Craig Kallman

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

Craig Kallman (born 1966) is an American music executive. He is currently Chairman and CEO of the Atlantic Records Group.[1]


Kallman began his music industry career while still in high school. He started out by DJ-ing at the Cat Club in New York, while working in Columbia Records' dance department. At Brown University, he was the CBS Records college representative, programmed urban and rock specialty shows on WBRU-FM, and ran a noted series of campus dance parties. After graduating in 1987 with a B.A. in English, Kallman worked for Factory Records and Billboard[2] magazine, while DJ-ing at such nightspots as Danceteria, Area, The Palladium, and The Tunnel – spinning genre-crossing sets drawn from his extensive record collection.[3]

Big Beat[edit]

After graduating from college, Kallman started the Big Beat label in his Manhattan bedroom, selling dance records on the street from a shopping cart.[4] He launched the label with the single "Join Hands" by Taravhonty. His second release, "The Party" by Kraze, was a major international hit, selling over 300,000 copies and prompting calls for Kallman remixes from such artists as Soul II Soul.[5] Through the 1990s, Big Beat remained an important presence in the dance and rap underground, as well as in the crossover pop and R&B fields, with a string of hits by Robin S., Jomanda, Tara Kemp, Bucketheads, Artifacts, Double XX Posse, Dawn Penn, Inner Circle, Changing Faces, and Quad City DJ's.


Just four years after Craig started Big Beat, his success prompted Atlantic to acquire the label and bring Craig into the company.[6] He came on board as Vice President/Assistant to then Co-Chairman Doug Morris. Advancing to Executive Vice President, Kallman began to oversee Atlantic's entire A&R operation. His roster of artists grew to include Aaliyah (whose Atlantic debut introduced producers Timbaland and Missy Elliott to the pop top 10); Brandy; Notorious B.I.G.'s rap clan Junior M.A.F.I.A., featuring Lil' Kim; and hard rockers Stone Temple Pilots and P.O.D. He also spearheaded Atlantic’s involvement with film soundtracks, notably the best-selling Space Jam. .[7]

Kallman was named Co-President of Atlantic Records in 2002. In the fall of that year, he forged an alliance with the pioneering dancehall reggae label, VP Records. The first VP/Atlantic album, Sean Paul's Grammy-winning Dutty Rock, sold six million copies worldwide.[8] In 2002, Kallman inked Florida-based hard rockers Shinedown and the following year he brought hip-hop star T.I. into the Atlantic family.

In 2004, with the new independence of Atlantic’s parent company, Warner Music Group (following its sale by Time Warner), Kallman was named Co-Chairman/COO of the newly formed Atlantic Records Group, and a year later he was promoted to Chairman/CEO.[9] Over the past decade, Kallman has continued to drive Atlantic’s recruitment of hit artists, among them Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Death Cab For Cutie, Jason Mraz (via Atlantic’s 2004 merger with Elektra), James Blunt, Trey Songz, Lupe Fiasco, Flo Rida, Zac Brown Band, Gnarls Barkley, B.o.B, Skrillex (via Kallman’s re-launched Big Beat label), Paolo Nutini, Janelle Monae, Wiz Khalifa, Skillet, Halestorm, Jaheim, Christina Perri, Hunter Hayes, Straight No Chaser, Fitz and the Tantrums, K. Michelle, Needtobreathe, and many others.[10] Kallman was also responsible for one of the music industry’s first “360” deals, partnering with punk-pop band Paramore. Most recently, Coldplay and David Guetta joined Atlantic as part of WMG’s acquisition of the UK-based Parlophone label.[11]

Kallman’s entrepreneurial background has also made Atlantic a noted destination for independent labels looking to partner with a major company, as exemplified by Atlantic’s deal with Fueled By Ramen – whose roster includes Grammy winners fun., Panic! At The Disco, Gym Class Heroes, and others; and Canvasback (Alt-J, Grouplove, the Joy Formidable et al.). Since 2007, the seminal hard rock/heavy metal label Roadrunner has been part of the Atlantic family. In 2010, Craig re-launched his Big Beat label, which has enjoyed recent success with artists such as Skrillex, Icona Pop, Chromeo, and Martin Solveig.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Record Collection[edit]

Kallman is a noted record collector,[13] with an archive now numbering 400,000 vinyl albums and counting.[14] He is a frequent creative collaborator with his artists, as exemplified by the 2008 Grammy Award-winning song, “Daydreamin’” by Lupe Fiasco featuring Jill Scott (now an Atlantic artist) – which was produced and co-written by Kallman.


  1. ^ "Atlantic Records Says Digital Sales Surpass CDs". New York Times. November 26, 2008. 
  2. ^ Craig Kallman, President, Big Beat Records, Vice President, Atlantic Records
  3. ^ "Craig Kallman". NY Post. 2009. 
  4. ^ "Where is Craig Kallman Now?". Carins New York Business. 2012. 
  5. ^ [ Industry Profile: Craig Kallman]
  6. ^ "Billboard Power 100: Julie Greenwald & Craig Kallman". Billboard Magazine. 2012. 
  7. ^ "Special Interview with Craig Kallman, Chairman & CEO of Atlantic Records". Songwriter Universe. 2013. 
  8. ^ "Sean Paul’s Crowning Moment". The Herald. 2014. 
  9. ^ Craig Kallman of Atlantic Records: Listen Closely
  10. ^ Atlantic Records Artists
  11. ^ Warner Music Group Completes Acquisition of Parlophone Label Group
  12. ^ "50 Most Important People in EDM". Rolling Stone. 2014. 
  13. ^ Craig Kallman – Record and Memorabilia Collector Extraordinaire
  14. ^ July 2013 "‘A Music Mecca in a Manhattan Apartment". The Wall Street Journal. July 23, 2013.