Former Warner Music Group CEO Recruits Colleagues, Big Investors For New Venture
With artists taking creativity and independence to new heights in music, using unique branding and promotional strategies to hone in on fans needs and create discourse about their art, it seems that record labels are beginning to see the need to change their m.o. to suit this brave new world of music consumption. Longtime record executive Lyor Cohen is looking to lead the charge with his new record label 300. The name 300 is inspired by the storied Greek army that, although vastly outnumbered, successfully waged war with a much larger Persian army.
Cohen has grabbed longtime colleagues Kevin Liles and Todd Moscowitz, both former Warner Music Group and Def Jam executives, to help him operate the label. Cohen was head of Warner Music Group for 8 years before stepping down in 2012. He will be bringing 300 back into the WMG fold however, as the label will be housed there and distributed by Atlantic Records.
“It was a battle that changed the way wars are fought,” Cohen said to Billboard Magazine of naming the label after the famed Greek army. “These guys found that if you were well synchronized, strategic, loyal with great planning and preparedness you could do much more with less and be highly effective.”
The company aims to realign the record industry’s current cost structure, using fewer resources in a more efficient, smarter way that fits the new frontier in which entrepreneurial artists are marketing themselves and building their own fan bases through digital platforms like Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.
“I spent an enormous amount of time inside these digital distribution companies just talking and engaging with them and understanding what these companies now know about our music fans,” Cohen divulged, “something we in the music business never knew for all the years I’ve worked in it. I see a lot of opportunities and asked an insane amount of questions.”
The company is looking for about 30 music veterans in areas such as radio promotion and marketing as well as a batch of young staffers who have expertise in areas like data management.
Companies like Google have bought into the idea of a smarter, more forward-thinking label. Sources state that the media giant, among other investors, has put up $5 million for 300. “With YouTube, we have a long history of supporting artists and content creators,” Google said in a statement, “so we’re excited to invest in 300, a new, innovative company designed to create opportunities for artists.”
This year alone artist like Jay Z and Nipsey Hussle have proven that an innovate marketing plan mixed with quality music can make a huge impact. Hov sold 1 million copies of his Magna Carta Holy Grail album to tech giant Samsung, securing a platinum plaque before the album was even released, engaging in a unique album distribution strategy, and presumably putting “#newrules” in play for how music is released and received.
Meanwhile Nipsey Hussle sold a limited number of his latest project, Crenshaw, for a whopping $100 per copy. Despite the steep price tag, his fans purchased all 1,000 physical copies in a single day, sparking immense debate on the worth fans are willing to put on a project from an artist they love, even in this day and age of rampant music piracy.