Sony Music didn’t waste any time replacing label chief Tommy Mottola, who stepped down Thursday after more than a decade spent running the company and guiding the careers of such artists as Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, and Jennifer Lopez. On Friday, Sony named Andrew Lack as the label’s new chairman and CEO. It was a surprising choice, given that Lack, currently president and chief operating officer of NBC, has no music business background.
Lack, a former NBC news chief who became president of the network in 2001, will surely have something of a culture shock, going from Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric to J. Lo and the Dixie Chicks. But then, his new boss, Sony Corporation of America chairman and CEO Sir Howard Stringer, did the same thing, having run CBS News and then CBS before coming to Sony. In a statement, Stringer seemed to suggest that Lack was being hired as much for his financial acumen as for his media experience, calling Lack ”equally adept at business, management, strategy and value creation, as well as a consummate and proven developer of content, talent and ideas.”
That Mottola was replaced so quickly was another sign that he had not jumped but had been pushed, as anonymous Sony insiders had indicated to the New York Times and Fox News. He’d been criticized within the company for spending lavishly on artists, and in a New York Times interview Friday, he hinted that he was relieved that he would no longer have to be the one responsible for taking draconian measures to cut costs. In recent years, the company had lost market share and run up nine-figure operating losses, while Mottola himself had been the focus of public dust-ups with such artists as ex-wife Carey and Michael Jackson. He had been negotiating for an extension on his contract, which was to expire in 2004; instead, Sony will give him his own label to run.