Lyor Cohen ran Def Jam and then all of Warner Music Group. He's mentored several generations of hip hop stars. So when he was named as YouTube's Global Head of Music, I expected a collective industry high five. Instead, there's been almost total silence.
Last week when Lyor Cohen was named YouTube's Global Head Of Music and tasked with improving music industry relations, I asked for comment. Some expressed skepticism, others predicted failure and a few just plain had to share how much they disliked the former music exec. "He's a blowhard and a bully," said one, who like all the rest spoke only on the condition of anonymity. "He's the last person I'd want to sit across the negotiating table from," said another.
Missing was the usual flood of ready made quotes from PR teams. "If you're doing a story on Lyor's hiring, here's what __________ had to say!"
The New York Post tried to poll the major labels for reaction to Cohen's hiring, and got no response."Not a single label would offer any comment on his arrival as YouTube’s new boss of global music."
Manager and industry veteran Irving Azoff did release a statement that reminded Cohen that he has a difficult task ahead. “As a prolific manager, label executive and label owner, Lyor has a long history as a defender of artist rights," Azoff wrote. “We are counting on you, Lyor, to lead YouTube to provide fair payments to artists and give them more creative control. Congratulations, Lyor, I know you can get it done.”
Never afraid to speak his mind, pundit Bob Lefsetz wrote, "The only problem is people HATE HIM! Expecting Lyor Cohen to make peace with labels is like believing Roger Waters will get back together with David Gilmour for a concert in support of Israeli statehood.
This shows how out of touch YouTube is, I hope the ink isn’t dry," ee added, "As for Lyor himself…KUDOS! He crawled from the wreckage into a brand new car."