When the planned installation of Ethiopia Habtemariam as the head of Motown Records finally occurs, the label will move out of the Universal orbit and instead share resources with the Island Def Jam Group, sources tell Billboard.biz.
Habtemariam, head of urban music/ senior VP of creative services at the Universal Music Publishing Group, is still working out the details of her new contract, sources say. When the deal is done, she will report to Barry Weiss, chairman & CEO of Island Def Jam and Universal Republic Groups. In her new role she will be given a creative title, charged with heading up Motown, which is expected to have a staff of about a dozen employees.
The boutique label operation will inherit most of the Motown roster -- including Erykah Badu and Kem -- and Habtemariam will have the responsibility to pare back the roster as she sees fit, as well as signing established and developing artists going forward, sources say. When Motown needs resources to work projects, Habtemariam will tap into the Island Def Jam staff, and of course will also rely on the shared services staff employed by both IDJ and Universal Republic and all of the other planned boutique operations.
Habtemariam, of course, takes over the label from Sylvia Rhone, who stepped down last month. She is expected to join former UMG chief Doug Morris at Sony, possibly at the helm of a revived Portrait Records.