Shake-Up at Sony BMG Classical

Classic Arts News   Shake-Up at Sony BMG Classical
It's been a bad autumn for the classical recording industry. On the heels of Tower Records' demise, Sony BMG Music Entertainment has axed the president of its classical music division and six other key staff.

The major downsizing was reported yesterday by and today by The New York Times.

Staff let go from Sony BMG Masterworks include Gilbert Hetherwick, president, who was appointed two years ago; Debbi Surdi, VP of classical artists and repertoire; Michelle Errante, VP of product management; Warren Wernick, director of catalog development; Paul Cremo, VP for soundtracks and Broadway; Tammy Van Aken, editorial assistant; and Amy Zaboroski, executive assistant.

According to, Alex Miller, senior VP of marketing will now run Sony BMG Masterworks. David Lai, senior VP of artists and repertoire, will also stay.

Sony BMG Masterworks includes the labels Sony Classical, Columbia Masterworks, BMG Classics, RCA Red Seal, and Deutsche Harmonia Mundi; it also own the catalogues of the old CBS and RCA labels. The division releases recording by major classical stars such as Yo-Yo Ma and popular crossover musicians like The 5 Browns, as well as Broadway musicals and film scores. Sony BMG's archives include recordings by all of the "Big Five" U.S. orchestras (Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Cleveland) as well as Arturo Toscanini, Jascha Heifitz, Arthur Rubinstein and Vladimir Horowitz.

The Times quotes Susan Schiffer, a spokeswoman for the department as saying (reading aloud from a statement), "Masterworks is now part of Sony BMG Music Entertainment Commercial Music Group. This will make the label leaner, more responsive and more effective in adapting to the new realities of reaching the classical music consumer. As a result of this change, there will be more resources in digital sales promotion and A&R [artists and repertoire]. Masterworks is totally committed to being a leader in classical and Broadway music as well as soundtracks."

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