Lyor Cohen, Global Head of Music at YouTube, delivers keynote speech at SXSW

KC Orcutt

 // Mar 17, 2018


Before Ghostface Killah and members of the Wu-Tang Clan took to the stage at REVOLT's SXSW showcase in Austin, TX, Lyor Cohen blessed the beginning of the annual festival with some wise words.

The industry veteran, who currently works as the Global Head of Music at YouTube and Google, was tapped as a keynote speaker this year, delivering a speech that touches on his time working in music and how far things have changed since he first got started.

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During his address, Cohen shared an anecdote from the early days of his decades-long career, reflecting on a time when he ended up saving a Run-DMC show in the U.K. from being a total train wreck.

According to the music exec, he was thrust into a situation where he became Run-DMC's road manager and ended up getting on a plane to Europe all on the same day. Upon arrival overseas, he learned that someone in their crew forgot the group's records on the flight.

"I was backstage with Run-DMC incredibly worried for our lives," he recalled. "Suddenly a light-bulb went off in my head and I said I'll be right back."

Cohen ended up telling people in the crowd that the group wanted to autograph records fans brought to the show, brilliantly using the vinyl that was handed him in order to (secretly) put the show on without any other setbacks.

Elsewhere throughout the speech, Cohen outlined his vision for YouTube moving forward.

"We're going to collaborate and work closely with our label partners to understand their priorities so we can help promote and break artists," he shared. "Breaking artists is my drug and now, here at YouTube, I can do so on a massive, global scale."

Run through Lyor Cohen's keynote at the 2018 SXSW festival, below.

SXSW Music Keynote Lyor Cohen

Tune in live at 11:00 AM as Global Head of Music at YouTube and Google, Lyor Cohen delivers his Keynote at SXSW. Hear about the seismic changes in the music industry throughout his career from the birth of Hip Hop to the launch of streaming.

Posted by SXSW on Wednesday, March 14, 2018
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