WWE Launches The WWE Music Group, Neil Lawi Named General Manager
NEW YORK, N.Y., March 27, 2006 - World Wrestling Entertainment® announces the formation of the WWE Music Group, a 21st century music company linking the WWE brand with popular music across all media platforms, including film, television, radio, the Internet, ring tones, video games, and emerging digital technologies. Among its directives, the new WWE Music Group will work with in-house talent, as well as established recording artists and outside labels and management, to create new music for WWE television and pay-per-view programming, WWE Superstar albums, entrance theme collections, and a variety of new initiatives.
Neil Lawi has been named General Manager of the WWE Music Group, it was announced today by Kevin Dunn, WWE’s Executive Vice President, Television Production. Lawi, who is based in New York City and reports to Dunn, will be charged with handling all business aspects, as well as day-to-day operations, of the WWE Music Group. Lawi will work closely with Jim Johnston, who has been Music Director for the WWE for more than 20 years, and who will continue to create and produce original music for the WWE, including Superstar and entrance themes.
"This is an outstanding opportunity to merge the brand and talents of the WWE with a wide variety of music applications," commented Dunn. "Neil has established meaningful relationships with music industry personnel, including record labels, artist management teams, and publishers. His music industry experience provides a vital and essential element in expanding the reach of the WWE's musical sensibility. Like the music industry, the WWE is all about entertainment and our new music initiative puts the WWE into the mainstream, alongside our viewers.
"Importantly, there is a great symbiotic relationship between WWE and the music industry. We enjoy working with artists at every level, and have recent working relationships with many well-known performers - including Kid Rock, Korn, Staind, Fat Joe, P.O.D., Shinedown, Lifehouse, Creed, and Alter Bridge - and welcome the opportunity to create new avenues of expression for a wide variety of artists.”
According to Lawi, one of his first priorities is to reach out to major and key independent labels and music publishers to broaden the variety of music available to WWE. "Bands today need new opportunities for awareness, and WWE has proven to be a perfect platform to reach a key music purchasing demographic," said Lawi. "My focus will be to expand the talent pool from which the WWE draws to include the widest possible range of music while providing artists maximum opportunity and exposure to music purchasing audience segments via the WWE brand."
Lawi recently forged an alliance with rock legend Peter Gabriel to license his mega-hit "Big Time" as the global music theme for WrestleMania® 22, which will be broadcast live on pay-per-view on Sunday, April 2, from Rosemont's Allstate Arena in Chicago. WWE's latest compilation of covers is scheduled for release through Columbia Records on May 23, 2006. The collection will showcase WWE Superstar themes performed by Three 6 Mafia, Tego Calderon, P.O.D., Saliva, Killswitch Engage, Avenged Sevenfold, Motorhead, and a host of others. Atlantic recording group P.O.D. is scheduled to perform “Booyaka 619” at WrestleMania 22, a song recorded for the album and the entrance theme song for WWE SmackDown Superstar Rey Mysterio™. Lawi has also secured Michelle Williams from the multi-platinum group Destiny’s Child to sing “America The Beautiful” to kick off the annual WrestleMania celebration.
Under Lawi's aegis, the WWE recently launched the music career of WWE RAW Superstar John Cena®, whose hip-hop album on Columbia Records, "You Can't See Me," debuted at No. 15 on the Billboard Top 200 best-selling albums chart and is rapidly approaching the RIAA gold mark.
Prior to his current promotion, Lawi served as WWE’s Vice President, Publicity, where he was responsible for obtaining domestic and international media exposure for WWE Superstars, including Vince McMahon™, Stone Cold Steve Austin™, Hulk Hogan™, Triple H®, Stacy Keibler®, and John Cena. He also oversaw the placement of WWE Superstars in motion pictures, garnered national media attention around WrestleMania, and worked closely to develop media opportunities among WWE brands, including "Monday Night RAW®" and "Friday Night SmackDown®".
Before joining the WWE family, Lawi served as Vice President, Publicity, Columbia Records Group, where he had worked since 1993. While at Columbia, he was responsible for artist publicity for a wide variety of artists including, James Taylor, Aerosmith, Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, Train, Shawn Colvin, T Bone Burnett, and Cypress Hill. Lawi also played a critical role in the launch of American Recordings (Rick Rubin), and DMZ Records (T Bone Burnett).
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