Warner taps Hicks for publishing, label roles


NEW YORK - Warner Music has promoted Chris Hicks and created a label role for the entrepreneurial urban music executive. Warner/Chappell Music has promoted Hicks to senior VP, A&R, and head of urban music, while Atlantic Records has tapped him as senior VP, urban A&R. He was most recently the publishing unit's VP of urban A&R.

On the publishing side, Hicks will report to Warner/Chappell CEO Dave Johnson. On the label side, he will report to Atlantic Records chairman/CEO Craig Kallman. Based in Atlanta, he will continue to run Noontime, a publishing company he founded in 1997. Noontime and Warner/Chappell formed a joint venture in 2000. In his new role with Atlantic, Hicks will establish a recorded music imprint called Beatfactory, which Atlantic will distribute.

Over Hicks' nine-year career in the music business, he has identified and developed such Noontime writers as Brian Michael Cox, Jazze Pha, Dave Young and Teddy Bishop as well as Warner/Chappell writers Eric Hudson, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Zak Wallace and Drumma Boy. As a personal manager, he played a key role in the career of Billboard's 2006 Urban Songwriter of the Year, Johnta Austin.

"In the rapidly evolving digital landscape, it's increasingly important to be able to offer artists the best resources in both publishing and recorded music in order to take advantage of all the emerging platforms for music," says Kevin Liles, Warner Music Group executive VP. "Chris' exceptional talents as an A&R executive and his dual roles at Warner/Chappell and Atlantic, will allow our artists to benefit from the full breadth of resources WMG has to offer."

Just a few years ago, Warner/Chappell was practically out of the new urban music market. With an ownership change at Warner Music Group and layoffs, the publisher was left with a skeleton staff and little direction or money to land important deals.

"Over the past two and a half years, Chris has been instrumental in bolstering Warner/Chappell's presence in urban music and helped lead the company to its first-ever BMI Urban Music Publisher of the Year award," says Johnson.

Hicks joined Warner/Chappell in 2004 and played a key role in striking publishing agreements with T.I., Lil' Wayne, Yung Joc, LeToya, Eric Hudson and Lloyd, among others. He spearheaded the publisher's purchase of the Timbaland catalog and his re-signing in 2006, as well as the re-signing of Dr. Dre in 2005.

"I'm a developer," says Hicks. "I believe in growing things from the ground up. When I first came to Warner/Chappell, I had the opportunity to provide vision and a plan for growth in the urban market and I'm proud of all that we've accomplished. Now Craig and Dave are giving me the chance to create even more synergies within Warner Music Group, and I am grateful for the opportunity."

"Atlantic is first and foremost an A&R-driven company, and Chris has the great A&R gift of truly understanding both performers and songwriters, and being able to put them together to make great records," says Kallman.