Ames hits high note at EMI Music

Ex-WMG head named chief of North American ops

EMI on Thursday named former Warner Music Group chairman and CEO Roger Ames head of EMI Music North America. He will have offices in Los Angeles and New York and report to EMI CEO Eric Nicoli.

Ames is familiar with EMI's operations, having served as a senior adviser to the company since March 2005. And in 1999, shortly after taking the reins of WMG, he led an ill-fated attempt to merge Warner Music and EMI. The deal was scrapped when it became apparent that it would not bear up to scrutiny from the European Commission.

In Ames' new role, the North American label heads including Capitol Music Group head Jason Flom — a WMG alum who has served under Ames — will report into Ames, as will EMI Music Marketing topper Ronn Werre.

In a related move, Ivan Gavin is exiting his post as COO of EMI Music. The company does not plan to name a replacement, a source close to EMI said.

Ames' ascension comes in the wake of the firing of former EMI Music heads Alain Levy and David Munns in January. Nicoli has been overseeing the company's recorded music business in North America on an interim basis since then.

EMI's recorded music operations are now overseen by three executives: Ames, who heads up the U.S. and Canada; EMI U.K. chief Tony Wadsworth; and International head J.F. Cecillon, whose responsibilities include continental Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Ames joined WMG in October 1999 and spent more than four years at the helm of the major label group before its sale to a private-equity group led by Edgar Bronfman Jr. in March 2004. He served another six months in an advisory role before cutting ties with the company in August 2004.

During his tenure at WMG, Ames is credited with halting the U.S. market-share erosion the company suffered throughout the 1990s. In 2003, Ames' final year at the helm of WMG, the company's U.S. market share increased to 16.4%, up from 15.9% in 2002.

He also was responsible for restructuring the company ahead of its sale to the Bronfman group and playing a key role in the industry's early support of iTunes and other digital music services.

Before his stint at WMG, Ames spent many years at PolyGram, serving as president of PolyGram Music Group from 1996-98 and chairman and CEO of PolyGram U.K. from 1993-96.

Brian Garrity is a senior correspondent for Billboard.