Music industry legend Seymour Stein has announced his departure from Warner Music after 42 years at the label group, saying he’s eying a return to his “indie roots.” By leaving WMG, Stein also is saying goodbye to Sire Records, the label he co-founded in 1967 as an independent before joining forces with Warner’s nine years later.
Led by Stein, Sire’s roster over the last half-century has been nothing short of legendary and has included Madonna, The Ramones, The Smiths, The Pretenders, The Cure, Ice-T, Depeche Mode, The Replacements, Uncle Tupelo, The Cult, Cyndi Lauper and k.d.lang, among others.
“I was very fortunate during my youth to learn from so many great indie label people, like Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun and Jerry Wexler at Atlantic, and my greatest mentor, Syd Nathan at King Records,” said Stein in his announcement. “I went on to work with so many other great indies around the world as Sire grew to become the legendary brand it is today. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all the amazing artists — far too many to name — who have called Sire home over the years.”
Stein, a one-time assistant at Billboard, co-founded Sire with Richard Gottehrer. In July 2017, WMG named Rani Hancock as the label’s president, with Stein staying on as chairman.
In his comments, Stein admitted that while he’s enjoyed his time at Warner’s, “in truth I long for my indie roots and the greater independence that I experienced back in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. So the time has come to move on to the next phase of my career, leaving Sire in the hands of Rani Hancock, whom I sincerely wish all the luck in the world.”
The 76-year-old record man hinted that he intends to stay in the music business and will be “back in action again soon. I’m looking forward to the future and continuing to develop new artists in the music business that I love so much.”
Stein’s departure from Warner Music coincided with him receiving the Recording Academy’s prestigious Trustees Award on Saturday, July 14, at the organization’s Special Merit Awards ceremony and tribute concert, held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
This story will be updated.