Roberson’s appointment signals UMG’s relaunch of Geffen as a full-service New York-based label, according to a knowledgeable source.
He will fill the chair vacated this spring by Ron Fair, who is now working as a full-time music producer on Fox’s “American Idol,” where Iovine is inhouse mentor.
Roberson is co-CEO of HipHop, the management firm that handles Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj and Young Jeezy. He was previously senior VP of A&R at Atlantic Records, where he helmed the urban music division.
He started his career at Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records, where he rose to senior VP of A&R and worked closely with the label’s chief executive and rap mega-star.
At Geffen, Roberson will be charged with building a fresh roster for the company. He will be hiring a staff of perhaps a dozen, including A&R and marketing personnel, according to the source.
Roberson’s arrival prefigures a shift in Geffen’s direction: Company has hitherto been best known for a pop and rock roster that has included Elton John, Cher, Peter Gabriel, Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith, Nirvana and Beck. Label has sported a handful of top R&B and hip-hop acts like Mary J. Blige, the Roots, the Game and Common.
Label was founded in L.A. by David Geffen in 1980 and sold a decade later to UMG’s precursor MCA Records for an estimated $800 million.