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Jive Records executive Jeff Fenster, who was tasked with overseeing all American Idol alums’ albums for the label, is leaving his post as senior vp A&R, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. It’s rumored that he’ll make a move to Warner Bros. Records, which has recently installed a new management team headed by award-winning producer Rob Cavallo.
Fenster exits his second stint at Jive Records. He first went to work at the label in 1992 and was an integral member in the formation of its first A&R team. Jive would later become home to artists like Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys, after which Fenster left to join Island Def Jam Records as head of A&R. There, he worked with the likes of Hoobastank, Sum 41, Fall Out Boy and, for a short and acrimonious stint, Hanson. His relationship with the three brothers was painfully documented in the film Strong Enough to Break, which chronicled the making of Hanson’s third album, supervised by Fenster. During the three-year recording process, he rejected some 80 songs, and after a string of collaborations failed to impress, he eventually stopped taking the band’s phone calls. The movie has since inspired a fan-formed Facebook group called “I Detest Jeff Fenster.”
In 2004, Fenster returned to the Sony fold to work at Arista Records and rejoined Jive in 2006. Under his watch, several Idol graduates have seen significant sales, including Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks, Season 7 runner-up David Archuleta (at least on his 2008 debut) and Season 8 winner Kris Allen, while others, like Season 8’s Allison Iraheta, have found commercial success more elusive. His latest project, the debut album of Season 9’s Crystal Bowersox, dubbed Farmer’s Daughter, is expected to have a strong first week, according to early retail estimates.
Fenster’s departure follows the recent announcement that Barry Weiss, chairman/CEO of RCA/Jive Label Group, will leave Sony for Universal Music Group at the end of his contract in April.
Reps for Jive and Warner Bros. were not available for comment.
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