In the week when Sony have put Amanda Ghost in charge at Epic, it's worth remembering that having someone with a music background at the top of a label isn't quite as new as we all thought. Only the New York Times remembered, and it perhaps says a lot about how ineffective Rick Rubin has been at Columbia that nobody responded "what about Rubin" when Ghost was talking about how this is a new model.
Certainly, to judge by the Times piece, Sony weren't going to be keen to push the parallel. Especially as it's precisely because Rubin isn't drawn from the business side of the, um, business, which might explain why his record ain't that great:
Associates of Mr. Rubin, some of whom spoke anonymously because they did not want to anger him, described the situation as one in which Mr. Rubin has steadily lost influence over the organization because his style is so different from that of the usual executive and because he is often absent from the corporate offices. The impression from these interviews is of a power game within Columbia in which Mr. Rubin refuses to participate.
Rubin himself wouldn't talk to the paper; his spokesperson did:
In an e-mail message, Heidi Ellen Robinson-Fitzgerald, his longtime publicist, referred to “misconceptions and false gossip that have been running rampant of late” in the music industry concerning Mr. Rubin.
Well, perhaps, but isn't the music business the sort of place where the "false gossip" drives the story? And if you're a wonderful success, that tends to stop the sort of vacuum developing in which misconceptions flourish.