This week on the music beat, the pop singer's label faulters

DANCING ON HER CRAVE It probably won’t hurt her checkbook much, but it has to be a blow to her easily bruised ego. Mariah Carey is no longer among the exclusive ranks of artists—including Michael Jackson and Madonna—boasting their own vanity imprints. The singer’s label, Crave, distributed by Sony Music, is shutting down just over a year after its launch. Crave’s demise has been the subject of speculation for weeks: According to reports, its staff was recently slashed, but a lifesaving restructuring was rumored to be imminent, with former Motown head Andre Harrell in talks to run the label (although given Harrell’s recent inability to turn around the struggling Motown, it’s not clear how much he could have helped).

What went wrong? “After a review of Crave’s operations, Mariah decided it would be best to close the label,” weakly asserts a Sony Music spokesperson in a written statement. Carey’s company scored a gold album with R&B quartet Allure but has since had less success with other acts like 7 Mile, Keesha, and S.O.A.P. The situation is complicated by Carey’s split last year with Sony Music chief Tommy Mottola. Although Mottola said their breakup wouldn’t affect his business dealings with Carey, it’s hard to imagine him letting Crave crumble if he and Mariah were still a couple.

Don’t count Crave out entirely, though. “Whether or not she wants to establish a new label outside of Sony Music is up to her,” reads the Sony statement, and a source close to Carey says a deal with another label is possible. Whether or not an outside label wants to establish a new deal with Carey is, of course, another question, especially with Crave’s mixed track record. Though she gave Crave her all, Carey’s dreams of record-exec success remain, at least for now, a fantasy.