Lyor Cohen is an American music industry executive, and until September 2012, he was the North American Chairman and CEO of Recorded Music for Warner Music Group. Cohen has been actively involved in hip-hop at various top labels for more than 30 years, as the industry grew from the margins of pop culture to the mainstream. He started by managing highly successful rappers for pioneering firm Rush Productions, then led Def Jam Recordings, the hip-hop genre’s top record label at the time, ”the most important black music company since Motown” according to Newsweek. After Def Jam, Cohen successively assumed the leadership of two of the music industry’s major labels - the Island Def Jam Music Group, and the Warner Music Group – which represent popular musicians of all genres. Cohen’s closest associates have included his longtime friend and partner Russell Simmons, rapper Jay-Z and Atlantic Records chairman Julie Greenwald, and Jon Bon Jovi. Rapper Kanye West dubbed himself “the Lyor Cohen of Dior Homme” on a 2010 recording. In September 2012 Cohen resigned from the Warner Music Group.
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Hi, I’m Lyor Cohen, CEO of 300 Entertainment.
I am a creative business music executive and have helped develop the careers of artists like Public Enemy, JAY Z, Kanye West, The Killers, Death Cab for Cutie, Mariah Carey, Bruno Mars, fun., Ed Sheeran, Run DMC, Michael Buble, , LL Cool J, Beastie Boys, Paramore, and many more.
Today, my new music company 300 Entertainment launched our new website and debuted our #itsanewday commercial! Watch it at http://300ent.com/
So, let’s go. I’m sitting in our new office, waiting for your reddit questions. Victoria's helping me out a bit today. Ask me anything!
photo proof: http://imgur.com/aoNvo4U
Edit: Thank you for taking the time to ask me questions. And I hope 300 stays on your radar. I am going to jump on my twitter account now @LyorCohen if you have any further questions for the next few minutes tweet at me with #itsanewday.
Where is hip-hop music going? Not just Rap... is it going to start cycling like Rock has been?
I never felt like I was a weatherman.
I think that one of the diseases of the music business is feeling like we could predict the future. Instead of taking care of the present. And the future will depend on us as an industry creating safe environments for our artists to create the future.
If an artist was debating between signing with 300 or continuing to build their brand and fanbase through their own efforts, what would be your advice to them?
Do not shy away from hard work and dedication.
Lyor!!! What new artists are you listening to these days? Signed or unsigned?
Travi$ Scott (signed to Sony) and Jon Waltz (unsigned).
RE: Twitter Partnership
How are you finding Twitter use as compliment to the A&R process? Assuming acts break locally and you have access to geo-spec. aggregation do you find its a useful tool? I feel as though there is a real lack of an education process for artists alike to start incorporating those specific aggregators (#'s).
I think you're very smart, and we are constantly working with Twitter to help figure out the best tool for the creative community to use.
What's up with slaptop? Where did those guys come from? How'd you find them?
Wow that's great!
Well, +1 is one of our awesome partners that we adore working with. They're the ones who found slaptop in San Francisco. And we are honored to be working with them.
How's it feel to have your own office?
We love it. We love being here.
Did you clear that Bob Dylan sample?
i am a student at USC pursuing a career in artist management. i will be graduating in 2016. As a veteran in the game, what is the best advice you can give me?
Sign stars, don't dust bums off.
Another disease of our industry is that we think that with our influence, that we could create stars. And that doesn't work. Our job is to find stars. Stand back, jump on the magic carpet, and try to keep them alive.
In December 2012, the NY Post reported you were "advising [Kanye] West on his music deals, including an upcoming tour." What's your biz relationship with 'Ye like?
Very very close friend.
Thank you for doing this AMA. Long time fan of your work, accomplishments, and someone I've looked up to since I ran an independent hardcore punk label from the 90's to the early 00's.
Since transitioning from label and band frontman to more focus on developing younger artists, my question for you is, with so much going on these days and so many artists out there with access to pretty much anything (self distribution, self serving video platform, socials). Do you have any suggestions on what artists can be doing to get more "real" fans. Do you ever consider working with artists who sometimes don't have the strongest online presence but have toured and grinder it out?
P.S. is 300 hiring, never know if you don't ask, ha!
300 is always going to look for talented people to shape our future. As it relates to touring versus socials, touring of course is much stickier because it creates an action of actually GOING to a show, versus liking something, or creating social stickiness. I think that we are in the very early stage of understanding the internet and the digital way of understanding engagement, and one of the best ways that I could describe it is "Why is every thumb the same size?"
That's not how the real world works.
at 300 is it all about the numbers like everyone else? or will you actually go back to finding talented artists that you will develop?
Well, ultimately everybody needs to make a living. So ultimately, the numbers do play a role. But we believe that the numbers will end up being in our artists' and partners' favor, if we commit to long-term artist development.
which of your musician clients would be a good fit for the upcoming Terminator 5 soundtrack?
We have Highly Suspect.
Are Migos signed to you even though they say they are on No Label?
They're signed to Quality Control (QC). And we are QC's partners.
What type of artists/ producers is 300 looking for?
Very high quality. High musicality.
What can you tell us about all those illuminate music conspiracy theory's? Have you ever met a die hard theorist? What did you say to them?
I have no idea what you are referring to. In fact, I went into the dictionary, to look up the word "illuminati," and it sounded like a candle brand.
Who are your top 5 favorite MCs?
How much bargaining power do musicians have when they're first trying to get signed?
It all depends on the specific situation.
What non-music companies (other than Twitter) are doing the most interesting things with music?
Spotify, Rhapsody, Rdio, Beats... Jukely, YouTube... so many...
What are one of the biggest obstacles you've had to personally overcome in the music industry?
Every day, haters.
What recommendations do you have for someone who wants to work at 300 Entertainment?
We have a place where you could submit your resume. And it's at email@example.com.
Hey Lyor, I'm a big admirer of yours and someone trying to break into the business-side of the industry after graduating law school a couple of months ago. What do you think is the next thing that's going to push the music business off of its feet? Streaming and downloads and sales was one obstacle that has been overcome. What's the next challenge?
The 2.0 version of understanding fan engagement.
Similar to thumbs being equal. The next big thing is trying to delete the massive passive and focus on the high influencers.
What role does 300 play in helping their roster of artists to have an impactful social media presence?
Starting off being good listeners. And one of the problems of our industry is that we are presumptuous, thinking that we may know more than our artists or the entrepreneurs that actually sign those artists, and starting by listening to them, I think, is the first important step.
What are your favorite restaurants in NYC that maybe some other people you work with also like
Charlie Bird. Carbone. Nomad.
If you got hit by a truck tomorrow, would 300 succeed as a label?
Between Todd and Kevin, Roger and the rest of our staff, I think we'll have a brilliant fighting chance.
Have you signed many artists whose music you absolutely loathed?
Lyor, Thanks for doing the AMA. How do you think the Green Bay Packers will finish the season? Will the defense improve against the run and consistently get off the field on third down to give Rodgers and the offense more opportunities? Go Pack Go!
Go Pack Go!
And I think that as the season evolves, we will get stronger against a run and get off the field to put the ball in Aaron's hands. R-E-L-A-X.
How do you compare going out on your own now as opposed to when you did it with Rush?
Ignorance was bliss.
So the influencers are going to be the curators and the "new record stores"? People are going to purchase music and go to concerts because the people they admire told them to? Why is this something that hasn't been exploited in the past? (Although I feel like it has but not to the extent that you might be suggesting)
I totally agree. And that's what I mean by digital 2.0. Learning about the high influencers and deleting the "massive passive."
Now that we are in the social media age how do you think it will change how deals are done with artists & labels? Or are labels obsolete?
I wouldn't say labels are obsolete, and definitely things have already changed.
Mr. Cohen, I know 300 is in its early stages, but are you considering (or have already considered) opening international offices in the future?
London being first. Follow me on Twitter @LyorCohen and @300 I will post updates there.
what inspires you?
The possibilities. Every morning, I wake up with the first thought that maybe today is the day that I will bump into an artist that can help change the course of pop culture. That's pretty inspiring.
What is you thoughts on bitcoin?
With no artist going platinum thus far in 2014, how do you plan on creating revenue when sales don't justify the budgets?
I think that platinum is a archaic benchmark.
And there are so many ways for us in this industry to make money that we should re-think what "platinum" really is.
Hey Lyor, big fan of yours. Who have been some new artists you have signed to 300?
is a good place to start.
Coming from someone who has been actively trying to enter this field for quite a long time:
The music industry has obviously changed a lot over the last 10 (even 5 years.) Where do you honestly see the role of an A&R in a label/management setting shifting to?
For example, do you think the role of an A&R Administrator (or A&R in general) is still sought out or has it become that much more absorbable with fewer people wearing more hats nowadays?
Also any tips for actually breaking into this role would be greatly appreciated!
I think A&R admin is a critical job that will not go away.
And I think that A&R in general is a GIGANTIC reason for a label to differentiate itself from the pack.
And tips? Cultivate your own sense of discovering music.
are you looking to work with any new up and coming producers?
The answer is yes. That's our job.
And email firstname.lastname@example.org
hi Mr. Cohen,
My name is Nick, i'm 18 and my partner and I have built a mobile social network focused on the music event industry and would love to hear your feedback on it. can we speak with you? my email is: email@example.com if you can drop us a note i'd appreciate it.
Email info@Threehundred.biz and we can set something up
I'm still in college, I've interned as the Research Assistant, to the Jr. Talent Buyer at LiveNation, Sponsorship Assistant, to the Sponsorship Coordinator at A3C, freelance event production headlining TDE artist, freelance PR with placements on top blogs including interviews. I'm currently a Represenative at Protekted Records, launched by Frenchie of Brick Squad. Have I put myself in a position to start applying for jobs?
my linked in: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/andrew-thompson/56/290/a0/
Huge fan of your business model and career, my question is how can i submit my material to you;? and with it being first quarter around the corner, will 300 be looking for acts at that time? HUSTLER/CUSTOMER my single im working now can be found on soundcloud. Thank you for your time.
And once again, firstname.lastname@example.org
How has the role of the major record label changed since your time at Def Jam?
On almost every level. The essence of discovery and marketing and promotion have changed, but they are all still the critical elements of what we do.
Distribution is wildly different.
I'll give a hypothetical:
A band with an established fan base who has been distributing their own content with moderate success. Does that proven financial success factor into the terms of their contracting? Or does the label basically have enough prospective musicians vying for a position that blackballing is possible?
Not at all. You have all the leverage. If you build an audience, you have the leverage.
Hi Lyor. Toilet paper, over or under?
I have no clue, I don't pay attention.
Do you have any interesting "first-time meeting" stories with any artists?
Well, this summer, I flew to Norway to meet Kygo's parents, and we went for a hike and ate smoked fish.
Great to see the website redesign today - it looks fantastic!
While I know you haven't signed anyone as a result of it yet, how has 300's partnership with Twitter helped you discover new talent thus far? What kind of data has been most useful to you when looking at potential new signings? Thank you!
The velocity of fan engagement through Twitter.
How do you listen to music? Do you buy or stream? Do you collect LPs (did you ever stop)?
I stream. And people give me gifts of LPs.
Also, we see artist getting signed left and right off of one song, what are you looking for that separates that one hit from turning into the next Chief Keef and Trinidad James, both are now to said to be dropped? both artist had a song that was bigger than them, how do you keep the artist and the song at the same level and to continue an artist career once that song dies down?
I love this question.
And that is where due diligence and discipline will define our company.
Hi Lyor - fellow umiami alum here. How will 300 ensure it will not get leveraged out when it comes to negotiating royalties/content deals with Spotify/YouTube/etc.? How does an indie survive with such little leverage in this space?
Can we get a sneak peek/hint of what to expect from "I'M ONLY BLEEDING VOLUME 1"?
Why have you founded a new music company and what is the goal you trying to achieve? Where do you see revenue possibilities in the future an why?
Four: auxiliary licensing.
We could go all night until I hit 300, but I thought I should stop there.
Peace, What is up next from 300?
Check out this list: https://open.spotify.com/user/300ent./playlist/3bqRKm7tu9e9DngNNto0F6
Is 300 also a management company? Isn't artist management a better business (relative to the record biz) to be in these days?
I wouldn't define it as a "better" business. Nor are we a traditional management company. But the lines have blurred. And we are not stuck in a rigid business model.
What matters more in the music industry: a gimmick (including being super attractive) or talent?
What do you think of iHeartMedia's new platform "on there verge"? personally, I think it's the new MTV, just in the way of distribution and how to places the song in the hands (radio) of consumers. I understand that a songs success is based on the audience reaction, but part of me feels it's a cosign and it's not earned by the artist, yeah they made a potentially great track but I think it's in the advantage of iHeartMedia because less people are listening to the radio, this gives them a premiere and if the song does well, it creates traffic for their station with fan interaction both social media and through request line.
I would agree.
If I wanted to work for you what would I do?
First, apply at email@example.com.
You must love music.
And be willing to assume risk.