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History has shown us that you don’t have to be the biggest to be the best. You have to be the most nimble, creative and disciplined.
—-Stephen Cooper, Warner Music Group
COOPER, COHEN ALERT THE TROOPS OF WMG CHANGE
Steve Cooper and Lyor Cohen’s Letters to the Staffs

Lyor Cohen’s resignation from his post as Chairman/CEO of Recorded Music for Warner Music Group wasn’t exactly a shocker, and given the availability of outgoing EMI Chairman Roger Faxon, it should come as no surprise.

 

Here are the texts of the letters that went out from CEO Stephen Cooper and Lyor himself about today’s announcement.

 

Dear Colleagues:

 

Lyor Cohen has expressed his desire to move on to his next challenge and will be leaving WMG at the end of the month. I want to thank Lyor for all of his many contributions to our company. The fact that we have such a strong Recorded

 

Music management team in place to ensure a seamless transition is in large part due to Lyor’s leadership. The enduring success of our Recorded Music division will serve as a great testament to his work here.

 

Following Lyor’s departure, the Recorded Music executives that previously reported to Lyor will report to me.  

 

While the music business continues to evolve and change, one thing remains the same: the quality of the people here at WMG—an exceptional team which is both talented and committed to success. Our strategy continues on track. In fact, we have all the ingredients for excellence—the finest artists and employees, the financial flexibility and the commitment of an owner who is willing to take a long-term view of the business.

 

Now it’s up to us. And it will take all of our passion, determination and energy. History has shown us that you don’t have to be the biggest to be the best. You have to be the most nimble, creative and disciplined. You have to provide artists with the best support system and music fans with the best products and experiences. And you have to work as a tight-knit unit.

 

Thank you for your tremendous efforts.  I’m excited for what the future holds and what we will accomplish together.

 

Steve

 

Dear Partners:

 

For almost nine years now, this company has been my home, and you have been my family. I am so proud of what we have accomplished together. I am so proud of the artists we’ve broken. 

 

With everything in place for our ongoing success, now is the time for me to step away from WMG.

 

Look how far we've come. I first arrived here right after Edgar and the investor group acquired the company from Time Warner. I remember visiting Ahmet Ertegun in his office early on and I'll never forget his description of how the company needed to find its way again—by developing more great artists. That day, I promised Ahmet that we would work together to restore Warner Music's artist development to its historic highs. 

 

Well, it took years of work, but we did it.  We have an incredible team of employees, and an artist roster that’s the envy of the business. We’ve seen the rebirth of Atlantic and Warner Nashville, and Warner Bros. is well on its way.  That’s something all of you should be proud of.  

 

As most of you know, I have always been an entrepreneur at heart. My happiest days in this business are those when I get to work directly on the development of artists. When I came to Warner, I was determined to create my role in the organization to be unlike one that’s ever existed at a major music company. I wanted to serve as a bridge between corporate and the labels, between strategy and execution, between art and commerce. I believe that driving a relentless focus on A&R is what music companies need to win. And I think we've achieved that here. But remember: artist development is not static, it’s a continuous process that takes place in an environment that promotes risk-taking. There’s never time to rest on your accomplishments, you need to keep working at it and always have the courage to fight on behalf of the artists and the music.

 

Now, as WMG enters its next chapter, I’m ready to begin mine. I can’t yet announce what I’ll be doing next, I can only say that it will be something where I can work my entrepreneurial muscles and partner with artists. That’s where my passion has always been.

 

I want to thank each one of you for your incredible dedication and commitment to our artists. After all, it is because of our artists that we get to be in this great business. While I will miss you all, I know our paths will cross. 

 

With love and gratitude,

Lyor

 

Here's the text of the official press release:

 

Warner Music Group (WMG) announced today that after more than eight years at WMG, Recorded Music Chairman and CEO, Lyor Cohen will resign from the company effective September 30, 2012. 

Since joining WMG in 2004, Cohen was responsible for the restructuring of WMG’s Recorded Music division following the company’s acquisition from Time Warner, and for leading the division’s transition from a physical to a digital music company. Between 2004 and 2010, under his leadership, WMG consistently outperformed its music industry peers in Current and Overall Album share improvement, and had the No.1 label in the U.S. in four of those years. In 2007, WMG’s Recorded Music business grew from the fourth- to the third-largest in the world and, in both fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2008, achieved its highest U.S. album share in a decade.  In 2011, Warner Music U.K. scored two of the top three albums and was the only major to maintain its U.K. share.  Cohen also pioneered the transition from traditional recording agreements to multi-right artist partnerships, providing support for artists in numerous aspects of their careers and encouraging long-term artist development. During his tenure, WMG enjoyed success with such artists as The Black Keys, Blake Shelton, Bruno Mars, Cee Lo Green, Death Cab for Cutie, Ed Sheeran, Flo Rida, fun., Hunter Hayes, James Blunt, Janelle Monáe, Jason Mraz, Josh Groban, Lupe Fiasco, Michael Bublé, Muse, My Chemical Romance, Nickelback, Paolo Nutini, Paramore, Plan B, Rob Thomas, Shinedown, T.I., Trey Songz, and Zac Brown Band, among many others.

Following Cohen’s departure, the company’s senior label executives will report directly to Stephen Cooper.

Lyor Cohen has served as the Chairman and CEO, Recorded Music for Warner Music Group since 2011. Prior to that, he served as Vice Chairman, WMG and Chairman and CEO, Recorded Music - Americas and the UK, since September 2008. Previously, Cohen was Chairman and CEO, Recorded Music North America from March 2008 to September 2008 and Chairman and CEO, US Recorded Music since joining the company in March 2004. From 2002 to 2004, Cohen was the Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group’s Island Def Jam Music Group. Cohen served as President of Def Jam from 1988 to 2002. Previously, Cohen served in various capacities at Rush Management, which he founded with partner Russell Simmons.

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