Universal Music Group has announced Paul Rosenberg as the new CEO of Def Jam Recordings, effective January 1, 2018. Rosenberg is the founder and CEO of Goliath Artists Inc., a New York based management company that handles the careers of Eminem, Danny Brown and others. Rosenberg is also president of Shady Records, which he pioneered with Eminem. Shady Records has launched the careers of 50 Cent, D12, Obie Trice, Yelawolf and many more.
Steve Bartels, who has decided to step down as CEO of Def Jam, will remain at the company until the end of 2017. Rosenberg will report to Sir Lucian Grainge, chairman and CEO of UMG.
Speaking about Rosenberg’s appointment, Grainge stated: “Over the past four decades, Def Jam has played a pivotal role in elevating hip hop into what is today the world’s most culturally impactful musical genre. Def Jam’s track record of introducing culturally significant artists is a direct result of the entrepreneurial brilliance that Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin instilled in the label from inception. Paul brings with him not only a remarkable record of success in hip hop, but an entrepreneurial drive and a deep passion for artist development that will build upon Rick and Russell’s enduring legacy.”
Rosenberg added, “I can’t overstate what an honor it is for me to have the opportunity to carry this brand forward. The Def Jam name has meant so much to me for so long, and it’s a dream come true to be able to be a part of the next chapter in the label’s storied legacy. I’m thrilled to be able to meet Lucian’s challenge of carrying the company forward with new goals and great expectations.”
Rosenberg will continue to oversee the career of Interscope Records/Aftermath Entertainment artist Eminem and run Shady Records.
A host of other figures in the industry have also commented on the appointment.
Exiting Def Jam CEO Bartels said: “It has been my honor and privilege to helm Def Jam Recordings. I am proud of the strength and diversity of the roster that we have built, which continues to reflect the independent roots it was founded on. I am confident the label rests in the sure hands of not just a music executive but a man who cares deeply about the artists and will continue this legacy of Def Jam forward.”
Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam, said: “I consider Def Jam my foundational legacy and could not be more grateful with the great care with which Lucian and Michele Anthony have brought it to a new generation. Paul is one of the true mentors for talent and executives in this business and I could not be prouder of continuing and expanding my long-standing support of Universal and of Def Jam’s incredible great new leadership under Paul at a time when hip hop is at yet another high-water mark."
Rick Rubin, Def Jam co-founder/producer, added: “Def Jam is a place where artists are free to express themselves, their creativity and their vision. Paul comes from a place where artists and creativity come first. He supports artists taking creative risks and backs them 100% when they do. Def Jam continues to wave the flag of hip hop culture and Paul will imagine it anew.”
By Zoë MacLellan