Neil Portnow, chairman/CEO of the Recording Academy, said he was “a little bit emotional” to be back in his hometown of New York City, where the Grammy Awards will be presented Jan. 28 at Madison Square Garden. It is the first time the show has been staged in Manhattan since 2003. “We consider you all our partners in recognizing the best of the best,” he told the high-powered crowed.
The 2008 Clive Davis Visionary Award was presented by Davis to Jody Gerson, chairman/CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group (who was accompanied at the party by her 23-year-old son, Julian Swirsky). “I’ve known her since her early days as a song plugger," said Davis. Gerson recalled the “beautiful handwritten notes” she would receive from Davis -- often turning down her song pitches. “It taught me to be resilient,” she said. Davis praised Gerson for using her position "to educate and inspire the next generation.”
Craig Kallman and Julie Greenwald, respectively chairman/CEO and chairman/COO of Atlantic Records, credited their teams for Atlantic’s recognition as label of the year. Then Greenwald quickly told Kallman: “You forgot Max [Lousada, CEO, recorded music, Warner Music Group] and Stephen Cooper [CEO, WMG] -- our bosses.” Kallman responded: “Don’t want to get fired.”
As industry leaders new and old arrived at Nobu Fifty Seven, many walked the red carpet -- as did strutting ducks, the mascot and symbol of the insurance company Aflac, which co-sponsored the event along with Citi and Nielsen.
Amid the many top-level changes in the music business in the past year, The Billboard Power 100 party also served as celebration of the new guard.
Paul Rosenberg, the new chairman/CEO of Def Jam, who appears on the cover of the Power 100 issue with longtime management client Eminem, paused by a poster of the magazine cover as he arrived. “You’re not going to sell many copies this week,” he joked.
Ron Perry, named earlier this month as the new chairman/CEO of Columbia Records, reported he’s been texting some 40 times a day with Columbia executive vp/gm Joel Klaiman Perry also recalled his first appearance on a Billboard power list as part of the 40 Under 40 Class of 2013.
It was also an evening for longtime industry colleagues to reconnect. Martin Bandier, chairman/CEO, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, was met on his arrival by Irving Azoff, chairman/CEO, Azoff MSG Entertainment and chairman, Full Stop Management. Julie Swidler, executive vp business affairs/general counsel, Sony Music Entertainment, warmly greeted Susan Genco, co-president Azoff MSG Entertainment.
Barbara Carr, co-manager with Jon Landau of Bruce Springsteen, came with Tracy Nurse, a longtime senior label executive and international marketing consultant whose clients include Springsteen and the late David Bowie. Landau was under the weather so could not attend, said Carr. The two were joined by Marilyn Laverty, president of Shore Fire Media. Scott Borchetta, president/CEO Big Machine Label Group, paused in his conversation with Avery Lippman, founder/president of Republic Records, to accept a well-wisher's congratulations.
And for most attendees, including Jennifer Breithaupt, global consumer chief marketing officer Citi, the Power 100 party was just a warm-up for the biggest week of the year for the music industry. Breithaupt lifted a glass a wine and said, “Happy Grammys!”
Additional reporting by Melinda Newman.