Warner Music Group unveiled the new leadership team today (Oct. 3) that will take over at Warner Bros. Records: Aaron Bay-Schuck, the president of A&R at Interscope Geffen A&M, will be named co-chairman and CEO of the label; and Tom Corson, president/COO at RCA Records, will be named co-chairman and COO. The announcement marks the first major moves for new Warner Music Group CEO of recorded music Max Lousada, who officially took over in his new role yesterday (Oct. 2).
In a press release sent out today, WMG also clarified the role of current Warner Bros. chairman/CEO Cameron Strang, who announced earlier this morning that he would be resigning from his seat on the board of WMG. Strang will step down from WBR at the end of 2017, while start dates for Bay-Schuck and Corson have yet to be determined. Strang took over the top job at Warner Bros. in 2012 from Todd Moscowitz, having previously run publishing arm Warner/Chappell Music.
“Cameron has guided WBR through a period of unprecedented change and has added to the label’s remarkable musical legacy,” Lousada said in a statement, referring to Strang’s exit. “He will leave with our utmost respect and we wish him all the best.”
The moves for Bay-Schuck and Corson have been in the works for months, sources have told Billboard, with Strang in New York City last week meeting with top Warner executives about the transition. According to the press release, Bay-Schuck and Corson will operate as a “partnership,” with Bay-Schuck handling creative direction and Corson focusing on operations, similar to the setup Corson worked under alongside Peter Edge at RCA.
“At WMG, we’re building a creative and entrepreneurial environment where artists can change culture and make music that matters,” Lousada said in a statement. “Tom and Aaron don’t just share our ambition; they both have it in their DNA. That’s why they’ll be such an inspiring duo at WBR, which is always strongest when it’s at its most daring and unexpected. At the cutting edge of a new generation of leaders, Aaron has impeccable taste and a rare ability to help distinctive artists grow into global superstars. Equally, Tom has a super-driven, imaginative approach to championing talent and mentoring executives, as well as a wealth of experience at both major and indie labels. They’re a dynamic combination that will bring in a fresh, new era at one of the greatest record labels of all time.”
The CEO role will be a major step up for Bay-Schuck, who has been at Interscope since 2014 after spending a decade at Atlantic Records, where he had risen to senior vp A&R and worked with artists such as Bruno Mars, Flo Rida and B.o.B. Over the past three years at IGA, he worked closely with Selena Gomez on her 2015 album Revival, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and spawned three top 10 hits on the Hot 100. He’s also worked with Imagine Dragons, Lady Gaga, Lana del Rey, OneRepublic, X Ambassadors and Zedd, among others.
However, WBR may have to wait to get their new top executive in place. An internal memo to IGA staff sent Friday (Sept. 29) and reviewed by Billboard said that Bay-Schuck will remain at Interscope until his current deal expires in September 2018, though it’s unclear if he will stay at the company through the end of the contract. Either way, with Corson’s deal also not up until next year, Warner Bros. could be faced with a leadership gap that could hamper new artist signings in the interim, though label executives have expressed to Billboard confidence that both the existing WBR A&R team, combined with Lousada, who also hails from an A&R background, and Corson’s arrival, will be successful.
“I must first and foremost say thank you to the artists who have trusted me, to the songwriters and producers who have delivered time and time again, to the publishers who have sent me their best songs, and to the managers and lawyers who have made me your first call. You all are the reason I am in this position,” Bay-Schuck said in a statement. “I am unbelievably excited to lead Warner Bros. Records, in partnership with the one and only Tom Corson, into its rightful place as the most vibrant, diverse, forward-thinking and artist-friendly music company on the planet. Lastly, I’d like to thank Max for his vision, trust and for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Corson’s appointment officially brings to an end a long-term and successful partnership with Edge at RCA, where Corson had served as president/COO since 2011. Having worked at RCA Music Group since 2000, Corson had a long history with the label across a variety of genres, working with the likes of Alicia Keys, Foo Fighters, Chris Brown, Justin Timberlake, Shakira, Usher and Pentatonix, among a slew of others, and most recently seeing success with Bryson Tiller, Khalid, SZA and Zayn.
“I’ve long been in awe of the extraordinary lineage of artists and executives that are part of the Warner Bros. story, and I’m excited to join this legendary label at a time when our business is more dynamic than ever, creatively and commercially,” Corson said in a statement. “Aaron is a world-class talent and our partnership will be based on a joint commitment to build lasting careers for extraordinary artists that shape the popular zeitgeist. I’m looking forward to heading back to the West Coast and working with Max and Aaron to bring WBR, its artists and its team to new heights. Max has an inspirational vision and I want to thank him for opening the door to this new journey.”