Women in Music 2018

Revealed: Billboard's 2017 Digital Power Players, Guiding the Future in Music and Tech

As streaming drives the $15.7 billion global music business, these 50 executives, deep in data and from every industry sector, are on the cutting edge of music and tech.

The tipping point had arrived: For the U.S. music business in 2016, streaming overtook sales as its leading source of revenue for the first time -- echoing global results for the $15.7 billion music industry. Income from music streams last year also led to the first double-digit growth seen in the United States in nearly two decades. U.S. recorded-music sales rose 11.4 percent to $7.65 billion, the strongest annual increase since 1998.

Billboard's Digital Power Players are the top executives behind these historic numbers, chosen for their data-driven roles at companies in every industry sector -- streaming services, record labels, music publishers, social media platforms and others.

These leaders are tackling the challenges that come with change: questions over data management, emerging business models and fair payment to creators. Collectively, they are shaping the music business for a new era.

 

STREAMING

STEFAN BLOM, 45
Chief content officer, Spotify

Spotify faces streaming-music competition from Apple and Amazon -- but the company reports it is adding subscribers faster than ever, with more than 60 million as of July (and 140 million total registered users, counting 80 million on its free service). "Clearly, we'd like to be one of the most significant players in the industry overall," says Blom, who grew up in Sweden but lives in New York. Spotify recently struck licensing deals with Universal Music Group and Merlin, for independent labels, and is expected to announce agreements with Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group ahead of a public offering. "In the past 24 months," says Blom, "we've had a lot of success communicating to the industry our vision and the role we play in the overall music business ecosystem."

 

STEVE BOOM, 49
Vp, Amazon Music

In three years, under Boom, Amazon Music has evolved from a top retailer to a leading streaming service. At industry events in the past year, the New Jersey native and father of three has highlighted the capabilities of Alexa, Amazon's voice-activated digital assistant, which is transforming how people listen to music. "Everyone was waiting for us to [launch an on-demand service], and we did it in a big way," says Boom of the arrival of Amazon Music Unlimited in October 2016. The Amazon model entices customers to embrace streaming -- starting with its Amazon Prime Service, where customers get free shipping on goods and access to a limited catalog of music and videos -- then upgrade to subscription options. After 20 years as a retailer, says Boom, Amazon had to "re-engineer our whole organization" to transform from a store to a service.

 

LINDSEY PEARL, 37
Head of digital marketing, original content, Apple Music

After stints at Hulu and HBO, Pearl joined Apple Music in January to head up digital marketing for one of the tech giant's newest endeavors -- original content. Her first big project: promoting Carpool Karaoke: The Series, which debuted Aug. 8. An extended preview of the Will Smith episode garnered more than 25 million views across all social platforms in the first three days. Pearl, who fuels up on eight shots of espresso a day, knows she's got a big job. "Communicating to a music streaming audience that Apple Music is a place where they can stream premium TV and film content presents new challenges for the service," she says. "We're having to do basic heavy lifting to make that message clear and avoid confusion."

 

DESIREE PEREZ, 47
COO, TIDAL

TIDAL may not rival its streaming music competitors in reach (the service does not reveal its subscriber numbers), but on Perez's watch, the company has notched a number of recent wins. In January, Sprint acquired 33 percent of TIDAL for a reported $200 million, a deal that made the streaming service available to 45 million Sprint customers. Then, on June 30, JAY-Z's 4:44 arrived, first via an exclusive stream to existing customers of TIDAL and Sprint, then in a full rollout that sent the album to No. 1 on the Billboard 200. TIDAL also has offered ticket exclusives to JAY-Z's upcoming tour under his new $200 million deal with Live Nation. For Perez, moves like this put TIDAL on sure footing as it welcomes Richard Sanders, a former senior executive with Sony Music and Kobalt, as its new CEO. His appointment was announced in early August.

 

MUSIC GROUPS

SIMON DENNETT, 38
Chief commercial officer, Kobalt

At Kobalt, Dennett is focused on AWAL, a service that allows independent artists to market and distribute their music to more than 200 digital stores and services worldwide, including Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon. While Kobalt does not release specific numbers, "in the past year, members joining the AWAL platform have tripled," says the London-born Dennett, a former physics major who joined Kobalt in 2006. In May, market insights from Kobalt's famously deep data mining became available via the AWAL mobile app, which Dennett describes as "creator-friendly and designed for modern consumption."

 

JONATHAN DWORKIN, 42
Senior vp digital strategy and business development, Universal Music Group

MICHAEL NASH, 60
Executive vp digital strategy, Universal Music Group

TY ROBERTS, 54
Senior vp/chief technology officer, Universal Music Group

TUHIN ROY, 49
Vp new digital business, Universal Music Group

OANA RUXANDRA, 35
Senior vp digital strategy and partnerships, Universal Music Group

In the wake of the multiyear deal announced in April between Universal Music Group, the world's leading music company, and Spotify, the globe's biggest streaming service, and its earlier agreements with Amazon and Pandora, the digital team at UMG is looking ahead. Nash, who recruited his executive roster over the past 15 months, says, "Digital strategy is really central to the strategy of any music business at this point." In May, UMG struck an agreement with Tencent Music Entertainment Group, the streaming service with 600 million monthly users in China, that will include creation of Abbey Road Studios China. "You're likely to see a creative explosion out of China that's like the '60s and '70s in the West," says Dworkin, whose frequent trips to China helped close the deal. Roy, the newest recruit to the digital group, has the job of steering UMG into partnerships from mobile messaging to virtual reality to anything allowing entrepreneurs to "nimbly start to create new products." Ruxandra brings those partnerships to contracts. "I get deals done," she says. "We're no longer in a world where we make money at [album-release] time. It's about partnerships in the long term." Roberts is focused on marketing high-resolution audio. "We're calling it 'highest-quality audio,'" he says of the technology, which all three major labels endorsed at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

 

KEITH HAUPRICH, 43
General counsel/senior vp business and legal affairs, North America, BMG

Intellectual property law "has never faced such a sustained challenge as it does today," says Hauprich, who played a key role in winning BMG's $25 million jury verdict in 2015 against Cox Communications in a landmark piracy case that tested an internet service provider's responsibilities for copyright infringement by its users. In February, BMG was awarded $8.5 million in fees from Cox. An attorney who studied public relations as an undergraduate at Syracuse University, Hauprich this year also inked Netflix to a deal to administer its music publishing rights outside the United States, covering all original content on the video service.

 

DENNIS KOOKER, 50
President, global digital business and U.S. sales, Sony Music Entertainment

Kooker guides SME's worldwide push into digital music "from a business development, market growth and strategy standpoint," he says. While encouraged by the growth of streaming, "driving paid subscriptions -- and not taking for granted that it's automatically going to happen -- is a big focus for us," says Kooker. His global responsibility means the New Jersey resident and father of two also foresees "meaningful business in markets that in the past we just couldn't access, whether because of rampant piracy or because it was cost-prohibitive." As streaming services expand, "if you've got a phone, and you've got broadband, you've got the ability to listen to music all the time."

 

LARRY MATTERA, 51
GM/executive vp commerce and marketing, Warner Bros. Records

The efforts of Mattera and his team to resolve legal issues with the estate of Prince paid off on Grammy night, Feb. 12, as the artist's Warner Bros. catalog, including most of his hits, returned to all major streaming services. Anticipation for widespread digital release of the recordings -- previously available only on TIDAL -- was so keen that Prince's music drew 17 million streams in its first five days, according to Nielsen Music. Mattera, who arrived at Warner Bros. from WEA Distribution in late 2015, takes satisfaction in the streaming milestone. "I'm super proud that his music is up for fans to enjoy."

 

CHRIS MORTIMER, 36
Head of digital, Interscope Geffen A&M

Interscope released Rae Sremmurd's sophomore album, SremmLife 2, to modest sales last summer, but by November, the label helped the Atlanta hip-hop duo reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the single "Black Beatles" -- after the song became the unofficial soundtrack to the mannequin challenge, a viral video meme in which people pose like statues to create a human tableau. "Black Beatles" has since accumulated 722 million on-demand streams, according to Nielsen Music, and has been certified four-times platinum. "You can't manufacture moments like that," admits Mortimer, a Los Angeles native and father of one. "But when the opportunity arises, the collective effort of Interscope to move mountains in transforming a song into a cultural moment is a remarkable thing."

 

OLE OBERMANN, 46
Chief digital officer/executive vp business development, Warner Music Group

Obermann joined WMG in November 2016, following a decade in digital roles at Sony Music, and has spent the past year building his team, including an analytics department. He also immediately jumped into dealmaking. In December, he oversaw WMG's agreement with MelodyVR to create a worldwide partnership for virtual-reality content creation. "One of the things I quickly figured out about Warner is there's a fast-moving entrepreneurial culture here," says the Brooklyn native. "I'm focused on keeping Warner aggressive and moving quickly."

 

PAUL SINCLAIR, 42
Executive vp digital strategy and innovation, Atlantic Records

With his expanded digital marketing and innovation team now numbering close to 40, Sinclair built long-term digital campaigns this year for Atlantic's developing acts, including Melanie Martinez, A R I Z O N A, Kodak Black, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, Kiiara, Hayley Kiyoko, Kehlani and Lil Uzi Vert, whose "Xo Tour Llif3" ranks as the seventh-most-streamed track of the year, according to Nielsen Music. "The most important marketing meeting in our company is now our weekly streaming meeting, run by [Atlantic chairman/COO] Julie Greenwald," says Sinclair, who has been with Atlantic since 2005. "This meeting allows us to adjust in near real time so that we give each song the best shot that we can."

 

PUBLISHING

LAUREN APOLITO
Senior vp strategy and business development, Harry Fox Agency/Rumblefish

STEPHEN H. BLOCK, 53
Senior vp business and legal affairs, Harry Fox Agency/Rumblefish

JOHN RASO, 53
Senior vp client services, Harry Fox Agency/Rumblefish

For the rights-management companies Harry Fox Agency and Rumblefish, this trio is finding opportunities from new technologies and new territories. "The number of licensing opportunities provided to publishers grew 48 percent over the previous year," says Apolito, noting the need for copyright deals in interactive streaming, background music, gaming, lyrics and tablature, among other uses. Block oversaw HFA's expansion, in collaboration with parent company SESAC, of its representation of affiliated publishers for digital rights abroad. "We now represent more than 4,800 independent music publishers for online licensing outside the U.S.," says Block. Over the past 12 months, notes Raso, HFA and Rumblefish have added more than 13,000 publishers and 8 million compositions to their databases, making them all available for digital use. "We are developing more efficient methods of getting all this data to publishers," says Raso.

 

PETER BRODSKY, 53
Executive vp business and legal affairs, Sony/ATV Music Publishing

"The biggest challenge of the past 12 to 18 months has been the continuing saga of getting control of our performing rights," says Brodsky, who has represented the world's largest music publisher since 2007. Amid a review by the U.S. Department of Justice of the consent decree governing performing-rights organizations ASCAP and BMI, the DOJ unexpectedly mandated a change in how songs are licensed and is fighting for the change in court. "It was very clear that the DOJ didn't understand the issue," says Brodsky. "They ignored industry practices and the advice of the [U.S.] Copyright Office."

 

MARC CIMINO, 45
COO, Universal Music Publishing Group

With Universal Music Publishing Group chalking up its highest market-share performance for the top 100 radio songs in 10 years during the first quarter of 2017, the company's A&R staff is clearly doing its job. Meanwhile, Cimino and his legal team are making sure that music streaming continues to grow. "While everyone is focused on YouTube, Spotify, Amazon and Apple, we also have had an extra focus on some major companies that 12 months from now will be licensing music," says Cimino, who previously held positions at Warner Bros. Records and Sony Music. "We have been very aggressive in reaching out to them." While Cimino won't reveal which companies, Facebook and Twitter are among those expected to soon expand their music offerings.

 

JOE CONYERS III, 30
Vp technology, Downtown Music Publishing; GM, Songtrust

Songtrust, a division of Downtown Music Publishing, provides royalty collection services for companies like the Orchard and CD Baby, as well as some 15,000 publishers and more than 100,000 composers. And those writers need not be signed to Downtown. "We help those 100,000 folks access the same kind of royalty collection that a Downtown client gets," says Conyers, a resident of South Williamsburg, Brooklyn ("the center of the universe," he quips). A relaunch of Songtrust earlier this year gave the service even greater functionality for clients in more than 50 major music markets worldwide.

 

CLARK MILLER
Executive vp North America/operations, Warner/Chappell Music

In the first quarter of 2017, Warner/Chappell had a publishing stake in 49 of the top 100 radio songs, including a share in the top tune, Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You," as tracked by the Harry Fox Agency. That placed Warner/Chappell as the No. 2 top pop publisher -- for the eighth consecutive quarter. (It ranked No. 1 among country publishers.) But, as Miller explains, hits are not enough. "Looking ahead, it's about better identifying and compensating owners for their work in the digital space," says the father of a 20-year-old drummer. "It's about reforming our regulatory process so that it better fits the needs of our business and the songwriter."

 

RADIO

JIM CADY, 57
Executive vp products, operations and connected vehicle, SiriusXM

Howard Stern, meet Alexa. Shows by the SiriusXM superstar can now be accessed via Amazon's voice-activated assistant thanks to the work of Cady, under whose guidance the satellite broadcaster has connected with listeners via a constantly expanding array of options. "We made a conscious effort to begin to move our services" beyond listening in cars, says Cady, a native of Portland, Ore. Custom apps now allow SiriusXM subscribers -- more than 32 million at last count -- to access all of its content via Google Chromecast, smart TVs, Roku, Sonos and Sony PlayStations.

 

DARREN DAVIS, 44
President, iHeartRadio and iHeartMedia Networks Group

Some 70 percent of consumers, including streaming users, say radio "is the place they initially discover their new music," says Davis, citing iHeart's research. Davis oversaw the launch earlier this year of iHeartRadioPlus, which allows fans to instantly replay a song heard live on the air, and iHeartRadio All Access, which gives them the ability to add a broadcast song to their online music collection. "What we've built takes convenience to a whole new level," says Davis, whose contract to head iHeartRadio and iHeart Media Networks Group was extended last month for four more years. With 100 million registered users of the apps, "we're targeting the mass market," he says, "just like our broadcast radio stations do."

 

CHRIS PHILLIPS, 42
Chief product officer/executive vp engineering, Pandora

"You open up the product, and it knows you," says Phillips of Pandora Premium, the company's entry into on-demand listening. The service, which launched in April, combines active playlist-building with suggestions drawn from Pandora's data on a listener's music preferences. Phillips, who came to Pandora in 2014 from Amazon Music, also helped introduce Pandora's artist marketing platform, which has generated more than 1 billion artist-fan impressions; "intelligent ad insertion" to better time ad placements in a music stream; and integration with voice-activated speakers. Pandora Premium, adds Phillips, has "a really hyper-engaged audience. They're in love with the product."

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

ALEX HOFMANN, 36
President, North America, musical.ly

Less than three years ago, Hofmann was planning an extended road trip in a vintage Volkswagen RV when his friend, musical.ly co-founder Alex Zhu, asked him to join his startup, where fans create and share short music videos. With Hofmann leading its U.S. business, musical.ly has more than doubled its consumer base in the past year to a reported 215 million users. It has launched a livestreaming product, live.ly, and partnered with Apple Music. Hofmann's biggest challenge? "One size does not fit all," he says. "We're constantly improving our algorithms to provide each person with a unique experience." Meanwhile, he admits, "My camper van has been collecting dust."

 

TAMARA HRIVNAK, 40
Head of music business development and partnerships, Facebook

JONATHAN HULL, 38
Head of music partnerships, Facebook

Among Facebook's 2 billion active users worldwide, 860 million -- or 43 percent -- connect to at least one music page on the platform. Hrivnak, a music attorney and former director of music partnerships for YouTube, is driving the social network's emerging music strategy, with "the ability to create commercial partnerships that haven't existed before." The philanthropic potential for such partnerships became clear on June 4 when Ariana Grande streamed her One Love Manchester benefit concert on Facebook Live. Using Facebook's donate button, which Hull helped develop during a company hack-a-thon, the event raised $450,000 from 22,000 people to aid victims of the Manchester Arena terrorist attack the previous month. For Hull, it was the perfect example of how Facebook itself has evolved from "connecting you with people you know [to] helping to connect people around things they're passionate about."

 

VIDEO

LYOR COHEN, 57
Global head of music, YouTube

When Cohen left his successful boutique record label 300 Entertainment to join Google-owned YouTube last September, it caught many by surprise: The video service has weathered industry criticism of its payment rates to artists and copyright infringement by its users. But in December, YouTube announced it paid out $1 billion to the music industry in 2016 from its ad revenue. "My biggest challenge is for the industry to understand how significant advertising [revenue] could play next to subscription revenue," says the Los Angeles native who lives in New York. Yet he's also rooting for the expected merger of subscription services Google Play and YouTube Red ("It'll be killer"). In addition, Cohen guided YouTube's data-sharing agreement in June with ASCAP, which is expected to boost payments to the members of the performing-rights group.

 

ERIK HUGGERS, 44
President/CEO, VEVO

Huggers, who has led VEVO since 2015, scored multiple wins for the video streaming service this past year. Apps for VEVO were relaunched, and views have hit 24 billion monthly, up from 17 billion in 2016. More critically, revenue is on track to grow 30 percent year over year. "We've gone through a tremendous transformation," says the Dutch native and father of two. His outlook for VEVO and the music industry overall is rosy: "We don't see the growth slowing down," he says. "The fact that more people than ever are paying for access to music ... is phenomenally positive. Our boat rises on that tide."

 

DISTRIBUTORS

AMY DIETZ, 47
Executive vp/GM, INgrooves

BOB ROBACK, 50
CEO, INgrooves Music Group

With annual revenue that Billboard estimates at $125 million, INgrooves is the third-largest U.S. distributor of independent repertoire. The industry's shift to digital distribution "fits squarely into our overall strategy," says Roback. "There is an enormous amount of data that comes from consumption" of music that gives INgrooves insights into "the best way to market our repertoire efficiently," he says. Along with geographic expansion -- the company entered the Scandinavian region late last year -- Dietz says INgrooves is "adding people who are focused on [music] discovery and engagement."

 

BRAD NAVIN, 46
CEO, The Orchard

COLLEEN THEIS, 48
COO, The Orchard

The Orchard, the world's largest distributor of independent label repertoire, has long been planning for a music business dominated by streaming. "We have been working for this day, making sure our platforms and our team are ready," says Navin. The Orchard generates annual revenue that Billboard estimates at $500 million, from 30 offices worldwide and a staff of 300, marketing music, film and TV product, and partnering with digital retailers, physical stores, performing-rights organizations and mobile outlets. "We were built for this [streaming] economy," says Theis, "and we are built for scale, transparency and to be able to handle billions of lines of data so that we can extract useful information that can be acted upon in real time." That flow of data, adds Navin, "is great for our clients."

 

BRANDON SQUAR, 41
Executive vp digital strategy and sales, Alternative Distribution Alliance Worldwide

"If content is king, then context is King Kong," says Squar, recalling a comment he first heard voiced in 2015 at an industry conference. At ADA, the independent distribution arm of Warner Music Group, the phrase guides Squar's vision of what music streaming can ultimately mean. "We need to find a way to take 30, 40, 50 million tracks from a streaming service to create an individualized experience for every single music listener," he says, adding that enticing consumers older than 30 to engage in new music is a companywide goal. Reminding older listeners "what they love about music -- that, to me, would be the next big thing we can do."

 

LIVE

BROOKE KAIN, 37
Chief digital officer, AEG Presents

AEG in September 2016 put all of its digital operations in the hands of Kain, who previously held senior digital marketing roles at Apple Music, Beats and Interscope Records. At AEG, she has taken on the challenge of tapping a wealth of consumer and artist data to help AEG's army of promoters and talent buyers to book smarter. "We can use the data," says Kain, who counts former boss Jimmy Iovine as a mentor, "to understand our consumer base and personalize our messaging, booking and offerings, based on what our consumers want."

 

JACKIE WILGAR, 45
Senior vp marketing, international, Live Nation Entertainment

"In live music, there are plenty of differences across cultures, but there are also a number of similarities," says Wilgar, a Canadian native based in London. From the United Kingdom, her team has created an online network connecting 29 Live Nation countries using 27 languages (including the recent additions of Israel, Qatar, Lithuania, Estonia and Saudi Arabia). She has guided the development of an app that lets consumers access 125 Live Nation festivals worldwide. "We have certain events where 20 percent of ticket sales are from outside the [presenting] country," she says, noting that the deployment of data allows Live Nation to reach an emerging category -- the global music fan.

 

AGENCIES

ALEX BEWLEY, 33
Agent, personal appearances, WME

ALEXANDRA LEVITT, 26
Agent, digital media, WME

From WME's London office, Bewley directs tours by some of the agency's top digital talent, such as one-time Vine star Cameron Dallas, who is now the subject of the Netflix reality series Chasing Cameron. Bewley also helped develop social media-led festivals like Cool for Summer in Australia and Oslo Sommertid in Norway. "The U.S. is two to three years ahead of the rest of the world in the digital space," he says. "So it's something of an education process for me on a daily basis when I'm speaking to [talent] buyers." Levitt helps clients like Joey Bada$$, Paris Hilton and Nervo monetize their social media celebrity. She sold DJ Gareth Emery's Headliners show to Complex Networks and closed the deal for Dan Taberski to produce the hit podcast Missing Richard Simmons with First Look Media. The digital market moves so quickly, she says, projects "may be one thing when we start talking about it and six months later could be completely different."

 

STUART KOZLOWSKI, 38
Agent, digital and business development, Paradigm Talent Agency

In January, Paradigm extended its brand name over its sister companies, the Windish Agency and AM Only, and Kozlowski remains the go-to digital strategist for all Paradigm clients. Two of those clients -- Tiësto and Echosmith --  are particularly savvy about their digital presence. Tiësto reaches his fans through tours, recordings, podcasts, e-commerce and more. "How do we join all of these things up so that two plus two equals five?" asks the agent, a resident of East Hollywood. "Echosmith's strategy has historically been [focused on] social media, maximizing Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and so on." Kozlowski's greatest challenge: the volatile digital landscape. "I think about Vine," he says. "Here's a platform that was a thing for a hot minute but doesn't exist anymore."

 

JONATHAN PERELMAN, 36
Head of digital ventures, ICM Partners

With experience at Buzzfeed and Google on his résumé, Perelman joined ICM Partners in 2015 to spread his digital perspective throughout the agency, which represents top streaming artists like Kodak Black and Lil Yachty. "I love being able to sit down with agents to ask what the best things are we can do for our clients, what is the best strategy," says the Brentwood, Los Angeles, resident. Perelman, who has been focused recently on the growth of podcasting, also has been developing a new digital department at ICM. "It will have, I hope, a very positive impact on the work that we do. I want to make sure that as an agency we are as digitally forward thinking as possible."

 

MARGO PLOTKIN, 38
Digital talent and packaging agent, Creative Artists Agency

When it comes to impact online, you don't get much bigger than Plotkin's client Katy Perry and her 232 million fans across all social platforms. Plotkin, who has worked at CAA since 2011, leveraged Perry's following to strike the deal with YouTube for a four-day livestream to promote her album Witness. More than 50 million tuned in from 190 countries to watch the singer eat, sleep and endure a rigorous (but fun) roster of guests. The fact that the livestream also addressed issues like mental health, immigration and equality, says Plotkin, "was as important to Katy and YouTube as the entertainment."

 

BRENT WEINSTEIN, 42
Partner/head of digital media, United Talent Agency

"It's a huge agency priority to work closely with our clients to launch innovative new digital media businesses," says Weinstein, a 16-year veteran of UTA, whose team in the past year has launched Sofia Vergara's Latin-focused digital media company Raze and the music-based lifestyle brand WeBuyGold with DJ Khaled. The Encino, Calif., resident, who guides a global digital crew of 30-plus, has offered digital business guidance for events like the Consumer Electronics Show and corporations including Delta Airlines. The unpredictability of the digital media world "keeps our heads on a swivel," he says, "but it's also a big motivator."

 

INDUSTRY ASSOCIATIONS

DAVID ISRAELITE, 48
President/CEO, National Music Publishers' Association

The NMPA turned 100 this year -- and threw itself a party at Cipriani in Midtown Manhattan, complete with a speech from Pharrell Williams, a performance by Patti Smith, a demonstration of Amazon's Alexa personal assistant for music streaming and the awarding of a songwriting credit for "Imagine" to Yoko Ono. "It was a once-in-a-hundred-years event," says Israelite, who has led the association since 2005. The NMPA recently faced off before the Copyright Royalty Board against Spotify, Apple, Amazon, Google and Pandora in a trial to determine the mechanical royalty rates those streaming services will pay from 2018-2022. "It was a scorched-earth trial against five companies, three of which are among the world's biggest," says Israelite. "I'm optimistic, but that was a challenge."

 

STEVEN MARKS, 50
Chief of digital business/general counsel, RIAA

"Five years ago, we used to joke that flat is the new up," says Marks of the sales trend that marked the music business for many years. "Now we're seeing growth," says the Florida native, citing the RIAA's annual report in March that showed music sales up 11.4 percent during 2016, bolstered by the strength of streaming. Among the next challenges for the record-industry trade group? "We're working hard on data issues," says Marks, "just having an authoritative set of ownership data for both recordings and compositions."

 

PERFORMING RIGHTS

J.D. CONNELL, 41
Vp new media licensing, SESAC

The acquisition of SESAC in January by the private-equity powerhouse Blackstone unlocked resources for new opportunities at the rights organization. "We have been able to finalize a number of large domestic licensing transactions worth tens of millions of dollars in 2017," says Connell, a Tennessee native who lives in Midtown Nashville. And under its new owners, SESAC also has expanded abroad with, for example, the creation of Mint Digital Licensing, a joint venture with the Swiss authors' rights group SUISA. Connell reports sharpening "my skill set for licensing into digital services in Europe."

 

ALICE KIM, 45
Chief strategy and digital officer, ASCAP

As ASCAP tracks "more than a trillion" performances a year of the 10.5 million works by 625,000 members, managing that massive amount of data is crucial, says Kim, who came to the performing-rights organization in 2015. Since then, she has helped strike a deal boosting information flow with YouTube and also has played a key role in ASCAP's database initiatives with BMI and performing-rights groups abroad, SACEM in France and PRS for Music in the United Kingdom. "Because of ASCAP's scale," she says, "our innovation has the impact of truly moving the industry forward."

 

DAVID LEVIN, 46
Vp digital licensing, BMI

Streaming services, social media, online video -- all music-driven platforms pose an ongoing challenge for BMI and other performing-rights organizations, says Levin. "We have to educate the technology community of the rights they're exploiting and negotiate a fair value for those rights," says the Brooklyn resident. Most recently, Levin helped close a long-term licensing deal with Netflix that "values BMI songwriters' contributions," he says -- and gave BMI access to data to "accurately compensate those writers."

 

JULIA MASSIMINO, 45
Vp global public policy, SoundExchange

For SoundExchange, which collects digital royalties for noninteractive music services (think Pandora and SiriusXM), Massimino is making things happen in Washington, D.C. The Texas native helped push forward the introduction this year of the Fair Play Fair Pay Act (H.R. 1836) and the CLASSICS Act (H.R. 3301). The proposed legislation, she explains, "would ensure music creators have the right to get fair-market value for their work when it's used for commercial gain by all types of radio services, regardless of the technology used to broadcast it to listeners." SoundExchange advocates for creators, she says, "in a political atmosphere characterized by near-total gridlock."

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Contributors: Rich Appel, Dave Brooks, Ed Christman, Andy Gensler, Steve Knopper, Robert Levine, Geoff Mayfield, Melinda Newman, Paula Parisi, Alex Pham, Dan Rys, Eric Spitznagel and Colin Stutz