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UMG Dissolves Island Def Jam, Barry Weiss Steps Down

Universal Music Group  announced it was dissolving the Island Def Jam Music Group that housed three of its biggest labels under one roof, as well as a number of label and exec shakeups, on Tuesday morning — chief among those changes being the ankling of East Coast Label Group president and CEO Barry Weiss.

Weiss will step down and “enter into discussions with UMG about a new venture together,” according to a UMG release, while labels Motown Records, Island Records and Def Jam Recordings will all once again operate as standalone imprints. Island and Def Jam were first consolidated into IDJ in 1999, with Motown folded into the group in 2011.

Motown will be relocated to Los Angeles, with former label SVP Ethiopia Habtemariam promoted to president. Former Def Jam president Steve Bartels will now serve as CEO, while Island will continue to be helmed by David Massey.

As UMG topper Lucian Grainge explained in a company statement, “At UMG, our labels are empowered to be entrepreneurial and take creative risks. By re-establishing Def Jam, Island and Motown as standalone labels within the UMG family, we’re positioning them to recapture the uniqueness of their brands and serve artists with the singularity of vision, focus and creativity that was at the core of their original success.”

Grainge also had words of praise for Weiss, saying, “Barry is a terrific music executive who led our East Coast labels during a critical time of transition. I can’t say enough about his contributions to our labels or to thank him enough.”

UMG also announced a number of exec hires and promotions, with IDJ A&R exec Karen Kwak appointed to the new position of executive vice president of A&R for U.S. recorded music, servicing all of UMG’s labels. Additionally, Def Jam named Dion “No I.D.” Wilson and Kyambo “Hip Hop” Joshua executive VPs and co-heads of A&R for the label

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