Kevin Liles, the former president and CEO of Def Jam Records and executive vice president of parent company Island Def Jam Music Group, has been named executive vice president of Warner Music Group. Reporting to Lyor Cohen, chairman and CEO of U.S. Recorded Music, Liles will bring his 15 years of vast expertise in the urban and rock music genres as well as in marketing and brand extension to bear on WMG's corporate operations.
"We're extremely pleased to welcome Kevin into the Warner Music family," said Edgar Bronfman, Jr., chairman and CEO of Warner Music Group. "His remarkable, sustained success at Def Jam in such a broad range of entertainment endeavors and his demonstrated leadership abilities and business acumen will make him an invaluable asset to our operations worldwide."
"Not only is Kevin one of the most knowledgeable music executives I know, he's one of the hardest working, most passionate people in the business," said Cohen. "With his extraordinary resume, he brings an entirely new level of vitality to WMG's efforts to build momentum in urban music. And with such a broad grasp of every element of the business, from A&R, artist relations, brand-building, merchandising, movies, television, video games and mobile content as well as phenomenal business instincts, he really is the consummate entertainment executive. We couldn't be more thrilled to have him join the Warner Music team."
"I am very excited about this next phase in my career. Warner Music Group's executive team has extraordinary vision and a commitment to building a dynamic cultural enterprise." said Liles. "Reuniting with Mr. Bronfman and my good friend Lyor sets the stage for one of the greatest shows on earth. We all know how to win big and won't accept anything less."
Liles, 36, has become one of the most influential executives in the music business. His career began in 1986 when he penned the multi-platinum, award-winning single "Girl You Know It's True" written with his group Numarx and performed by Milli Vanilli. In 1989, he co-founded Marx Brothers Records, releasing several regional hits by his group Numarx while also opening for such acts as LL Cool J, Salt 'N Pepa, Rob Base and Run DMC. In 1991 he began his career at Def Jam as an unpaid intern in the Mid-Atlantic region. Quickly proving himself to be an invaluable asset, he was given the position of Mid-Atlantic marketing manager in 1993. In just five years he was named president of the Def Jam Music Group. During his tenure as president, from 1998 to 2002, Def Jam revenues doubled to $400 million. Liles also oversaw the development and creation of the brands Def Jam South, Def Soul, Def Soul Classics, Roc-A-Fella and Murder Inc.
In 2002, he added the title of executive vice president of Island Def Jam Music Group.
Liles has been instrumental in the success of Jay Z, Hoobastank, Ludacris, Sum 41, Ja Rule, LL Cool J, DMX, Kanye West, Musiq and Ashanti. He has also overseen all of Def Jam brand-extension and cross-marketing deals that have linked Def Jam's name to movies, television, DVDs, video games, clothing, financial services and mobile content arenas. –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen