No. 10: Doug Morris | Power 100



CEO, Sony Music Entertainment

Last Year's Rank: 4

“I can’t tell you how relaxed I am,” says veteran record man Morris, who, after six years at the helm of Sony Music Entertainment, is preparing to hand over the CEO baton to Columbia Records’ Rob Stringer and ascend to chairman in April. “We’ve been up in profit and in market share every year since 2011,” says the Columbia University graduate and lifelong New Yorker. (During his tenure, Morris led the purchase of remainder stakes in The Orchard and Syco, among other acquisitions.) “And music once again looks like it’s going to become much more financially important. It’s exactly the right moment for me to step back.”

Indeed, having held the chief executive title at all three major labels -- Warner Music from 1990 to 1995, Universal Music Group from 1995 until 2011; roles in which he melded art with -commerce and stewarded what would become a proper music business -- there’s not much the married grandfather of six hasn’t done. But looking back at his legacy, Morris aligns his own accomplishments with the success of his disciples. Atlantic’s Craig Kallman: “I hired him while he was still attending college at Brown,” boasts Morris. Republic’s Monte Lipman and Apple’s Jimmy Iovine: “They started working for me 30, 40 years ago.” UMG’s Lucian Grainge: “He was running one of the Polydor labels when I upped him to running the U.K. Then I made him head of international and brought him on in my job when I reached retirement age.”

Morris’ latest protégé? Adam Alpert (No. 93), who brought The Chainsmokers to Columbia after a singles deal with Republic ended. “I believe in executive talent,” says Morris. “That’s what really makes the trains run.”

That wasn’t exactly the case when Morris came over from UMG in 2011. Epic Records, now reinvigorated by Antonio “L.A. Reid,” was in shambles; RCA, the domain of Peter Edge and Tom Corson today, “had very little product coming,” recalls Morris. “It was a sad feeling.”

It was a feeling that starkly contrasts the energy of label presentations that took place at Sony’s new downtown Manhattan offices in January. There, amid optimistic talk of streaming and excitement over new music by Harry Styles, Morris says he recalls “feeling so flushed with pride and saying to myself, ‘This cake is baked.’ ”

How Trump will affect the industry: “I have no idea. I hope he does a good job.” 

2017 Power 100