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“I'm so excited to see what's next for Kev, and he takes with him all my love and respect."
——Lyor Cohen


Valued Longtime Lyor Cohen Ally Decides to Jettison EVP Stripes and Test New Waters
Rumors surfacing earlier this week about Kevin Liles exiting his post at Warner Music have been confirmed. The company announced this morning that Liles has decided to leave his day-to-day role EVP to pursue his own entrepreneurial opportunities, though he’ll maintain a consulting relationship with WMG.

Said Edgar Bronfman, Jr. in making the announcement: "Kevin Liles is an exceptional executive and one of the most dynamically creative individuals in the industry. During his tenure at WMG, he helped to design and implement our industry-leading artist services strategy that in just a few years is already producing meaningful results. With WMG now positioned for future growth, Kevin is following his heart. His presence will be missed in 75 Rock."

Commented Lyor Cohen about his longtime colleague: "Kevin and I have worked together since the day he joined Def Jam as an intern 18 years ago. He has become a trusted friend, a brilliant executive and an incredible business partner. Together, we have built companies, signed and developed fantastically talented artists and brought some outstanding music to the world. Even though Kevin's chosen to pursue a new challenge, we'll continue to work together in many aspects of the entertainment industry. I'm so excited to see what's next for Kev, and he takes with him all my love and respect."

Liles himself made a statement on the record, saying: "In the past couple weeks I have made one of the most important decisions of my life—to depart the Warner Music Group in order to focus more on new entrepreneurial endeavors in talent management, entertainment, media and my personal philanthropic and political passions. I am thankful for the opportunities that Edgar and Lyor have given me, most recently in entrusting me with driving the company's global artist services strategy, which is redefining the way labels and artists work together. My work here is now complete, and I'm excited about the next chapter of my life."

In 1998, just seven years after taking an unpaid internship for Def Jam in the Mid-Atlantic region, Liles was named President of the Def Jam Music Group. During his tenure, revenues doubled to $400 million. In addition to presiding over the label's artist roster and day-to-day business, Liles oversaw the diversification of the Def Jam brand, including establishing Def Jam South, Def Soul, Def Soul Classics, Roc-A-Fella and Murder Inc. He also led the brand-extension efforts and cross-marketing deals that linked Def Jam's name to movies, TV, DVDs, clothing, financial services, mobile content and video games.

As President/CEO of Def Jam Interactive, Liles partnered with Electronic Arts to create three Def Jam-branded videogames and more than 10 different SKUs. Titles such as Vendetta, Fight for New York and Icon have sold more than 8 million units worldwide. Liles recently orchestrated a new partnership with 4mm games, launched by former Rockstar founders Jamie King and Gary Foreman. The first release, Def Jam Rapstar, is scheduled for early next year.

Following the merger that created the Island Def Jam Music Group in 2002, Liles took on the title of EVP, playing a key role in the successes of Jay-Z, Ludacris, Sum 41, Hoobastank, Ja Rule, LL Cool J, DMX, Kanye West, Musiq Soulchild and Ashanti.

In 2004, Liles joined WMG as EVP. As the lead executive behind the implementation of the company’s 360-degree strategy for enhanced artist partnerships, Liles oversaw the expansion of the traditional label role in artists’ careers. His expertise in all facets of artist relations and brand expansion allowed for complete partnerships with artists encompassing such areas as fan clubs and ticketing, endorsements and licensing, artist management, TV production and merch.