Nonesuch Records Hires XL's Kris Chen as Senior Vice President

Kris Chen
Courtesy Photo

Kris Chen

Nonesuch Records has hired industry veteran Kris Chen as the label's senior vice president in charge of A&R, Billboard has learned. Chen, previously head of U.S. operations at XL Recordings, will have his hand in all areas of the Warner Music Group imprint, especially the signing and developing of new and established artists. He excelled at that task during his 11 years at XL, where he signed and/or worked closely with Vampire Weekend, Sigur Ros, Tyler the Creator and many others.

Based in New York City, Chen will report to Nonesuch co-president David Bither, who will assume sole presidency at the label in January following last year's decision by Bob Hurwitz to transition to an emeritus role after 32 years at the helm. Bither says in an announcement that he almost immediately thought of Chen when it came time to add a new piece to the label's executive team.

"I've known Kris for more than a decade and have regarded him from the start as a fellow traveler," says Bither. "His success over the years at XL provides ample evidence of his ability but it is his convictions about music and culture that have always impressed me even more. I'm delighted that he is joining us and believe it speaks to our ambition to build on the course that Nonesuch has charted, today and in the years to come."

Chen began his music career in the mid-1990s in the sales department at Warner Music Group's Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA). Since then he has held marketing positions at Tommy Boy Records and Domino Records, where he also helped develop artists including Franz Ferdinand, Caribou and Four Tet. His arrival at XL, part of the Beggars Group, in 2005 marked his full-time move into A&R. While there he signed Vampire Weekend to their first deal, landed Radiohead singer Thom Yorke's debut solo album, The Eraser, and developed acclaimed British group The xx.

"There are few labels where the name alone stands for music of the quality, distinction, and diversity that defines Nonesuch," says Chen. "Since I met David on the day of the legendary New York blackout of 2003, we have been great friends and musical compatriots, and he's always been generous with his advice and viewpoints on art and commerce. When this opportunity at Nonesuch was presented, I knew it was the culmination of many moments along a path that has pointed me here."