hip hop music

January 26, 2004

Elroy! Elroy Cohen!

Another sign that Redman is right about Def Jam "losing their soul"?*

Warner Music Is Said to Pick Head of Unit

Lyor Cohen, the music impresario who has fostered the careers of artists like Public Enemy and Bon Jovi, is expected to join Warner Music as the head of its North American operations, two people briefed on the negotiations said on Friday.

Executives are still working out the details of Mr. Cohen's contract, but an announcement could come as early as Sunday, these people said. Mr. Cohen was offered as much as $50 million for five years to stay at the Island Def Jam Music Group, a division of the Universal Music Group, where he is chief executive and has spent much of his career, according to one of these people. His deal at Warner is expected to be even richer, this person said, and could include a stake in Warner Music.

Last November, Time Warner sold its music division for $2.6 billion to an investor group led by Edgar Bronfman Jr., the Seagram heir, and the investor Thomas H. Lee. Mr. Bronfman has known Mr. Cohen since he and his partners sold their stake in Def Jam Records for about $130 million to Seagram in 1999, which then owned Universal and was later acquired by Vivendi.

But Mr. Cohen will be facing a task at Warner very different from the one he had at Island Def Jam. Doug Morris, chief executive of Universal Music Group, often protected his top lieutenants from the pressure -- financial or otherwise -- of corporate bosses, which at one point included Mr. Bronfman. Warner Music is now in the hands of private equity investors, including Bain Capital and Providence Equity Partners, which will be looking for steep returns and unlikely to tolerate any profligate spending...

extra note from more recent report:

While Mr. Cohen's career has always seemed to follow an upward trajectory, the last year has proved to be more difficult than most. TVT Records was awarded $132 million in a contract dispute with Mr. Cohen and the Island Def Jam Music Group over the release of an album featuring Ja Rule, who is a Def Jam artist. A federal judge later lowered the amount to $53 million; a representative for Mr. Cohen said he was appealing the decision. And his recent effort to reinvigorate Mariah Carey's career was a limited success at best.

*Audio of Redman's comment on Def Jam courtesy of Dif Kitch.

Posted by jsmooth995 at January 26, 2004 12:10 AM

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