Cohen is leaving his position at 300 Entertainment, whose roster hosts Young Thug, Fetty Wap and Migos, to help YouTube combat piracy on its site.
Many have criticized the streaming service for not paying artists for their content and letting illegal uploads run rampant. The RIAA pointed out in March the discrepancy between the amount of music that is listened to on YouTube and the royalties that artists receive.
“In 2015, fans listened to hundreds of billions of audio and video music streams through on-demand ad-supported digital services like YouTube,” the association said, “but revenues from such services have been meager — far less than other kinds of music services. And the problem is getting worse.”
The former Def Jam and Warner Bros. mogul will also build YouTube Music, which is gearing up to compete with Spotify, Apple Music and TIDAL.
Cohen laid out a three-step plan to YouTube for his new role as Global Head of Music as the music industry continues to navigate how to utilize the latest technology.
First, helping the music community embrace the technological shifts we’re seeing in music today so we can help take the confusion and distrust out of the equation.
Second, building on the great work you all have done to help the music industry and creative community break new songs and artists to YouTube’s audience of over 1 billion fans. From building on the success of the YouTube Music app, to shining a light on emerging artists, I believe our potential to strengthen the industry is massive.
And third, I hope that together we can move towards a more collaborative relationship between the music industry and the technologies that are shaping the future of the business.
Fellow music executive Irving Azoff — who has called YouTube “really evil” for its practices — called Cohen to action in his new role.
“As a prolific manager, label executive and label owner, Lyor has a long history as a defender of artist rights,” he said to Billboard. “We are counting on you, Lyor, to lead YouTube to provide fair payments to artists and give them more creative control. Congratulations, Lyor, I know you can get it done.”