How Much is Warner Music Group Paying New CEO Robert Kyncl?

Robert Kyncl Warner Music Group
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Robert Kyncl Warner Music Group
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Photo Credit: BazzaJ / CC by 4.0

How much is Warner Music Group paying its new CEO, Robert Kyncl? The company reveals that he will earn around $15 million in his first year on the job.

Robert Kyncl has been YouTube’s Chief Business Officer for the better part of 12 years — after leading the way for Netflix to go from DVDs to streaming, of course. Many questioned whether he would be sufficiently interested in the Warner Music Group CEO position when his name came up following Stephen Cooper’s announcement that he would be stepping down. However, the recent SEC filing clearly shows that the position will be financially appealing: roughly $15 million in his first year on the job.

Kyncl will receive a base salary of $2 million and a target performance-based bonus of $3 million. Additionally, he will receive an annual grant of performance share units with an approximate pre-tax valuation of $10 million. He will also receive around $500,000 reimbursement for his move from Los Angeles to New York. 

From the SEC filing: “The Employment Agreement provides for a base salary of $2,000,000, a target annual cash bonus of $3,000,000 (with the actual award value to be determined by the Compensation Committee of the Board (the “Committee”) in its sole discretion based on factors including the strength of Mr. Kyncl’s performance and the performance of the Company) and an annual grant of performance share units with an aggregate pre-tax, grant date value of $10,000,000 (the “PSUs”), with the first grant to be made in January 2023.”

Kyncl will share his chief executive duties with outgoing CEO Stephen Cooper beginning in January 2023, and on February 1 will become the sole CEO. He will also become a director of the company. His employment agreement has an indefinite term and includes a non-competition and non-solicitation covenant that applies during and for one year following his employment.

Billboard notes that Kyncl’s potential $15 million compensation is less than Cooper’s $17 million, according to WMG’s definitive proxy statement on January 19, 2022. Still, both pale compared to that of Universal Music Group’s chairman Lucian Grainge, who earned $48.4 million last year as chairman of the world’s largest music company.

After Universal and Sony, Warner is the third-largest music group worldwide. Among its labels is Atlantic, the most consistently successful major record label in the industry, Elektra, Warner Records, and Warner Chappell Music. Its expansive catalog includes current multiplatinum leaders Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Dua Lipa, Lizzo, and many more.

Cooper will resign from WMG and its board of directors on January 31, 2023. He will then provide consulting services to WMG through January 31, 2024, at his current base salary of $3 million. Additionally, Cooper will receive equity awards in WMG’s 2023 and 2024 fiscal years with a grant date value of $7 million. Cooper had been WMG’s CEO since 2011, following its acquisition by Access Industries for $3.3 billion.