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NEAR TRUTHS: YEAR-END WRAP-UP, PART 3

DOWNTOWN: The relocation of Steve Cooper-led Warner Music Group (16.8) from Burbank to lavish new digs in Downtown L.A. was a bold leap, and arguably a metaphor for the efforts of Cooper to transform Len Blavatnik’s music empire. Fiscal 2019 saw the group up its total revenue to $4.47b, an 11% bump, digital revenue up nearly 16%. Word from inside has seen Blavatnik take an ever-greater interest in the company, as the bet he made in leaner times pays off; overall growth in music’s valuation and global reach have been dramatic.

Cooper’s choice of Guy Moot and Carianne Marshall to jointly run a newly slash-free Warner Chappell was a canny one, as they and their vital A&R department (led by Ryan Press, who earned his prexy stripes) continue to ink many of the key tunesmiths of the streaming revolution, with a suitably global focus.

Head of Recorded Music Max Lousada, who has been focused on empowering his dream team at the rechristened Warner Records, at last appointed his own successor as U.K. head at year’s end, tapping Tony Harlow (most recently head of WEA) to lead the London office. The exit of top exec Ben Cook (amid unpleasant circumstances), meanwhile, necessitates a new Atlantic head.

NOT BROTHERS, BUT PARTNERS: We’re one year into the tandem Warner Records (4.8) reign of Aaron Bay-Schuck and Tom Corson, one of the most aggressive teams in the business. That attitude was most evident in their approach to signing, which garnered several acts that show potential to be big-time earners. These include artists that gave them a definite profile in hip-hop and on the streaming charts, such as NLE Choppa and Saweetie, as well as pop siren and 2019 Best New Artist Dua Lipa. Meanwhile, critical acclaim helped guide label veteran Gary Clark Jr. to four Grammy nominations. Add a selection of JVs and other new deals in place and a strong team that includes promo chief Mike Chester, and the ABS-Corson power duo—having overseen a rebranding of the label (no more Bros.)—is beginning to turn around the ship that Mo built. They should have the muscle to move the marketshare needle in 2020.

 

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