New York-headquartered RCA Records, one of Sony Music’s biggest frontline label groups, has made major changes to its leadership structure in the US.
Mark Pitts has been promoted to the role of President of RCA, with John Fleckenstein upped from his current role as co-President to Chief Operating Officer.
Both execs will continue to report to Peter Edge, Chairman & CEO, RCA Records.
Joe Riccitelli, who was named Co-President of RCA in 2018 and has particularly strong connections in radio, will depart the company as a result of the new changes.
Peter Edge says that the executive shake-up comes amidst a “genre shift in consumer demand” in which “streaming has revolutionized every aspect of our business”.
It’s not hard to see what he’s hinting at: according to MRC Data, Hip-hop and R&B shared nearly a third of all streams in the US last year – and over a third of video streams – while Rock pipped Pop to second-most popular streaming genre.
Edge told MBW in an interview today that Pitts’ experience – including an early stint as the manager of Notorious B.I.G, as well as more recent A&R work with the likes of J.Cole, Usher, Miguel, and Chris Brown – meant the exec brings an “exceptional A&R track record” to RCA, as well as being “a great mentor and leader of people”. He added that Fleckenstein had proven himself to be a “tremendous partner” both to RCA and Sony Music globally in recent years.
On the R&B side, RCA has enjoyed sustained success with artists such as SZA, H.E.R and Khalid – not least with the latter’s second album Free Spirit, which hit No.1 in both the US and Canada in 2019.
Edge emphasized that RCA’s EVP of A&R, Tunji Balogun, who has signed and developed Khalid, is considered a “star player” at the Sony Music label, embodying an approach of “working with artists early, then supporting and developing them over the long term”.
Edge further noted that key figures within RCA with hip-hop expertise include two ex-Interscope execs: Aaron ‘Dash’ Sherrod, who signed JuiceWRLD at the Universal label, as well as Archie Davis, who joined RCA as SVP of Marketing in late 2018.
In a press statement, Peter Edge said of the leadership change: “RCA Records was a different company even just a few years ago. Over the past decade, there has been a genre shift in consumer demand and streaming has revolutionized every aspect of our business so we must constantly adapt and iterate on our successes.
“Mark has demonstrated tremendous growth as an energetic, unstoppable leader whose unbridled enthusiasm and experience will be invaluable in taking our company to exciting new directions. With his deep relationships and decades of success working with legendary, pioneering artists, he is the ideal partner to help move our creative direction in a renewed, expanded way for the future.”
“RCA Records was a different company even just a few years ago. Over the past decade, there has been a genre shift in consumer demand and streaming has revolutionized every aspect of our business so we must constantly adapt and iterate on our successes.”
Peter Edge, RCA Records
Continued Edge: “John has been a tremendous partner working effectively alongside me and across Sony Music globally these past few years driving our business forward. This new role will give him expanded oversight to reinvigorate all aspects of RCA’s operations.
“I want to thank Joe for his years helping build RCA for success. He played a key role in building the careers of many of our biggest artists and I look forward to supporting his next chapter.”
Mark Pitts was most recently CEO ByStorm Entertainment / President of Urban Music, RCA Records. He continues to be a guiding force for Chris Brown as the A&R behind the artist’s recent hit single Go Crazy with Young Thug, as well as the platinum-certified hit with Drake, No Guidance.
Pitts was a key factor in bringing Atlanta rapper Young Nudy to RCA, as well as championing drill label/crew Winners Circle Entertainment – who inked a partnership with RCA last summer – plus Grammy-nominated artist, Deante’ Hitchcock.
In 2018, Pitts was the recipient of the Council District Arts and Music Award and the Power of Influence Award from the city of New York and has appeared on Billboard’s R&B/Hip Hop list for multiple consecutive years.
“[I’m] Excited to work with Fleck and continue to build off of what we’ve established and I have to thank Peter and Coach Stringer for always having my back!”
Mark Pitts, RCA records
Said Pitts, “New title, same energy! It’s no secret that music is a driving force in my life, so being recognized as someone who can continue to guide and motivate the RCA family of groundbreaking artists and fellow executives to further greatness is a responsibility that I do not take lightly.
“I’m blessed to still be in an industry that I’m so passionate about and the picture we paint for ourselves is NEVER completed, so I look forward to more learning and creating culture-defining moments. Excited to work with Fleck and continue to build off of what we’ve established and I have to thank Peter and Coach Stringer for always having my back!”
John Fleckenstein began his career as an intern at Columbia Records, going on to hold various roles at Arista, Jive Records, as well as relocating to Sydney, Australia to lead marketing and promotion for BMG’s Asia-Pacific Region.
These positions ultimately led to Fleckenstein running Sony Music’s International team, creating worldwide campaigns for superstars such as Daft Punk, Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake and many more.
Since joining RCA team in 2015, Fleckenstein has helped drive a constant string of major new artist breakthroughs like Khalid, Doja Cat, SZA, BROCKHAMPTON and others.
“Bringing Mark’s fearless and aggressive drive into the center of the company will be a true game changer for our people and our culture. I’m forever grateful for the ongoing partnership extended by Peter Edge and the support and leadership of Rob Stringer.”
John Fleckenstein, RCA records
Fleckenstein’s stewardship has also helped the label score a range of hits across artists including Khalid, Justin Timberlake, HER, SZA, Alicia Keys, P!NK, Bryson Tiller, TOOL, Foo Fighters, Pentatonix, and many others.
Fleckenstein commented, “We are an Artist-first company with the best development team in the business. I’m incredibly proud of the RCA Family we have cultivated over the past few years with our fresh creative minds, experienced team leaders and our trailblazing roster.
“Mark’s passion is unmatched. Bringing his fearless and aggressive drive into the center of the company will be a true game changer for our people and our culture. I’m forever grateful for the ongoing partnership extended by Peter Edge and the support and leadership of Rob Stringer.”
RCA’s big breakouts in 2020 included Doja Cat with her No.1, platinum-selling Hot 100 remix of Say So feat. Nicki Minaj. Doja Cat attracted multiple 2021 Grammy nominations including Best New Artist and Record of the Year.
Meanwhile, amongst other RCA artist achievements in the past 12 months, H.E.R.’s social justice-inspired I Can’t Breathe scored the singer/songwriter her 13th Grammy nomination in three consecutive years; BROCKHAMPTON’s breakout hit single Sugar was certified platinum; and new stars Flo Milli and Mulatto saw their debut projects garner certified gold singles.Music Business Worldwide