John Janick has been named chairman and CEO of Interscope Geffen A&M, succeeding Jimmy Iovine, the most successful head of a major label for the last 25 years.
The announcement was made to coincide with the finally confirmed news that Apple will indeed acquire Beats, the headphones and digital music streaming company Iovine founded with Dr. Dre in 2008. When that transaction closes after the summer, Iovine will join Apple.
“Since coming to UMG nearly two years ago, he has consistently shown why he is widely regarded as one of the most talented, innovative and entrepreneurial executives in the music business today and will be a key player in the future generation of industry leaders,” Lucian Grainge, Universal Music Group chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “John is the ideal executive to be writing the next chapter in IGA’s illustrious history.”
Janick, who started his own very successful indie label Fueled By Ramen in 1996, has had the benefit of working under Iovine for the past two years, as he was groomed to succeed the producer who co-founded the most successful label start-up record label of the last 25 years.
While the label ranks 3rd so far this year with a 7.1% market share, Janick inherits a label that was the No. 1 U.S. label last year with a 7.72% in albums and tracks (albums plus TEA), according to Nielsen SoundScan. In each of the five years prior to that, Interscope ranked second, twice behind Columbia, twice behind the combined Columbia and Epic, and once behind Atlantic.
Janick, 36, arrived at the company in summer 2012, when, after 16 years helming Fueled By Ramen (fun., Fall Out Boy, Paramore), Warner Music Group failed to match UMG’s offer and let the seasoned exec walk. In the last 18 months, he’s won the hearts of longtime staffers, artists and managers, say several Interscope Geffen A&M insiders.
Even before the speculation that Beats would be bought by Apple and Iovine would leave UMG as a result , UMG sources were reporting that Janick, who has been serving as Interscope president and chief operating officer, was already completely running the label.
A month ago, one UMG executive told Billboard, “Jimmy has kind of handed the label over to him and appears ready to do something else. Janick is absolutely running the label 100%.” The same source added that Jimmy was proud to have done “something that none of his peers had done: find a successor.”
In a statement, Iovine noted, “John Janick has exactly what it takes to lead Interscope Geffen A&M: he started his own label, he understands the art of making records and the unique dynamic between a record label and artist, as well as the enormous responsibility that comes with representing one of the greatest artist rosters ever assembled.”
In addition to his hand-picked successor, Iovine also leaves behind one of the “most stable label management teams in the industry,” says another UMG executive. After all of these years, Interscope still has vice chairman Steve Berman, president of promotion Brenda Romano and a bunch of senior promo executives who have been there forever.”
For his part, Janick noted in a statement: “To have been able to work alongside Jimmy Iovine and contribute to the current success of Interscope Geffen A&M–three of the most storied brands in music—has been an extraordinary privilege. Now to be appointed Jimmy’s successor and be in a position to carry on his tradition of creative excellence and innovation is a truly humbling honor.”
Additional reporting by Shirley Halperin