Warner Music Group has announced the resignation of Recorded Music Chairman and CEO Lyor Cohen, effective Sept. 30, 2012. After joining the company in 2004, Cohen oversaw the restructuring of WMG’s Recorded Music division following its acquisition from Time Warner. The company grew in the U.S. and U.K. under his leadership, during a time that included transitioning to digital music and multi-right artist partnerships. During his tenure, WMG enjoyed success with country artists including Blake Shelton and Zac Brown Band, and with pop/rock acts including The Black Keys, Bruno Mars, Cee Lo Green, Flo Rida, fun., James Blunt, Jason Mraz, Paramore and Rob Thomas.
In making the announcement, Cohen said, “To all the artists and employees who live and die for the music every day, and who personally sacrifice for the good of the creative process: ‘keep on keepin’ on’ in the tradition of a company that respects and honors the artistic community.”
Following Cohen’s departure, the company’s senior label executives will report directly to CEO Stephen Cooper. Cooper was brought in by Access Industries, the conglomerate that bought Warner last year.
Cohen’s career includes time heading Universal Music Group’s Island Def Jam Music Group, and founding Rush Management with partner Russell Simmons.
According to the New York Times via Warner’s annual report, Cohen earned nearly $11 million in total compensation last year, more than any other employee. The Times also reports talk of former EMI Chief Executive Roger Faxon moving to a leadership role at Warner. Faxon resigned last week following regulatory clearance of Universal’s purchase of EMI.
Len Blavatnik, Chairman and founder of Access Industries, said, “I personally want to thank Lyor for his dedication and contributions to Warner Music. He has been both a business partner and personal friend and I wish him only the best.”
Cooper added, “Lyor Cohen has built something very special here. While we understand his desire to move on to his next challenge, the enduring success of our recorded music division will serve as a great testament to the progress we’ve made during Lyor’s time at WMG. We are grateful for Lyor’s contributions, and we wish him the best. I’m confident that given the strength of our talented management team in Recorded Music, we’ll be able to drive further success.”