Last Week in Brief — 1/4/2008

Key departures and financial woes rock institutions

that the collection not be sold. According to lawsuit, Fisk is also violating a condition that the collection, which has been in storage since 2005, be actively displayed.

Jay Z Leaves Def Jam President Post
After speculation in the music industry rumor mill, Shawn Carter (Jay-Z) announced on Christmas Eve he would be leaving his post as president of Def Jam Records after three years at the helm. Carter, who said he would be pursuing new ventures, will remain a signed artist under Def Jam’s Roc-A-Fella label, which he co-founded in 1996.

While the music industry overall has reported declining CD sales, Carter remained a top-selling act and is credited with signing one of Def Jam’s most successful artist, R&B singer Rihanna.

When Def Jam founder Russell Simmons departed from the label, many industry insiders feared the worse for the label. And with the high-profile Carter, many are wondering who will fill the post. But D.A. Johnson, an executive director at Malaco Music Group , says as long as the new label leader has a clear vision, Def Jam should continue to flourish.

“It is a plus to have someone so well known in such a position if you want to instantaneously attract the attention of the hottest talent, create the buzz in the industry, and receive enormous press. Everyone wants to be associated with the hot label or the label that appears to have the greatest momentum, but after it is all said and done, the label still has to perform and if it doesn’t, that decision turns into a minus just as quickly,” he notes.

“The success of any record company starts with the vision and leadership capabilities of the record label president which trickles down through the entire system so his or hers influence on sales is utterly monumental.”

Carter already has his hands in several outside ventures, including his chain of sports lounges, 40/40, and part ownership of the New Jersey Nets. The latest speculation is that he may join forces with Apple Inc. to launch another record label.

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