The major record companies are in for an interesting second half of 2019. MBW understands that global licensing re-negotiations are due between the labels (Universal, Sony and Warner) and both Spotify and Apple – as well as YouTube.
There’s been an interesting change at Warner Music Group ahead of these discussions. Following the news that WMG’s Chief Digital Officer, Ole Obermann, is leaving the company, now MBW has learned that Oana Ruxandra is stepping up to oversee Business Development at the major.
With this new responsibility, Ruxandra (pictured) adds to her existing position as EVP, New Business Channels & Chief Acquisition Officer – a role she began six months ago, in December 2018.
Joining Ruxandra in Business Development will be Jonathan Monina, who moves over from WMG’s financial planning team to become Vice President, Digital Strategy & Corporate Development, reporting to Jeff Bronikowski.
In addition, MBW has learned that respected Warner veteran Ron Wilcox – WMG’s Executive Counsel, Business Affairs, Strategic and Digital Initiatives – has made the decision to leave Warner before the end of the year. Wilcox will, however, play a key role in the forthcoming digital negotiations.
In a note to staff sent today (June 14) and obtained by MBW, Warner Music Group CEO Steve Cooper said that Ruxandra “has a first-class strategic brain and keen sense of how to get deals done swiftly and effectively”.
He confirmed that Ruxandra, along with her colleagues in biz dev, “will now be the primary contact for our recorded music negotiations with established and emerging tech companies”.
Cooper confirmed that when Ron Wilcox signed his most recent WMG contract, he advised the company it would be his last, and would see him complete more than a decade at the company.
“We all know that Ron will be as tough and determined a tactician as always over the coming months, but he will leave big shoes to fill,” said Cooper. “During a remarkable 35+ year music-industry career, Ron has been a staunch defender of the rights of artists and labels, all the while helping to architect numerous landmark deals.”
He further praised Wilcox’s “wise counsel and deep expertise”.
With Ruxandra running business development for Recorded Music, Eric Mackay leading Digital Strategy for Warner Chappell Music, and Wilcox overseeing Digital Legal Affairs at Corporate, Cooper said he was confident of a “great team in place for our upcoming negotiations”.
In May, speaking on an earnings call with analysts, Steve Cooper voiced his disappointment with elements of pricing from Warner’s streaming partners.
He said: “With a lot of growth coming from emerging markets, we acknowledge that increases in revenue will not always keep pace with rising subscribers and free user numbers.
“That being said, we’re going to continue to push back against the devaluation of our artists’ and songwriters’ music from freemium models, mismanaged family plans and other customer acquisition strategies employed by streaming platforms at the expense of creators and content producers.”
He added: ““To unlock the full potential of the global music business, we need to work closely with our distributors to achieve the right balance in meeting consumer demand, and appropriately compensating the creative community.”
Spotify’s Premium ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) stood at €4.71 a month in Q1 2019, which was roughly flat year-on-year (down 2% excluding the impact from foreign exchange rates).Music Business Worldwide