Sony & Murder Inc: A match made in hell
This is a story about revenge and sabotage. Take a seat, get comfortable.
Mariah Carey had been one of Columbia/Sony’s prized assets for almost a decade. There was always going to be a huge conflict of interest when you’re married to the boss of the company you work for. Tommy Mottola & Mariah Carey were married for around 5 years until she divorced in 1998.
Like any smart person would do after divorcing the boss of the company you work for, Mariah wanted to leave Sony. She owed them one more album before she could leave. So in 1999, Rainbow was recorded in 3 months and went 3x Platinum.
Mottola was outraged when Mariah left Sony to sign with Virgin/EMI in 2001 for an estimated $80 million. The competition was getting an artist who could only be described as “worth their weight in gold”.
Who could compete with her? Image wise, Mariah has always been able to walk a fine line between hip hop, rnb and pop. Would Sony be able to find another Mariah or replace her?
The answer was a resounding no.
Retaliation , Revenge & Get Back:
Mottola was determined to make sure that Mariah & Virgin Records wouldn’t succeed. Calls were “allegedly made to leak records from her next project and other attempts to sabotage the project were made.
Jennifer Lopez was now made 1st priority at Sony. Her last album (On The 6) had managed to go 3x Platinum. Sonically, the album was mostly pop and dance records, but managed to feature Big Pun & Fat Joe.
In 2001, Sony decided that Lopez was going to have a much stronger Hip Hop & Rnb element in her music to rival Mariah Carey. The label went directly to man of the moment, Irv Gotti. Gotti was charging around $150’000 a beat. She also worked with P.Diddy & The Hitmen (she was still with Diddy at the time of recording).
Because Carey couldn’t be replaced, they were told to reverse engineer the type of records on Mariah’s next album. Sony got a hold of the lead single before it was set to be released.
J-Lo went 4 x Platinum. It was a huge success on all accounts.
Glitter flopped so bad that Virgin was forced to terminate the contract, resulting in around 1800 job cuts. Virgin’s Urban Department was completely wiped out – the effects of this are still present today. EMI’s U.S Urban market share is still the lowest out of the Big 4.
By pure coincidence, Glitter was released on September 11, 2001.
Mottola settled out of court for around $3 milliom as a result of plagarism.
Sony is a Japanese owned company and in Japan, Mariah Carey’s fanbase is huge. The Japanese bosses wanted answers to the rumors of Mottola’s sabotage to one of their prized assets. Mariah’s back catalogue is mostly Sony, so this was still an important issue. He left the company in 2003, leaving behind a successful yet highly controversial legacy at Columbia/Sony.