Island Def Jam is no More, Universal Music Breaks Up IDJ

A new report from The New York Times today confirms a lot that music insiders have been hinting at for weeks, the Island Def Jam group is no more. Univeral Music Group, which sells 40% of all music sold in the world reorganized and now the Island Def Jam Music Group, one of the four umbrella units for Universal’s dozens of record labels, “will cease to exist,” according to a news release.

The labels that made up the group will now operate seperately.  This means that Def Jam – the house that Russell Simmons built (features  artists like Rihanna and Kanye West), Island (Bon Jovi, Justin Bieber) and Motown, will operate separately, with some changes in their leadership and operations.

“The fact is: No matter how much we might work to build ‘IDJ’ as a brand, that brand could never be as powerful as each of IDJ’s constituent parts,” Lucian Grainge, the chairman of Universal, wrote in a note to employees on Tuesday. It looks to be a tacit acknowledgement that the different labels are stronger separately than as a group.

As part of the reorganization, Steve Bartels, who had been president and chief operating officer of Def Jam, will become that label’s chief executive. Island will now be headed by David Massey.  Berry Gordy’s Motown Records, which had been under the Island Def Jam umbrella  will relocate to Los Angeles and become part of the Capitol Music Group.  Ethiopia Habtemariam, who had been executive vice president of Motown, will become president. Barry Weiss, who came from Sony to run the group will be stepping down.