Scott Cohen, co-founder of The Orchard, announced last week he was ”retiring” from the distribution company he started with Richard Gottehrer in 1997. A well-known industry futurist, Cohen’s next move was a subject of some speculation. We now know the answer.
MBW sources say Cohen is joining Max Lousada’s senior management team at Warner. But what’s he been hired to do?
Warner last week promoted rising star Eliah Seton to a leadership position covering, among other things, ADA, Asylum and Level, the WMG companies that serve indie labels and unsigned artists.
With Seton reporting directly to Lousada, it’s clear Warner has a different kind of role planned for Cohen. Sources say it’s one focused broadly on “innovation”. An official announcement isn’t expected until next month.
Warner Music declined to comment but MBW obtained an internal email from Max Lousada to team leaders:
“A real pioneer and a maverick entrepreneur, Scott’s constantly envisioning what’s beyond the horizon for entertainment, business and society,” writes Lousada, positioning Cohen to explore ideas and business models outside the music industry norm.
Having also co-founded CyborgNest, Cohen is one of the few music execs with hands-on experience of A.I. as a disruptive technology.
Yet this appears to be the key sentence in Lousada’s email: “He’ll be an amazing advocate for the Warner brand in the music and tech communities, and a great advisor and guide to us all, as we build a truly forward-thinking, independent-minded organization.”
The use of the word “independent” jumps out. Is that why Cohen and Lousada wanted to work together?
WMG CEO Steve Cooper even once characterized Warner as “the independent major”. Labels like Atlantic, Elektra, Sire, Big Beat and Fueled By Ramen all mean Warner has indie DNA within its walls.
Lousada himself started out at an indie, while recent acquisitions like Spinnin’, Sodatone and Uproxx suggest Warner is building something which aims to combine agility with scale.
It will be interesting to see what Scott Cohen brings to that party.Music Business Worldwide