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Rich Christina

SVP, Head of East Coast A&R,
Sony ATV
New York, NY, USA
Rich Christina is a New Jersey native, a music industry veteran, and he currently holds the role title of SVP Head of East Coast A&R at Sony/ATV. His roster includes songwriters RedOne (Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Pitbull, Jennifer Lopez), Boi 1da (Drake, Eminem, Nicki Minaj), Shep Goodman/Aaron Accetta (American Authors, Rob Thomas), Matthew Koma (Zedd, Tiesto, Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson) and J.R. Rotem (Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Maroon 5, Fall Out Boy). Songwriters Charli XCX, The Neighbourhood, Gaslight Anthem, Kiesza of Stellar Songs/Sony/ATV, and veteran rockers Violent Femmes have made 2014 a fruitful year for Christina, who lives in New Jersey with his wife and two sons.

Christina was raised in Jackson, New Jersey; he began collecting records at around age 9, a hobby that was driven largely by encouragement from his grandmother and aunt. He found feelings of comfort in having the ever-growing record collection in his room, and while he picked up odd DJ jobs in high school for extra pocket money, he was dubious that a career in music was a possible pursuit for him. In 1984 Rich began studying advertising at Glassboro state College (now Rowan University), and the pursuit left him miserable. After joining a fraternity and spinning records at local campus parties, he decided to drop out of college and spend 6 months adrift, all in the hope of figuring out what was the next best step. He worked odd jobs, ranging from a same-day postal delivery service, to another that delivered medical records and eye-glasses. His passion for music stayed strong during this time, and it was at the consistent encouragement from his grandmother and aunt that he eventually returned to Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) to study music business.

During the summers while at college, Christina would DJ at the Osprey Nightclub in Manasquan, and it was there that he began to refine his skills in curating playlists and how to fill the dance floor.

In December 1990, Christina got a call from a former fraternity brother, who had since found a job at Atlantic Records in New York City. He recommended Christina for a paid internship, which he later secured and balanced with two other jobs and his school course work.

Upon Christina’s graduation his internship became a full time internship, although it was never an official post, with Rich demonstrating his keen attitude by simply continuing to present every day at the office; continuing to help with any task that was required - answering phone, stuffing envelopes, packing boxes and calling the DJs. His department took care of A&R, marketing and sales for all dance releases.

It was in late 1991 that Christina began to work with Craig Kallman, who would become a mentor and friend to him in his career. Not long after, a re-structure of the department left Rich with the responsibility of managing the Atlantic Records dance music department. His title of Mix Show Coordinator was the first official job he had with the label. “It wasn’t about title” he says, “It was an important opportunity to establish myself. There wasn’t a department to run, it was just myself and my assistant. We sent records to DJs, called radio stations, hired DJs to remix, implemented marketing plans and scoured the world for great records. It was exhausting but exciting!”

A turning point came for Christina in early 1992 after he brought Robin S’s ‘Show me Love’ to Kallman. The label signed the song and it subsequently reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, together with #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart. An A&R function was subsequently added to his role at Atlantic. In 1993 Rich continued to hone his skills and develop his reputation through his work with English musical duo - Everything But The Girl. It was his vision for EBTG as developing with more dance driven material, that led to him cultivating the Tod Terry remix for ‘Missing’, a single that debuted at Winter Music Conference in Miami, and went on to become certified gold in the US and platinum status in the UK. Between 1993 and 2003 Rich contributed A&R to numerous Atlantic signed artists and soundtracks including, Brandy, Changing Faces, Craig David, Mark Morrison, Space Jam soundtrack and Dr Doolittle Soundtrack.

In 2003, amidst a very turbulent period in the music industry, Christina was retrenched from Atlantic Records. This time proved imperative for his career as he reflected greatly on a decision for self-reinvention; questioning how to best utilize his record company knowledge for a possible career shift into music publishing. It was a conscious decision for Christina to not spend much time away from the daily workings of the business. He was retrenched on the Friday, and the following Monday morning he was back in New York City taking meetings with A&R executives, record company heads and his fellow peers.

After 12 months of consultancy work and rigorous interviewing, it was his close personal friend and Sony/ATV executive - Jim Vellutato, who recommended that he interview for a role with Sony/ATV. Subsequently Rich has spent the past 10 years as a music publisher in New York City. Between 2004 – 2009 he held the posts of Senior Director of A&R and Vice President of A&R at Sony/ATV. He took the position of Senior Vice President of Creative at EMI Music Publishing in 2009, only to return to his alma mata once Sony/ATV acquired EMI Music Publishing in 2012. During this time he has signed and/or developed artists, writers and producers including RedOne, Jessie J, Stargate, The Neighbourhood, Shep Goodman, Charli XCX, Kiesza, Gaslight Anthem, Violent Femmes, Matthew Koma, Vinylz, Boi 1da, Andrea Martin, Frankie Storm, Kevin Rudolf, and Livvi Franc.

In this next phase of his career, it is ideas surrounding leadership and mentoring that are of particular interest to Christina. In the same way that Craig Kallman, Jason Flom, and David Massey have been mentors to him, he hopes to share his experiences with the new generation of music industry and build programs that will help foster learning and executive development.
  • Friday, April 21st, 2017
  • Osgoode Ballroom East
    10:00AM - 11:00AM
    (1 hour)
    Keynote Interview & Panel Discussion
    The A&R Panel