Executive Turntable

Warner Music Nabs Kristen Burke From Universal to Run Canadian Label

Kristen Burke
Courtesy of Warner Music*

Kristen Burke

She will be the first woman to head a major label in Canada since 2007.

Warner Music has hired Kristen Burke away from Universal Music to head its operations in Canada, making her the first woman to head a major label in the country in 14 years.

Burke will take over as president of Warner Music Canada on Oct. 18.

The last woman to lead a major label in Canada was Lisa Zbitnew, who ran the renamed SonyBMG from 2004 to 2007. Before her, Denise Donlon headed Sony Music Canada from 2000 to 2003. No other major label in Canada’s history has had a female in the top position.

Burke, who is currently executive vp and general manager at Universal Music Canada, where she has worked for more than 20 years, will report to Simon Robson, president, international, recorded music at Warner Music Group. She will succeed Steve Kane, who has served as president since 2004, and was inducted into the Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Hall of Fame in 2015. (Kane did not respond to a request for comment.)

"Kristen is an extremely talented exec who is well-qualified to pick up the baton from the amazing Steve Kane as we look to write the next chapter in Warner Music Canada’s history," Robson said. "I can’t wait to collaborate with her as we further expand our local roster and make sure our Canadian artists continue to benefit from the global firepower of Warner Music."

Kane, in his own statement, said he knows the company’s “future is in safe hands,” adding that he plans to focus more energy on social justice issues and music. (Kane notoriously has shopped for vinyl every weekend since his teens.)

Burke is on the board of directors of the Canadian Country Music Association and The Remix Project, which provides arts programs for marginalized youth.

“As a country, we’ve always been a hotbed for talent that goes on to find a global stage and I want to make sure that we’re tapping into the diverse music scenes across Canada to help develop the next generation of talent,” she said in a statement.