Craig Kallman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
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 in Providence, Rhode Island and launched his own independent record label, Big Beat Records, in 1987 after graduating from college.

Kallman first began working at Atlantic Records in 1991, when the label acquired Big Beat as a dance and rap 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 father, an attorney who had a very eclectic record collection. Kallman's broad exposure to a wide range of music, from Taj Mahal and Randy Newman to Hot Tuna and The Beatles, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lead to an 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 Downtown Records, Rock & Soul, Tower Records and Vinyl Mania, buying up 12-inch singles to sell on consignment and using the money to press up more records.[3]

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

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 representative for CBS Records, started working in the dance department at CBS' Columbia Records unit, CBS Records was subsequently renamed Sony Music Entertainment, and was also hired as a radio DJ by Patti Galluzzi, 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, Kallman worked for Billboard magazine in the chart department and 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. Intrigued 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".

Soon thereafter, Columbia Records offered him a deal to put it out. Kallman denied, investing about $1,800 in his own money in pressing up copies and selling them to retailers. He used his profit to create more records and had eventually sold over 4,000 regionally around the New York City area.

Kallman's first worldwide success with Big Beat Records came shortly after DJ'ing at the Tunnel, where he played the record "Shut Up" by Moonfou, released on the independent All That's Art Records. That night, he met the recording artist who performed on the song and the two soon collaborated to create Kraze, best known for the 1988 single "The Party".

After signing a publishing and management deal, Kallman promoted the record to radio and generated enough buzz to sell an estimated 30 to 50,000 copies within six months. Soon, countries such in Europe expressed interest in licensing the single 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 and achieve top 40 placement in Switzerland (#16), France (#17), the Netherlands (#23) and the United Kingdom (#29). He later signed a a trio called Jomanda, who released a series of Dance hits beginning in 1989, including the #1 "Got A Love For You" in the summer of 1991. Another signee, San Francisco singer Tara Kemp, scored two top ten singles on the Billboard Hot 100 through Irving Azoff's Giant Records in 1991.

As Big Beat's staff and overhead became larger, Kallman needed outside financing to help it grow even more. He 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 Mars, Flo Rida, Skrillex, Zac Brown Band, Kid Rock, Sean Paul, Paramore, Cee Lo Green, Rob 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.


  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.