Big news in the industry today with the announcement of Cohen’s resignation from Warner Brothers. His departure was expected by many but certainly surprised some. Why did he leave?
According to Billboard:
“Even more intriguing is why Cohen is leaving, with the reasons unclear at press-time. While there have been rumors that Cohen was clashing with the new ownership of Len Blavatnik, who bought the company in May 2012, and could be leaving for greener pastures, those rumors previously have been labeled as nonsense by sources within the company. Yet, other sources said at the time that executive compensation was supposedly behind that clash. Cohen signed a five-year contract in 2008 worth at least $5 million a year including bonuses plus millions of stock options before the company was taken private in 2011.”
With Cohen being promoted to the head of recorded music operation on a worldwide basis, a new contract that dealt with bonuses and his new position was needed, but the two sides could never agree on terms, according to sources. Some sources within the company said the reason why the contract issues wasn’t resolved was simply due to how to structure incentives and bonuses in the absences of publicly traded stock. But other sources suggested that the disagreement centered on whether record industry compensation was out of line with what Access Industries was used to paying its senior management.
Other issues may also be involved with Cohen’s resignation. As it is, sources say that while Cohen is a proven leader in building successful record labels and scoring hit records, Blavatnik and Cooper felt he came up short in articulating the financial and technological strategies and issues his team were navigating in the music industries increasingly digital environment.
In turn, sources say that while Cooper was brought in to instill financial disciplines that Access Industries likes to have in place for its portfolio companies, now that he has accomplished that, he doesn’t have the vision or skills to run a major record label which involves juggling relationships with egotistical artists and picking talented A&R executives as well as prudent financial management. Those sources seem him as a caretaker until a new executive is brought in to run the company. Still, other sources suggest that Cooper would like to stay at the helm of the company.”