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Universal Music Group Breaks Up IDJ; Reorganizes Def Jam, Island & Motown

(L-R) ETHIOPIA HABTEMARIAM, President of MOTOWN RECORDS, BARRY WEISS, Former Chairman/CEO UMG EAST COAST LABEL GROUP,  LUCIAN GRAINGE, UMG Chairman/CEO, STEVE BARTELS, CEO, DEF JAM RECORDINGS, KAREN KWAK, UMG EVP/A&R, U.S. Recorded Music
(L-R) ETHIOPIA HABTEMARIAM, President of MOTOWN RECORDS, BARRY WEISS, Former Chairman/CEO UMG EAST COAST LABEL GROUP, LUCIAN GRAINGE, UMG Chairman/CEO, STEVE BARTELS, CEO, DEF JAM RECORDINGS, KAREN KWAK, UMG EVP/A&R, U.S. Recorded MusicPhil McCarten/PictureGroup, Michael Priest, Reuters, Universal Music Group

Universal Music Group has reorganized its East Coast music operations with the announcement that Def Jam Records, Island Records, and Motown Records will now serve as stand-alone label imprints under the UMG corporate umbrella. Under the new structure, Steve Bartels has been appointed Def Jam CEO and Ethiopia Habtemariam has been promoted to Motown President.

In a statement, UMG Chairman/CEO LUCIAN GRAINGE announced, “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.”

With the transition of Island Def Jam records as three stand alone labels, Chairman/CEO EAST COAST LABEL GROUP BARRY WEISS has decided to re-sign with plans of entering into discussion with UMG about a new joint venture.

Regarding BARRY WEISS's departure, Mr. GRAINGE vocalized that, “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.”

Under the re-establishment of DEF JAM RECORDINGS, ISLAND RECORDS and MOTOWN RECORDS as stand-alone labels:

DEF JAM RECORDINGS will be strategically led by STEVE BARTELS, who has been upped to CEO. BARTELS formerly served as Pres./COO of ISLAND DEF JAM. Additionally, music industry executives, DION “NO I.D.” WILSON and KYAMBO "HIP HOP" JOSHUA, have been appointed Executive Vice Presidents and Co-Heads of Artist&Repertoire.

Moreover, ETHIOPIA HABTEMARIAM, of MOTOWN RECORDS, has been promoted to President of the label. The label also moves back to LOS ANGELES, its former longest-serving home, for nearly 25 years since 1972. MOTOWN will be a freestanding imprint within CAPITOL MUSIC GROUP, which was acquired with UMG’s purchase of EMI.

ISLAND RECORDS, currently led by President DAVID MASSEY, will develop and expand its brand and label imprint's marketing, publicity and A&R departments. It will focus heavily on rock, alternative and pop music formats while drawing upon the promotional resources of UMG’s REPUBLIC RECORDS.

KAREN KWAK, Executive Vice President/Head of A&R for Island Def Jam has been appointed to Executive Vice President/A&R, U.S. Recorded Music, newly-created position that will allow her KWAK to oversee all of UMG’s labels in the U.S.

Island Def Jam will cease to exist effective immediately.