This exclusive story is from the latest issue of Billboard magazine (cover date: June 15, 2013), also includes stories on Apple’s upcoming iRadio platform, Spotify and Coca-Cola’s PlaceLists app, how brands like the NFL and Hershey’s are considering original content and publishing for ads, a look at Loud & Proud records, AEG’s international boost of StubHub, a Q&A with UMGD’s Jim Urie, a cover story on Janelle Monae and her Wondaland HQ and much more. You can pick up this issue here and subscribe to Billboard here.
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Sire Records cofounder and chairman Seymour Stein will take on additional responsibilities as senior label A&R executive for independent music, working closely with WMG’s Alternative Distribution Alliance. In this newly created position, Stein will support ADA’s management team in developing the company’s roster of labels.
Stein, who received Billboard’s Icon Award at MIDEM last year, will aid in identifying emerging independent labels and artists as well as recommending executive talent to the company, according to an announcement. Moreover, Stein, who often makes trips to emerging markets like China and India, will continue to nurture his network of contacts in those countries as well as Russia, South Korea and Africa.
“Technically, I’ve not been an indie since Sire joined Warner back in the late ‘70s, but that indie spirit has always been very much in my heart, soul and mind,” Stein said in a statement. “To me, being an indie is being out there in the streets, the way my mentors like Syd Nathan at King Records, Jerry Wexler and Ahmet Ertegun at Atlantic, George Goldner at Red Bird and Leonard Chess were identifying talent and changes in music long before the majors. In fact, I never saw Warner Music as a major label on its own, but rather a coalition of three great indie labels; Atlantic, Reprise and Elektra, headed by pioneers such as Ahmet and Jerry aswell as Jac Holzman, Mo Ostin and Joe Smith.”
He noted that every major change in music since the onset of rock ‘n’ roll — including hip-hop, rap, electronica and dance — was ushered in by the indies. As proof of that, Stein noted that 39 of the 41 nominees on the first ballot for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame started their careers on indie labels.
“Without a strong indie contingent in our business, we run the risk of growing a bit stale,” Stein said. “That’s why I’m so proud to be helping the great team I’m really looking forward to this new role.”
Atlantic Records chairman and CEO Craig Kallman said in a statement that Stein “is one of the greatest music men of all time, who has a rare gift for discovering and developing extraordinary artists. He is also an incredible talent-spotter when it comes to labels and music executives. Over the years, many people from the indie community have discovered how powerful it is when Seymour is your champion.”
WMG head of West Coast Operations and chairman& CEO of Warner/Chappell Music Cameron Strang said in a statement: Stein “never tires in his commitment to new talent and has always been indie in spirit. His integrity, passion and determination will help us forge new partnerships that will nurture independent artists and elevate ground-breaking music.”
Among the artists that Stein has signed over the years are Madonna, the Talking Heads, the Ramones, the Pretenders, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, the Replacements, the Dead Boys, k.d Lang, Ice-T, Seal, Wilco, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Throwing Muses, Belly, Book of Love, Ministry, Barenaked Ladies, and many more. Beyond that, Stein built relationships with such indie labels as Rough Trade, Beggars Banquet, Mute,4AD, Creation, Warped, China, Chapter 22, Thrive, Fiction and Zoo, helping to bring many international artist to the U.S., including such bands such as Depeche Mode, the Smiths, the Cure, the Cult, Echo and the Bunnymen, Erasure, Yaz, the Undertones, Soft Cell, Madness, Modern English, the English Beat, Everything but the Girl, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Aphex Twin, the Mighty Lemon Drops, Bomb the Bass, Spacehog the Saints, HIM and Ofra Haza.
Stein, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005, continues as an active executive of the Warner Bros. Records where Sire’s roster includes Regina Spektor, Tegan & Sara, Delta Rae, Kill It Kid, Ben Fields and Ewert & the Two Dragons.