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“We continue to be in discussions with her on how and where she can best utilize her skills and relationships in the multiple rights arena in which UMG continues to expand.”
——Barry Weiss
RHONE EXITS MOTOWN POST
Veteran Executive Considering an Offer From Grainge and Weiss to Head Up a New Entity Within UMG
It's the end of an era for Universal Motown. As had been heavily rumored (especially by us), Sylvia Rhone confirmed on Friday (5/20) that she has left her post at the label she's headed since Oct., 2004, when Mel Lewinter named her President of Motown and EVP of Universal Records. Sources inside UMG insist negotiations are still ongoing to have her launch a 360-degree entity within the group. 

In an email to her “Universal Motown colleagues,” Rhone praised her staff for their “passion, commitment and dedication,” which made the label “a great home for artists and employees.  Thank you for your tremendous contribution and inspiration every step of the way.” But she gave no hint about her future plans, other than noting that she’s “look[ing] ahead to new horizons.”

UMG East Coast chief Barry Weiss sent off an internal memo of his own Friday afternoon stating that Rhone had stepped down while also acknowledging that “We continue to be in discussions with her on how and where she can best utilize her skills and relationships in the multiple rights arena in which UMG continues to expand.”

Motown, he said, will now report to him, while current GM Pat Monaco will continue to oversee the day-to-day. After promising “further enhancements” to the UMRG staff over the next few weeks, Weiss reiterated the parent company’s commitment to the label. “Our mandate with regards to Motown is clear: to have this vital and robust company continue bringing to market the highest quality music that is best positioned to succeed artistically and commercially,” he stated.

This move was predicted by our own I.B. Bad, who wrote in his column of three weeks ago that Lucian Grainge and Weiss had offered Rhone “the job of heading up a new 360 entity encompassing records, publishing, merch, touring and management. But those in the know say it’s unlikely that she’ll accept the offer. At this time, it appears that Rhone will no longer run Universal Motown, where she orchestrated a string of breakthroughs, including Lil Wayne, Nelly, Nicki Minaj, Drake and Kid Cudi. According to some, the label will be consolidated with Universal Republic under Monte Lipman, while others say that Weiss will oversee the day-to-day running of Motown. Weiss is also supposedly looking for a new head of Def Jam… As for Rhone, what will the poised and knowledgable executive do next? Could she reunite with her former boss Doug Morris at Sony Music? It’s possible that UMG could force her to sit on the sidelines for a period of time, just as it prevented Morris from starting his new job until July. Rhone’s UMG deal runs until the end of 2012.”

In last week’s column, our in-house pundit followed up the scoop with this update: “According to UMG insiders, Sylvia Rhone is leaving her post at Universal Motown, but is still engaged in conversations with Lucian Grainge and Barry Weiss about a possible new label deal. One scenario would have Motown becoming part of IDJ, while Cash Money would go to Monte Lipman’s Universal Republic.”

When Rhone announces her next move, expect us to break out the headline “All Roads Lead to Rhone” for the 1,432,687th time.

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