Lyor Cohen’s departure and it’s impact on hip-hop

Why hip-hop fans may have reason to be worried.

Lyor Cohen is no longer the Chairman/CEO of Recorded Music at Warner Music Group and hip-hop fans in the urban community may have reason to be worried.

Former EMI boss Roger Faxon is likely set to replace the man who has been at corporate table putting the genre on his back for over 20 years, but what does he stand for and where do his allegiances lie are questions that may not be known until the Spring of 2013 when the first batch of music releases without Cohen’s stamp of approval begin to take shape for consumer release.

Cohen has been great at many things and making the hip-hop business stronger is certainly one of them. In doing so, he has been an advocate for transitioning the genre to the business bottom line end of the digital era. It was never more apparent than when the polarizing executive spearheaded WMG to record record-setting digital music revenue in 2011 that is growing enough to match physical sales.

Simply put, he’s made many people and corporations a lot of freaking money.

Faxon was in the same position at EMI, a struggling recorded and publishing music giant, that was recently dismantled by CitiCorp (Publishing: sold to Sony Music, Recorded Music: sold to Universal Music Group), but obviously failed to get the job done, which is what will lead to his availability in the coming weeks. Whatever was started by Cohen behind those WMG doors does not exactly mean everyone will be at ease if/when Faxon takes over.

Urban music insiders are confident things will remain the same at WMG and for the bulk of the hip-hop bottom line, but there is no guarantee Faxon remains on course. Rarely do new CEOs at any company do everything their predecessor would, regardless of how close they are to the former leader.

It is safe to assume the recently-appointed Independent Television Authority Board Member will not stray very far from Cohen’s ideals, as many of them were likely born from meetings many of Cohen’s buddies had. With that deductive reasoning, hip-hop fans can put that bottle of Hennessey down, but relaxing on the notion that Faxon will fight for the culture like Cohen has been may be a grave mistake.

The remaining executives at WMG will use every opportunity to sway Faxon to do what is “best for the genre” which in the end will mean whatever is better for the culture. Will Faxon sacrifice a market for the greater good of the other genres?

The real chance for hip-hop fans to hold its status at WMG’s thoughts is to continue to show the rest of the business that it does infact support iTunes and not Hulkshare. So far, that notion has not happened.

Shipping a box to whoever the new Chairman will be won’t hurt either, but save the best batches for those who have made a purchase and not a freebie.

  • pedrit

    Im confused when was the last time blacks bought rap music? If they took 15 bucks out of there fancy cars and fancy gold chain budget than the artform they created won’t be 70% purchased by whites.

  • Seriously when was the last time the black race bought a hip hop album??? They seem focus on pirating the music and watch when a rapper don’t sell his first week. But who is the first to laugh at there sales??? The one who downloaded the album from rapidshare. In 2 years blacks will only be 10 percent of hip hop albums bought. WATCH!!!

  • In response to all of this, the whole thing of African-Americans accounting for 30-40% of hip-hop sales is basically dead on, since HULKSHARE rules the world to them, but also that’s alot of the problem when they complain that labels are slowly shrinking down their attention to the urban genre, but when people don’t go support their artists in the pocket (but will gladly spend EONS on club drinks, Jordans, etc), they gripe and complain. it goes both ways.

  • dirtysouthking

    finally sumbody got da ballz ta say publicly wut i dun felt all dis time! rap stil praize itself on bein real but its mainly fake nowadayz.

  • angel-diva

    its not written, but evident the “new way” is not working. It only works for the artist doing it and the company reaping benefits. It does nothing for the community but incite negativity and ignorance. We are paying to hear people brag about spending millions in the strip club, what does that do for anyone?

  • We can’t blame it all on corporations because there is also personal accountability.

  • Chuck, I don’t agree with you most of the time due to your selfish interests and bullying business practices but I have to agree that the culture has gone away to only major labels with no african american minority ownership to control the authenticity of music. We have a million small independent black owned labels but none on that major scale that can change the direction of the music on the radios. Simply put this is a loss that puts the culture against the wall with all guns pointed in our faces.