Universal Music Splits-Up Island Def Jam Music Group, Barry Weiss Steps Down As CEO

admin April 1, 2014 Comments Off on Universal Music Splits-Up Island Def Jam Music Group, Barry Weiss Steps Down As CEO
Universal Music Splits-Up Island Def Jam Music Group, Barry Weiss Steps Down As CEO

– GoodFellaz TV Staff

Universal Music Group (UMG) announced today a reorganization of its East Coast recorded music operations that re-establishes Def Jam Recordings, Island Records and Motown Records as stand-alone labels within the UMG family. The iconic labels will build on their unique strengths by enhancing their individual management, marketing, publicity and A&R teams and re-emerge as distinct creative enterprises.

In 1999, Def Jam, Island and Motown were consolidated into the Island Def Jam Music Group (IDJ). Effective immediately, IDJ will cease to exist, and the other label brands previously associated with IDJ will be realigned under the three flagship labels, Def Jam, Island and Motown.

In making the announcement, Lucian Grainge, Chairman & CEO of Universal Music Group had this to say about the new arrangement:

UMG is a collection of some of the greatest record labels the industry has ever seen. At the heart of these great companies is the vision and creative instincts of a team of passionate professionals. At UMG, our labels are empowered to be entrepreneurial and take creative risks. By re-establishing Def Jam, Island and Motown as stand-alone labels within the UMG family, we’re positioning them to recapture the uniqueness of their brands and serve artists with the singularity of vision, focus and creativity that was at the core of their original success.”


Under the new structure, the following changes will occur at each of the new labels including:

  • Def Jam Recordings will be led by Steve Bartels, who has been promoted to CEO of the label. Previously Bartels served as President & COO of IDJ. In addition, he announced today that renowned music industry executives, Dion “No I.D.” Wilson and Kyambo “Hip Hop” Joshua, have been appointed Executive Vice Presidents and Co-Heads of A&R. Together, the team will focus on furthering Def Jam’s legacy as a label that has a profound impact on popular culture.
  • Ethiopia Habtemariam, SVP of Motown Records, has been promoted to President of the label. Furthermore, Motown will return to Los Angeles, the label’s longest-serving home, where it was based for nearly 25 years beginning in 1972. Motown will be a freestanding label within Capitol Music Group, alongside such iconic labels as Blue Note, Harvest and Virgin Records, among others. Capitol was recently acquired in connection with UMG’s purchase of EMI. Since becoming a part of UMG, Capitol has been revitalized and expanded to become one of the industry’s most powerful creative centers. Habtemariam will also continue in her current role as EVP/Head of Urban Music at Universal Music Publishing Group.
  • Island Records, under the leadership of David Massey, will expand its own marketing, publicity and A&R departments to grow the Island brand and produce the best in rock, alternative and pop music. Island will also have the ability to draw upon the promotional resources of UMG’s Republic Records, the No. 1 U.S. label in 2013 based on current album marketshare.
  • Karen Kwak, EVP/Head of A&R for IDJ has been promoted to the newly-created position of Executive Vice President A&R, U.S. Recorded Music. In this new position, Kwak will serve all of UMG’s labels in the U.S.

With the transition of IDJ into three stand-alone labels, Chairman & CEO Barry Weiss has decided to step down from his current position in order to enter into discussions with UMG about a new venture together.

Mr. Grainge had this to say regarding Barry Weiss:

Barry is a terrific music executive who led our East Coast labels during a critical time of transition. I can’t say enough about his contributions to our labels or to thank him enough. He has positioned Def Jam, Island, Motown and Republic for new levels of growth.”


Check out the company press-release from Universal Music Group Chairman & CEO Lucian Grainge below:

Dear Colleagues:

Today we’re making some important changes to our U.S. East Coast operations which I want to share with you.

Def Jam, Island and Motown will now once again become stand-alone labels within UMG. I want to take this opportunity to tell you the reasons why we’re taking this historic step.

Over the past few years, we’ve made enormous strides in putting entrepreneurship at the center of our company. Today, UMG is a collection of some of the finest and boldest creative enterprises competing in the music marketplace; at times, even competing against each other.

But, in addition to competing, our companies also share many things including a worldwide network of marketing and promotional resources and a powerful global infrastructure. Perhaps most importantly, however, they share common values: a dedication to artistry, innovation and risk-taking that has made UMG the best music company in the world.

Part of the challenge of continuing to be the best is constantly re-evaluating our organization and ensuring that we maintain the proper balance between cooperation and competition among our labels. That balance can only be achieved by putting in place the structure that will best foster creativity, innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit. That’s why we’re unpacking IDJ into its original iconic stand-alone labels. The fact is: no matter how much we might work to build “IDJ” as a brand, that brand could never be as powerful as each of IDJ’s constituent parts.

Going forward, Def Jam, Island and Motown can now separately recapture and exploit the uniqueness of their respective brands, serving artists with the singularity of vision, focus and creativity that was at the core of their initial successes, while still being able to take advantage of UMG’s global reach.

Obviously, with the change in structure, each individual label will have its own management. With this shift, Barry Weiss has decided to step down from his current position so we can enter into discussions about a new venture with UMG.

Barry is an exceptional music executive, and I’m enormously grateful for all of his invaluable contributions during a time of transition for our East Coast companies. He has positioned Def Jam, Island, Motown and Republic to where they are today – poised for even greater levels of success – and we’d love to keep him in the family.

As part of the new structure, we’ll be bolstering our East Coast labels with some additional executive resources and new approaches to support their artists. More details are available in the press release below. I recognize that those of you who work in East Coast shared services and at IDJ will have questions and we will be holding meetings where all the questions you may have will be addressed. A separate email invitation will follow.

In the meantime, I want to thank you all for the role you play in making UMG the most creative and commercially successful music company in the world.

– Lucian


young sav at DEF JAM

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