Capitol Music Group’s Steve Barnett To Retire, Jeff Vaughn And Michelle Jubelirer To Lead Company

Steve Barnett. Photo: Lester Cohen

Capitol Music Group Chairman & CEO Steve Barnett has announced he is stepping down and will retire on Dec. 31, 2020, capping a 50-year career in the music business, including eight years at the helm of CMG.

Barnett announced his long-planned decision to the company Thursday morning with Universal Group Chairman & CEO Sir Lucian Grainge. The two also announced the promotions of Jeff Vaughn and Michelle Jubelirer to serve as CMG’s next leaders. Vaughn, currently President of Capitol Records, will become CMG Chairman and CEO, and current CMG COO Jubelirer will serve as CMG’s President and COO.

“This has been an incredible journey, and I’ve been tremendously fortunate to work with such amazing people along the way,” said Barnett. “I am indebted to Lucian for his unwavering belief in me and for his unreserved support for our efforts these entire eight years. To say that I will always be grateful to him is truly an understatement. Michelle was the first to join me at CMG and has been my partner in revitalizing the company and creating an environment where artists and our employees could thrive. From the moment Jeff joined us, I knew he’d quickly make his mark on Capitol, and I’m certain that he and Michelle are the perfect team to guide CMG into the future. My appreciation extends to Boyd Muir and my many friends at UMG who have been there for me and my team these past eight years. I thank you all.”

Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group, said, “When we acquired EMI, Capitol was a gem that had lost its luster. Under Steve’s leadership, Capitol has been rebuilt into one of music’s greatest homes for artist and employee talent. It’s a fitting crown to Steve’s incredible five-decade career. To assure that Capitol’s next chapter is equally successful, we have appointed two gifted executives to lead the company . On behalf of the entire UMG family, I congratulate Jeff and Michelle on their well-deserved promotions and I especially want to thank Steve for making Capitol shine bright once again and wishing him a wonderful retirement with Nancy and the children.”

Barnett was named to his post by Grainge in November 2012. The pair formulated a roadmap for the newly-minted Capitol Music Group that centered on a multi-label approach—consisting of Capitol Records, Motown Records, Astralwerks, Capitol Christian Music Group (CCMG), Blue Note Records and Caroline—that became integral to the company’s revitalization. Barnett and Grainge relocated the company’s headquarters from New York back to its historic Hollywood home, and completed a multi-year renovation of its iconic Capitol Tower and historic Capitol Studios, in advance of the company’s 75th anniversary celebration in 2017.

Under Barnett’s leadership, CMG’s focus on artist development resulted in 32 breakout artists that have generated 93 million global and 60 million U.S. adjusted albums to date. During Barnett’s tenure, the company introduced such recently minted superstars as Sam Smith, Halsey, Lewis Capaldi, NF, Niall Horan, Queen Naija, Troye Sivan, Hillsong United and Maggie Rogers to the cultural landscape, resulting in some of the most successful releases of this decade.


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Hollabaugh, a staff writer at MusicRow magazine, has written for publications including American Profile, CMA Close Up, Nashville Arts And Entertainment, The Boot and Country Weekly. She has a Broadcast Journalism and Speech Communication degree from Texas Christian University, (go Horned Frogs), and welcomes your feedback or story ideas at [email protected]

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