Universal Music Group has promoted Ethiopia Habtemariam to the top job at Motown Records, and she will report directly to UMG Chairman and CEO Sir Lucian Grainge, the Santa Monica-based company announced today.
Habtemariam, 41, was appointed president of Motown and executive vice president of Capitol Music Group in 2014. That same year, she oversaw Motown’s relocation to Los Angeles from New York.
In making the announcement of her appointment to chairman and CEO, Grainge said, “Motown is such an important voice and, just as when it was founded by Berry Gordy, its impact continues to be felt around the world. Motown’s resurgence and powerful partnerships under Ethiopia’s leadership has advanced the label’s legacy as home to some of today’s biggest hitmakers and most meaningful voices in music.”
In 2015, Habtemariam signed a joint venture with Quality Control Music, an influential Atlanta hip-hop label, leading to a string of hits from such young artists as the Migos, Lil Yachty and Lil Baby.
“It’s an incredible honor to represent and define what Motown is today,” Habtemariam said. “I’ve always understood the power of music and the responsibility I have, not only to continue to be an advocate for artists and creators, but to forge new paths for entrepreneurs and to lift up our next generation of executives around the world.
“I’d like to thank Lucian for his constant support and guidance over the years; my Motown team for all they have done and continue to do; the Capitol team for their help in building Motown over these past six years; Clarence Avant who has always taught me about the power of responsibility; and to Mr. Berry Gordy, for his faith in me to carry on his legacy,” she said.
The daughter of immigrant parents, Habtemariam began her career as an intern at LaFace Records in Atlanta at the age of 14. Eventually moving to Los Angeles to work for Edmonds Music Publishing, she later joined Universal Music Publishing and ascended to become the president of urban music and co-head of creative for the division.