Warner Music Group has undergone a comprehensive leadership transformation since it floated on the Nasdaq in early June last year.
The bulk of that transformation has taken place in markets outside of the UK and US.
According to MBW’s cataloging of announcements from WMG over the past 15 months, the firm has changed its local recorded music leaders in no less than ten key territories around the world since it went public.
The latest of those changes was announced yesterday (August 24), with Kristen Burke set to succeed the long-running boss of Warner Music Canada – Steve Kane – as President of the Toronto-based company.
Burke’s appointment is the latest in a slew of significant leadership changes globally that have also included:
- José Carlos “Charlie” Sanchez stepping down as head of Warner Music Iberia, replaced by Guillermo Gonzalez (announced June 2020);
- Gerald Ang being hired as Managing Director of Warner Music Singapore (announced July 2020);
- Jonas Siljemark stepping down as head of Warner Music in the Nordics, replaced by Mark Fry (announced September 2020);
- Niko Nordström stepping down as head of Warner Music Australasia, replaced by Dan Rosen (Nordström has returned to Warner Music Finland as MD; announced September 2020);
- Thierry Chassagne stepping down as head of Warner Music France, replaced by Alain Veille (announced in October 2020);
- Andy Ma stepping down as head of Warner Music Greater China, replaced by Jonathan Serbin (announced November 2020);
- Tracy Fraser stepping down as head of Warner Music South Africa, replaced by Temi Adeniji (announced March 2021);
- Iñigo Zabala stepping down as head of Warner Music Latin America, replaced by Alejandro Duque (announced June 2021);
- Bernd Dopp stepping down as head of Warner Music Germany / Central Europe, replaced by Doreen Schimk and Fabian Drebes (announced August 2021)
That is an unusual amount of chopping and changing at the top for any business, let alone a growing major record company.
So what’s going on?
It’s fair to say that the majority of the names exiting Warner Music Group have been veterans of the company. There’s obviously the possibility that some of them got a nice payday in accordance with their long service.
Perhaps the most significant influence on Warner’s global reshuffle, though, is the arrival of its new President, International, Recorded Music – Simon Robson – who succeeded Stu Bergen as Warner Music’s international head in November last year.
“In an environment where the music business is both more globalised than ever and hyper-localised at the same time, our international leadership team positions us brilliantly for our next phase of growth. And we’re super excited about the new executives we’ve brought in and promoted.”
Simon Robson, Warner Music
As such, Robson has been directly responsible – working under Warner’s global recorded music CEO, Max Lousada – for orchestrating sweeping leadership changes across China, South Africa / Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Central Europe, and Singapore.
Today (August 25), MBW caught up with Robson to ask him about the strategy behind the transformation of leadership in so many key global territories for WMG.
Said Robson: “In an environment where the music business is both more globalised than ever and hyper-localised at the same time, our international leadership team positions us brilliantly for our next phase of growth. And we’re super excited about the new executives we’ve brought in and promoted. One of Warner Music’s strengths is how we look at artists’ careers as global from day one, and with our network of expertise around the world we deliver maximum impact for talent.
“These individual leadership changes in our different territories have each been based on unique circumstances. And each of the leaders who have left, or are leaving, do so with our immense gratitude for their amazing contributions over many years. They all care deeply about their teams and our artists and they’ve partnered with their successors to make the transitions go smoothly.”
While Warner’s label and corporate leadership in the US has remained solid since WMG’s IPO, Max Lousada has made some other significant reshuffles in his global leadership team, beyond the promotion of Simon Robson.
In addition, Lousada has hired new global leaders for instrumental Warner divisions including WEA (Maria Weaver, hired in Q4 2020) as well as ADA (Cat Kreidich, promoted to President of ADA in April 2021).Music Business Worldwide