At the Grammy Awards in L.A. this weekend, there was one unexpected industry plot twist being talked about in hushed circles.
Multiple sources have told MBW that respected entertainment and tech exec Michael Lynton is joining the Warner Music Group board of directors as its non-Exec Chairman.
The former Sony Entertainment CEO, and current Chairman of Snap, will work with a group of ten other WMG board members. These include owner Len Blavatnik, plus CEO Steve Cooper, and CEO of Recorded Music Max Lousada, as well as figures like Mathias Doepfner, CEO of Axel Springer and economist Noreena Hertz.
A non-Exec role like this is traditionally advisory, and it’s easy to see why Warner would be attracted to Lynton’s expertise. As the music business continues to diversify and grapple with new types of content, Lynton has a varied career across film, music, media and technology. Blavatnik and Cooper will already know Lynton well, as Access Industries, Blavatnik’s investment vehicle, also owns a stake in Snap.
Lynton arrives at a time when Blavatnik must be happy with the major’s performance.
Last year, WMG hit $4 billion in annual revenue. It’s also enjoying a strong start to 2019: WMG just celebrated its first billion dollar quarter in recorded music, during the same week that its artists won some hotly-contested Grammys like Best New Artist (Dua Lipa) and Best Rap Album (Cardi B’s Invasion Of Privacy).
Last month, WMG CEO Steve Cooper named Guy Moot and Carianne Marshall as co-Chairs of Warner/Chappell and continues to place big bets via acquisitions like that of merchandise retailer EMP. Cooper himself recently became the only major music CEO on the Board of the prestigious Paley Center for Media, alongside power players from Disney, Vivendi, HBO and others.
With MBW speculating that Universal’s potential valuation of $42 billion will ignite a major labels sales frenzy, are there more acquisitions on the horizon for Warner? Whichever direction Blavatnik and his board decide to take the company, Lynton will no doubt offer some valuable advice.Music Business Worldwide