UMG Re-Establishes Def Jam, Motown And Island As Stand-Alone Labels
April 1, 2014
Untitled Document

Universal Music Group (UMG) announced today a reorganization of its East Coast recorded music operations that re-establishes Def Jam Recordings, Island Records and Motown Records as stand-alone labels within the UMG family.  The iconic labels will build on their unique strengths by enhancing their individual management, marketing, publicity and A&R teams and re-emerge as distinct creative enterprises.

In 1999, Def Jam, Island and Motown were consolidated into the Island Def Jam Music Group (IDJ). Effective immediately, IDJ will cease to exist, and the other label brands previously associated with IDJ will be realigned under the three flagship labels, Def Jam, Island and Motown.

In making the announcement, Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of UMG said, “UMG is a collection of some of the greatest record labels the industry has ever seen.  At the heart of these great companies is the vision and creative instincts of a team of passionate professionals.  At UMG, our labels are empowered to be entrepreneurial and take creative risks.  By re-establishing Def Jam, Island and Motown as stand-alone labels within the UMG family, we’re positioning them to recapture the uniqueness of their brands and serve artists with the singularity of vision, focus and creativity that was at the core of their original success.”

Steve Bartels

Under the new structure:
Def Jam Recordings will be led by Steve Bartels, who has been promoted to CEO of the label. Previously Bartels served as President & COO of IDJ. In addition, he announced today that renowned music industry executives, Dion “No I.D.” Wilson and Kyambo "Hip Hop" Joshua, have been appointed Executive Vice Presidents and Co-Heads of A&R.  Together, the team will focus on furthering Def Jam’s legacy as a label that has a profound impact on popular culture.

Ethiopia Habtemariam, SVP of Motown Records, has been promoted to President of the label. Furthermore, Motown will return to Los Angeles, the label’s longest-serving home, where it was based for nearly 25 years beginning in 1972.  Motown will be a freestanding label within Capitol Music Group, alongside such iconic labels as Blue Note, Harvest and Virgin Records, among others. Capitol was recently acquired in connection with UMG’s purchase of EMI. Since becoming a part of UMG, Capitol has been revitalized and expanded to become one of the industry’s most powerful creative centers. Habtemariam will also continue in her current role as EVP/Head of Urban Music at Universal Music Publishing Group.

Island Records, under the leadership of David Massey, will expand its own marketing, publicity and A&R departments to grow the Island brand and produce the best in rock, alternative and pop music. Island will also have the ability to draw upon the promotional resources of UMG’s Republic Records, the No. 1 U.S. label in 2013 based on current album marketshare.

Karen Kwak, EVP/Head of A&R for IDJ has been promoted to the newly-created position of Executive Vice President A&R, U.S. Recorded Music. In this new position, Kwak will serve all of UMG’s labels in the U.S.

With the transition of IDJ into three stand-alone labels, Chairman and CEO, East Coast Label Group, Barry Weiss has decided to step down from his current position in order to enter into discussions with UMG about a new venture together.

Grainge said, “Barry is a terrific music executive who led our East Coast labels during a critical time of transition.  I can’t say enough about his contributions to our labels or to thank him enough.  He has positioned Def Jam, Island, Motown and Republic for new levels of growth.”


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Jon Zellner
EVP/Programming Operations

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