“After a thorough search, we’re delighted to be appointing Robert Kyncl, who will make an outstanding leader for WMG’s continued transformation and success,” WMG’s Board of Directors said in a statement. “We thank Steve for his many accomplishments over more than a decade, and we look forward to welcoming our new CEO in January.”
The move is a big one for WMG, one of the Big Three in the global music industry, as Kyncl will be replacing the company’s longest ever serving CEO. For that reason, WMG says there will be a one-month transition period in January 2023 when Cooper and Kyncl work together as co-CEOs.
He added, “It would be difficult to overstate our gratitude to Steve for all his expertise and hard work. He has done an exceptional job driving the company from decline to growth and spearheading its 2020 IPO. He has established a strong management team and culture, and his tenure at WMG will benefit the music ecosystem for years to come.”
As of Feb. 1, 2023, Kyncl will become sole CEO of WMG and assume Cooper’s board seat on WMG’s Board of Directors.
“Robert is the right CEO to meet this moment,” said Len Blavatnik, founder and Chairman of parent company Access Industries. “His command of technology to serve creativity will unlock new opportunities at scale for artists, songwriters, and their teams. He sees over the horizon to find ways to make world-class entertainment accessible for all.”
Since 2010, Kyncl has played a central role in YouTube’s strategy and its impact on entertainment and culture, including overseeing its creative and commercial partnerships, as well as its operations. He’s driven the development and expansion of YouTube’s creator, artist, and media company ecosystem, while helping lead the launch of its paid subscription services, YouTube Music, YouTube Premium, and YouTube TV.
Prior to YouTube, Kyncl spent seven years at Netflix, where he led the push into streaming film and TV content, helping the company evolve into an entertainment giant.
The streaming innovator said he’s excited to take on a leadership role at a company that is in the forefront of innovation in the music industry.
“Music is an incredible creative force, with an unmatched ability to bring emotions, build communities, and propel change,” Kyncl said. “We’re just at the beginning of what’s possible in recognizing music’s true power, value, and reach.”
WMG is also an extremely successful company, considered a leader in the music industry globally, and much of that success has come under Cooper’s leadership, who is the longest-running CEO in WMG’s history, having been appointed in August 2011, following the purchase of the company by Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries.
Blavatnik notes that during Cooper’s leadership, the company has expanded its investment in artists and songwriters, grown its global market share, and diversified its revenue sources.
The first music entertainment company to report streaming as its largest source of recorded music revenue, WMG has now established a reputation as a Web 3.0 innovator. In the last decade, the company has acquired companies such as Parlophone Label Group, Gold Typhoon, Spinnin’, and 300, launched operations in over 20 additional countries, and assembled a network of D2C destinations under the WMX banner.
“It would be difficult to overstate our gratitude to Steve for all his expertise and hard work,” Blavatnik said. “He has done an exceptional job driving the company from decline to growth and spearheading its 2020 IPO. He has established a strong management team and culture, and his tenure at WMG will benefit the music ecosystem for years to come.”
Kyncl also paid tribute to Cooper, and acknowledged he has some pretty big shoes to fill.
“Thanks to Steve and his team, WMG is very well positioned for a future of serving artists and songwriters, as well as their fans,” he said. “I’m looking forward to partnering with Max [Lousada], Guy [Moot], Carianne [Marshall], and all of the company’s leadership, and I thank WMG’s Board of Directors, Len, and Steve, for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at this iconic company.”
As CEO and a director, Cooper had a major role in choosing his successor, and said he’s thrilled Kyncl has accepted the position.
“Robert is a fantastic choice for CEO,” Cooper said. “He’s a hugely talented executive who’ll bring dynamic energy to WMG and the music entertainment business. He’ll have world-class partners in WMG’s senior management and global team.
“I’m very proud of all we’ve accomplished together, attracting and nurturing amazing artists and songwriters, while leading the industry in the use of new technologies and the expansion into emerging markets,” he added. “After a smooth handover with Robert is complete, I’m looking forward to becoming a full-time fan of the best team in the business.”
In addition to his work, Kyncl and his wife Luz run the Kyncl Family Foundation, which provides financial assistance to students from underrepresented communities pursuing STEM degrees. A sought-after speaker on cultural trends and technology, he is the co-author of Streampunks: YouTube and the Rebels Remaking Media. He holds an MBA from Pepperdine University and a BS in International Relations from SUNY New Paltz.