Universal Music Taps Kanye West Manager Roberson to Restart Geffen Label

Universal Music Group hired Gee Roberson, manager of rap artists including Kanye West and Nicki Minaj, to restart the company’s Geffen Records.

Roberson will be chairman of New York-based Geffen, Universal Music, part of Paris-based Vivendi SA (VIV), said today in an e-mailed statement. He reports to Interscope Geffen A&M Chairman Jimmy Iovine.

Record companies are reviving well-known labels to recruit artists and build connections with customers. EMI Group last week restarted I.R.S. Records, formerly home to R.E.M. and The Go-Go’s. At Geffen, Roberson will work to expand direct digital sales to consumers, merchandising, touring and management.

Roberson started in the industry at Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records in New York and rose to senior vice president in charge of scouting and artist development. At Geffen, he will also oversee creative direction and operations, Universal Music said. He will manage about a dozen employees and is currently hiring, the world’s largest music company said.

“Gee has a unique combination of talents that the music industry really needs running a record company today” Iovine said in the statement.

Vivendi rose 47 cents to 18.93 euros today in Paris trading. The stock has declined 6.3 percent this year.

At Roc-A-Fella, Roberson helped oversee releases, from Jay- Z and others, that cumulatively sold more than 25 million copies, Universal Music said. He also served at Warner Music Group Corp. (WMG)’s Atlantic Records as senior vice president of recruiting and development in the urban music group.

Roberson is also co-chief executive officer of HipHop Since 1978, a management company with clients that include Lil’ Wayne, Drake and Young Jeezy.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at afixmer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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