Steve Cooper is leaving Warner Music Group. Will one in every of these 53 folks change him as CEO? – Music Enterprise Worldwide

The music enterprise information cycle has hit one thing of a summer time lull. Besides over at Warner Music Group, that’s, the place final week it was confirmed that long-time CEO, Steve Cooper, is to step down.

Cooper will stay within the WMG hot-seat whereas helping with the seek for his successor – a course of that might, says Warner, take a full 18 months (to the top of 2023).

As quickly as MBW learn the information about Cooper’s departure final Wednesday, our thoughts started whirring.

Who will in the end find yourself taking on the CEO function from Cooper? Will that particular person come from inside or exterior of Warner?

And, crucially, will that particular person come from inside or exterior of the music trade?

Over the previous few days, as these questions have zipped round our cerebrum, we’ve been jotting down names. Some enjoyable, some severe; some American, some not-so American; some Warner-to-the-core, some fierce rivals of WMG.

One factor that have to be considered right here is that Warner – and the worldwide music rights trade – is sort of unrecognizable from the enterprise that Steve Cooper was flung into when he first turned WMG boss in 2011.

That yr, in keeping with RIAA knowledge, the US music trade was producing simply $247.8 million from paid streaming. Final yr, the identical annual determine was practically 35 instances that dimension ($8.6bn).

In the meantime, corporations like Warner are pinning no less than a few of their future development hopes on music’s relationship with industries exterior of music (health, gaming, social and many others.).

Goldman Sachs, for one, thinks that’s a sensible technique.

Will these components play right into a post-Steve Cooper recruiting course of at Warner that craves range – {of professional} expertise, of trade, of contacts?

Or will the pedigree of a very stellar long-term music govt show too highly effective to miss?

Protecting most prospects, listed below are 53 potential new Warner Music Group CEOs, divided into 5 neat classes:


  1. Abigail Johnson (President & CEO,  Constancy Investments; vital shareholder, WMG)
  2. Ceci Kurzman (Board Member, WMG; President, Nexus Administration Group)
  3. Man Moot (Co-Chair & CEO, Warner Chappell Music)
  4. Julie Greenwald (Co-Chair, COO, Atlantic Data)
  5. Kevin Liles, (Chairman & CEO, 300 Elektra Leisure)
  6. Max Lousada (International CEO of Recorded Music, WMG)
  7. Michael Lynton (Board Member, WMG; Chairman, Snap)
  8. Nancy Dubuc (Board Member, WMG; CEO, Vice Media)
  9. Oana Ruxandra (Chief Digital Officer & EVP, Enterprise Improvement, WMG)
  10. Simon Robson (CEO, Worldwide, Recorded Music, WMG)

Warner Music Group has an abundance of govt expertise that might step into the CEO place after Steve Cooper’s exit.

For a lot of, Max Lousada (at present CEO of recorded music for WMG) is an apparent inheritor to the throne. Lousada has, in spite of everything, led Warner’s international labels as a collective since accepting his present function in 2017. As such, he’s confirmed his capacity to handle complicated inside politics and conflicting agendas, all whereas sustaining his key artist relationships.

Warner’s most profitable frontline label, in fact, is Atlantic Data, which continues to be led by its long-time co-heads, Julie Greenwald and Craig Kallman. Assuming that A&R supremo Kallman would proceed to be happier (and at his finest) within the studio somewhat than the boardroom, may Greenwald be serious about contemplating a transfer additional up the company ladder?

Different execs who may be capable to make a case for his or her CEO-worthiness embrace WMG’s Chief Digital Officer, Oana Ruxandra, who has spearheaded Warner’s push into Web3 whereas neatly navigating probably uneven negotiations between WMG and its largest digital companions.

Even when Warner goes ‘contained in the tent’ for its subsequent CEO, it won’t essentially choose an worker.

WMG’s board at this time affords its personal media and enterprise titans, together with Nancy Dubuc, who’s CEO of Vice Media for her day job.

Michael Lynton, one other WMG board member, has his personal immense media credentials: he’s been Chair of Snap In (aka Snapchat) for six years, and can be the previous CEO of Sony Leisure and Sony Corp of America.

Then, at No.10 in our record above, there’s a reputation a few of you won’t acknowledge: Abigail (Abby) Johnson.

Who? A billionaire businessperson with actual monetary pedigree, that’s who. Johnson (pictured inset) runs Constancy Investments, a Boston-based service that makes investments on behalf of 23 million people, and 20,000 companies.

Constancy Investments just-so-happens to be Warner Music Group’s largest public investor: in keeping with a submitting seen by MBW dated February this yr, Constancy owned 9.8% of Warner’s accessible Class A Widespread Inventory in Q1.


  1. Edgar Bronfman Jr., (Managing Companion, Accretive LLC)
  2. John Janick (Chairman & CEO, Interscope Geffen A&M)
  3. Jon Platt (Chairman & CEO, Sony Music Publishing)
  4. Man Oseary (Co-founder, Maverick)
  5. Irving Azoff, (Founder, The Azoff Firm)
  6. Lyor Cohen (International Head of Music, YouTube)
  7. Ole Obermann (International Head of Music, TikTok)
  8. Rob Wiesenthal (Founder & CEO, Blade)
  9. Stu Bergen (Unknown)
  10. Sylvia Rhone (Chairman & CEO, Epic Data)

Everybody loves a great make-up film, proper? Even Warner Music Group’s board?

In the event that they do, there’s a lotta attention-grabbing prospects in WMG’s little black e book. These prospects don’t come any much less attention-grabbing than Edgar Bronfman Jr. – the person who ran Warner Music Group from 2004 to 2011.

Throughout that interval, Bronfman (pictured inset) not solely took WMG public for the primary time (2005 on the NYSE), he additionally bought Warner to Entry Industries (and Len Blavatnik) for a now-bargain-looking $3.3 billion in 2011.

Bronfman, who in the end steered Warner previous the cruel terrain of the post-Napster years, might really feel he has unfinished enterprise to are likely to.

One other enjoyable storyline: Man Oseary, who turned one of many first staff of Madonna x Warner Music Group’s Maverick Data within the early ’90s. Oseary rose the ranks to Chairman of Maverick, having large success with the likes of Alanis Morissette and the Kill Invoice soundtrack alongside the best way.

Sadly, the mission ended, as these items usually do, with a falling out; there was an unsightly suing-and-countersuing scenario between Maverick’s house owners and Warner Music Group in 2004. By 2006, Warner absolutely owned the label. And by 2009, it was shuttered.

Oseary went on to ascertain himself as a super-manager (U2, Madonna and many others.). He resurrected the Maverick identify at Dwell Nation in 2014, however stood down from his involvement in that mission in 2020.

Warner’s fingerprints are additionally on the résumés on different music biz goliaths to various levels, from Irving Azoff (who launched Big Data as a JV with Warner within the early ’90s), to Lyor Cohen – at this time, YouTube’s international Head Of Music, however for eight years (2004-2012) probably the most senior executives at Warner Music within the States.

Jon Platt, Sony

We’d be shocked if Warner’s board doesn’t no less than chat by making a delicate inquiry in the direction of two of the trendy enterprise’s most in-form CEOs, each of whom have historical past with WMG: Interscope Geffen A&M’s John Janick and Sony Music Publishing’s Jon Platt.

Janick left Warner Music / Atlantic to hitch Interscope in 2012.

It was a giant gamble for the exec, who needed to fill the sneakers of the legendary Jimmy Iovine at Interscope. However by growing a contemporary crop of Interscope megastars since – not least Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo – Janick has confirmed himself to be an govt with that uncommon mixture: a Midas contact with artists, and a severe head for enterprise.

Talking of which, Jon Platt made his identify as a C-suite govt at Warner Chappell Music, the place he was Chairman and CEO from 2015 till 2019 – a interval during which he oversaw double-digit development on the writer.

Since 2019, Platt (pictured inset) has been Chairman and CEO of Sony Music Publishing. Thanks largely to SMP’s success, Sony’s international music publishing operation is that this yr will push in the direction of (and probably surpass) $2 billion in annual revenues.


  1. Adam Granite (CEO, Africa, Center East and Asia, Common Music Group)
  2. Afo Verde (Chairman & CEO, Sony Music Latin Iberia)
  3. Desiree Perez (CEO, Roc Nation)
  4. Jeffrey Harleston (Common Counsel & EVP, Common Music Group)
  5. Jay Marciano (CEO, AEG Dwell)
  6. Jody Gerson (Chairman & CEO, Common Music Publishing Group)
  7. Oliver Schusser / Eddy Cue (VP, Apple Music / SVP, Apple)
  8. Park Ji-won / Lenzo Yoon (CEO, HYBE / CEO, HYBE America)
  9. James Mitchell, (Chief Technique Officer, Tencent Holdings)
  10. Steve Stoute, (CEO, United Masters)

We’ve assumed right here the leaders of at this time’s main US and Europe-based rightsholders – plus their closest C-suite lieutenants – are too devoted to their very own ships to think about hopping over to Warner.

That clearly guidelines out Sir Lucian Grainge (Common Music Group), Rob Stringer (Sony Music Group), Merck Mercuriadis (Hipgnosis Tune Administration), Denis Ladegaillerie (Imagine), Hartwig Masuch (BMG), Willard Ahdritz & Laurent Hubert (Kobalt Music Group), and Larry Mestel (Main Wave), to call a couple of.

So then you definately begin to marvel: If WMG’s board is accepting of this restriction, who else may they strategy that’s at present working for one more music firm?

One attention-grabbing highway WMG may go down: contemplating which executives, at present driving excessive at digital service suppliers (DSPs), have the temperament, strategic intelligence, and expertise to run a multinational company.

A few names for the pot there: Oliver Schusser at Apple Music, and his fellow Cupertino Massive Cheese, Eddy Cue (pictured inset), may each attraction to WMG shareholders.

On a extra worldwide tip, WMG may take a look at Tencent Music – a publicly listed firm on the NYSE – for executives that meet its remit.

One doable candidate there might be James Mitchell, who has served as a member of Tencent Music’s board since 2018.

Mitchell additionally at present serves as Senior Govt Vice President and Chief Technique Officer of Tencent Holdings, the place he’s labored since 2011.

An ex-Director at Goldman Sachs, Mitchell (pictured inset) brings the added bonus of at present sitting on the board of… Common Music Group.

Clearly, Warner’s greatest rivals in music – Common Music Group and Sony Music Group – aren’t going to let their star execs go simple.

So any notion of the next names hitting Warner’s CEO longlist comes with this huge caveat: that is about who WMG may need to rent to succeed Steve Cooper… somewhat than who WMG has a cat in hell’s likelihood of hiring.

It’s due to this fact arduous to look previous Jody Gerson (Chair and CEO of Common Music Publishing Group), who has steered her firm’s annual revenues from $840m when she joined in 2015, to above $1.5 billion in 2021.

And if Warner is prepared to take of venture on an govt whose profession success has been restricted to a handful of territories exterior the world’s greatest markets so far?

It could certainly be smart to think about each Afo Verde – who underneath Rob Stringer’s administration has pushed Sony Music to the market management place in key LatAm markets like Brazil – and Adam Granite, who leads Common Music Group’s operations in a number of key territories throughout Africa, the Center East and Asia (“AMEA”).


  1. Ann Sarnoff (Ex-CEO, WarnerMedia Studios)
  2. Bob Iger (Ex-CEO & Chairman, The Walt Disney Firm)
  3. Daybreak Ostroff  (Chief Content material Officer, Spotify)
  4. David Baszucki (CEO & Co-founder, Roblox)
  5. Debra Lee (Ex-CEO, BET Networks)
  6. Laura Miele / Andrew Wilson (EVP & COO, Digital Arts / CEO, Digital Arts)
  7. Jennifer Witz (CEO, SiriusXM)
  8. Jim Ryan (President & CEO, Sony Interactive Leisure / PlayStation)
  9. Kevin Mayer (Chairman, DAZN Group; Co-CEO of Forest Highway Acquisition Corp II)
  10. Robert Kyncl / Susan Wojcicki (Chief Enterprise Officer, YouTube / CEO, YouTube)
  11. Sheryl Sandberg (Outgoing COO, Meta/Fb)
  12. Strauss Zelnick (CEO, Take Two Interactive)
  13. Thomas Rabe (CEO, Bertelsmann)

The primary entry on this record – which covers a large number of non-music media industries – is a really well timed one.

In April, it was reported that Ann Sarnoff, Chairman and CEO of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, was leaving that place forward of the corporate’s $43 billion merger with Discovery.

What’s attention-grabbing about that for Warner Music: The WarnerMedia web site nonetheless reveals Sarnoff’s biog on its management web page, full with the phrases, “Below Sarnoff’s management, Studios and Networks produced hundreds of hours of programming in 2021 and was the main contributor to WarnerMedia’s file whole income of $35.6 billion for the yr.”

An govt comfy with leisure content-making, who runs a number of territories for a agency producing tens of billions of {dollars}? Meals for thought.

(Additionally one for WMG’s management to think about: Sarnoff’s boss, Jason Kilar, and the top of HBO Max, Andy Forssell, each additionally exited the media large post-Discovery merger.)

Elsewhere, you could possibly throw a dart at our 13 names above and get an attention-grabbing concept.

Execs price specific consideration embrace Sheryl Sandberg, who, amid controversy, just lately introduced she is to go away Meta/Fb after 14 years as Mark Zuckerberg‘s right-hand govt. There’s additionally Robert Kyncl and/or Susan Wojcicki – who’ve pushed YouTube to overhaul Netflix in quarterly revenues.

Then, what about ex-Disney hotshot Kevin Mayer? When you keep in mind, Mayer was CEO of TikTok for a minute, and is at present working an leisure content material funding automobile, Forest Highway, along with on-demand sports activities community, DAZN. (DAZN occurs to be owned by… Entry Industries.)

A few attention-grabbing video game-related folks: David Baszucki runs Roblox, during which Warner Music Group is an investor.

As Warner’s obsession with the income prospects of gaming and the metaverse / sandbox proceed to develop, might Baszucki be the proper particular person to steer WMG into digital worlds?

What if WMG wished to land a gaming exec with extra substantial leisure trade expertise? It might make a transfer on the C-Suite of gaming large Digital Arts (by way of EA’s CEO Andrew Wilson, or COO Laura Miele – the latter pictured inset above).

Or WMG might contemplate approaching Strauss Zelnick.

Zelnick left the (outdated) BMG 22 years in the past after half a decade with the music firm. He went on to run Take Two, which is now a publicly traded entity and the guardian to Rockstar Video games, makers of the Grand Theft Auto and Purple Useless Redemption video games. Aka: the 2 greatest leisure launches in human historical past.


  1. Aryeh Bourkoff (Founder & CEO, Liontree)
  2. David Geffen (Founder, Geffen)
  3. Derica Rice (Ex-EVP, CVS)
  4. Evan Spiegel (CEO, Snap Inc)
  5. Jack Dorsey (CEO, Sq.)
  6. Jay-Z (Jay-Z)
  7. Len Blavatnik (CEO, Entry Industries)
  8. Reed Hastings / Ted Sarandos (Co-CEOs, Netflix)
  9. Roz Brewer (CEO, Walgreens Boots Alliance)
  10. Snoop Dogg (Snoop Dogg)

If Warner Music Group’s board goes left-field for his or her subsequent CEO, one of many above names might begin to make sense.

Jack Dorsey just lately stepped down as CEO and a member of the board of Twitter (simply in time for Elon Musk’s impending takeover).

Dorsey is now spending his time constructing monetary companies firm Block Inc (previously Sq.), which just lately invested in music distribution and companies platform Stem. Block additionally occurs to personal TIDAL.

These of you working in music won’t have heard of Derica Rice, however he’s a giant deal on the planet of retail, having previously held the title as Govt Vice President of CVS Well being Company and President of CVS Caremark.

CVS’s market cap, when you had been questioning, at present sits at round $124 billion... not far off ten instances the dimensions of Warner Music Group’s.

Rice, 57, is out there for a full-time gig, plus he has actual chops on the planet of investments and media. He sits on the general public boards of corporations comparable to Goal Company, and The Walt Disney Firm, and just lately joined the board of Carlyle as an Unbiased Director.

One other retail-orientated alternative for a possible Warner CEO is Rosalind (Roz) Brewer, who joined Walgreens Boots Alliance – the guardian of US chain Walgreen and UK chain Boots – as Chief Govt Officer in March 2021.

Previous to that, Brewer (pictured inset) served as COO and Group President at Starbucks from 2017 to 2021, in addition to sitting on the board of Amazon from 2019 for 2 years.

If the way forward for the main file corporations is having a extra direct relationship with music listeners (and their bank cards), a retail-savvy mindset within the CEO’s chair may show invaluable.

A few different unlikely however kinda-cool concepts:

Everyone knows Netflix goes by some monetary ache proper now, and is bracing itself for even worse information when it comes to its subscriber losses anticipated in Q2.

Might one of many agency’s visionary leaders – Reed Hastings or Ted Sarandos (the latter pictured inset) – resolve / be pushed to step down because of this?

And, if that’s the case, may that then make them accessible to run a multinational music firm… and to take action with a degree to show?

And what of the concept of Warner Music Group being run by an artist?

Clearly Jay-Z, a confirmed entrepreneur and business-person in a number of fields, involves thoughts – however the chance of him doing something as a WMG worker appears distant.

What, then, of Snoop Dogg? Okay, so he’s not probably the most skilled business-head on this race, however he’s already been a lot smarter than most industrial leaders in relation to maximizing the income potential of music x Web3.

And who is aware of? If Warner’s board did hand Snoop the keys to the CEO’s workplace, the following technology of hip-hop superstars may simply begin flocking its method as a direct consequence.

On the very least, Warner’s earnings calls would have by no means been so entertaining.Music Enterprise Worldwide

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