Tommy Mottola

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Tommy Mottola
Thomas Daniel Mottola

(1949-07-14) July 14, 1949 (age 70)
Lisa Clark
(m. 1971; div. 1990)

Mariah Carey
(m. 1993; div. 1998)

Thalía (m. 2000)

Thomas Daniel Mottola (born July 14, 1949)[1] is an American music executive, producer and author. He is currently the Chairman of Mottola Media Group and previously the Chairman & CEO of Sony Music Entertainment, parent of the Columbia label, for nearly 15 years.[2] He is married to the Mexican actress and singer Thalía.

Early life[edit]

Mottola was born in The Bronx to a middle-class Italian-American family.[1] He graduated from Iona Grammar School in 1962 and Iona Prep in 1966. He attended military school for a time, and then high school. After dropping out of Hofstra University on Long Island, he pursued a music career as a guitarist and singer with The Exotics, an R&B cover band.[1] Mottola is the cousin of Jazz guitarist Tony Mottola.

Mottola entered in the music scene in the mid-1960s as a recording artist for CBS Records, under the name "T.D. Valentine". After his attempt to become a recording star himself failed, Mottola started working for publishing powerhouse Chappell Publishing and started his own management company, Champion Entertainment Organization. His role at Chappell put him in touch with many artists, and soon he signed his first successful management clients, Daryl Hall & John Oates.

Mottola helped Hall and Oates land a record deal and several high-profile endorsements. He was also recognized for managing the black rock group Xavion successfully using new media for promotion, such as music videos and corporate sponsorship for music tours.


In 1988, Mottola was hired by Sony Music (then known as CBS Records) by Walter Yetnikoff (who had been at the company from 1975 to 1990) to run its U.S. operations (it had recently been acquired by the Japan-based Sony corporation). In 1990, he replaced Yetnikoff as Chairman CEO of the newly named Sony Music. During his tenure, he transformed Sony into one of the most successful global music companies, expanding its businesses into over 60 countries, while creating one of the strongest management teams in the industry. He revitalized Sony Music's publishing division by making such acquisitions as the Beatles catalogue and enabled Sony to become the first major music company to make available commercial digital downloads. Additionally, Mottola was the architect for some of Sony's biggest global brands such as Celine Dion and Mariah Carey. During his 15-year tenure, Mottola built Sony up from a company with revenues of $800 million a year to one with over $6 billion of annual revenue by the year 2000.

He is widely well-known for signing, developing and nurturing the careers of Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Gloria Estefan, R&B group Destiny's Child, Jessica Simpson, Anastacia, Shakira, the Dixie Chicks, and for releasing digitally remastered compact discs of the older recordings made by Barbra Streisand, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Andy Williams, among others. He also is credited with creating the "Latin Explosion" in popular music by championing such Sony artists as Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony. He also worked with Michael Jackson from the time he began recording his Dangerous album. During the promotion of Jackson's album Invincible in 2001, Jackson would later state that his relationship with Mottola dissolved based on corruption in Mottola's working practices, and once charged him with being a "racist who exploited black talent". Jackson has stated later on that, "The recording companies really, really do conspire against the artists."[3] Al Sharpton told the New York Post shortly after that, “I have known Tommy for 15 or 20 years, and never once have I known him to say or do anything that would be considered racist". He admitted he was “taken aback and surprised” by the verbal assault. “In fact, he’s always been supportive of the black music industry,” Sharpton said. “He was the first record executive to step up and offer to help us with respect to corporate accountability, when it comes to black music issues.” [4]

After Sony[edit]

Mottola was the head of Sony Music Entertainment until January 2003. Since leaving his post as chief of Sony Music, Mottola has been building a new entertainment company, complete with recorded music, television production, theater, and fashion, alongside a branding and management company that had recently launched. He was instrumental in re-launching the various careers of such artists as Marc Anthony and Lindsay Lohan.[5] Later signings included Cassie Ventura in 2006, and Mika[6] who in 2007 had a #1 single in the UK.

Mottola bought out the rights to Casablanca Records (a then-diminished imprint of Polygram), and resurrected it, signing Lohan and Mika.

Mottola published a book titled Hitmaker in January 2013, written with Cal Fussman. He details his successes and the drive that propelled him to the top of the business, but also talks at length about the down times.[7]

Mottola produced the recent musical adaptation of Chazz Palminteri's A Bronx Tale. Palminteri credits Mottola with the realization of the new project, developed over the past two years. Mottola brought the idea for A Bronx Tale musical to producer group Dodger Properties and "put the musical on his back".[8] The show started previews at Paper Mill Playhouse on February 4, 2016, opened on February 14, 2016, and closed on March 6, 2016.[9] The show officially opened on Broadway in December 2016 and after 29 previews and over 700 regular performances closed on August 5, 2018. A national tour will begin in October opening in Los Angeles at the Pantages Theatre.[10]

Mottola's TV production arm is currently producing and developing many shows for cable and network television.

In 2018, Mottola's Mottola Media signed a multi year first look deal with eOne to develop scripted and unscripted TV.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Mottola has been married three times. He converted to Judaism to marry his first wife, Lisa Clark, daughter of ABC Records head Sam Clark, in 1971. The couple divorced in 1990, after having two children, Michael and Sarah.[1]

On June 5, 1993, Mottola married his second wife, Mariah Carey. They announced their separation on May 30, 1997, [12] and later divorced. He married his third wife, the Mexican star and recording artist Thalía, on December 2, 2000, at New York City's St. Patrick's Cathedral.[13] The couple have two children, daughter Sabrina Sakaë Mottola, born in October 2007,[14] and son Matthew Alejandro Mottola, born in June 2011.[15]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Hall and Oates' song "Gino (The Manager)", from the duo's album Daryl Hall & John Oates (1975), was written about Mottola.[16] The record jacket insert reads: "And introducing Tommy Mottola as 'Little Gino.' "[17]
  • The character of Gene Balboa, in the Channel 101 Internet TV Series Yacht Rock, is loosely based on Mottola, in particular his time as Hall and Oates' manager.[18]
  • Mariah Carey wrote a song called Petals on her album Rainbow (1999), which addresses her marriage with Mottola.
  • The Australian band Regurgitator included the song I Love Tommy Mottola on their album (1999).
  • Mottola is mentioned in Lil Wayne's song Spitter, on the mixtape Dedication 2: "I got that Tommy Mottola..."
  • Mottola is mentioned by Wyclef Jean in the Fugees song "How Many Mics", from their Grammy award winning album The Score (1996): "...One day I have a label and make deals with Tommy Mottola."
  • Mottola is mentioned in The Sopranos episode "No Show" (Season 4, Episode 2): Tony says sarcastically to his sister, Janice, "That Tommy Mottola, he's one slow motherfucker. What's it been, about a year now?",
  • Mottola is mentioned in Smash, Season 1 Episode 6: "Chemistry" (2012). Ensemble dancer Jessica explains to Karen who Bobby Raskin was: "He's big. He's like... umm... Tommy Mottola. And don't say 'Who's Tommy Mottola?'"
  • 50 Cent mentions Mottola in the song "Fuck You" from his album Guess Who's Back? (2002): "...Tommy Mottola ain't shootin' out in the 'hood with me."
  • Lana Del Rey mentions Mottola in the song "Live or Die": "You can be my Tommy Mottola and I can be Mariah, tiger."
  • In 2009, Eminem referenced Mottola's relationship with R&B singer Mariah Carey, in an attempt to diss her, during a promotional freestyle for Relapse on BET's Rap City: "I'm Tommy Mottola, Mariah, don't stop me I'm on a roll".


  1. ^ a b c d "Tommy Mottola Biography: Business Leader (1948–)". (FYI / A&E Networks). Archived from the original on March 20, 2014. Retrieved June 24, 2015.
  2. ^ "Sony picks NBC president to replace Tommy Mottola". USA Today. Associated Press. January 10, 2003. Archived from the original on October 26, 2012. Retrieved May 25, 2010.
  3. ^ Vineyard, Jennifer (8 July 2002). "Michael Jackson Shocks Al Sharpton By Calling Tommy Mottola A Racist". VH1. Archived from the original on December 24, 2011. Retrieved August 10, 2011.
  4. ^ MacIntosh, Jeane (8 July 2002). "JACKO GOT OFF-TRACKO, REV. AL SAYS". New York Post. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  5. ^ "Lohan to testify in mother's case". ContactMusic.come. WENN. August 4, 2006. Archived from the original on June 24, 2015. Retrieved June 24, 2015.
  6. ^ "Tommy Mottola, Hitmaker, Takes Today". New York Observer. January 29, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  7. ^ "Tommy Mottola on Relationship With Mariah Carey: 'Absolutely Wrong and Inappropriate'". Billboard. January 31, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  8. ^ "A New Chapter in 'A Bronx Tale'". Wall Street Journal. August 26, 2015. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  9. ^ "Review: 'A Bronx Tale: The Musical' Doo-Wops Down Mean Streets". New York Times. February 24, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  10. ^ "A Bronx Tale Closes on Broadway August 5". August 5, 2018. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  11. ^ "Tommy Mottola Inks First-Look Deal With eOne, Sets 'Harlem High' At Freeform". October 23, 2018. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  12. ^ Doughterty, Steve (June 16, 1997). "Swan Song". People. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved June 24, 2015.
  13. ^ "Thalía is pregnant!". People en Español. June 12, 2007. Archived from the original on November 6, 2009. The couple was married on Dec. 2, 2000 in New York. The article appears in English. NOTE: The U.S. edition of People gives the wedding date as October 11, 1997: Silverman, Stephen M. (October 13, 1997). "Music Mogul Marries". People. Retrieved June 24, 2015.
  14. ^ "Thalía and Tommy Mottola welcome daughter Sabrina Sakaë". People. October 8, 2007. Retrieved June 24, 2015.
  15. ^ "Thalía Welcomes Son Matthew Alejandro". People. June 25, 2011. Retrieved June 24, 2015.
  16. ^ "Hall & Oates smdAlbums".
  17. ^ "Mottola and Music". 1990-03-04.
  18. ^ "Yacht Rock". Yacht Rock. Retrieved March 23, 2011.
  19. ^ "Will Smith Freakin' It Lyrics". Just Some Lyrics. Retrieved 11 July 2017.


  • Mottola, Tommy with Cal Fussman, Hitmaker: The Man and His Music (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2013).
  • Tosches, Nick., Dangerous Dances: The Authorized Biography (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1984).

External links[edit]