Legendary music producer Rick Rubin is out at Columbia Records, amid a culture clash at the Sony Music label between the suits and the creatives, sources tell us — but he may land on his feet at Warner Music Group.
The grizzly-bearded Columbia co-chairman, the co-founder of Def Jam who discovered the Beastie Boys, has been missing at the label “for months,” sources say, and he’ll be out officially in the next few weeks, before his contract expires in January.
A feud has erupted between Rubin and co-chairman Steve Barnett, a business-minded executive, over who can take credit for the label’s biggest success, Adele, who sold more than 3 million records, and who should be blamed for disappointing sales of Beyoncé’s album “4,” in the eyes of new boss, Sony CEO Doug Morris.
“Rick has made it clear he hates the culture there,” one source said. “Steve is pushing him out the door. Steve wants everyone to know that he signed Adele, and Rick only produced a handful of tracks on the album.”
Meanwhile, spies say Warner Music honcho Lyor Cohen was “all over” Rubin, who arrived in shorts and bare feet to a Def Jam reunion last Friday at the New York Public Library. Cohen, long a friend of Rubin, may pitch him a new production deal or an imprint. Rubin is currently producingLinkin Park and Kid Rock albums for Warner, and this didn’t sit well with Sony, which pays him millions to create hits for Columbia.
Cohen declined to comment on any specific conversations with Rubin, described as “the most important producer of the last 20 years,” but told us, “We would be lucky to get him.”
A music industry source added, “Rick Rubin is one of the greatest producers on the planet, he’s a creative genius. The mistake Sony/Columbia made was hiring him to be an executive. It’s like taking the Porsche to the dry cleaners.”
A Columbia rep said she “didn’t know” about Rubin’s departure but said the feud between Barnett and Rubin was “100 percent not true.” Rubin’s rep declined to comment. [Page Six]