Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Have you ever questioned who that well suited tall Caucasian [actually Israeli] gentleman with all the rappers was?

Well wonder no more, it's Lyor Cohen O.G. Def Jam A&R and  current North American Chairman and CEO of recorded Music for Warner Music Group [And Tory Burch's Boyfriend!].

I first read about him at the top of the month in the Sept/Oct Issue of the Source and, after skimming a few additional articles written about Lyor, his life mantra seems to be "I am happy" and "I have never worked a day in my whole life".  Now either he has some good meds or he's on to something.  Both could be true, but he definitely has some solid perspective to back up the latter scenario. Here are some of his life lessons he shared with Londell McMillan in this months The Source article titled Behind the Music.

"The Key is to find your calling and take the fundamental risk of being curious enough to not stop until you participate in that passion. Too many fall into the traditional pressures of family and friends and society."
"I never thought I was going to make a living doing what I was doing... So I look for someone who's in it [the music industry] because of the deep passion of doing good, someone who loves what they do and does it really well... the ability to challenge yourself both ways that makes one dangerous. So I look for someone who has the passion and curiosity to be able to cross over... What I mean is you're not stuck on stupid, or what people think you're supposed to do in this business. I like dreamers."
"In the '80s we were a fraternity of people that had a deep love affair for what we did and a great passion for what we did. How was it possible that we could be high, have no money, zero clout, no organizational skills and no experience and end up making such a living and building something?"
"We wanted everybody in the space [hip-hop] to do really well... What's changed now is the competition. People are in it for different reasons; they are into economic riches and fame and there's less of a fraternal order. There's no association of people wanting to see others do well in the space."
"... talent needs incubation. Talent needs to go on the road and understand why every time they played that record nobody cared, or why when they were in that groove everybody's eyes were wide open..."
"... The moment you have to manufacture a hit to survive, then you're in the wrong business... Typical contracts are three or five years for employees; a typical artist development period is five to seven years before it really bears fruit. That is something that I'm most proud of- the patience that our team has shown, a desire to do something great over the long term."
"I think the key core challenge is trying to realign the value of content versus the hardware industry- the digital aggregators realigning the value of the creative..."
"... in terms of my legacy, I would like my legacy to be one that stood for excellence in preserving the core value of finding exceptional artist, loving, nurturing and being a constant and reliable part of their lives."
"I don't tell people how to come everyday; I show them every day. I'm the first one in, the last one out."

I found Lyor's  patience and passion refreshing, especially for someone who has been in the same business for 25+ years. A lot of his points about nurturing product and not encouraging others in the same lane paralleled issues in the apparel industry.

I like dreamers too though and love is love love.

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