Tom Corson is an American record executive. He is the co-chairman and chief operating officer of Warner Records (formerly Warner Bros. Records), a position he has held since January 2018. He was previously the president and chief operating officer of RCA Records.
Thomas Charles Corson
|Alma mater||University of California, Los Angeles|
|Occupation||Record executive, co-chairman and COO of Warner Records|
|Board member of||TJ Martell Foundation|
City of Hope Music and Entertainment Industry Executive Board
|Awards||Billboard Power 100, (2012-2020)|
Early life and educationEdit
Corson was born and grew up in Seattle, Washington. He moved to Los Angeles in 1978 to attend UCLA. During his junior year, Corson began interning at IRS Records; in addition to performing the standard gofer duties required of all interns, Corson worked with the sales, marketing, A&R, and merchandising departments. He continued to intern through his senior year, and graduated from UCLA in 1982 with a BA in business/economics.
Following his graduation, IRS hired Corson as director of West Coast sales; in 1985, he was named director of West Coast promotion. At IRS—a "giant of the post-punk era"—he worked with artists including the Go Go's, R.E.M., the English Beat and General Public. In 1985, Corson moved to A&M Records to become the executive assistant to the label's president, Gil Friesen. As Friesen's executive assistant, Corson performed roles in special projects, product management, international marketing, marketing, and A&R at the label, and was promoted to vice president of marketing in 1989. At A&M, Corson was recognized for his role in the success of artists including Soundgarden, Simple Minds, and UB40.
Corson was hired by Capitol Records as vice president of international in 1990, and was promoted to senior vice president of domestic marketing in 1993. Leading the label's international marketing efforts, Corson oversaw the global campaigns for MC Hammer's two Capitol releases, Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em and Too Legit to Quit, which together sold more than 17 million copies worldwide, and for Crowded House and Megadeth, among other artists. Corson also worked closely with Radiohead, who released their major label debut, Pablo Honey, in 1993. He also orchestrated the marketing campaigns for Blind Melon, Mazzy Star, and the Frank Sinatra Duets album, among others.
In January 1996, Corson was named senior vice president of marketing for Columbia Records and moved from Los Angeles to Columbia's headquarters in New York City. During Corson's tenure, Columbia's market share rose, based in part on the implementation of marketing strategies which led to the breakout performance of records released in all genres, including pop (Train), rock (System of A Down), Latin (Ricky Martin), and soundtracks (Armageddon, Men in Black). Corson left Columbia in December 1999 to accept a position as senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Arista Records.
After an industry outcry when parent company BMG ousted Arista founder and CEO Clive Davis from the label in 2000, BMG invested $150 million to launch J Records, a joint venture with Davis. An "instant major," Davis handpicked the management team for J, installing Corson as executive vice president of worldwide marketing. J was a success from the start, with the label's inaugural release, Alicia Keys' Songs in A Minor selling over 12,000,000 records worldwide. That same year, O-Town's self-titled debut achieved multi-platinum sales, due in part to a marketing plan which Inside Magazine called "one of the most elaborate star-making campaigns of the modern media age." J Records continued to dominate the charts during its three-year existence as a standalone label, and released hit records by artists including Fantasia, Jamie Foxx, Gavin DeGraw, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Leona Lewis, Pearl Jam, and the winners from the American Idol franchise. Rod Stewart's Great American Songbook releases became the biggest-selling ongoing series of new music recordings in history, and Luther Vandross achieved similar success with his J Records release Dance With My Father becoming the first #1 record of his career.
In 2002, BMG bought a majority stake in J and folded it into the RCA Music Group—which also included Arista—and appointed Davis president and CEO. Corson was named executive vice president and GM of Arista/J in 2004; in this capacity, he oversaw releases from Dido, Whitney Houston and Santana, among others. In 2007, Corson was appointed executive vice president and GM of RCA Records. The following year Davis stepped down from his role at the RCA Music Group, and Barry Weiss was named chairman and CEO of RCA/Jive Label Group; Corson, who continued in his role as EVP/GM of RCA Records, was instrumental in the restructuring necessitated by the mergers. When Weiss departed the company in 2011, Jive was folded into RCA, and Corson was promoted to president and COO of RCA Records by Doug Morris, the CEO of parent company Sony Music Entertainment. He oversees RCA's promotion, marketing, publicity, digital, sales, international, video and operations, legal and business affairs, and has been noted for his role in the success of artists including A$AP Rocky, Kelly Clarkson, Miley Cyrus, Foo Fighters, Jennifer Hudson, Kings of Leon, Ray LaMontagne, Dave Matthews Band, Miguel, P!nk, Pitbull and Justin Timberlake.
Corson, a member of NARAS, has appeared on the annual Billboard "Power 100" every year from 2012-2020.  He is a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, and has served as a guest lecturer at New York University, USC, and UCLA. Corson served on the jury of the CLIO Awards in 2014, and was a keynote speaker at the Harvard Business School's Entertainment and Media Conference in January, 2015.
Corson was named co-chairman and COO of Warner Records in December 2017. He assumed the position in January 2018.
Corson sits on the executive committee of the board of directors for the TJ Martell Foundation, an organization which funds leukemia, cancer and AIDS research. He and his family were honored by the Foundation in September 2014 for their support of the organization. He is also a member of the Music and Entertainment Industry Board for City of Hope, a founding committee member of Taste of Hope, and a founding committee member of TJ Martell's World Tour of Wine.
In June 2016, both Corson and Peter Edge, the CEO and chairman of RCA, were honored with the music visionary of the year award by the UJA, the United Jewish Appeal. An annual award for professionals in the music industry, Corson and Edge were honored for leadership and philanthropy, both at work and in the community. $1.2 million was raised at the event, which supports a network of nearly 100 nonprofits that serve 4.5 million people in New York and in 70 countries around the world through programs that provide food, medicine, job training and more to people in need.
|2016||A Grammy Salute to Whitney Houston||Various artists||Producer|
|2014||De Corazon (HBO Documentary)||Santana||Executive Producer|
|2012||We Will Always Love You: A Grammy Salute to Whitney Houston||Whitney Houston||Producer|
|2011||Majors and Minors (Reality television show)||--||Executive Producer|
|2010||Santana - Making of Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time||Santana||Producer|
|2004||One Night Only! Rod Stewart Live at Royal Albert Hall (DVD)||Rod Stewart||Executive producer|
|2003||It Had to Be You: The Great American Songbook (DVD)||Rod Stewart||Executive producer|
|2001||O-Town: Live From New York||O-Town||Executive producer|
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