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Mitch Glazier Tapped to Succeed Cary Sherman as CEO of RIAA

Variety logo Variety 4/3/2017 Ted Johnson
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Mitch Glazier will succeed Cary Sherman as chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America in January, 2019, filling a key role as the head of the label’s trade and lobbying association in Washington.

Glazier in the meantime has been promoted to president of the association, after managing the public policy and industry relations teams as senior executive vice president.

Sherman plans to retire from the RIAA at the end of 2018, after serving as chairman and CEO for seven years.

He has had a 20-year tenure at the trade association, marked by seismic shifts in the music industry, battered by consumer migration from physical sales to downloads, particularly illegal downloads.

Recent years have shown music sales leveling off and even growing in 2016. Last year, streaming took over all other formats in industry revenue in 2016, and retail revenues grew by 11.4%, according to RIAA figures. But the business is half the size of what it was in the late 1990s.

“As excited as we are about our growth in 2016, our recovery is fragile and fraught with risk,” Sherman wrote in a Medium post last week. “The marketplace is still evolving, and we’ve experienced unexpected turns too many times before.”

Sherman joined the RIAA in 1997 as its general counsel, after a long tenure at Arnold & Porter, where he served as outside counsel to the association and also as head of its intellectual property and technology practice group.

During that time, Sherman was a chief advocate for establishing a performance right on digital music platforms, which required artists and labels to be compensated when their works were played. The Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act was passed in 1995, followed by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998.

He has also been a leader in the fight over music piracy, including the landmark 2005 litigation MGM Studios vs. Grokster, which ended in a Supreme Court ruling. He was an architect of a recent system of Copyright Alerts, in which major Internet providers warned users that they were accessing pirated content. The system was abandoned this year, but the music and movie industries have been trying to pursue voluntary agreements with segments of the Internet industry as a way to combat infringement.

Glazier joined the RIAA in 2000, after a tenure as chief counsel for intellectual property to the House Judiciary Committee.

Representatives from Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and Sony Music Entertainment issued statements praising Glazier and Sherman. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and John Conyers (D-Mich.), its ranking member, also issued a joint statement in witch they said that they have watched Glazier “become an effective leader and knowledgeable advocate for the music industry’s positions on important copyright issues.”

They also said that Sherman “has been involved in every major change to copyright law and we have all benefited greatly from his counsel. We look forward to his continued time at RIAA and wish him all the best as he approaches retirement.”

The RIAA recently has been pressing lawmakers to update the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, arguing that it has led to paltry returns for artists and labels when music is played on user-generated sites like YouTube.

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