Music News

Warner Music Group appoints YouTube exec Robert Kyncl as new CEO

Warner Music Group has appointed longstanding YouTube executive Robert Kyncl as its new CEO, replacing Stephen Cooper, who is stepping down after eleven years in the role.

Kyncl had worked with YouTube for 12 years, most recently serving in the role of chief business officer.

“Robert is the right CEO to meet this moment”, commented Len Blavatnik, chair of Access Industries, Warner Music Group’s biggest shareholder. “His command of technology to serve creativity will unlock new opportunities at scale for artists, songwriters and their teams. He sees over the horizon to find ways to make world-class entertainment accessible for all.

“It would be difficult to overstate our gratitude to Steve for all his expertise and hard work. He has done an exceptional job driving the company from decline to growth and spearheading its 2020 IPO. He has established a strong management team and culture, and his tenure at WMG will benefit the music ecosystem for years to come.”

Kyncl also said: “Music is an incredible creative force, with an unmatched ability to bring emotions, build communities and propel change. We’re just at the beginning of what’s possible in recognising music’s true power, value and reach. Thanks to Steve and his team, WMG is very well positioned for a future of serving artists and songwriters, as well as their fans.

“I’m looking forward to partnering with Max [Lousada], Guy [Moot], Carianne [Marshall] and all of the company’s leadership, and I thank WMG’s board of directors, Len, and Steve, for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at this iconic company”.

Outgoing CEO Cooper said of his replacement: “Robert is a fantastic choice for CEO. He’s a hugely talented executive who’ll bring dynamic energy to WMG and the music entertainment business. He’ll have world-class partners in WMG’s senior management and global team.

“I’m very proud of all we’ve accomplished together, attracting and nurturing amazing artists and songwriters, while leading the industry in the use of new technologies and the expansion into emerging markets. After a smooth handover with Robert is complete, I’m looking forward to becoming a full-time fan of the best team in the business.”

Kyncl will officially join the company on January 1, 2023. He and Kyncl will operate as co-CEOs for a transition period up to January 31, from which point Kyncl will serve as sole CEO.

Cooper is the longest-running CEO in WMG’s history, having been appointed in August 2011, following the purchase of the company by Access Industries. During Cooper’s leadership, the company has expanded its investment in artists and songwriters, grown its global market share, and diversified its revenue sources. In the last decade, the company has acquired companies such as Parlophone Label Group, Gold Typhoon, Spinnin’, and 300, launched operations in over 20 additional countries, and assembled a network of D2C destinations under the WMX banner.

WMG’s Board of Directors said, “After a thorough search, we’re delighted to be appointing Robert Kyncl, who will make an outstanding leader for WMG’s continued transformation and success. We thank Steve for his many accomplishments over more than a decade, and we look forward to welcoming our new CEO in January.”

Last month, Headliner spoke to Warner Chappell CEO Moot about the work the company is doing to break down barriers to entry into the music business and his own personal journey from working as a welder to becoming one of the industry’s most influential executives.