“In the decade that we have worked together, I have always been impressed by Steve’s leadership and dedication to the smooth day-to-day running of the entire operation.”
——L.A. Reid


The Exec Many Consider the Best Big Man in the Business Is Rewarded for Leading His Team to Four Consecutive Winning Seasons
How’s this for perfect timing? Just two days after helping launch Kanye West’s Graduation toward a first-week sales altitude many believed was no longer possible, Steve Bartels is named President/COO of the Island Def Jam Music Group by IDJ topper Antonio “L.A.” Reid.

Bartels will now oversee the music group on a day-to-day basis, raking in the dead presidents while continuing to work closely with three live ones: Def Jam’s Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Island Urban Music’s Jermaine Dupri and Mercury’s David Massey. He’ll also work with all IDJ joint ventures, including DTP and Slip N Slide.

Said the big boss: “This is a tremendous step forward in the evolution of our company, and there is no one more worthy to take the reins of this new position than Steve Bartels. In the decade that we have worked together, I have always been impressed by Steve’s leadership and dedication to the smooth day-to-day running of the entire operation. He has played an integral role at Island Def Jam of breaking new artists and bringing our music to the widest possible markets. His friendship is invaluable at every level, and he now has the capacity to achieve even greater heights, considering he’s so tall to begin with.”

Added Bartels: “I am thrilled and honored to be given the opportunity to steer such historic labels as Island, Def Jam and Mercury Records and the diverse group of new and innovative labels that make up the Island Def Jam Music Group. Today, the Island Def Jam Music Group has the most creative artists and musical ears in the business. To work with that vision and talent is inspiring every day. I am excited about all the opportunities I see ahead of us in the music business today and I thank L.A. Reid for giving me the opportunity to work side by side with him to drive IDJ forward. But if you think I’m gonna make that tired joke about looking for Chris Blackwell’s stash box again, you’re sadly mistaken.”

After spending a decade at Arista, where he played a crucial role in the careers of OutKast, Usher, Santana, Whitney Houston, Avril Lavigne, Pink and Dido, while eventually rising to EVP, Bartels took the job of President of the Island label in 2004; additionally, Reid made him the COO of IDJ as a whole in early 2005.

As the head of Island, Bartels formulated the strategy that led to the dramatic comeback of Mariah Carey, the breaking of Fall Out Boy and The Killers, and hit albums from Bon Jovi, Lionel Richie, Melissa Etheridge and others. Concurrently, played a crucial role in the recent success of Def Jam and its affiliated artists, including Kanye, Jay-Z, Ludacris, Rihanna, Young Jeezy, Ne-Yo and Rick Ross.

The big guy began his career National Director of Promotion at A&M. He graduated from football factory Hofstra University and completed the MBA program of UCLA’s John Anderson School of Executive Education in Management.