40 Under 40: Music's Top Young Power Players Revealed
Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and The Weeknd are their clients; Nobu and Osteria Mozza their clubhouses. Meet the driven young players shaping -- and disrupting -- the music industry.
The honorees on the annual 40 Under 40 Power Players list were chosen by Billboard editors from more than 500 nominations submitted to Billboard.biz. Executives were judged on business impact, audience, market share and the chart and/or touring performance of clients during the past 12 months, as measured by Nielsen Music and Billboard Boxscore.
LEE ANDERSON, 34
Vp East Coast/agent, AM Only
Anderson books some of the biggest stars in electronic music -- make that "some of the biggest stars in music, period," clarifies the Connecticut-raised resident of Brooklyn. Among the clients of this former promoter are Skrillex, Zedd, Disclosure, SBTRKT, Rudimental, Steve Angello and Claude VonStroke. Three years after AM Only forged a partnership with Paradigm Talent, the smaller agency still has an "independent spirit, something I really like."
If I Wasn't in the Music Business: "I'd be in lifestyle marketing. I'm fascinated with human behavior, especially trends and consumer buying habits."
JEFFREY AZOFF, 29
Agent, Creative Artists Agency
BRIAN MANNING, 38
Agent, Creative Artists Agency
Azoff, bearing arguably the most formidable surname in the music business, books one of the industry's biggest veteran acts: The Eagles. Manning, a Bronx native and father of three, handles the hottest young group on the global concert circuit: One Direction. The Eagles have grossed $188 million on multiple tours repped by the scion of Power 100 executive Irving Azoff. Under Manning's guidance, One Direction's touring gross has topped $500 million. And each agent has a deep roster of other stars from Fleetwood Mac, Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne, Journey, Meghan Trainor and newcomer Gavin James (Azoff) to 5 Seconds of Summer, Nick Jonas, Demi Lovato and Maroon 5 (Manning).
Hardest Business Lesson Learned: [Azoff] "You can catch more bees with tequila than honey."
Most Treasured Possession: [Manning] "I keep a circa 1972 Sony 8-track player in the office. It works. We have Fleetwood Mac's Rumours in there right now."
MIKE BERKOWITZ, 37
Head of comedy/partner, APA
Booking comedy acts is no laughing matter for Berkowitz, a Greenwich Village resident whose roster includes Aziz Ansari, Louis C.K., Kevin Hart, Amy Schumer, Bill Burr and Hannibal Buress. This year alone he booked 11 comedians as headliners at Madison Square Garden, which has had only five previous comic headliners in its history. Louis C.K. sold out four Garden shows (though a blizzard canceled one). Berkowitz plans to help Colin Quinn take his one-man show to Broadway in the new year. "I can book shows in 200-seaters or 20,000-seaters. As long as there is a deal to be made, I'm there to make it."
Hardest Business Lesson Learned: "Your clients are your business, and if your clients are happy, you can always find a job."
CORRIE CHRISTOPHER MARTIN, 37
Senior agent, Paradigm Talent
MATT GALLE, 37
Senior agent, Paradigm Talent; president, Photo Finish Records
While Martin, a mother of two, has guided Imagine Dragons from clubs to their current arena tour, Galle, father of twin boys, has celebrated Shawn Mendes' sellout at the 5,870-seat Greek Theatre in Los Angeles and the rise of client Halsey, who's playing clubs and festivals through the fall. On Galle's roster at Photo Finish Records, MisterWives have earned gold certification for their hit single "Reflections," receiving a plaque at the Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival in August.
First Job: [Galle] "I worked at a Mobil gas station when I was 15."
ZACH ISER, 30
Agent, ICM Partners
CAROLINE YIM, 36
Agent, ICM Partners
Iser and Yim live up to the name of their agency, as true business partners sharing responsibility for ICM's urban division with an impressive roster including Kendrick Lamar, Jhene Aiko, Fetty Wap, Future and Rae Sremmurd. Iser, who lives in Manhattan, and Yim, a resident of West Los Angeles, have built a reputation for their ability to develop acts together. "We realized," says Iser, "we could move up faster and cover our clients better working as a team."
Greatest Recent Achievement: [Yim] "Watching my young talent grow, specifically Kehlani, who's just done a 27-city club tour, and 26 of the dates sold out."
KIRK SOMMER, 38
Partner, William Morris Endeavor
JOEL ZIMMERMAN, 37
Partner, Head of global electronic music, William Morris Endeavor
WME boasts two of the industry's top agents, with complementary areas of expertise: Sommer, father of two, has an ear for the best of mainstream rock and pop (Adele, Sam Smith, Arctic Monkeys, Hozier), while Zimmerman, who also has two children, has established DJs like Calvin Harris and Deadmau5 as festival headliners and Las Vegas residencies for EDM acts. Working with The Weeknd, who's headlining arenas, is 2015's "most notable success," says Zimmerman.
Hardest Business Lesson Learned: [Sommer] "I need to focus more on that work/life balance; many of us do."
SARAH MOLL, 38
Director of media events, NFL
Moll measures her performance for the year by the outcome of a single event, the Super Bowl Halftime Show, and in 2015 she was at the top of her game. The star of the extravaganza, Katy Perry, drew 121 million viewers, the most in NFL history. Moll, who grew up working in her family's ice cream store on the Jersey shore, also booked Train and Ellie Goulding for the Sept. 10 Kickoff to 50 concert in San Francisco, the host city for Super Bowl L. Meanwhile, reports have surfaced that Bruno Mars, whose 2014 halftime appearance drew the second-most viewers ever, will "curate" next year's show. Moll is an avowed fan of Mars but has yet to comment.
Most Treasured Possession: "I have footballs signed by almost everyone who has performed Super Bowl halftime in the years I've been doing it."
ALLISON STATTER, 35
Co-CEO, Blended Strategy Group
Statter, who specializes in blue-chip brand partnerships, orchestrated MasterCard's signing of Gwen Stefani for its Priceless Surprises campaign and Jennifer Hudson's turn as a Weight Watchers spokesmodel. Statter's rise to the C suite came with enviable tutoring, courtesy of her father, Irving Azoff, chairman/CEO of Azoff MSG Entertainment. Blended Strategy is independent of dad's company, but she had been working with him since she interned for him at Giant Records. "He promised me it would be two weeks," says the mother of three. "And it turned into 16 years."
Hardest Business Lesson Learned: "My clients are always right."
DANIEL EK, 32
During the last year, Ek has taken shade from Taylor Swift, watched Apple Music get competitive with Beats 1 and mollified users with privacy concerns. But Spotify remains, by far, the world's largest music streaming service, with some 20 million paying subscribers and 75 million monthly listeners globally. And contrary to perceptions, it pays the highest percentage of its revenue to copyright holders -- $3 billion since 2008, says Ek. Even the expected rise of Apple Music "doesn't have to be at the expense of Spotify," claims the CEO, who lives in his native Sweden (but favors lunch on the Spotify rooftop deck in New York when he's in town). With Apple now streaming, he claims "streaming will start growing even faster."
Never Gets on a Plane Without: "A load of fully charged devices."
ALEXANDER LJUNG, 33
There's no simpler, more accessible online audio-hosting platform than SoundCloud, created in 2007 by Ljung and business partner Eric Wahlforss, 35. But there's nothing more complicated, it seems, than negotiating deals with some majors to host their content. While SoundCloud continues talks with Sony -- which began removing its catalog from the service in August -- and Universal, Ljung notes SoundCloud has created a platform "that enables artists ... to get paid, and signed more than 25,000 artists and labels" through the indie label association Merlin and Warner Music Group.
Most Treasured Possession: "A refurbished baby grand piano from the 1960s."
RYAN REDINGTON, 35
Director of digital music, Amazon
In 2009, Redington witnessed the shutdown of his brick-and-mortar employer, consumer electronics chain Circuit City. He has been digital ever since, helping to grow Amazon Prime's paid streaming service, Prime Music, into one of the major players in the United States. "We don't specify how many customers are Amazon Prime members," says the father of two, "but there are tens of millions." And even if Apple cuts into Prime Music's streaming market share, Amazon remains one of the largest music retailers stateside, with approximately 8 percent market share counting CDs, vinyl and downloads.
Hardest Business Lesson Learned: "Failure is sometimes part of the road, but it can lead to success personally."
JON BORRIS, 39
Senior vp pop promotion, Columbia Records
"One spin on one station can change the course of an artist's career," says Borris, whose promotional savvy has fueled the cross-format success of OMI's Billboard Hot 100 chart-topping "Cheerleader," Hozier's "Take Me to Church" (which reached No. 2) and Rachel Platten's "Fight Song" (a No. 1 hit). Promoting "Take Me to Church," in particular, was "a labor of love, to make that a passion record for so many people," says Borris, who grew up on suburban Long Island and lives in Manhattan's Noho neighborhood. "We work with an intangible art. Not everyone will experience a song the same way."
Hardest Business Lesson Learned: "It's healthy to hear 'no' on a daily basis. It means you're taking risks."
JEREMY ERLICH, 34
Head of corporate development and strategy, Universal Music Group
As UMG pursues its goal of becoming an audio and visual media company, Erlich handled deals that secured eyeballs, as well as ears. Following UMG's acquisition of Eagle Rock Entertainment in 2014, the Paris-born Erlich, a former investment banker, oversaw investments in Meerkat, Pluto TV and Jelli, among others. The latest moves, he says, "get us close to that tech ecosystem" that is increasingly influencing the music business.
If I Wasn't in the Music Business: "I'd probably still be trying to find a way out of the investment banking industry."
MIKE FLYNN, 39
Senior vp A&R/staff producer, Capitol Records
In the wake of Capitol's success with Sam Smith, Beck and 5 Seconds of Summer -- and with Katy Perry between albums -- Indiana native Flynn says he's focused on building "the most amazing roster for the future." Silento's "Watch Me" has hit No. 3 on the Hot 100 and notched 1.6 million downloads in the United States, according to Nielsen Music. Tori Kelly debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 with Unbreakable Smile. And Taylor Swift gave Troye Sivan's EP Wild a boost on Twitter. Says Flynn, "We've been rebuilding Capitol Records."
My Mentor: "John Mellencamp. We became close because I toured with him as an accordion player on the Good Samaritan Tour in 2000."
ETHIOPIA HABTEMARIAM, 35
President, Motown Records; president of urban music/co-head of creative, Universal Music Publishing Group
Universal's double threat as a label and publishing executive, Habtemariam juggles her success well at UMPG and Motown. She has inked new global publishing deals with J. Cole and Big Sean (who topped the Billboard 200 in 2014 and 2015, respectively) as well as Childish Gambino and Nicki Minaj. At Motown, she has guided chart-topping albums in the past two years by Kem and Ne-Yo. Now she's focused on rising newcomers Stacy Barthe (who has written songs for Rihanna, Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry) and BJ the Chicago Kid, who topped the Billboard + Twitter Emerging Artists chart in January with "It's True." "Identifying and nurturing talent," says Habtemariam, a California native who was raised in Atlanta, "that's the part I love about this dual role."
Hardest Business Lesson Learned: "Difficult situations should be embraced. They build character and help you grow into a better version of yourself."
JEREMY HOLLEY, 37
Senior vp consumer and interactive marketing, Warner Music Nashville
A 10-year veteran of WMN, Holley oversees what he calls "two of the most exciting and explosive areas of growth in music" -- brand partnerships and digital content. Hunter Hayes, for one, has benefited on both fronts. His growth in online views (50 million for "Wanted") led to his 2015 YouTube Music Award. And a branding deal with ConAgra Foods and P&G raised Hayes' profile and support for the charity Child Hunger Ends Here. Holley, a father of one, says, "We've taken a leadership role on moving the country genre into a new era."
If I Wasn't in the Music Business: "I'd be playing third base for the Chicago Cubs, if I had any athletic ability."
JOHN JANICK, 37
Chairman/CEO, Interscope Geffen A&M
AARON BAY-SCHUCK, 34
President of A&R, Interscope Geffen A&M
The past year for Interscope Geffen A&M has brought hit albums by Kendrick Lamar, Tame Impala, the duo of Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, and a long-awaited new album, Compton, from Dr. Dre. "The breadth and depth of our roster really shone through," says Janick, a Florida native who started his famed indie label Fueled by Ramen right after high school. "We're putting out great music in all different genres." To keep up his hit rate, Janick hired Bay-Schuck away from Atlantic Records (where he had signed Bruno Mars). Bay-Schuck has guided Selena Gomez in her transition from teen queen to adult artist, beginning with her top 10 Hot 100 hit "Good for You" featuring ASAP Rocky.
First Job: [Janick] "I started a label, J4 Records, when I was 17. I never really had another job."
SAMANTHA SELOLWANE, 38
Vp urban promotion, RCA
Harlem resident Selolwane is on a mission "to keep R&B alive in an age when we're very hip-hop-driven." Her promotional skills helped RCA reach No. 1 on the R&B Albums chart in 2015 with soulful releases from D'Angelo, Miguel, Jamie Foxx and Jazmine Sullivan. Selolwane is the daughter of guitarist John Selolwane, who backed Paul Simon on Graceland, and a former radio host who now aims to convey "the individual visions" of RCA artists.
First Job: "I used to teach kids to swim at the YMCA when I was 14 or 15 years old."
NIR SEROUSSI, 39
President, Sony Music U.S. Latin
Since early this year, Seroussi has signed hitmaking Latin artists like reggaeton singer Nicky Jam and ranchera star Joan Sebastian. Artists clamor to work with Seroussi, an Israeli native who grew up in Venezuela and who blends a musician's sensibility (he's a guitarist and songwriter) with a data-driven sense of what works in today's Latin market. Year to date, boosted by the success of Romeo Santos and Marc Anthony, Sony Music U.S. Latin has a 29 percent market share of overall Latin digital song sales.
Who I Call for Advice: "Afo Verde, my boss, and my wife, Sandra -- not necessarily in that order."
GARY SPANGLER, 36
Senior vp promotion and operations, Republic Records
At Republic, everyone has been working for The Weeknd, says Spangler. "I'm really proud of what Republic has contributed" to the breakthrough of the artist whose "Can't Feel My Face" topped the Hot 100 in August while his album Beauty Behind the Madness debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in September. "He's conquering pop culture without compromising his rabid fan base," says the Denver native, who grew up in Santa Cruz, Calif. The Weeknd aside (with Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Demi Lovato), Spangler's promotion team scored a streak of No. 1 hits, the result, he says, of timing, planning, "great artists and great music."
First Job: "I was a mobile DJ in Santa Cruz, for all the high school dances in the area -- a great first gig."
ERIC WONG, 39
Executive vp/gm, Island Records
When Island Def Jam Music Group split into separate labels in April 2014, Wong was named to run Island day to day under label president David Massey -- and he hit the ground running. A Brooklyn native who now lives in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, Wong had plenty of superstar experience to draw upon. He's a former marketing executive at Island Def Jam who worked on projects with Kanye West, Rihanna, Avicii and Bon Jovi, and for a while in 2009, under the banner Wong Management, represented Mariah Carey. At Island, he's proud that Fall Out Boy had "a huge first week" with American Beauty/American Psycho, its third No. 1 album. On his watch, Shawn Mendes also topped the Billboard 200, Nick Jonas transitioned to solo stardom with Hot 100 top 10 "Jealous," and Tove Lo broke through with Hot 100 top five hit "Habits (Stay High)."
Big Break: "At 16, I answered an ad in Billboard for an internship for minority youth in high school. It was at WEA Distribution, in the mail room, and it was the most amazing thing ever."
OMAR AL-JOULANI, 37
Senior vp touring, North American concerts, Live Nation
BEN WEEDEN, 39
COO; House Of Blues Entertainment, Live Nation
Two of Live Nation's top young executives drive business at opposite ends of the touring spectrum. Al-Joulani, a native of Toronto, promoted the J. Cole/Big Sean arena tour this summer, among numerous tours at that level, while Weeden, a father of two who hails from Maryland, managed 7,500 shows and 86 venues including House of Blues clubs, in a dozen top markets. "J. Cole was a hidden gem of the summer," says Al-Joulani of the rapper's outing.
Greatest Recent Achievement: [Weeden] "We looked [anew] at Live Nation's Artist Development and Investment Fund that can bring an artist from a 200-capacity room all the way up to arenas and festivals. We have the venues, marketing and data, and we can invest in careers."
BOBBY REYNOLDS, 39
Vp booking, Las Vegas, AEG Live
Reynolds' six-year tenure in Las Vegas for AEG hit a new peak in 2015 when he set up a multiyear residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace for veteran country superstar Reba McEntire on a co-bill with the reunited Brooks & Dunn. The first nine shows grossed $4.9 million. A native of Mamaroneck, N.Y. (who once caddied at the elite Winged Foot Golf Club), Reynolds acknowledges that "residencies are a great idea for bands who don't want the hassles of touring ... a great way for an artist to earn money and play for their fans." For Brooks & Dunn, the shows with McEntire were their first together in five years.
If I Wasn't in the Music Business: "I'd be cutting deals in a business that's far less exciting than this."
JARED SMITH, 37
President of North America, Ticketmaster
More than ever, the tickets that fans bring to shows are downloaded onto their phones. Ticketmaster's mobile ticket sales spiked 21 percent through mid-2015, reports Smith, who lives in Manhattan Beach, Calif., with his wife and two children. With this year's rise, mobile tickets now account for more than a quarter of Ticketmaster's sales, and Smith believes mobile ticketing will be a "real solution to some of the problems the industry is facing" -- including helping fans learn about new shows faster and have a better experience at concerts.
First Job: "Moving furniture in the summers after baseball practice for a friend's furniture business."
JONATHAN AZU, 38
Executive vp/gm, Red Light Management
With 60 managers working with 200-plus acts out of seven cities, Red Light is the world's largest independent management firm, and St. Louis native Azu, who joined the company in early 2012, is the go-to guy for the whole team. "I know everybody, what bands they work with, and what they do, so I'm a good resource." And aside from managing the needs of managers, Azu, a father of one, represents Red Light clients from veterans Kool & The Gang, R. Kelly and Michelle Williams to newcomer Tunji Ige. The spirit of Red Light, says Azu, starts with owner Coran Capshaw, manager of Dave Matthews Band, who has "an entrepreneurial spirit like no other."
Big Break: "Booking Dave Matthews to play Drake University in Des Moines [Iowa] during my senior year there. Coran Capshaw signed the contract, which I still have."
SCOOTER BRAUN, 34
Founder, SB Projects
One important lesson that Braun has learned while guiding clients like Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Carly Rae Jepsen and Tori Kelly: "Not every artist wants what you want. You have to be OK with wanting what they want, too." The Connecticut-raised Braun, one of the music industry's most ambitious -- and certainly busiest -- overachievers has discovered how to step back and take a breath. That new attitude also helps at home in Brentwood, where he and wife Yael Cohen-Braun, 28, co-founder of nonprofit organization FCancer, welcomed their first child, son Jagger, in February. As SB Projects extends into TV (CBS' Scorpion), tech investments (Uber) and more, Braun says his wife's work of advocating for cancer detection and prevention gives him perspective. "I deal with inconveniences, not problems."
First Job: "A paper route. In my family, our parents instilled in us that we had to earn everything that we got. Just like my parents did."
CORTEZ BRYANT, 36
Partner, Maverick; COO, Young Money
ADAM LEBER, 38
Partner, Maverick; co-owner, Reign Deer Entertainment
Bryant and Leber bring superstar clout to the music-management consortium Maverick. New Orleans native Bryant, with partner Gee Roberson, saw Nicki Minaj gross $14 million on her Pinkprint Tour. Leber, a tech investor who was raised in Queens, has advised Miley Cyrus on recent high-profile moves and Britney Spears on the extension of her Las Vegas residency.
Music Résumé: [Bryant] "I was in Jackson State University's marching band in Mississippi."
First Job: [Leber] "I worked in a bodega in Queens as a stock boy. I hated it."
BOBBY CAMPBELL, 30
Manager, Lady Gaga
"We challenge each other, but we're pretty much in lock step," says Campbell of his sole client. Since he became Gaga's manager near the end of 2013, the duo has shifted the spotlight away from her top-this performance art and back to her formidable chops as a singer, most notably with her Cheek to Cheek duets album with Tony Bennett -- a daring left turn that topped the Billboard 200 and has sold 622,000 copies. Gaga's upcoming role in Ryan Murphy's American Horror Story: Hotel "will show a whole other nonmusical side of her," says Campbell. As the series airs, "she'll be figuring out the direction of her new record."
Most Treasured Possession: "A beautiful Rolex watch that Gaga bought me when Cheek to Cheek went to No. 1."
BRANDON CREED, 38
Owner, The Creed Company
"Uptown Funk," created by Creed clients Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson, spent 14 weeks atop the Hot 100 and explains why (just maybe) the NFL has tapped Mars as a Super Bowl halftime act for the second time in three years. (No confirmation yet from the NFL or Creed.) While watching Mars sell 5 million-plus albums, Creed, who lives in the Hollywood Hills, has added The Smeezingtons and YouTube star Troye Sivan to his client roster, and also plans to work with more young managers. "There's a lack of mentorship in this business right now, so I want to provide that."
If I Wasn't in the Music Business: "I'd be working in some kind of way to help dogs and animals. I have two dogs, Chihuahua/terrier mutts."
AMIR "CASH" ESMAILIAN, 31
Co-manager, The Weeknd
TONY W. SAL, 35
Co-manager, The Weeknd
Esmailian, an Iranian native raised in Ottawa, recalls the moment in 2011 when he first heard the music of Abel Tesfaye, aka The Weeknd. "The day that we met, we've been together every day until now," says Esmailian, who now lives in Toronto. He has worked with The Weeknd since the 2011 House of Balloons mixtape and, prior to the 2012 compilation Triology, began co-managing him with Lebanese-born Sal. The Weeknd's No. 1 Billboard 200 album Beauty Behind the Madness has sold 403,000 copies. "Abel is not an artist you come across every day," says Sal.
Greatest Recent Achievement: [Sal] "Seeing Abel sell out the Hollywood Bowl in October."
JORDAN FELDSTEIN, 37
CEO/owner, Career Artist Management
Feldstein was an assistant at ICM when childhood friend Adam Levine called to have him check out his new band, Maroon 5. "I heard the music and quit my job and started managing them," recalls the father of two, whose client has achieved 13 million in album sales. Feldstein's firm now also reps Robin Thicke, ASAP Rocky and Big Boi. The older brother of actor-director Jonah Hill, Feldstein says, "This job keeps you on your toes."
Hardest Business Lesson Learned: "I'm not always right."
JASON OWEN, 39
President/CEO, Sandbox Entertainment
Since leaving Universal Music Group Nashville five years ago to set up Sandbox Entertainment, Owen, an Arkansas native and father of one, has become one of Music City's most powerful executives, representing veterans like Shania Twain and Faith Hill, and hitmaking next-gen country stars like Little Big Town and Kacey Musgraves. With an office in trendy Green Hills, south of Nashville, Owen draws upon deep experience in marketing and publicity. "I'll let the artist do what they do, and they let me do what I do. I always want to create an environment that's creative, enjoyable, respectful and engaging."
First Job: "I was a lifeguard at the public pool in Monticello, Ark., at age 15. I loved it."
MIKE MAHAN, 39
President, Dick Clark Productions
Mahan's event TV portfolio includes the American Music Awards, Academy of Country Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, Golden Globes and New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest. The measure of a show's quality "tends to be the ratings," says the UCLA grad, and, to cite one monster success, the ACM Awards' 50th anniversary, which was co-hosted by Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan, drew 15.8 million viewers, a 17-year high. Mahan and his wife are expecting their second child on Dec. 31. "Gives new meaning to 'New Year's Rockin' Eve,' " he says.
Music Résumé: "I can't sing. But playing 'Name That Tune in '90s Country Music,' I could give most people a run for their money."
CHRIS OLIVIERO, 38
Executive vp programming, CBS Radio
On Oliviero's watch, CBS Radio added new affiliates in Philadelphia and Miami, "which now gives us 13 top 40 and 11 country stations in the top 35 markets," says the one-time Howard Stern intern. "This allows us to do things not only locally but on a greater scale, and integrating those stations was a big accomplishment for our programming department." CBS reports it now reaches 72 million listeners each week on multiple platforms. "Radio is no longer terrestrial," says Oliviero, citing CBS' expanded online, mobile and social footprint. "Our goal is to bring content and personalities to wherever people are. We can no longer assume they are going to come to us."
If I Wasn't in the Music Business: "I'd be a priest, a politician or pro-wrestling manager -- all jobs that, as a kid, fascinated me."
VINCENT USURIELLO, 29
Program director; Octane, E Street Radio, Siriusxm Radio
"Octane moves the needle," says Usuriello of the innovative active rock channel that he programs -- along with the Bruce Springsteen-centric E Street Radio -- for the satellite radio service. "You instantly see a reaction in sales, streams or views when we start playing a song." Since taking the Octane reins in 2013, Usuriello has strengthened the channel's appeal among SiriusXM's more than 28.4 million subscribers, playing acts from Metallica to upstarts Nothing More and programming new shows like the acoustic Octane Unleaded. "We're always looking to give listeners the next big thing," he says.
Greatest Recent Achievement: "Our coverage in May of Rock on the Range, hard rock's biggest festival of the summer."
JULIE GUROVITSCH, 33
Talent executive, music, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
The Tonight Show has led the late-night competition with 3.8 million viewers overall for the 2014-to-2015 season, according to NBC, and music is a great part of Fallon's draw. Gurovitsch, a former Today music producer who lives on Manhattan's Upper West Side, took over as his lead music booker in April, "right when Fetty Wap was heating up," says the Minneapolis native. "He had just done an award show but hadn't done any TV performances, so that was one of the first things I booked." She scouts talent five nights a week and has found Fallon "enthusiastic" about showcasing new artists.
Big Break: "Running into a colleague at 4 a.m. in a bar. She was leaving her job as booker for The Ellen DeGeneres Show [in 2006], and she recommended me as her replacement."
JENNIFER KNOEPFLE, 38
Senior vp A&R, Sony/ATV Music Publishing
Knoepfle and fellow senior vp Jonas Kant kept Sony/ATV's Los Angeles office on track for six months after Jody Gerson left in 2014 to run Universal Music Publishing Group, until the arrival in March of Rick Krim as Sony/ATV's new West Coast co-president. Knoepfle is part of the team that drove Sony/ATV's second-quarter market share to 19.7 percent (although that's down 5 percent from the first quarter). Co-managing the office "was like being dropped into the deep end of the pool," says the Texas native, who nonetheless made key signings during the hectic time, including gospel soul writer/artist Leon Bridges.
If I Wasn't in the Music Business: "I would own a bed-and-breakfast."
JEANNETTE PEREZ, 36
Senior vp, synch and brand partnerships, Kobalt Music Group
Working in one of the most competitive sectors of music publishing, Perez and her team of 13 have grown Kobalt's synchronization business 20 percent since joining the company in February 2014. (The company owned 12.1 percent of the market in the second quarter of 2015, according to data gathered by The Harry Fox Agency and Nielsen Music.) Perez, a Florida native who earned a law degree from the University of Miami, got her start as a telephone market researcher -- "that person who would bother you at dinnertime."
Most Treasured Possession: "A teal blue Epiphone Les Paul electric guitar I bought in high school."
RYAN PRESS, 35
Vp A&R, Warner/Chappell Music
The son of Temptations tenor Ron Tyson, Press spent summers on his father's tour bus. "Seeing how sharp they ran things made me want to be in the music business," he says. The Philadelphia native has since demonstrated his own smarts, working with a hitmaking stable of writers and producers behind such tracks as Fifth Harmony's "Worth It" and Big Sean's "I Don't F-- With You." Press is a protege of Warner/Chappell North America president Jon Platt, "a positive role model, professionally and personally."
Hardest Business Lesson Learned: "There's music, and then there's the music business. Make sure everything is in writing, and always protect yourself. Don't expect others to protect you."
RON PERRY, 36
President, Songs Music Publishing
Perry, whose publishing signings include Diplo, DJ Mustard and Lorde, saw Songs client The Weeknd top both the Hot 100 and the Billboard 200 in late summer. Once an aspiring rock frontman ("All the tapes have been destroyed," he says), Perry maintains that songwriting trumps all. "If you have a hit song, a great song, kids will react," he says. "If you don't, [even if] you're a big star, the kids will stop caring."
Big Break: "Meeting my friend and partner Matt Pincus [founder/CEO of Songs] in 2004. With our partner Carianne Marshall [head of creative licensing], we've been able to build Songs to where it is today."
CONTRIBUTORS: Rich Appel, Cathy Applefeld Olson, Steve Baltin, Karen Bliss, Ed Christman, Leila Cobo, Deborah Evans Price, Andrew Flanagan, Andy Gensler, Gary Graff, Shirley Halperin, Gail Mitchell, Melinda Newman, Glenn Peoples, Colin Stutz, Ray Waddell and Emily Zemler.