple of independent labels," says manager Bobby Roberts. "We're
confident that we will place John with another label; we're not in a
Rhett Akins: Manager Jack LaGrone says he began discussions with
other labels several months ago when questions arose about Decca's future.
"There's no question it's a tough time," he says. "In Rhett's case, it
could be easier to take him back to radio than a new artist because he has
somewhat of a name and a fan base built up."
Shane Stockton: Manager Susan Burns' first priority is to put
Stockton in front of Nashville audiences because many executives haven't
seen him perform live. He'll get that opportunity at the New Faces show at
the upcoming Country Radio Seminar. "I know we're going to find a new
home," she says.
Rebecca Lynn Howard: Both Howard and Dolly Parton were signed first
to Rising Tide; when that company folded, they moved to Decca. W. Howard
Fields Jr., who manages the 19-year-old Howard, is currently in
negotiations with MCA. "I'm not sure how it will shake out," he says.
As for onetime MCA/Decca employees, they're also looking for new
Expect Stephen McCord, former MCA senior director of A&R, to be
snapped up quickly because he's the best at artist development in this
town. If Universal is smart, the company will find another place for him
somewhere else in its organization.
Shelia Shipley, former Decca senior vice president, will likely
search for a similar position at another label. If that doesn't happen,
expect her to form her own management company, where her label and radio
promotion experience would be invaluable.
Rick Baumgartner, former Decca vice president of national promotion,
has experience not only in radio promotion, but also in sports and
broadcasting. He says he'll explore opportunities both within and outside
the music business.
Frank Liddell, who worked in Decca's A&R department, has already
joined Carnival Music. Expect him to continue producing and publishing.