Capitol Music Group (CMG) Chairman & CEO Steve Barnett will retire on December 31, 2020, capping a 50-year career in the music business, including eight years at the helm of CMG.
Barnett announced his long-planned decision to the company this morning, in conjunction with Universal Music Group Chairman & CEO Sir Lucian Grainge.
Barnett and Grainge also jointly announced the promotion of Jeff Vaughn and Michelle Jubelirer to serve as CMG’s next leaders.
Vaughn, currently President of Capitol Records, will become CMG Chairman and CEO, and current CMG COO Jubelirer will serve as CMG’s President and COO.
Barnett was named to his post at Capitol by Grainge in November 2012 after UMG acquired EMI’s recorded music operation earlier that year.
The pair formulated a roadmap for Capitol Music Group that centered on a multi-label approach—consisting of Capitol Records, Motown Records, Astralwerks, Capitol Christian Music Group (CCMG), Blue Note Records and Caroline.
Barnett and Grainge quickly relocated the company’s headquarters from New York back to its historic Hollywood home, and completed a multi-year renovation of the Capitol Tower and Capitol Studios, in advance of the company’s 75th anniversary celebration in 2017.
Under Barnett’s leadership, CMG’s focus on artist development resulted in 32 breakout artists that have generated 93 million global and 60 million US adjusted albums to date.
During Barnett’s tenure, the company has worked with superstars such as Sam Smith, Halsey, Lewis Capaldi, NF, Niall Horan, Queen Naija, Troye Sivan, Hillsong United and Maggie Rogers.
Forging partnerships has also been key to CMG’s strategy; Motown’s alliance with Atlanta-based Quality Control Music, for example, has resulted in the rise of the likes of Lil Baby, Migos, City Girls and Lil Yachty
BMG’s independent distribution and label services arm, Caroline, meanwhile, has launched successful partnerships with labels such as 10K Projects, whose artists include Surfaces, Internet Money, Trippie Redd and iann dior.
Other successful partnerships with artists and labels include Surf Mesa through CMG’s Astralwerks label, SHAED through Photo Finish and independent band Judah & The Lion.
Barnett and CMG have also executed highly competitive acquisitions of music catalogs from Paul McCartney, Bee Gees, Neil Diamond and ABBA.
Prior to taking the helm at CMG, Barnett was Co-Chairman and COO of Columbia Records, having been at that company since December 2005.
During Barnett’s tenure at Columbia, the Sony company’s US market share rose consistently, attaining the No.1 slot among all labels in 2011 and 2012.
Barnett first joined Sony Music’s Epic Records in 1996 as Senior Vice President, International, rising to Senior Vice President Worldwide Marketing for the label in 1997, then serving as Executive Vice President/ General Manager for four years after that, and rising to label President in 2004.
Prior to joining Epic, Barnett was President of Hard To Handle Management, where his clients included AC/DC. He began his career in 1970 as an agent in London.
“This has been an incredible journey, and I’ve been tremendously fortunate to work with such amazing people along the way. I am indebted to Lucian for his unwavering belief in me and for his unreserved support for our efforts these entire eight years.”
Steve Barnett said: “This has been an incredible journey, and I’ve been tremendously fortunate to work with such amazing people along the way.
“I am indebted to Lucian for his unwavering belief in me and for his unreserved support for our efforts these entire eight years.
“To say that I will always be grateful to him is truly an understatement. Michelle was the first to join me at CMG and has been my partner in revitalizing the company and creating an environment where artists and our employees could thrive.
He added: “From the moment Jeff joined us, I knew he’d quickly make his mark on Capitol, and I’m certain that he and Michelle are the perfect team to guide CMG into the future. My appreciation extends to Boyd Muir and my many friends at UMG who have been there for me and my team these past eight years. I thank you all.”
“Under Steve’s leadership, Capitol has been rebuilt into one of music’s greatest homes for artist and employee talent. It’s a fitting crown to Steve’s incredible five-decade career.”
Sir Lucian Grainge
Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group, added: “When we acquired EMI, Capitol was a gem that had lost its luster.
“Under Steve’s leadership, Capitol has been rebuilt into one of music’s greatest homes for artist and employee talent. It’s a fitting crown to Steve’s incredible five-decade career.
“To assure that Capitol’s next chapter is equally successful, we have appointed two gifted executives to lead the company.
“On behalf of the entire UMG family, I congratulate Jeff and Michelle on their well-deserved promotions and I especially want to thank Steve for making Capitol shine bright once again and wishing him a wonderful retirement with Nancy and the children.”Music Business Worldwide