Magazine article Variety

Brit Invasion Climaxes at Music Groups’ Exec Suites

Magazine article Variety

Brit Invasion Climaxes at Music Groups’ Exec Suites

Article excerpt

WHEN VETERAN U.K. music exec Max Lousada officially took over as Warner Music Group's CEO of recorded music in October, it meant that the direction of all three major U.S. music groups was now in the hands of Brits. While Lousada reports to WMG CEO Stephen Cooper, an American, the British exec is more involved with the creative guidance of the company, as are fellow Englishmen Lucian Grainge and Rob Stringer, at Universal and Sony, respectively.

The milestone marked a culmination of sorts for the British Invasion of 1964, which saw the Beatles jump-start the U.S. record business, helping it become a $14 billion-ayear behemoth by the turn of the century. And while this year British musical exports have been overshadowed on the pop charts by those of Sweden, Latin America and Canada, the global success of acts like Ed Sheeran and perennial platinum-plus songstress Adele are reminders of how potent the U.K. talent pool can be.

Arguably, the country's executives have fared even better: Grainge and Capitol Music Group chief Steve Barnett named fellow Brit Ashley Newton as group president early last year; RCA chairman and CEO Peter Edge and Island Records president David Massey rose through the ranks, both in the States and in Britain, within the past decade. They join other U.K. music execs who succeeded in the States, such as Chris Blackwell (founder of Island Records), Richard Branson (Virgin), Chris Wright and Terry Ellis (Chrysalis) and Martin Mills (Beggars Group).

So what's the secret? Edge points to Britain's global gaze.

"Pop music has always been part of the national discussion in the U.K., and England has always been a country that looked out on what was going on in the rest of the world," he says.

Edge relocated to the States in 1993 after running his own Chrysalis-affiliated Cooltempo label (which released such hiphop originals as Doug E. Fresh, EPMD and Eric B. & Rakim in Britain). Stints at Warner Bros., Arista and Clive Davis' J Records - where he signed the likes of Alicia Keys, Dido and Angie Stone - led to his current post at RCA, where rising stars Khalid and SZA earned a combined nine nominations for the 2018 Grammys.

San Francisco-born Piero Giramonti, who spent time working for EMI Records in both London and Italy and is now co-GM for Harvest Records and Caroline Records Distribution, says the U.K. has always "punched above its weight" when it comes to the global music marketplace, and that technology may be leveling the playing field for execs making the trip across the Pond. …

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