Stu Bergen announces exit from Warner Music Group after 14 years

Stu Bergen, the executive who has overseen Warner Music Group’s international success in the streaming age, has announced his departure from WMG after 14 years with the company.

He will leave the major in January 2021.

New York-based Bergen was named CEO of International and Global Commercial Services at WMG in 2016, having served as EVP of International and then President of International from 2012 onwards.

As such, he has run WMG’s recorded music strategy outside of the US and UK markets for the past eight years.

The well-liked exec’s standout moves during his tenture running WMG’s international operations include the company’s strategic acquisition of Gala Records in Russia (2013), and Gold Typhoon in China (2014).

Bergen also led a trailblazing licensing deal with Tencent Music in China in 2014, shortly after he handled the international integration of Parlophone Label Group into Warner, following the major’s acquisition of PLG from Universal in 2013.

More recently, Bergen played a key role in Warner’s $100m-plus acquisition of Spinnin’ Records in The Netherlands (2017), and spearheaded the company’s $180m acquisition of merch and e-commerce company EMP in Germany (2018).

And late last year, Bergen helped broker a deal whereby Warner became the exclusive partner of a $650m acquisition fund bankrolled by private equity giant Providence.

“These last eight years overseeing International have undoubtedly been the highlight of my career. It’s been a wild and wonderful journey as we have returned to growth and possibility. You have accomplished so much, and I know you will achieve much more.”

Stu Bergen, Warner Music Group

According to Warner Music Group filings, the company’s annual recorded music revenues outside of the US grew by 60% between FY 2012 ($1.366bn) and FY 2019 ($2.184bn). (Warner’s FY ends at the close of September each year.)

Those paying tribute to Bergen today included Max Lousada, global CEO of Recorded Music at Warner, who – in an internal WMG note obtained by MBW – called Bergen a “versatile exec, known for his frankness and integrity, he’s just as comfortable in the boardroom advocating for an acquisition as he is flying halfway around the world to meet backstage with an artist”.

In his own note to his WMG colleagues, Bergen said: “These last eight years overseeing International have undoubtedly been the highlight of my career. It’s been a wild and wonderful journey as we have returned to growth and possibility. You have accomplished so much, and I know you will achieve much more.”

He added: “By investing in local A+R, we have built domestic and cross border careers for talents such as Anitta, Aya Nakamura, Christopher, David Guetta, Pablo Alborán, Robin Schulz, and ONE OK ROCK. At the same time, we’ve taken music from a host of global superstars to every corner of the planet.”

“Stu’s just as comfortable in the boardroom advocating for an acquisition as he is flying halfway around the world to meet backstage with an artist.”

Max Lousada, Warner Music Group

Bergen joined WMG in 2006 as President of ILG (Independent Label Group), moving to EVP, Warner Bros Records in 2010 before being named Executive Vice President, International & Head of Global Marketing in 2012.

Prior to WMG, Bergen held posts at several major record labels, including serving as EVP of Rock Music for Columbia Records, EVP of Island Records, and VP of Promotion for Epic Records.

The New Jerseyite began his music industry career in 1988 at TVT Records, following which he became Director Promotion at Relativity Records. Bergen holds a BA degree from Princeton University.

You can read both Max Lousada and Stu Bergen’s internal memos on Bergen’s departure, sent today, below.


Hello everyone,

This is not a goodbye message but rather a thank you note. After more than 14 amazing, challenging, and fulfilling years at Warner Music I’ve decided to leave at the end of January.

In the meantime, I’ll give my all to a smooth and seamless transition, before starting a new chapter of exciting professional, personal, and philanthropic pursuits.

Thank you to each of you for your enthusiasm, ingenuity, and camaraderie. Thank you to all the country and label heads with whom it has been my privilege to collaborate. Thank you to Len for your generous support and to Steve and Max for your amazing partnership.

These last eight years overseeing International have undoubtedly been the highlight of my career. It’s been a wild and wonderful journey as we have returned to growth and possibility. You have accomplished so much, and I know you will achieve much more.

By investing in local A+R, we have built domestic and cross border careers for talents such as Anitta, Aya Nakamura, Christopher, David Guetta, Pablo Alborán, Robin Schulz, and ONE OK ROCK. At the same time, we’ve taken music from a host of global superstars to every corner of the planet.

Together, we’ve grown our worldwide footprint, through strategic acquisitions in fast growing territories and booming genres, from Gold Typhoon in China to Spinnin’ in the Netherlands, while opening affiliates covering around twenty countries. Also, through the evolution of WEA and the acquisition of EMP, we have enhanced the range of services we can offer artists. Both of those teams have shown inspiring levels of resourcefulness and determination throughout the pandemic.

Your combined efforts have entertained the planet, transformed the company, and increased market share.

What I will miss is working alongside you – traveling the world, learning about the music scene in every country, and sharing a passion for music with the world’s greatest superfans. Wherever I have gone, I’ve always been impressed by your dedication to the company and its artists, and overwhelmed by your hospitality. I now have extended family in so many countries. My wife Lara and I plan to travel as soon as we’re able and I’m looking forward to seeing many of you when we’re in your neighborhood.

I wish you every success for what I know will be a bright future. You’re weathering the current storm with your usual combination of hard work, innovation, and grace. This will yield greatness when the sun shines again. Warner is a company of pioneers and I can’t wait to see where you take it next.

With love and immense gratitude,

Stu


Hi everyone,

As you’ve just heard, Stu Bergen has decided he’ll be stepping down from his role as CEO, International & Global Commercial Services. Stu will be with us until the end of January, and I’ll be announcing the leadership transition at International and WEA in due course.

During his 14 years at WMG, Stu’s been an influential member of our global leadership team, a devoted supporter of our artists, and a passionate champion of our team. A versatile exec, known for his frankness and integrity, he’s just as comfortable in the boardroom advocating for an acquisition as he is flying halfway around the world to meet backstage with an artist.

When Stu took on his current role in 2012, he was charged with spearheading our international expansion, at a point when the industry had been in decline for over a decade. Ever since, he’s been an ambitious catalyst for change, helping us build a truly global platform for growth. As some of you have heard him say, “success can now come from anywhere and translate everywhere.”

Please join me, Steve, and the whole Warner family in thanking Stu for everything he’s done for our company, our artists, and our industry. He’s got some amazing plans for the future, and as he dives into his next adventure, we know he’ll always have “Warner blue” in his veins.

MaxMusic Business Worldwide

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