Some of the most powerful and influential figures in the music industry are stepping down from their positions this week, with The Music Network reporting that the CEOs for both EMI Music and Warner Music Group are moving on.

Lyor Cohen, the Chairman and CEO of the Recorded Music division at Warner Music Group, will leave his position on September 30, after dedicating eight years’ service to the record label.

Cohen is best known as the former President of influential hip hop label, Def Jam Records, a position he first earned in 1988 after building a career in the md-80s as manager for Run-DMC and Beastie Boys.

He also helped stabilise Warner’s position during the general downward trend in physical sales when he first took over the head position in 2004, seeing the shift to digital downloads was trending, he helped broker moves for the record label to stay with the times.

Cohen’s abrupt resignation could have an effect on the company, with key staff – such as Warner Bros. Records (a separate division) CEO Todd Moscowitz and Atlantic group chairman Julie Greenwald – considering following him out.

Meanhwhile, Billboard speculated that one Roger Faxon, the CEO for EMI Music could replace him considering that he’ll be looking for a new position after he steps down this week to make way for the recent Universal/EMI merger, which saw regulators clearing Universal’s $2 billion purchase of EMI in Europe.

Industry talk also rumours that Faxon could instead supplant Stephen Cooper as CEO over at Warner Music instead, but either way he – and fellow CFO Ruth Prior – will be departing EMI at the end of the week, on the same day that Universal Music Group officially takes over the record company.

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An industry move that will have knock-on effects in the Australian market where the merger will mean they own more than 50% of the market share. Last week, the Australian Independent Record Labels Association (AIR) and its representatives slammed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s decision not to oppose Universal Music’s acquisition of the EMI group.

Meanwhile, the publishing arm of EMI Music was bought up by Sony ATV Publishing for $US 2.2 billion, a move that captured of third of the music world’s publishing revenue – effectively making it the largest music copyrights company on the planet.

Sony’s purchase of the EMI publishing catalogue merges their some 750,000 tracks with the EMI’s booming 1.3 million strong catalogue to give them control of over 2 million copyrighted songs in total; from The Beatles and Motown, as well as classics like “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, to more contemporary success stories like Norah Jones and Jay-Z.

In order for regulators to pass this deal however, certain concessions had to be agreed on. One such divestment is the sale of the rights to some 30,000 works that make up the Virgin Music and Famous UK Catalogues – which includes the likes of Iggy Pop, Culture Club, Lenny Kravitz and Goo Goo Dolls. Meaning that if you can pony up $US 150 million, you could own a piece of rock history. 

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