Universal Music Bumps Kenswil, Protectionist Responsibilities Outlined

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Longtime Universal Music Group digital executive Larry Kenswil has now been bumped to the position of Executive Vice President of Business Strategy, according to a company announcement issued Wednesday.

The position was announced by UMG President and COO Zach Horowitz, to whom Kenswil will report.  Kenswil formerly headed the Universal Music eLabs unit, though his role will now expand to include a number of new responsibilities, many of them focused on protection.  According to the company, Kenswil will oversee all aspects of content protection, including the development of new partnerships and the establishment of various format and protection standards.  Kenswil will also handle all anti-piracy efforts on a global scale, both for digital and physical product, and will shape both government relations and litigation responses.  “I look forward to the new responsibilities that will continue to allow me to play a vital role in the evolving digital landscape while also giving me the opportunity for a broader role in helping shape the growth of UMG in the years to come,” Kenswil said.

The promotion closely follows a major move away from digital protections by rival label EMI, though Universal Music continues to show disinterest in following that precedent.  Kenswil, a member of the RIAA board, is decidedly pro-DRM and has openly questioned the logic of removing protections.  Others within the organization, including Zach Horowitz, have also underscored the importance of locks and keys.  The Universal nod, and an expanded role that tilts towards protection and enforcement, further casts the label giant as a holdout.   Elsewhere, the recent promotion of Sony BMG digital executive Thomas Hesse, also a major proponent of protected content, may isolate EMI as a standalone.  Kenswil first helmed eLabs in 1998, a time when digital initiatives were largely secondary to mainstream sales outlets and promotional tools.  The Kenswil promotion also follows the elevation of Amanda Marks to the position of Executive Vice President & General Manager of Digital Initiatives at Universal Music Group Distribution.  The Marks promotion was announced in February.