Ethiopia Habtemariam Promoted to CEO and Chairman

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Universal Music Group has elevated Ethiopia Habtemariam to chairman & CEO of Motown, reporting directly to UMG Chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge. She had been president of the label since 2014.

According to the announcement, in connection with Habtemariam’s promotion, Motown will have “greater creative and commercial independence to advance its mission of artistic, social and entrepreneurial empowerment.”

Since joining Motown, Habtemariam — a regular honoree on Variety’s annual Hitmakers lists — oversaw the label’s relocation to Los Angeles from New York in 2014. Under her leadership, Motown continues its traditions of artist development and partnerships with creative and entrepreneurial entities, including Atlanta-based Quality Control Music. The QC-Motown partnership has produced hits from City Girls, Migos, Lil Baby, Lil Yachty and others, with QC growing to become one of leading hip-hop and R&B music and entertainment companies. In 2020 Lil Baby’s “My Turn” was among the year’s top albums and his socially consciously single, “The Bigger Picture,” has earned two Grammy nominations for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance.

Other prominent companies and artists under Motown’s roof include Blacksmith Records (Ted When, Vince Staples), and Since the 80s (Asiahn, Njomza), along with artists Erykah Badu, Kem and Tiana Major9, among many others. Tiana Major9, who joined Motown’s roster in the beginning of 2019, is currently nominated for a Grammy (Best R&B Song) for “Collide.”

In making this announcement, Grainge said, “Motown is such an important voice and, just as when it was founded by Berry Gordy, its impact continues to be felt around the world. Motown’s resurgence and powerful partnerships under Ethiopia’s leadership has advanced the label’s legacy as home to some of today’s biggest hitmakers and most meaningful voices in music.”

Habtemariam said, “It’s an incredible honor to represent and define what Motown is today. I’ve always understood the power of music and the responsibility I have, not only to continue to be an advocate for artists and creators, but to forge new paths for entrepreneurs and to lift up our next generation of executives around the world. I’d like to thank Lucian for his constant support and guidance over the years; my Motown team for all they have done and continue to do; the Capitol team for their help in building Motown over these past six years; Clarence Avant who has always taught me about the power of responsibility; and to Mr. Berry Gordy, for his faith in me to carry on his legacy.”

Prior to joining Motown, Habtemariam was president of urban music & co-head of creative at Universal Music Publishing Group.

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