Craig Kallman

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Craig Kallman
Born 1966
Occupations Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Atlantic Records
Years active 1980s-present
Labels Atlantic Records (1991-present)

Craig Kallman (born 1966) is an American music industry executive. He is the current Chairman/CEO of Atlantic Records.[1] During the 1980s, he became a prominent DJ in Manhattan, worked at 95.5 WBRU radio station in Providence, Rhode Island and launched his own indie record label, Big Beat Records, after graduating from college.

Craig Kallman first began working at Atlantic Records in 1991, when the label acquired his Big Beat dance imprint, rising up the ranks as an A&R executive before being named Chairman and CEO in 2005.[2]

Life and early career[edit]

Kallman was born in 1966 in Manhattan, New York. As a young child and teenager, Kallman took after his dad who was an attorney and had a very eclectic record collection. Kallman's broad exposure to a wide range of music—from Taj Mahal (musician) to Randy Newman to Hot Tuna, to The Beatles, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lead to his intense fascination and passion for buying and collecting records of all genres. In his early adult years, he often took a grocery store shopping cart around Manhattan, going to Rock & Soul, Downtown Records, Vinyl Mania, and Tower, where he bought 12-inch vinyls, sold them on consignment and used the money to press up more records.[3]

Kallman parlayed his passion of buying records at a young age to DJ’ing clubs. When he was 17, he attended the Trinity High School and DJ’d at various venues around New York City including the Cat Club, Danceteria, The Tunnel, The World, Area, The Palladium, Limelight, and Mars.

He also started volunteering and working part-time at the New Music Seminar, Rockpool, and for the Dance Music Report. While in college at Brown University, he was a rep for CBS Records, started working in the dance department at Columbia Records, a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment, and was also hired as a radio DJ by Patti Galluzi, former Senior Vice President of Music and Talent at MTV, who was Program Director of 95.5 WBRU-FM in Providence at the time. While at 95.5 WBRU, he programmed alternative music and also DJ’d an urban mixshow.[4]

Post-College, Big Beat Records[edit]

After graduating from Brown, Craig worked for Billboard magazine in the chart department, and also at Factory Records. Still an avid vinyl collector and DJ, Kallman bought a demo from Downtown Records that he could later play in the club. Fascinated by its sound, Kallman creatively combined the record with another cut on some equipment in his bedroom, and enlisted a singer from New Jersey called Taravhonty to ultimately create the record entitled 'Join Hands.' This became the first record from Kallman's indie label Big Beat Records.  

Soon thereafter, Columbia Records offered him a deal to put it out but Kallman denied. Instead, investing about $1,800 in his own money, Kallman pressed up a thousand copies and took a grocery store shopping cart around Manhattan selling them on consignment to Rock & Soul, Downtown, Vinyl Mania, Tower and sold some COD. He used the profit to press up more records and had eventually sold over four thousand copies around regional New York. 

Craig Kallman's second record with Big Beat Records came shortly after DJing at the Tunnel, where he played the record called 'I Said Shut Up.' That night he met the recording artist who made the record and the two soon collaborated to create Kraze entitled 'You All Want This Party Started Right.' 

After signing a publishing and management deal with Kraze, Kallman promoted the record to radio and generated enough buzz to sell an estimated 30-50 thousand copies within six months. Soon, countries such as Europe; England, Germany, France, Italy, Benelux called to license the record and with the assistance of attorney Mark Levinson, Kallman had struck deals with labels across the world going on to sell over 250,000 units. He later signed a group called Jomanda, that released the hit "Make My Body Rock." and the dance/pop artist Tara Kemp from San Francisco.

As Big Beat's staff and overhead became larger, Kallman needed outside financing to help it grow even more.  He was on the brink of deal with Irving Azoff and Giant records, but then met and eventually struck a deal with long-standing music industry executive Doug Morris from Atlantic Records to become Vice President, and also Assistant to the Co-Chairman of Atlantic while remaining President of Big Beat Records.

Career at Atlantic Records[edit]

Upon joining Atlantic, Kallman established his A&R credentials by signing, developing and A&R-ing a number of major artists, including Notorious B.I.G., P.O.D., Aaliyah, Brandy, Timbaland, Lil' Kim and Junior M.A.F.I.A. Kallman was later promoted to Senior Vice President of A&R, Executive Vice President of A&R, and then President of Atlantic Records, before becoming Chairman/CEO of Atlantic in 2005.

Atlantic Records Chairman & CEO[edit]

Kallman has guided Atlantic to worldwide success in the past decade, and helms a very impressive roster of diverse artists such as Bruno MarsFlo Rida, Skrillex, Zac Brown BandKid RockSean Paul, Paramore, Cee Lo GreenRob Thomas, T.I., Death Cab for Cutie, Jason Mraz, Nickelback, Missy Elliott, Wiz Khalifa, B.o.B, Shinedown, Gnarls Barkley, fun., Jaheim, 3OH!3, Estelle, and Janelle Monae.

Kallman remains a renowned record collector, with a personal vinyl stash of over 500,000+ vinyl albums, 75,000 CDs, and other music memorabilia [5] making it one of the largest private collections in the world.[6] Kallman, his wife Isabel and son Ryland (named after Ry Cooder) reside in New York.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Atlantic Records Says Digital Sales Surpass CDs". New York Times. November 26, 2008. 
  2. ^ "Billboard Power 100: Julie Greenwald & Craig Kallman". Billboard Magazine. 2012. 
  3. ^ "Special Interview with Craig Kallman, Chairman & CEO of Atlantic Records". Songwriter Universe. 2013. 
  4. ^ Craig Kallman, President, Big Beat Records, Vice President, Atlantic Records
  5. ^ =24 July 2013 "‘A Music Mecca in a Manhattan Apartment". The Wall Street Journal. July 23, 2013. 
  6. ^ July 2013 "‘Rock Aficionados Trying To Spin Vinyl Into Gold". The Wall Street Journal. July 24, 2013.