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NEAR TRUTHS: THE KYNCL-LOUSADA DANCE HAS BEGUN

Will newly appointed WMG CEO Robert Kyncl and Global Head of Recorded Music Max Lousada find common ground or even synergy? That’s the big question among biz watchers. It gets to the very heart of why the ex-YouTube exec was tapped for the top job. WMG’s top leaders are assuring those concerned that the search group led by Michael Lynton was charged with this as part of its mission—making sure they appointed a leader who would be a great match with Max, as well as Guy Moot on the publishing side.

In addition to being exceptionally smart, Kyncl is said to be strong on business strategy, savvy about Wall Street and hands-on with technology. Those he’s dealt with during his tenure at YouTube add that he's been exceedingly tough during negotiations (one top biz player, in fact, describes him as “difficult,” noting, “It was his way or the highway”). He had that luxury while running a virtual monopoly with the UGC video giant—but now that he’s a buyer in a brutally competitive market, one would imagine he’ll be more flexible. At the same time, he’ll need someone to manage the creative part of the business so he can do his thing and take WMG to the next level. Kyncl, we understand, is still cleaning up loose ends at YouTube but is also doing his due diligence and talking to knowledgeable players about what’s next.

Lousada has led the global recorded-music division at Warner Music for five years now and has undertaken the responsibility of reinvigorating the company’s roster and leadership. The Brit is highly regarded in the creative community—not only by artists but also managers, attorneys, agents and other execs in the space; he brings both an expert’s insight and a superfan’s passion to his work.

One would expect Kyncl and Lousada, who bring complementary skills to the table, to mesh well. It’s hard to remember a non-music person who’s been successful at running a music company (Steve Cooper, of course, is a glaring exception to the rule, having steered the IPO and empowered the creative team to operate without undue interference). If Kyncl is as smart as they say he is, one would imagine he’d embrace Lousada and his continued oversight of the recorded-music division. Our intel says this is slightly more complicated due to corporate-governance issues concerning stock vesting now that WMG is a publicly traded company.

It will be fascinating to see how this plays out over the next few months and whether these two execs develop a simpatico working relationship.

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