Billboard and countless other media outlets are publishing the narrative suggesting that Britney Spears is about to be attacked from all sides by record moguls seeking to sign the superstar to their label. The 30-year-old pop star’s recording contract with Jive Records has one album left. Once Spears has finished it, she will have completed all obligations to Jive according to her contract. Hence, Spears will be able to shop and chose a record company that fits her business and musical interest.
The website “MuuMuse” reports, “there’s a whole lot of people who want a piece of Britney. In fact, there is growing interest among record executives to sign Spears to a long term contract. What was first seen to be mild interest now appears to be turning into a contentious campaign that could lead to a hot biding war.
Among those hoping to sign Spears is her X Factor USA co-judge Antonio ‘LA’ Reid. who wants her on his Epic Records label. Reid is chairman of Sony’s Epic Records and Spears’ “X Factor” sidekick. Reid said: ‘I have a 15-year history with Britney and would love to be reunited with her.’
Barry Weiss, former Jive head who’s guided her career through its greatest heights is also interested in signing the pop star. Weiss now chairs Island Def Jam Motown and Universal Republic, home to Justin Bieber, Kanye West and “American Idol’s” Mariah Carey.
Both execs want to sign the singer, 30, whose seven studio releases have sold some 100 million units worldwide, to their rosters (at a cost of $3 million to $5 million per album, according to one estimate). But in what’s being described by sources as a virtual face-off, the two are approaching the courtship with divergent strategies.
Reid, with whom Spears has become “chummy” since joining “X Factor” — to the extent that she and Demi Lovato swapped table positions so Spears can sit to Reid’s left — is in dire need of an artist who can chart, having run Epic for more than a year now with nary a hit to its name (staffers insist new signings Ciara and Avril Lavigne could turn the tide). According to sources, Reid is using his proximity to Spears to woo her while also offering his counsel and promising to take her career “to the next level.”
Weiss, who essentially swapped jobs with Reid in 2011, at least where IDJ is concerned, has time on his side. “I have a 15-year history with Britney and would love to be reunited with her,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Indeed, Weiss is one of few executives with whom Spears has interacted directly and he represents a sort of “comfort zone for Britney,” says an insider. “Barry understands how her business is run and the many buffers in place.”
Chief among them: the decision makers in Spears’ life. They include Jason Trawick, Spears’ fiancé, former agent and co-conservator (along with her father Jamie Spears), who sits at his own judges’ table-like spot on the “X Factor” set and keeps a close eye on the proceedings, and Larry Rudolph, her longtime manager. Rudolph is close to both Reid and Weiss — the former via Lavigne, whom he also reps, and the latter from his years with Spears.
Worth noting: Spears’ affiliation with “X Factor,” which is aligned exclusively with Sony Music, does not give the label group a signing advantage nor does Spears’ contract preclude her from negotiating a new deal concurrently. The show could, however, bar other executives from coming onto the set. RCA Records would not comment for this story, other than to say that the label does not disclose details of its artists’ deals.
Spears has been in the business long enough to make her own decisions. Ultimately she will go where she is most comfortable.
If Spears choices come down to Reid and Weiss, it appears that he may hold an advantage to luring the pop singer. He has what experts call time on his side. For instance, Weiss has a 15-year history with Spears and is one of few executives with whom Spears has interacted directly, thus he represents a sort of comfort zone for her.
My prediction is that Weiss will win this contest.