Former YouTube chief business officer Robert Kyncl is in serious talks to succeed outgoing Warner Music Group CEO Stephen Cooper, and sources familiar with the situation say his tech background has made him the frontrunner in the music group’s search for a new leader. One source says WMG has yet to make a final decision but adds it’s possible a deal could be reached within the next few weeks
Talks are said to be progressing, and there’s a sense that Kyncl the frontrunner given his background and the desire for someone who is very plugged in to the business side of the tech world, says another insider. Other candidates remain in the running, says the source — SiriusXM president/chief content officer Scott Greenstein, Warner board member and Vice CEO Nancy Dubuc and former Pandora CEO Roger Lynch (who currently runs media group Condé Nast) have been cited in other media reports — but one person notes that other music-centric executives are unlikely to be chosen because if WMG went in that direction they would probably appoint Recorded Music CEO Max Lousada, who is widely respected internally.
Kyncl’s name surfaced as a potential successor shortly after Cooper announced his resignation in June, though at the time he was considered a long shot given his role at YouTube. But odds that he was a leading candidate escalated in August when he announced his departure from YouTube after 12 years there. In addition to running a large-scale multimedia company that, over the past five-plus years has focused on strengthening its bonds with music industry and innovating products that benefit artists and labels, sources say Kyncl’s roles at YouTube and Netflix dovetail with speculation that WMG owner and board vice chairman Len Blavatnik was looking for a CEO who, like Cooper, would focus on the business of operating WMG, while Lousada, who is expected to gain more power and influence in the transition, would remain focused on the music. Billboard attempted to reach Kyncl through a YouTube spokeswoman, who declined to comment, as did a rep for WMG.