Rob Wiesenthal, current Chief Operating Office/Corporate of Warner Music Group, is leaving the music business. In a memo obtained by Billboard, WMG CEO Steve Cooper says that Wiesenthal will be leaving the major in order to be more involved with his startup Blade, which Cooper describes as "the first crowdsourced short distance aviation company." (He may be about to make good money off those headed to the Hamptons, after regulations on air travel to the area were loosened.)
Last September, Wiesenthal took on more responsibility at WMG, overseeing digital business development. That move followed his involvement with the company's Shazam partnership, as well as a groundbreaking deal with Clear Channel (now iHeartMedia) on radio royalties.
Wiesenthal is leaving the industry just as a favorite subject, electronic dance music, is reaching its apex. (It must run in the family -- his son is a DJ.)
Cooper's memo to staff in full:
I am writing to share the news that Rob Wiesenthal, WMG's Chief Operating Officer/Corporate, has decided to leave the company to become CEO of Blade, the first crowdsourced short distance aviation company, which Rob co-founded while he was still at Sony. The company recently took on significant investment and, at this inflection point, Rob has decided to accept this appointment and help guide Blade to the next level.
I respect Rob's desire to concentrate his energies in the entrepreneurial world and Blade will clearly benefit from his digital and commercial expertise. Ever since he joined WMG in January 2013, Rob has led the effort to broaden our deal-making universe, helping us to forge new models with established players as well as to build what he calls a "digital nursery" of partnerships with innovative start-ups. Besides first-of-their kind alliances with well-known players like Clear Channel and Shazam, he and the team formed groundbreaking relationships with newer names such as Snapchat, Interlude, Vessel and SoundCloud. Not only that, he also was a member of the team that closed the deal for us to acquire Parlophone Label Group (PLG) in February 2013.
We wish Rob all the best with his venture and thank him for his achievements at WMG. He will be staying with us until the end of month, while we begin a search for a successor, and Rob will continue to be available to us through September 30th to help with the transition. In the meantime, I know the immensely capable Business Development and Digital Legal Affairs teams will continue to expertly guide our business development efforts. As always, our goal is to strengthen, diversify and evolve our company as we offer WMG artists and songwriters a range of opportunities unmatched in our industry.