Guggenheim Digital Media Announces Formation of Billboard Group

Guggenheim Digital Media is creating a newly expanded Billboard Group that will include the Backstage and Sonic Bids businesses as it looks to the three brands’ combined strengths to develop a platform for entertainment industry professionals.

John Amato, currently chairman and CEO of Backstage LLC, will become president of the newly formed division of GDM.  He will report to Ross Levinsohn, CEO of Guggenheim Digital Media.

“I've been here for just over three months and see the natural growth opportunities thanks to the potential synergies between these three great businesses,” said Levinsohn.

“We're going to be aggressive in our expansion in this space. We have some exceptional brands.”

GDM will acquire the remaining stake it doesn't already own in Backstage and Sonic Bids and combine it with Billboard to create the Billboard Group. Billboard Editorial Director Bill Werde will take on a wider role overseeing content across the new group's brands.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

In January, Amato led Backstage’s acquisition of Sonicbids, an online service that connects musicians with booking, promotion and marketing opportunities. Backstage is the entertainment industry’s resource for performing artists seeking job opportunities and career advice, listing thousands of new casting calls each week. He'd also overseen a 400% increase in Backstage's online business over the last 12 months.

“John Amato has led Backstage to remarkable growth, making it an invaluable resource for performing artists and performing-arts professionals,” said Levinsohn.  “Bringing these industry-leading brands together will make the group stronger and continue to build on the momentum we are seeing across Guggenheim Digital Media.”

Billboard is the world's leading music media brand, with its popular music charts serving as a barometer of the global business and as the primary source of information on trends and innovation across all facets of the music industry.

“Billboard is the greatest and most storied brand in music media,” said Amato. “I look forward to working with its talented team to find new avenues for growth as the music industry continues its exciting period of reinvention."

The new combined group is expected to operate across multiple media platforms and serve a wide array of entertainment industry professionals from artists to senior executives.

"I'm excited to welcome these new brands to the family,” said Werde. “I’m looking forward to working with a larger team to deliver the content and strategic thinking to expand this new portfolio in big ways.”