Hilary B. Rosen

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Date: 2002
Publisher: Gale, part of Cengage Group
Document Type: Biography
Length: 1,025 words
Content Level: (Level 4)
Lexile Measure: 1150L

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About this Person
Born: West Orange, New Jersey, United States
Nationality: American
Occupation: Association executive
Other Names: Rosen, Hilary
Updated:Dec. 1, 2002
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Hilary Rosen is chairman and chief executive officer of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). This United States trade group represents the recording industry. Its members include corporations such as BMG Entertainment, Sony Music Entertainment Inc., and others.

Started Career in Politics

Rosen earned her bachelor's degree in International Business from George Washington University in 1981. She worked in the offices of United States senators Bill Bradley (D-NJ) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Brendan Byrne, former governor of New Jersey. She has been a consultant and lobbyist. She was vice president of Liz Robbins Associates and owned her own firm.

She began working for the RIAA in 1987. In 1994, she became president and chief operating office of the RIAA.

Became Trade Organization Executive

The RIAA issued an announcement July 8, 1997 naming Rosen as president and chief executive officer of the organization, replacing Jason Berman. His retirement was effective January 1998.

Berman, in a released statement said her "succession to CEO is exactly what I had in mind three years ago when I made a decision to leave. I never had any doubt that the Board would agree with my decision. Having had an opportunity to work with her, I knew they would welcome her. Hilary was the first person I hired and has been learning how to do this job for 10 years. Hilary has earned the title of CEO. She is the perfect fit."

"Hilary Rosen is one of this industry's greatest assets," said Michele Anthony, executive vice president, Sony Music Entertainment Inc. in a statement released following her appointment. "She has aggressively and successfully addressed the key issues impacting our business, from copyright protection and piracy to legislative and censorship issues. No industry could have a stronger or more articulate advocate--Hilary is simply the best there is."

Embroiled in Controversies

Rosen has been prominent in discussions about issues concerning technology and digital copyright affecting the recording industry. She and the RIAA have had, as their main concern, "technology and business issues affecting the recording industry's future production, marketing and distribution of music." This has included lobbying for the passage of the Digital Performance Rights Act and Digital Millennium Copyright Act. She also been instrumental in industry campaigns regarding artistic freedom and use of Parental Advisory labels.

She found herself at the center of the vociferous debate about Napster, Aimster, unauthorized FTP sites, and other free online file sharing services. Napster was embroiled in lengthy litigation that resulted in Napster being forced to remove copyrighted material from its website. The music site ultimately became a paid service.

"We've lived with piracy in this industry a long time, but the onus is on us to provide music fans with what they want," Rosen told USA Today. "If consumers can get what they want....broad access to a huge variety of music, high quality and fair prices, you reduce the incentive of going through the hassles of some of the other ways to get free music."

"The battle won't be over until consumers are regularly using an online system of purchasing as a steady stream of their music diet," she said. "This wasn't the toughest battle, but the highest pitched that I can remember. Particularly now, as the industry is shifting into the digital space, there's just a lot of anxiety all over the place....Consumers want to know their access to music is going to give them the most choice, the best value and connection with their artists. Artists want to make sure they get a fair shake and record companies want to know they're going to get their investments back. Because we're so out there and visible, we've become the lightning rod."

Advocated Music Industry

Rosen, who is openly gay, found herself at the center of controversy about musician Eminem's use of antigay lyrics. "I think Eminem is a brat. I think he's obnoxious," Rosen told The Advocate. "I'm just personally a lot less offended by words than by actions, by music than by beatings. He's a legitimate artist because what he's talking about does exist, and that's what artists do."

"It's much too easy to attack artists [rather] than the problem. And that's because people feel powerless over the problem-not that I'm not sympathetic to that feeling. We all feel powerless about the hatred and violence in society today. It's easier to think that if we get rid of one piece of it, it's going to make the whole situation better. I don't think that's true. Eminem is reflecting his times."

Entertainment Weekly described Rosen as "an outspoken and articulate advocate for the music industry on hot-button issues ranging from free speech to antipiracy."

In her own defense, she told USA Today, "I'm certainly willing to step up to the plate when the job calls for hand-to-hand combat. Sometimes you can be considered the toughest person in the room even when you're not shouting, just by virtue of your stubbornness on an issue, and I think that happens with me a lot. Look, the Napster battle was classic. People took their free music really seriously. It was amazing how strongly people felt about their principled right to someone else's property."

Rosen founded Rock the Vote, an organization designed to get youth involved in politics. She is still involved with it as well as other non-profit groups such as the National Advisory Council for Artists for a Hate Free America, and the National Cancer Foundation.

Became Half of Washington Power Couple

Several publications named Rosen on their "power" lists of influential executives including Digital Coast Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, The Industry Standard and Washingtonian.

She and her partner, Elizabeth Birch, who adopted twins in 1999, live in Chevy Chase, Maryland. The couple were taken to task by conservatives including the Family Research Council and Dr. Laura Schlessinger, a radio personality.

Birch, a Canadian native, is the head of the Human Rights Campaign. Maclean's called them "one of Washington's certified power couples." Rosen quipped in an 2001 article in The Advocate that "Elizabeth and I haven't been invited to a state dinner yet."


American Civil Liberties Union's Torch of Liberty Award, 1997.



Maclean's, June 5, 2000.


"The ambassador of music: Hilary Rosen, the lesbian president of the Recording Industry Association of America, opens up about Eminem's lyrics, battling Napster, and being gay in the music business-and in George W. Bush's Washington," The Advocate, May 8, 2001, http://www.advocate.com/html/stories/837/837_rosen01.asp (October 17, 2002).

"Hilary B. Rosen--Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Recording Industry Association of America," RIAA Website, http://www.riaa.com/About-Lead-1.cfm (October 16, 2002).

"Hilary Rosen Promoted to CEO of the RIAA," RIAA website, http://www.riaa.com/PR_Story.cfm?id=52 (October 16, 2002).

"Jam Session With Music Exec Hilary Rosen," The Industry Standard, May 1, 2000, http://www.thestandard.com/article/display/0,1151,14657,00.html (October 17, 2002).

"Napster nemesis Hilary Rosen speaks out," USA Today, May 2, 2001, http://www.usatoday.com/life/cyber/tech/review/2001-05-02-rosen.htm (October 17, 2002).

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Gale Document Number: GALE|K1650002788