“Questions Answered” is a regular feature in the new and improved Billboard magazine. This article is from the premiere edition, which also features Gail Mitchell’s cover story on Prince, Ray Waddell’s examination of the earnings of the Rolling Stones recent lucrative tour, a look at the life and death of Wind-Up Records founder Alan Meltzer, and much, much more. You can subscribe or buy the issue right here, or see it for free on your iPad right here.
What did you wake up thinking about this morning?
My wife and kids and how fortunate I am. I want to make sure I hit the day with the right attitude.
Describe a lesson you have learned from a failure.
Of course, I’d rather not give names, but there has been talent that we didn’t sign that I later wished we had. When we miss out like that, it only inspires me to be relentless about my focus on attracting the most fantastic artist and songwriter talent and the best executives in the music industry. I am always coming back to how I can improve things with my job so I won’t be looking at missed opportunities.
What will define your career in the coming year?
The success of Warner Music Group, Warner Bros. Records and Warner/Chappell, and within that the challenge of the music companies to provide service to the incredible acts and songwriters while finding the next wave of superstars and hit writers. I consider Rhino part of Warner/Chappell, although as separate companies under one unified management. There are definitely areas like finance and synch where Rhino and Warner/Chappell can work together, but it will be done with an eye toward growth. That is one of the keys for all the companies on the West Coast: We are committed to growth.
At Warner Bros. Records, it will absolutely continue to be a frontline record label, signing the best artists. We looked at the label to see what was best for the artist and what was best for the label. Some of the artists were not on the West Coast but are East Coast-based so we switched them to Atlantic. This will primarily impact Rick Ross’ company, Maybach Music Group.
Who is your most important mentor and what did you learn?
I have to name more than one: Howie Gabriel and Alan Becker [of RED], who gave me my first deal when I probably didn’t deserve one. They helped underline for me the importance of being honest and being prepared to take risks.
Name a project that you’re not affiliated with that has most impressed you in the last year.
Although we now have a slight affiliation, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are an incredibly successful indie project. I am impressed with the work that they have done to build their career, and the courage they have in their art and music is extraordinary.
Name a desert island album.
Bob Dylan’s Desire. It was the first album and first concert I ever went to when I was 13 years old.