Ethiopia Habtemariam has been promoted to chairman/CEO of Motown Records after serving as president of the legendary record label since 2014. Habtemariam will report directly to Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Sir Lucian Grainge.
“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,” said Grainge in a statement regarding Habtemariam’s new position. “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.”
Habtemariam oversaw the label’s relocation from New York to Los Angeles during her first year as president. Her recent track record involves the creative collaboration between the label and partnering artists, including Quality Control Music. QC is notoriously home to the musical talent of the City Girls, Migos, Lil Yachty, Lil Baby and Layton Greene.
Lil Baby arguably dominated hip-hop in 2020 with his second album, My Turn, reigning as the highest-selling album of the year. His single, The Bigger Picture, went on to earn two Grammy nominations for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance.
“I’m so grateful for this huge opportunity because there’s been a lot of incredible hard work put in to allow me to get to this space,” Habtemariam said in an exclusive interview with Billboard. “Coming into this industry, there were so many incredible women that I looked up to within its various business sectors. They gave me confidence and never made me question what I would be able to achieve. And I’m thankful I got to see that. This opportunity is really me standing on their shoulders.“
The newly-promoted music executive told Billboard upcoming releases from Motown include new music from Migos, Tiana Major9, Tiwa Savage, Ne-Yo, Bree Runway, Kem, Erykah Badu, “who has some interesting things that are lining up.”