Rubin in talks to co-run Columbia

Producer has never held an executive position

Producer and American Recordings chief Rick Rubin is weighing an offer to become co-chairman of Columbia Records, according to a New York Times story.

He would run the label – signing artists and working on marketing – with current chairman Steve Barnett.

Rubin, who founded Def Jam in the 1980s and, with his partner Russell Simmons, put rap on the map with Run DMC, the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and LL Cool J, has never held an executive position.

He had far greater success as a producer than as a record exec last year. He produced two major hit albums, the Dixie Chicks’ “Taking the Long Way” and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Stadium Arcadium,” while his label had only moderate sales success with albums from Tom Petty and the Vacation.

Rubin was long associated with Columbia as it distributed his label through the 1990s and up to 2005. He revived the career of Johnny Cash, but struggled to have a similar affect on Neil Diamond and, years ago, Donovan.

He moved to Warner Bros. where he has released few titles.

A question looms as to whether Rubin can dissolve his Warner Bros. pact, which has three years to go. He is currently producing recordings for Metallica and Linkin Park, two Warner Music acts not affiliated with American.

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