Former Columbia Records co-chairman and COO Steve Barnett officially has been named chairman and CEO of Capitol Music Group. The executive is moving from New York into the iconic Capitol Records tower in Hollywood.
In his new position, which begins Monday, Barnett will oversee and manage the company’s labels including Capitol Records, Virgin Records, Blue Note, Astralwerks, Harvest, Capitol Christian Music Group and Caroline as well as the world-famous Capitol Studios. Music acts signed to Capitol include Katy Perry, 30 Seconds to Mars, Norah Jones, Amos Lee and The Decemberists, and its catalog incudes such top sellers as The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Bob Seger and Steve Miller Band.
The announcement was expected ever since rumors of Barnett’s departure from Columbia first spread in early October, about a week after Universal Music Group completed its acquisition of EMI’s recorded music assets. UMG chairman and CEO said in a statement Lucian Grainge: “As we begin to invest in and revitalize EMI globally, the Capitol Music Group, including Virgin, will play a central role in our creative and commercial initiatives. And there is no one better to spearhead this than Steve. His entrepreneurial approach and intuitive ability to build, strengthen and transform artists into powerful global brands has resulted in remarkable success. I’m confident that under his leadership, a new and reinvigorated Capitol will provide the kind of environment needed for artists to develop, resulting in more opportunity than ever before.”
Barnett said his decision to leave Columbia “was not easy,” adding, “I greatly appreciate [Grainge’s] confidence in me, and I will work tirelessly to create a welcoming and supportive home for great artists while carefully tending the hugely important catalog that defines the Capitol legacy.”
Barnett joined Sony in 1996 as senior vp international at Epic Records and rose through the ranks to label president in 2004. He was appointed co-chairman and COO of Columbia in 2005 and presided over successful campaigns for the likes of Adele, Beyonce, John Mayer, Jack White One Direction, The Shins and Britain’s Got Talent star Susan Boyle.