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Warner Music names YouTube’s Robert Kyncl as next CEO

A portrait of Robert Kyncl
Robert Kyncl had emerged as the top contender to head Warner Music Group in part because of his technology background, Bloomberg reported.
(Warner Music Group)

Warner Music Group Corp. named YouTube’s Robert Kyncl as its chief executive, three months after announcing Steve Cooper would step down from the helm of the world’s third-largest record label.

Kyncl, who had already announced plans to leave YouTube, will become co-CEO of Warner Music in January and will take over the full role when Cooper steps aside on Feb. 1, according to a statement Wednesday.

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The major label’s decision follows a record quarter for the company as the recorded music industry has gained significant ground thanks to subscription services.

While Warner had discussed the role with several candidates, Kyncl emerged as the leading contender in part because of his technology background, Bloomberg reported on Sept. 18.

Kyncl has spent the bulk of his career at YouTube, where he led creative and commercial partnerships and helped launch a subscription service, and Netflix Inc., where he was part of the team that introduced original streaming programming.

Now Kyncl will be on the other side of the table, trying to get the best deal for artists and Warner in negotiations with streaming services and finding opportunities to build on the industry’s digital growth. Warner Music’s assets include Atlantic Records, Warner Records and Warner Chappell Music. Top artists include Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars and Dua Lipa.

According to people familiar with the matter, Warner’s board also spoke during its CEO search with Jody Gerson, the head of rival Universal Music Group’s publishing company; Max Lousada, the head of Warner’s recorded music division; and Scott Greenstein, a senior executive at Sirius XM.

Warner Chairman Michael Lynton, who previously ran Sony Group’s entertainment businesses, led the search for a replacement with help from fellow board member Ceci Kurzman. Len Blavatnik, the billionaire who owns a controlling stake in Warner Music, also vetted candidates.


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