Sony BMG Combines Operations of Country Labels

RCA Label Group Veteran Joe Galante Will Oversee Entire Division

Sony BMG is combining operations of its country music labels under the leadership of RCA Label Group Nashville chairman Joe Galante.

The move puts Galante in control of the country divisions of the RCA, BNA, Arista, Columbia and Epic labels and several of country’s top-selling artists, including Gretchen Wilson.

In a trend toward consolidation within the music industry, Sony Music and BMG officially merged in 2004. Sony Music Nashville last year moved its offices into the RLG building on Nashville’s Music Row with former Mercury Records executive John Grady heading Sony and Galante steering RLG.

Sony BMG CEO Rolf Schmidt-Holtz announced Galante’s expanded duties Wednesday (April 19) in an internal memo to employees but did not indicate whether Grady would remain with the company. Moreover, details on the merger of the staff and possible layoffs had not been announced late Wednesday afternoon.

Grady, whose artist signings include Wilson, Van Zant and Miranda Lambert, previously worked at Mercury Nashville, where he oversaw the marketing campaign for the multi-platinum soundtrack album to the film, O Brother, Where Are Thou?

According to Schmidt-Holtz’s memo, the company is “combining the resources of its two Nashville operations in order to create a single powerhouse entity, which will be known as Sony BMG Nashville. With this move, we will be better positioned to intensify our efforts in the areas of A&R and artist development and to meet the challenges of a constantly evolving and highly competitive marketplace.”

In the memo, Galante is quoted as saying, “With an amazing roster of artists and an impressive team of dedicated and talented professionals, this is one of the most creative and innovative organizations in the music business. I am deeply honored to have been asked to lead Sony BMG Nashville, and I’m grateful to have the chance to work with all of our labels and departments as we write the next chapter in our history.”

The RCA Label Group previously encompassed Arista, BNA and RCA. Arista’s country roster includes Brooks & Dunn, Carrie Underwood, Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley and Phil Vassar. BNA is label home to Kenny Chesney, Blaine Larsen, Lonestar, Jamey Johnson and others. Martina McBride, Sara Evans and Jeff Bates are on RCA.

Sony Nashville included two primary labels — Epic and Columbia. The Epic roster includes Wilson, Lambert, Rodney Crowell, Patty Loveless and Jace Everett. Columbia’s roster features Montgomery Gentry, Van Zant, Trent Willmon and newcomer Ashley Monroe.