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Warner Music Group Brings Back Digital Veteran Michael Nash to Head Biz Dev

He replaces -- at least for now -- departing COO Rob Wiesenthal.

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Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Yesterday Warner Music Group announced that its chief operating officer and head biz dev executive was leaving.

Today it says it has a replacement, or at least a temporary one: Warner is bringing back Michael Nash, a longtime digital executive at the label, to head up biz dev.

In a memo to the company, Warner CEO Stephen Cooper said Nash will be his adviser, which suggests this may not be a permanent posting. But for now, it looks like Cooper wants Nash to fill in for Rob Wiesenthal, who is leaving to run Blade, an Uber-for-helicopters startup he founded.

Nash’s appointment is worth noting because he had a decade-long tenure at Warner, from 2000 to 2011. During that time the label, along with the rest of the music industry, struggled with the effects of digital piracy and then the iTunes store, which let people buy songs for a dollar instead of $15 CDs.

Nash was tasked with creating deals that would generate enough digital revenue to replace the decline in analog sales. And while neither Warner or any other label figured out how to do that, he did help set the company up for what appears to be a rebound, fueled in part by streaming music revenue.

Here’s Cooper’s memo:

Hi everyone,

I wanted to follow up on yesterday’s announcement about Rob Wiesenthal deciding to leave WMG and let you know that I’ve asked Michael Nash to join us as Advisor to the CEO. In this capacity, Michael will oversee WMG’s Business Development activities, and lead our Business Development team. He will report to me.

Michael has been at the forefront of media and technology convergence for over two decades. I know many of you will remember him from when he was at WMG from 2000 to 2011, including as EVP of Digital Strategy & Business Development. During his time here, he helped WMG establish its reputation as a trailblazer, while growing our digital revenues dramatically. Since leaving WMG, his experience as a strategic thinker and creative deal-maker has continued to expand, including by working to build a wide range of successful start-ups in the social media, gaming, video and music spaces. At this key point in our digital transformation, Michael will be a valuable resource, helping us find new ways of growing our existing business and boldly experimenting with new business models.

Michael will start this coming Tuesday, hitting the ground running. I’m sure you will all give him a warm welcome back.
If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.



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