HITS Daily Double
Stringer has rolled the dice again, tapping English singer/songwriter Amanda Ghost to revitalize the anemic Epic label in another bold move.


Stringer Ups the Creative Ante, Adding Ghost to the Mix While Redirecting Rubin to His Strength
As questions continue to rage around the status of Rick Rubin, Columbia’s creative head, Sony Music chief Rob Stringer has rolled the dice again, tapping English singer/songwriter Amanda Ghost to revitalize the anemic Epic label. While some question this bold move, advocates believe a creative type with fresh ideas is precisely what Epic so desperately needs.

Those who have met her note that Ghost is extremely bright and inquisitive, has an electric personality and comes off as remarkably self-assured, winning over a number of skeptics during the course of Grammy weekend, which served as her coming-out party.

Ghost is managed by Jay Brown, who also manages Jay-Z, and those in the know say both will be involved as major consultants, with the new Epic said to be taking on an Urban character, which has long been lacking at the label.

If she succeeds, Ghost will be bucking a trend, in that U.K. executives have historically been stymied by the complexities of the U.S. music business, but most came from the business side. Additionally, she’ll have a positive role model in her Columbia counterpart, universally respected Steve Barnett, a noteworthy exception to this pattern, thanks to his years of on-the-job training under longtime Epic head Dave Glew.

The timing of Ghost’s arrival couldn’t be more perfect, as Epic band The Fray debuts at #1

As for Rubin, despite his lack of productivity in his first 21 months on the job, Stringer remains committed to his creative guru, whose role has changed to doing what he does best—making records. Among the projects Rubin is working on are albums from veteran acts Crosby, Stills & Nash and ZZ Top, both now signed to Sony.

In other Sony news, Neil Diamond, who’s out of contract, joked during last week’s MusiCares tribute that he’s urging manager Irving Azoff to pressure Columbia for a fat new deal—but those close to the action say the situation is competitive. Also believed to be in the mix is UMG, which owns Diamond’s hit-laden early catalog, giving Universal leverage in a potential face-off.