EW.com confirms that the record label is trying to get Rick Rubin to sign on as co-chair alongside Steve Barnett

By Shirley Halperin
February 07, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST
Kelly A. Swift/Retna

Sources confirm to EW.com that Columbia Records has offered star music producer Rick Rubin a position as co-chairman of the label, which is home to a diverse artist roster that includes Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Beyoncé. It would be Rubin’s first senior executive position and would make him responsible for everything from marketing campaigns to signing new talent. ”Rick is being brought in by co-chairman Steve Barnett and the two of them will essentially be partners,” a source close to the situation tells EW.com. ”It will most likely go through, but [the deal] is by no means done.”

One potential hiccup is the matter of extricating Rubin from Warner Bros., where his American Recordings imprint reportedly has three years left on its distribution agreement with Warner Music Group. ”It could be days or weeks before that’s worked out,” adds the source. And with Rubin on a Grammy roll, having worked on three of this year’s Album of the Year nominees (Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Stadium Arcadium, Dixie Chicks’ Taking the Long Way, and Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds) and garnering his own Producer of the Year nod, it may be a tough negotiation.

The producer first came to national attention in the 1980s when he and Russell Simmons formed Def Jam and released records by Run DMC, LL Cool J, and the Beastie Boys. He later helmed groundbreaking releases by Johnny Cash, and in recent years has worked with System of a Down, Shakira, Neil Diamond, Audioslave, and Warner’s Linkin Park. In his position at Columbia, according to the insider, ”Rick will still be able to produce acts outside of the label.”