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Rising CEO of the RIAA aims to take the music industry to new heights in the digital era

Dec. 18, 2018, 5:55 PM

Few people have had as much influence on the digital entertainment industry as Mitch Glazier. He first made an impact not long after graduating from Vanderbilt Law School in 1991, at a time when the internet and the challenges it posed to copyright law were little understood by the general public. As special counsel and copyright counsel for former Rep. Henry Hyde, R–Ill., who was then chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Glazier helped craft the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.

Fast forward two decades, and Glazier is soon to become CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, the trade organization that represents the music industry’s business and legal interests in Washington, D.C. Its members range from global music conglomerates, like Universal Music Group, Sony Music and Warner Music Group, to scores of small independent labels.

Glazier’s 17 years with the RIAA, most recently as its president, have been tumultuous ones for the industry, marked by problems like piracy and the shuttering of record stores across the country. And yet there’s reason for optimism as he takes the helm in January. After hitting bottom in 2014, recorded music revenues jumped 17 percent in 2017. And earlier this year streaming service Spotify began trading on the New York Stock Exchange—a positive sign for an industry that’s retooling itself for the digital era.

Vanderbilt Magazine talks with Glazier about the evolving business model of the music industry—one that’s gone from selling tens of millions of CDs in thousands of stores to now getting billions of streams from just a handful of companies—and what music listeners can expect on the horizon.