Tommy Mottola: The Godfather of Music Industry

Tommy Mottola The Godfather of Music Industry

Tommy Mottola, whose original name is Thomas Daniel Mottola, he is an American record executive, producer, and author who was born on July 14, 1949. 

Currently, Mottola is the Chairman of Mottola Media Group who spent over 15 years as the Chairman and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment, the parent company of the Columbia record label.

Early Life Struggles

Tommy Mottola was raised in a middle-class family, he saw many hardships while he was growing up. He belongs to an Italian-American family in The Bronx.

1962 was the year when Mottola graduated from Iona Grammar School with flying colors and then in 1966, he apparently finished his schooling from Iona Prep.

He was enrolled into a military school for a while before moving on to high school, where Mottola’s dream was to pursue a career in music. He learned to play guitar when he was in high school.

Tommy then followed his music career as a singer with The Exotics, an R&B cover band, while he was dropped out of Hofstra University on Long Island.

His parents had hoped he would become a doctor or manage his father’s business. Both of those concepts were unappealing to him. Tommy Mottola grew up believing he would be involved in the music industry in some way. 

Mottola, on the other hand, had attended acting courses, and he had been in a few tiny films as an extra.


Mottola debuted in the music industry in the mid-1960s as a CBS Records recording artist under the stagename “T.D. Valentine.” 

Despite his futile attempt to become a music sensation, Mottola went to work for publishing juggernaut Chappell Publishing and then founded Champion Entertainment Organization, which is now his own management company. 

Mottola’s position at Chappell introduced him to a wide range of performers, and he quickly acquired his first successful management clients, Daryl Hall and John Oates.

He also assisted Hall and Oates in obtaining a record deal as well as a number of high-profile sponsorships. He was widely famous for effectively promoting the black rock band Xavion with new media, including music videos and corporate sponsorship of music tours.

Walter Yetnikoff chose Mottola to oversee Sony Music (formerly known as CBS Records to control US operations in 1988. He succeeded Yetnikoff as Chairman and CEO of the newly renamed Sony Music in 1990. 

Throughout Mottola’s time in the company, he converted Sony into one of the world’s most successful music firms, extending its operations to over 60 countries and building one of the industry’s finest management teams.

Mottola is best known for having famous singers signed for his label. He was good at fostering, and launching the career opportunities of Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Destiny’s Child, Jessica Simpson, and Shakira.

He also initiated the idea of digitally remastering CDs of old records by Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Andy Williams, and Pink Floyd, among many others. Mottola helped Sony singers like Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, and Marc Anthony gains prominence in the late 1990s.

Allegations of Michael Jackson Against Mottola

Tommy Mottola also collaborated with Michael Jackson from the moment he started recording his Dangerous album. They were almost like friends but something came in between them which wrecked their whole relationship.

Jackson subsequently alleged that his connection with Mottola ended due to corruption in Mottola’s business procedures, and in 2001, Jackson accused him of being a “racist who exploited black talent.”

It happened during the promotion of Jackson’s album Invincible. When Jackson was there, Tommy was using the n-word for a renowned black singer. “The recording companies really, really conspire against the artists,” Jackson reportedly said.

After a month of their feud, Michael Jackson terminated his Sony contract in 2003 and declined to tour with Sony to promote his album, Invincible as a reaction to what happened between him and Mottola.


Mottola has had three marriages. In 1971, he married Lisa Clark, the daughter of ABC Records chief Sam Clark, and converted to Judaism. In 1990, the couple decided to end their relationship and filed for a divorce. 

Michael and Sarah are the couple’s two children. Michael Paul Mottola was born on July 20, 1980 and Sarah Lisa Mottola was welcomed by her parents on June 25, 1982.

Second Marriage

Mottola tied a knot with Mariah Carey, who was his second wife, on June 5, 1993. Carey’s nameless demo tape was handed to Mottola, who had been the ceo of Columbia Records, at a party in 1988. 

While Carey was only a shy and wide-eyed 18-year-old girl with great hopes. Mottola recounts hearing her voice for the first time on his walk home in his biography, Hitmaker: The Man and His Music.

According to the report, he spent several weeks looking for her. Not only because of the age gap, but also since the music executive was already in a relationship with Clark and had two children, this was problematic.

Mottola signed Carey to a recording contract in 1990 and declared his divorce from Lisa Clark, his then-wife of 19 years. After his divorce, Carey and Mottola also went down the aisle before uttering their wedding vows in 1993.

Their professional connection became stronger as their personal bond grew bigger. They lavishly spent millions on their wedding and invited all of the prominent celebrities.

Problematic Relationship with Mariah Carey

The controversy arose when Mottola was 43 years old and she was 23 years old at the time of their marriage. The couple’s age difference became the hot topic of that year.

Shortly after their marriage, they began to have problems in their relationship and grew apart to allow each other more time to work out whatever was bothering them. Unfortunately, the couple split up in 1998 and divorced legally.

Both have accused each other of being toxic and controlling in their books and memoir. They have opened up many times in the interviews of having such a problematic and abusive life together.

Third Marriage

Mottola decided to marry for the third time. He was dating Thalia at the time, then he popped up the question, Thalia agreed to it. The couple got married on December 2, 2000, at New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

They share two children together. Sabrina Saka Mottola, their daughter, was born in October 2007, and Matthew Alejandro Mottola, their son, was born in June 2011.

Tommy Mottola Net Worth

Tommy Mottola is presently the Chairman of Mottola Media Group and spent over 15 years as the Chairman and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment in the past, the parent company of the Columbia label. 

Now, Mottola is happily married to his wife Thalia, who is a Mexican actress and singer. This wealthy American music mogul has a net worth of $540 million dollars.

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