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Failing Record-Label Exec Wins Grammy for His Moonlighting Gig

Even though Rick Rubin's victory as Producer of the Year at last night's Grammy ceremony was pretty much a foregone conclusion — Nigel Godrich and Will.I.Am never stood a chance with the elderly voters in the Recording Academy — we'd imagine it still made things a little awkward this morning at the offices of Columbia Records, where Rubin reportedly never shows up, despite being the label's co-head. On Saturday, the Times ran a hilarious story about continued speculation over what, if anything, he's accomplished since landing his cushy executive gig in 2007. You know, besides producing hit albums for other record labels.

So far, to the naked eye, it would appear that Rubin has failed to enact any major changes that might help ensure Columbia's long-term survival (unless you count his spearheading the company's move to expensive new office space in Beverly Hills). According to his co-workers, he's "steadily lost influence" at the company and several executives close to him have been laid off, despite his objections. Rubin's friend Russell Simmons, with whom he founded Def Jam Records in 1984, tells the Times, "I don't know what his role is [at Columbia]," and sources at the company "were at a loss to name a notable act that Mr. Rubin has brought to [the label] in his executive capacity."

He did, however, somehow find time to produce five albums during the Grammys' 2008 eligibility period, including two (Metallica's Death Magnetic and Weezer's The Red Album) that were hits for Warner and Geffen, respectively.

Rubin's contract with Columbia still has three years left on it, and he's currently hard at work helming a new album by Josh Groban (another Warner artist), so there's practically nothing standing in his way of collecting multiple paychecks and Grammys through 2012 (except the imminent death of the music business, which nonsense like this will surely help expedite).

Producer’s Track Record as a Label Executive Is Raising Questions [NYT]

Photo: Getty Images