LOS ANGELES (Hypebot) – Warner Music Group announced today that Executive Vice President Kevin Liles has decided to leave his day-to-day role at the company to pursue his own entrepreneurial opportunities. He will maintain a consulting relationship with the company.
The move comes just two days after WMG Bill Bennett, EVP and General Manager of Warner Bros. Nashville left as the company consolidated its Nashville labels under a reassigned John Esposito. Warner’s stock has taken a beating in recent days falling to $3.90 at yesterday’s close off a 52 week high of $8.94.
From the press release:
In making the announcement, WMG Chairman and CEO, Edgar Bronfman, Jr., said, “Kevin Liles is an exceptional executive and one of the most dynamically creative individuals in the industry. During his tenure at WMG, he helped to design and implement our industry-leading artist services strategy that in just a few years is already producing meaningful results. With WMG now positioned for future growth, Kevin is following his heart. His presence will be missed in 75 Rock.”
Lyor Cohen, WMG’s Vice Chairman and Chairman and CEO, Recorded Music – Americas and the UK, said, “Kevin and I have worked together since the day he joined Def Jam as an intern 18 years ago. He has become a trusted friend, a brilliant executive and an incredible business partner. Together, we have built companies, signed and developed fantastically talented artists, and brought some outstanding music to the world. Even though Kevin’s chosen to pursue a new challenge, we’ll continue to work together in many aspects of the entertainment industry. I’m so excited to see what’s next for Kev, and he takes with him all my love and respect.”
Liles said "In the past couple weeks I've made one of the most important decisions of my life – to depart the Warner Music Group in order to focus more on new entrepreneurial endeavors in talent management, entertainment, media and my personal philanthropic and political passions. I am thankful for the opportunities that Edgar and Lyor have given me, most recently in entrusting me with driving the company's global artist services strategy, which is redefining the way labels and artists work together. My work here is now complete and I'm excited about the next chapter of my life."
ABOUT KEVIN LILES
Kevin Liles’ ascent to president, author, philanthropist, motivational speaker and consultant to many entertainment and political boards began in 1991 when he undertook an unpaid internship for Def Jam in the Mid-Atlantic region. By 1993, he had become the Mid-Atlantic Marketing Manager and by 1998, after only seven years, Liles accepted the position of President of the Def Jam Music Group. During his tenure as President, Def Jam revenues doubled to $400 million. In addition to presiding over the label’s artist roster and day-to-day business at Def Jam, Liles oversaw the diversification of the Def Jam brand, including establishing Def Jam South, Def Soul, Def Soul Classics, Roc-A-Fella and Murder Inc. He also led the brand-extension efforts and cross-marketing deals that linked Def Jam's name to movies, television, DVDs, clothing, financial services, mobile content and video games. As President and CEO of Def Jam Interactive, Liles partnered with Electronic Arts to create three Def Jam-branded video games and more than ten different SKUs. Titles such as Vendetta, Fight for New York and Icon, have sold more than 8 million units worldwide, to date. Liles recently orchestrated a new partnership with 4mm games, launched by former Rockstar game founders Jamie King and Gary Foreman. The first release, the highly anticipated Def Jam Rapstar is scheduled for early 2010.
Following the merger that created the Island/Def Jam Music Group in 2002, Liles added the title of executive vice president of Island Def Jam Music Group to his resume. Thanks to his uncanny ability to provide leadership while allowing artists the freedom to create, he has been instrumental in the success of, and eventual cross-over of, many artists who have made the leap from “performer” to “global brand” including Jay Z, Hoobastank, Ludacris, Sum 41, Ja Rule, LL Cool J, DMX, Kanye West, Musiq Soulchild and Ashanti.
By 2004, Liles joined Warner Music Group as Executive Vice President and was part of the senior executive team when the company went public in 2005. As the lead executive behind the implementation of WMG’s new 360-degree strategy for enhanced artist partnerships, Liles oversaw the expansion of the traditional record company role in the artist’s career. His expertise in all facets of artist relations and brand expansion allowed for successful, complete partnerships with artists in each facet of their careers – fan clubs and ticketing, endorsements and licensing, artist management, TV production and merchandising.
Throughout 2008, Liles was instrumental in assembling a coalition of like-minded entertainers who made strategic visits to swing states in the final weeks before the historic Presidential election. Liles, along with Jay-Z, Beyonce, P. Diddy, Russell Simmons & Mary J. Blige encouraged Americans to exercise their right to vote. Currently, Liles is a committee chairman on the upcoming Jay-Z & Friends “Answer The Call” Charity Concert, taking place at Madison Square Garden on September 11, 2009 and benefitting the NYC Police and Fire Widow and Children’s Benefit Fund.
Liles serves as board member/advisor to Ogilvy & Mather Diversity Board, Harbor Bank, Healthcorps, SEED School of Maryland, New Yorkers For Children, Junior Achievement of New York and is a member of The Executive Leadership Council. He is the bestselling author of Make It Happen: the Hip Hop Guide to Success and oversees both Kevin Liles for a Better Baltimore, which invests in the Baltimore community, and the Make It Happen Foundation, which empowers African-American youth to succeed in the business world.