Arista/Nashville Expected to Close

Arista/Nashville is expected to close its doors soon and become a part of RCA. Both Arista and RCA are owned by the Bertelsmann Music Group. Label president Tim DuBois has announced that he will take a job overseeing Gaylord Entertainment’s music division.

DuBois had delayed his departure, one source says, until the fate of his mentor, Arista founder and CEO Clive Davis, became clearer. Davis, who is in his late 60s, has been under pressure from BMG to ’prepare or prepare to accept’ a successor. With his own power being assailed, Davis has had difficulty shielding the Nashville branch from the winds of corporate economizing.

If Arista/Nashville is closed or eviscerated, it will mark the end of one of country music’s most glowing success stories. With Alan Jackson as its flagship artist, Arista was a major player on the charts and in the record bins from the start. Pam Tillis, Brooks & Dunn, Diamond Rio, BlackHawk and, most recently, Brad Paisley have all added luster to the Arista name and coffers.

Arista’s topselling acts will probably continue to record no matter what happens to their label. Life will be chillier, however, for new acts and acts that aren’t selling well. When Decca closed earlier this year, Mark Chesnutt and Lee Ann Womack were shifted to Decca’s parent label, MCA. After Polydor shut down, Toby Keith returned to Mercury. After Liberty Records folded its Patriot Records division and resumed the name Capitol, John Berry and Deana Carter rebounded to Capitol. In all these instances of label consolidation, however, fledgling artists were dropped.

Alan Jackson’s manager, Chip Peay, says that no one knows yet what will happen to Arista’s roster. “I have my opinion of what will happen,” he notes, “but it’s all speculation. At this point, we’re all in the dark.”

In addition to the aforementioned artists, Arista’s lineup includes BR5-49, Lee Roy Parnell, SherriĆ© Austin, Shannon Brown, Clint Daniels, Carolyn Dawn Johnson and Phil Vassar. Arista Austin, also certain to be a casualty, has Radney Foster and Robert Earl Keen on its roster.

An official announcement is expected soon.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to