Lyor Cohen used his keynote speech at Midem in Cannes, France, to announce that his new label venture, 300, has partnered with Twitter to develop A&R tools that will benefit the whole music business.
Speaking to a packed room at Cannes’ Palais des Festivals centre, the former Warner Music Group chief revealed that he closed the deal on Saturday (Feb. 1), and that the partnership would focus on the creation of “A&R tools to find artists early and help develop them.”
“In the modern A&R business we are all looking for talent in various places, and certainly Twitter is a terrific place to look at talent,” Cohen said. “If you want to get signed, you have to engage with Twitter, and of course YouTube, and we’ll be looking to try and develop tools that the rest of the music community can utilize.”
Interviewed by Tommy Boy CEO and New Music Seminar executive director Tom Silverman, Cohen’s engrossing and, at times, highly entertaining keynote, marked the first time that the veteran exec has publicly discussed 300 — the Google-backed independent music company he co-founded with long-term music partners Todd Moscowitz and Kevin Liles.
“The mission statement is to create a lasting reputation for high quality and artist development,” Cohen told the audience, which included a front-row seat for longtime U2 manager and Billboard’s 2014 Industry Icon honoree Paul McGuinness.
“It’s a creative hub that goes beyond the creation of music and songs. It’s a place where artists, managers, agents can access experience and tools so they could be highly participating in the artist development process,” he continued.
The company’s mission statement took six weeks to finalize, Cohen said, and retained an important role to “define concisely what we want to wake up and do every day.”
Asked by Silverman why he felt that now was the right time to launch an independent music company, Cohen responded, “I think this is an amazing opportunity for entrepreneurs to be independent, especially in the music business. I see macro business models that are not on some chalk board, but that actually are reality. I certainly believe in streaming as being the future of a very healthy business and I want to be a part of that.”
Cohen continued, “We definitely are going to see a few bumps. But as subscription grows and it gets to a mass scale I think it will be a lovely business.”
As for what still fuels him in his forth decade in the music industry, Cohen said he has had the same singular thought for the last 32 years: “Maybe today will be the day that I bump into an artist that will change my life and possibly change formats and pop culture. That’s my drug,” he said.