Major Labels


weaThis (we believe authentic) memo from Lyor Cohen of WMG has been circulationg around the net:

Dear Partners,

I want to share with you the news that Warner Music Group has launched a new creative initiative known as the incubator system. This initiative will enable the Music Group to take an innovative approach to forming relationships with independent labels and artists, assisting them in the development of both their artistic and executive talent by offering a variety of services, resources and mentoring that many young labels and artists do not have access to.

The mission of the incubator system is to develop the independent music executives and artists of tomorrow, with the ultimate goal of identifying promising new artists who have the potential to be superstars at our own labels and to create long-term relationships with the country’s most pioneering entrepreneurs.

The system will focus on both rock and urban music, and is highly flexible in that the array of services and resources we are offering can be tailored to the specific needs and priorities of the individual labels and artists.

The process of identifying which independent labels and which artists we want to work with will be a collaborative effort involving our labels and a small but extraordinarily talented group of WMG executives who will run the incubator effort.

The incubator system will be led on the rock side by Fred Feldman, the founder of Triple Crown Records, who has signed and developed such artists as Brand New, Hot Rod Circuit and Northstar. Fred, the former president of Fat Beats Records and general manager of Profile Records, has also worked with artists
including Atmosphere, J-Live, Run DMC, Rob Base, 2nd II None and DJ Quik.

Fred will work closely with Andy Allen, president of our own Alternative Distribution Alliance. When Andy joined ADA from his role as general manager of Island Records in 1994, the company was but one year old. Since then, Andy has grown ADA into the premiere independent distribution company in the U.S. and is
ideally suited to support Fred, while continuing to run ADA.

Todd Moscowitz, who has been at Violator Management for the past three years, will head up the urban incubator (known as Asylum). At Violator, he has worked with artists including Missy Elliott, 50 Cent and Lil’ Mo. Prior to joining Violator, Todd was head of Rush Communications and later general manager of Def Jam Records where he spent several years in business affairs and in marketing and promotion.

Working alongside Todd at Asylum will be Ron Spaulding, who joined WEA in 2003 and most recently has served as Senior VP of Sales. Ron is a veteran sales executive with a proven ability to market releases in multiple genres. He joined WMG from Priority Records in 2000 as Senior VP for Sales at Elektra Entainment Group, where he oversaw the sales and retail marketing programs for such artists as Missy Elliott, Staind, Metallica, Tweet and Phish, among others.

Fred, Todd and Ron will report to WEA Corp.’s President John Esposito, rounding out a superb lineup of executive talent. They are poised to do fantastic things with our new incubator system, and this will inevitably lead to a strengthening of our own roster. I trust that you will provide them with your ideas,
support and full cooperation.

Lyor Cohen

hypebot: Since we applaud the concept (experienced industry folk mentoring and providing opportunities for upstart music entrepeneurs and artists), why does this memo make us a tad nervous for those who might get involved? It’s because it feels like the same old crap: the suits are just finding jobs for their buds who will give the same old sad advice to a few would-be suits. Isn’t that the kind of thinking that got this business into such a mess in the first place. No offense to those hired; but come on Lyor you are a very bright guy. Why not look outside of the Hollywood beltway to some of the folks who are doing amazing things with less money than you spend on dry cleaning?

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