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Rick Rubin Joins Columbia

Rick Rubin has officially joined Columbia Records. The label released a statement divulging that Rubin would “form a dynamic and creative executive partnership” with Columbia chairman Steve Barnett, under a new model devised by Sony Music’s CEO Rob Stringer. There are no initial details on what Rubin’s exact role at the label will be or where he will be based. The announcement follows a period of protracted chatter, and reaffirms widely-discussed deal aspects.

As part of the deal, Rubin will bring his American Recordings imprint to the company. American, which has been distributed by Warner Music Group, has a roster that includes Slayer, Dan Wilson and (International) Noise Conspiracy. It also controls catalog from Johnny Cash, The Black Crowes, Danzig, and The Jayhawks.

“Rick is a fantastic producer, tremendous with artists and has total respect within the industry as an honest man and a creative genius,” commented Barnett. “It is a great opportunity for me to have in Rick a true creative partner.” “With Steve and Rick running Columbia together, they possess every skill necessary to make the label an exciting and powerful musical force in this new era,” Stringer added.

In his new role, Rubin will produce recordings for Columbia, though he will continue creative relationships with other labels. Meanwhile, the trio pointed to an ambitious approach ahead, one that will forge fresh models. “Having the opportunity to work with Steve and Rob to help create what we hope will be the new model for the music business of the future is going to be a fun and exciting adventure,” said Rubin, who praised the duo for selecting a “music maker” over a more “traditional choice”.

As expected, in addition to producing albums for Sony BMG acts, Rubin will continue working with artists at other major labels including Linkin Park and Metallica. Rubin produced the Dixie Chicks’ Grammy Award-winning Columbia release “Taking the Long Way,” which ranked as the No. 9 top-selling album last year with more than 1.8 million copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The Future: The addition of Rubin to Columbia’s roster gives the label a significant boost in the creative department. Sony’s executive team certainly has their bases covered in dealmaking and management, but lacked a respected face as a creative spearhead. Although, deals like this are rarely exclusive, the pairing is a real win for Sony’s Columbia division.