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Warner Music execs pay tribute to Mo Ostin

By | Published on Tuesday 2 August 2022

Warner Music execs have paid tribute to Mo Ostin, the US record industry veteran who has died, aged 95.

Ostin began his record industry career in the 1950s at Verve Records, before being head-hunted by Frank Sinatra who – having failed in a bid to buy Verve – set up his own label, Reprise Records, in 1960, and hired Ostin to run it.

Reprise then allied with Warner just three years later, and Ostin subsequently played a key role in the growth of the major record company, and its independent distribution network WEA, with the Warner/Reprise roster of the 1960s and 1970s including the likes of The Kinks, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Fleetwood Mac, The Grateful Dead, Randy Newman and Rod Stewart.

Ostin’s original stint with Warner Music ran all the way to the early 1990s. A few years after departing the major he joined the newly launched DreamWorks Records, staying there until shortly after its acquisition by Universal Music in 2003. A few years after that, from 2006, he returned to Warner Music in a consultancy role.

Among those paying tribute to Ostin yesterday were Aaron Bay-Schuck and Tom Corson – CEO and COO of Warner Records – who said in a joint statement: “Legendary music executive Mo Ostin passed away peacefully in his sleep last night at the age of 95. Mo was one of the greatest record men of all time, and a prime architect of the modern music business. For Mo, it was always first and foremost about helping artists realise their vision”.

“One of the pivotal figures in the evolution of Warner Music Group”, they went on, “in the 1960s Mo ushered Warner/Reprise Records into a golden era of revolutionary, culture-shifting artistry. Over his next three decades at the label, he remained a tireless champion of creative freedom, both for the talent he nurtured and the people who worked for him”.

“Mo lived an extraordinary life doing what he loved”, they added, “and he will be deeply missed throughout the industry he helped create, and by the countless artists and colleagues whom he inspired to be their best selves. On behalf of everyone at Warner, we want to thank Mo for everything he did, and for his inspiring belief in our bright future. Our condolences go out to his family at this difficult time”.

CEO of Warner Record Music, Max Lousada, also paid tribute, stating: “In an era when creative entrepreneurs are revered, we celebrate Mo Ostin as a pioneer who wrote the rulebook for others to follow. Warner Music Group and Warner Records wouldn’t exist without his passion, vision, and intelligence”.

“He not only helped build one of the world’s greatest music companies”, he went on, “but he inspired a culture driven by bravery and ingenuity. Mo saw artists for who they really were and gave them the space and support to fully realise their originality. Mo was a legend, and he will be deeply missed”.