Posted on: Wednesday - Apr 5, 2017

Whether you’re a fan of blues, R&B, hip-hop soul, rock, country or jazz, chances are Warner Music Group (WMG) is behind many of your favorite songs, albums and artists.

WMG’s family of record labels includes Atlantic Records, Elektra Records, Rhino Records and Warner Bros. Records – a catalog that features some of the most iconic and successful in music history.

The artists on WMG’s labels span genres and generations – from Led Zeppelin to Ed Sheeran, Fleetwood Mac to Aretha Franklin, David Bowie to Bruno Mars, Tom Petty to Coldplay and countless others. 

WMG has long and storied roots in Nashville, going back decades to the seminal recordings of Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson to current superstars like Blake Shelton and Hunter Hayes. Warner Music Nashville, WMG’s country music wing, was formally established in 2009 and operates on iconic Music Row. 

This fall, WMG announced it would expand in Nashville, creating 175 new jobs at a second location in Nashville, a downtown office that will include financial, legal and administrative jobs for WMG’s newly formed U.S. Shared Services division. The expansion further solidifies WMG’s prominent role in Nashville’s $10 billion music industry as WMG also maintains its longstanding presence on Music Row. 

We caught up with Kris Ahrend, WMG’s president of Shared Services, to get a sense on what will occur at WMG’s new Nashville office, and the company’s long term plans for the new operation. Ahrend will lead WMG’s new Nashville Center of Excellence for U.S. Shared Services alongside Ken Williams, chief financial officer for the division in Nashville.

Kris Ahrend, WMG president of Shared Services
John Esposito, Warner Music Nashville chairman/CEO

Warner Music Group has been in our local news lately. What is happening?
KA: We recently announced that we will be expanding our presence in Nashville by opening a new center of excellence for Shared Services in downtown Nashville. The center is a brand new organization within WMG’s Finance Department. The center’s employees will be responsible for providing a variety of financial, legal and administrative services to WMG’s U.S. record labels, including Atlantic Records, Elektra Records, Warner Bros. Records, Rhino Records and Warner Music Nashville.

How does this unit in Nashville fit into Warner Music Group as whole?
KA: WMG’s mission is to create a nurturing environment for its artists and songwriters. WMG’s shared services teams play a key role in fulfilling this mission by providing vital financial, legal and administrative services and support to WMG’s record labels and their artists. Creating a new Center of Excellence for Shared Services will make it easier for WMG to deliver high quality services and support to its U.S. labels and artists in a more agile, innovative and cost-effective way. The Center will be charged with developing financial leadership and delivering support, training and best practices in the area of financial shared services for our U.S. labels.

Why did Warner Music Group pick Nashville for this new office?
KA: We chose Nashville because the city is a long-standing hub for the music industry; it has a strong cultural connection to our business; it has a vibrant and growing economy; and it offers a low cost of living and doing business. We think Nashville is great, and we’re thrilled to be moving here. 

What types of jobs and operations will occur here in Nashville?
KA: Once the Center is up and running, it will be home to a variety of financial, legal and administrative teams that service our U.S. labels, including accounting operations, cash management, artist royalties, publishing royalties and licensing, audit and analysis, and catalog legal affairs.     

How quickly do you anticipate reaching the 175-job figure?
KA: We anticipate being fully staffed by the summer of 2018. We’ve already begun interviewing candidates for positions in our accounting operations and cash management teams. We will begin interviewing candidates for our other teams later this spring. If you’d like to see a list of our current job openings or apply for a position, please visit the website maintained by our local recruiting partner, VACO, at http://wmg.vaco.com/.  We’re looking for great people to join us!

What are your long-term plans for the Center?
KA: Our focus right now is on opening our new office in the Nashville City Center, hiring our new staff and getting the Center up and running – a process that will take another 18 months to complete. Once we’ve done that, we’ll focus on improving our existing processes and service levels, as innovation and continuous improvement are among the touchstones of any good Center of Excellence. We’ll also consider how we can expand the scope of the services we provide to better serve our U.S. labels and their artists and meet the challenges of an ever-evolving music industry. We are definitely looking to create an exciting and cutting edge environment for our employees.