Record producer Lyor Cohen is an American entrepreneur and record executive. Hip hop has been Cohen’s primary focus for more than three decades. He began his career as a rapper’s manager for Rush Productions, then became the CEO of Def Jam. At Warner Music Group, Cohen was promoted to the position of president after leaving Def Jam. He formed his own independent label, 300 Entertainment, in September 2012, after resigning from Warner Bros. in September 2012. Cohen assumed his new role as YouTube’s Global Head of Music on September 28th.
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Cohen was born in New York City in 1959, the son of Israeli immigrants. He grew up in Los Angeles, where he attended UCLA. He graduated from the University of Miami School of Business in 1981 with a degree in worldwide marketing and finance.
Russell Simmons, Jay Z, music executive Julie Greenwald, Jon Bon Jovi, and Kanye West, who nicknamed himself “the Lyor Cohen of Dior Homme” on a 2010 recording, are among Cohen’s closest friends and business partners, as well as his longstanding friend and business partner Russell Simmons. [required citation]
The Beastie Boys’ “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)” music video was where Cohen first met E.K. Smith, the woman who would become his first wife. For their April 1, 1988 wedding in the Dominican Republic, Flava Flav has written a chapter in her book on the event. Amy Cohen, Cohen’s second wife, filed for divorce from him in 2006 after six years of marriage. They have a daughter, Bea, and a son, Az, who are both in their early teens. It was at the NWA’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in April 2016 when Cohen had a pulmonary embolism. Az and a close friend saved his life, according to Cohen.
When Cohen remarried in August 2016, it was to the art world’s most well-known figure, Christie’s Asia’s deputy chairman Xin Li, a former Chinese basketball player, and model.
Lyor Cohen’s Net Worth
Lyor Cohen is a well-known and respected figure in American music executive Lyor Cohen has a net worth of $150 million USD. In the 1980s, Cohen worked at Rush Productions as a manager of rappers, and in the 1990s, he took over as CEO of Def Jam. In 2004, Lyor left Def Jam to become chairman and CEO of Warner Music Group, and in 2012, he formed the independent label 300 Entertainment. When he was hired by YouTube’s Global Head of Music in September 2016, he announced that he was leaving 300 Entertainment at the same time.
A townhouse in Manhattan’s Upper East Side that Cohen purchased for $9.175 million in 2000 was put up for sale at a price of $28 million in 2010. He reportedly sold the house for over $25 million at the end of 2012, according to public documents. On the market for $14.5 million, Lyor paid $11.4 million for a 4,440 square foot townhouse in New York City in 2014.
After promoting Run-DMC and Whodini gigs at Hollywood’s The Mix Club in 1984, Cohen obtained a job with Russell Simmons’ Rush Productions (later known as Rush Artist Management) and moved to New York City. After beginning as Run-road DMC’s manager, Lyor was given more and more authority, and by 1987, he was signing acts to the label, including DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, A Tribe Called Quest, and Slick Rick, among others. To his credit, Cohen negotiated endorsement deals for Run-DMC with Adidas and New Coke, Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince with Le Coq Sportif, and LL Cool J with Troop Sportswear, establishing a reputation for his “no-nonsense approach to business.” In the late ’80s, Lyor and Simmons founded Rush Associated Labels, which handled Def Jam and its offshoot labels, as rap’s “top management organization” under Lyor’s direction. When Def Jam moved from Sony to PolyGram in 1994, Cohen helped Simmons negotiate the deal. At this point, Lyor was directing the day-to-day operations of Def Jam.
After the 1998 PolyGram/Universal merger, Def Jam, Mercury, and Island were consolidated as The Island Def Jam, and Cohen became co-president of the company. The label expanded to include non-rap artists such as Mariah Carey, Bon Jovi, Elvis Costello, and Shania Twain. Lyor was a key player in Def Jam’s 2001 acquisition of the heavy metal label Roadrunner and a deal to distribute Rick Rubin’s American Recordings’ songs. At Warner Music Group, Cohen supervised the merger of Atlantic and Elektra and promoted his protégé, Julie Greenwald to a prominent executive position at Atlantic. Atlantic’s CEO and chairman, Greenwald, was made the highest-ranking female executive in a U.S. record company by his promotion in 2009. In 2006, Lyor was involved in a contract between YouTube and Warner that “was the first time a major record business [had] licensed content to YouTube,” and in 2011, he handled an agreement with Spotify. In September 2012, he departed Warner and started 300 Entertainment, which XXL magazine described as “part label, part marketing organization, half distributor, with big funding from Google and Atlantic.” As the Global Head of Music at YouTube, Cohen left the firm in 2016.
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