The digital music stream continues to surge. The U.S. music business is on track in 2018 to achieve double-digit growth for the third year in a row, thanks in large part to streaming. Consumer spending on music reached $4.6 billion in the first half of the year, a 10 percent increase over the first six months of 2017, according to the RIAA. And three-quarters of that revenue comes from streaming. Streaming revenue grew 28 percent for the first half of 2018 compared with the same period last year, the association also reports. Accounting for that growth: subscriptions to Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and Tidal; radio services like Pandora and SiriusXM; and YouTube and the ad-supported version of Spotify, among others. With streaming has come a flood of data on how, where and when songs are consumed -- and by whom. That information drives the work of Billboard’s Digital Power Players, executives in the vanguard of their fields. At streaming services, record labels, music publishers, distributors, promoters, booking agencies, social media sites, rights organizations and more, these are the executives shaping the industry of the future.
CHARLIE HELLMAN, 33 VP, head of creator marketplace, Spotify
With Spotify reporting 184 million active users and 83 million premium subscribers in July, Hellman’s focus is on the musicians whose work drives the success of the streaming service. He oversees the development of Spotify for Artists, a live data dashboard and playlist submission tool that now serves more than 200,000 unique artist teams a month -- double the number from March. “From the beginning, Spotify for Artists was about empowering artists,” he says.
TAMI HURWITZ, 46 VP global marketing and business intelligence, Amazon Music
Hurwitz arrived at Amazon Music in November 2017 after a two-decade career with Procter & Gamble, followed by Microsoft. She oversees global branding and marketing for the world’s third-largest subscription streaming service, whose total streaming hours on Alexa-enabled devices have doubled year-over-year. (Amazon has not reported specific usage figures.) “We’re seeing fans starting to adopt the ‘Alexa, play’ nomenclature into their vernacular,” says Hurwitz. “It’s become a really interesting way to engage socially.” Hurwitz also helped Amazon mark “Prime Day” on July 11 with the Amazon Music Unboxing Event, a concert headlined by Ariana Grande in New York.
AMANDA MARKS* Global head of business development and music partnerships, Apple
Marks, a former senior digital executive at Universal Music Group, has helped Apple Music surpass 50 million registered users during her three years at the company. She has also signed the streaming service’s first automotive deals with Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler, and brokered an exclusive bundling deal offering Apple Music to Verizon Unlimited mobile phone customers. (New customers receive Apple Music free for six months.) “With subscription services, we live and die by the numbers -- conversion and retention, daily engagement,” says Marks. “Our focus on music, arts and culture gives us a competitive advantage in improving those numbers.”
LIOR TIBON, 35 COO, Tidal
As the streaming business approaches maturity, its major players are refining their growth strategies -- and for Tidal, that has meant telecom partnerships around the globe. In the past year, an expanded streaming bundle with part-owner Sprint introduced three new pricing plans for the latter’s 45 million customers, while partnerships with Vodafone (Spain), Telefonica (Brazil) and MTN (Uganda) have expanded Tidal’s reach into underutilized territories. While streaming is “hypercompetitive,” Tibon says, “The industry has not evolved quickly enough in terms of presenting a wide range of pricing options and models.”
KERRY TRAINOR* CEO, SoundCloud
After a financially challenging 2017 marked by layoffs and the closing of its London office, SoundCloud has “refocused our strategy to focus on what makes us unique and special: empowering creators with the best tools to grow their careers,” says Trainor. The resurgent site now hosts more than 180 million tracks from more than 10 million creators, says Trainor. They include Post Malone, Chance the Rapper, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty and “an incredible range of artists shaping music culture, [especially] in EDM and hip-hop.”
BOB BRUDERMAN, 40 Senior vp global digital partnerships, Kobalt Music Group
Bruderman says he has sealed “in excess of 50 deals” this past year for Kobalt, including a publishing pact with Facebook and a multipronged agreement with Chinese streaming service NetEase that covers publishing, Kobalt’s AWAL division for indie artists and its AMRA royalty collection service. Bruderman is also Kobalt’s point of contact with digital services, including “everyone from Google and Amazon to tiny karaoke players,” while building marketing muscle via seeking out and developing digital music partnerships with, for example, airlines (Delta and American) and social media platforms (Instagram).
RON CERRITO, 56 President, North America, AWAL PAUL HITCHMAN, 53 President, AWAL LONNY OLINICK, 37 CEO, AWAL
Olinick assumed leadership of Kobalt’s recordings division, AWAL, in January, with Hitchman running international and Cerrito managing North America. “[The] three of us have made a big push with A&R, global marketing, digital products and data insights, resulting in success like never before,” says Olinick. In the past six months, he adds, staff has doubled to about 200, while the artist roster has grown 50 percent to 25,000 acts. Among the standouts: Lauv, whose song “I Like Me Better” has become a hit in 11 countries, generating more than 1 billion streams, according to AWAL. “We’re all about positioning Kobalt as the leading service company across all music rights,” says Olinick.
JONATHAN DWORKIN, 43 Senior vp digital strategy and business development, Universal Music Group CHRIS HORTON, 46 Senior vp strategic technology, Universal Music Group MICHAEL NASH, 61 Executive vp digital strategy, Universal Music Group TUHIN ROY, 50 Senior vp new digital business and innovation, Universal Music Group OANA RUXANDRA, 36 Senior vp digital strategy and partnerships, Universal Music Group
“Digital is part of everything that we’re doing,” says Nash, who has led UMG’s digital team since November 2015. Nash, who holds a seat on UMG’s executive management board and advises chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge, oversees a digital business of 400-plus partnerships “and annualized revenue of over 3 billion dollars,” he says. For the digital team, Ruxandra quarterbacked UMG’s global multiyear agreement struck with Facebook and Instagram in December. “We got the biggest social network to come to the table and to value our content, [and] created a new kind of partnership that reflects the future,” says Ruxandra, who is now focused on deals with Pandora, iHeartMedia and Amazon Music. Horton has primed UMG for the emerging industry category of “interactive tracks” that will allow consumers to work with individual song elements (e.g., vocals, drums, bass) via apps like Jammer from Keezy. Dworkin is the dealmaker overseeing UMG’s Spotify, Apple and Google partnerships, and closed a major renewal agreement with YouTube in December 2017, easing long-standing tension with the video-streaming giant. “There’s a lot more oxygen in the business relationship,” he says. “They’ve done a great job of trying to reset the relationship.” Roy, who serves as UMG’s Silicon Valley liaison, has spearheaded two outreach programs designed to foster music tech startups: the UMG Accelerator Network and a UMG-affiliated hackathon series. “Two years into the music industry’s recovery, we don’t think the level of startup activity in the ecosystem reflects the opportunities [in this space],” says Roy. “Everything we’re doing addresses that.”
KEITH HAUPRICH, 44 General counsel/senior vp business and legal affairs, North America, BMG
In August, Hauprich reached a confidential settlement in a landmark three-year copyright infringement suit against Cox Communications, which tested an internet service provider’s responsibilities for policing the copyright-infringing actions of its users. In a 2015 trial, Hauprich helped BMG win a $25 million judgment against Cox, but the award was later vacated due to erroneous jury instructions. On the eve of a second trial that was due to begin Aug. 27, Cox opted to settle with BMG for undisclosed terms. The three major music groups filed their own copyright infringement suit against Cox in July, seeking as much as $1.5 billion in damages, and that action is pending.
DENNIS KOOKER, 51 President, global digital business and U.S. sales, Sony Music Entertainment
With streaming now accounting for 44 percent of Sony’s music revenue worldwide and still growing, Kooker says emerging international markets will continue to fuel that upward trajectory. He notes that while many music companies are chasing the mass-market consumer, Sony is also preparing for the day when growth isn’t so easily attained. The industry has “always been about niches, experimentation and tastemakers,” says Kooker. “We need that, too, or we will have slowing growth as the market matures.”
OLE OBERMANN, 47 Chief digital officer/executive vp business development, Warner Music Group
The past year saw a “tremendous acceleration in premium subscriptions,” says Obermann, and he’s not just referring to Spotify, the streaming market leader. Apart from streaming deals, WMG in March closed a deal with Facebook that allows WMG’s extensive music catalog to be used on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Oculus. Obermann also negotiated a direct licensing agreement with Mixcloud, a streaming platform with more than 12 million podcasts and DJ sets. The information gleaned from those platforms helps WMG target its efforts more precisely than ever. “Data helps us understand the cause and effect of marketing and promotion drivers; pivot, if and when necessary; and we can watch Warner Music artists break out geographically on a near-real-time basis.”
JIM SELBY, 50 GM/chief revenue officer, Concord Music
Metadata matters, says Selby. “We identified thousands of masters we own or control that either lacked sufficient metadata on the [streaming] services or were completely missing” that data. Concord made a “significant investment” in its internal metadata management, says Selby, which he reports has paid off in higher YouTube collections and rights society payments. (Concord does not break out those figures.) Selby notes that Concord also has invested in digital marketing platform found.ee, to the benefit of label acts like Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats.
PETER BRODSKY, 55 Executive vp business and legal affairs, Sony/ATV Music Publishing
In January, Brodsky helped convince the Copyright Royalty Board to raise the royalty rate for songwriters on Spotify and other streaming services by nearly 44 percent through 2022. “It was extremely challenging,” he says. “Anytime you go to trial, it’s a huge risk. We tried to settle. It couldn’t be done. Rolling the dice turned out to be worthwhile.” While closing Sony/ATV’s deals with Facebook and YouTube, Brodsky also advocated in the past year for the successful passage of the Music Modernization Act, which will update mechanical rights licensing for the digital age.
DAVID KOKAKIS, 46 Chief counsel, business affairs, Universal Music Publishing Group; digital rights management, Universal Music Group
Kokakis, who was promoted to chief counsel of UMPG in July, is now working more closely with Universal Music Group labels, looking for more opportunities to boost digital revenue for UMG’s publishing and recorded-music divisions. In December 2017, he helped negotiate UMPG’s licensing deal with Facebook to make songs and videos available on the social media giant. “It created a new income source for artists and songwriters,” he says. “It’s important for companies, individuals and stakeholders to think about what serves the greater good and what can create a sustainable industry for many years to come, as opposed to being hyper-focused on what serves their immediate interests.”
ERIC MACKAY, 37 Executive vp global digital strategy, Warner/Chappell Music
Mackay took on his current role at Warner/Chappell a year ago, running a three-person team and overseeing the music publisher’s digital strategy while expanding its partnerships. His goals: find more ways for fans to enjoy the music that Warner/Chappell publishes and drive revenue for the company and its writers. Warner/Chappell copyrights now can be used on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Oculus under Warner Music Group’s Facebook deal announced in March. The result of Mackay’s work is promising: an 18 percent year-on-year increase in digital revenue in the recent third quarter.
JIM CADY, 58 Executive vp products, operations and connected vehicle, SiriusXM
For SiriusXM users, Cady helps manage too much of a good thing. “The one challenge we have is that we’ve got an abundance of great content,” he says of his back-end work on SiriusXM features “to better suggest content that may be appropriate for you. If I did a search in our service for Madonna, I’m not only going to get channels that play Madonna, but I’d also get Howard Stern’s interview with Madonna. Now, with our ability to say, ‘If you like this, you may like that,’ we’re seeing people listening to a broader set of content because it’s being presented to them in a more logical way. We’ve enhanced that substantially, both on the automotive side and with the launch in May of our streaming service.” SiriusXM, with more than 36 million subscribers and 23 million-plus trial listeners, announced plans in September to acquire Pandora, which has more than 70 million monthly active users.
DARREN DAVIS, 45 President, iHeartMedia Networks Group and iHeartRadio
iHeartMedia’s acquistion of podcast producer Stuff Media in September was “vastly important, from a strategic standpoint, for the company,” says Davis. “I don’t think we’re [just] in the radio business -- we’re in the relationships business. We build and cultivate relationships with 272 million listeners a month on our broadcast radio. This is a natural extension for our broadcast brands and our air talent.” Given iHeart’s dominant audience reach, “[We’ve] got to be leading the way in podcasting,” he says.
AIMÉE LAPIC* Chief marketing officer, Pandora
Long before Lapic joined Pandora last December, she admired the analytics she could cull from the streaming service in her role as chief marketing officer for Gap Inc.’s Banana Republic brand and “from a personal perspective, in terms of how terrific the [music] recommendations were.” Now she’s mining Pandora’s data for initiatives like a partnership with Snapchat that launched in June via the service’s premium access feature. More than 22 million people have tapped into 30 minutes of free Pandora Premium programming through premium access since late 2017. “Forty-four percent of those are 25 and under,” says Lapic. “This is a game-changer for us to reach new listeners and drive much higher engagement.”
MANNY ADLER, 26 Music partnerships, Snap
Adler is a key member of the music team behind Snap’s ubiquitous messaging app, and has helped make Snapchat an essential tool for musicians. Working under Snap’s new head of music partnerships, Ted Suh, Adler helped develop Snapchat’s popular lenses for the music industry, which this year included augmented-reality features for Ariana Grande’s Sweetener launch and Nicki Minaj’s shoppable Queen lens, as well as an exclusive tracklist debut for Minaj that generated more than 100 million impressions in its first 48 hours. Snapchat also has partnerships with Childish Gambino, Florence + The Machine and other acts. More than one in three daily Snapchat users play with Snapchat lenses, he says, “so it makes a ton of sense to put music in that experience.”
PERRY BASHKOFF, 39 Head of label partnerships, Facebook TAMARA HRIVNAK, 42 Head of music business development and partnerships, Facebook JONATHAN HULL, 39 Head of music partnerships, Facebook MICHAEL KING, 43 Head of label business development, Facebook SCOTT SELLWOOD, 48 Head of music publishing partnerships, Facebook ANJALI SOUTHWARD, 37 Head of international music publishing business development, Facebook
Since early 2017, Facebook has made major moves to allow users to incorporate music into its apps. Hrivnak and her team have struck licensing agreements with “all major labels, all major publishers, all the [royalty collection] societies, all of the major independent aggregators in the U.S. and a host of international players as well,” she says. “It’s a real milestone for the industry and for Facebook to accomplish so much together in such a short amount of time.” For Facebook’s 2.2 billion users, that has allowed the social networking giant to roll out Lip Sync Live and, in a bid to outflank YouTube and TikTok (formerly musical.ly), allow users to add licensed tracks to self-generated videos. The platform now also permits music usage across its universe of products, including Oculus, WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram. While Hrivnak’s crew focuses on licensing pacts, Hull and his colleagues work with artists to leverage those licenses and create new experiences, products and fan insights from engagement data. Hull says that unlocking users’ ability to use and share music with friends “helps drive discovery” of artists. As fan usage of music clips proliferates, Facebook’s licensing deals may generate as much as $1 billion for the music industry in the next two years, observers say.
LAUREN WIRTZER SEAWOOD* Head of music partnerships, Instagram
Wirtzer Seawood, who was Beyoncé’s digital guru before joining Instagram, has a knack for spotting trends. This year, her team launched music stickers and created a custom Instagram filter that included a clip of Ariana Grande’s “No Tears Left to Cry.” “We’re always contemplating new ways to add music as an experience on Instagram,” she says. Over 45 percent of Instagram’s 1 billion users follow a verified music account, and three out of the top five most followed accounts belong to musicians.
LYOR COHEN, 59 Global head of music, YouTube
YouTube Music, Google’s latest move into the subscription music business, launched May 22 “in what is now 21 [global] markets,” says Cohen, while partnerships with Ticketmaster and Eventbrite have expanded the service’s offerings for artists. But Cohen is most proud of YouTube’s image rehabilitation in the eyes of the music business. “We went from probably being the most despised to the most hopeful in the last year,” he says, describing the industry’s reception of initiatives like Artist Spotlight and Artist on the Rise. “We invested in a label support team that helps labels work alongside YouTube in breaking their artists and taking them to the next level.”
AMY DIETZ* Executive vp/GM, Ingrooves Music Group BOB ROBACK, 51 CEO, Ingrooves Music Group
“Opportunities in the marketplace, based on data and insights, are always time-bound,” says Roback. “If you see an opportunity to really pour fuel on the fire, it’s important that you can act on it right away.” That’s why, earlier this year, Ingrooves debuted Trends Now, a real-time data-mining tool to benefit its own marketing moves and those of partner labels like Rostrum, Strange Music and Sargent House. Much of Dietz’s focus this past year was on expanding the company’s reach into international markets, including Southeast Asia and the Nordic regions. Ingrooves also brokered global distribution deals with Norwegian label Propeller Records, Latin indie label Rich Music and Latin entertainment company Talento Uno. Data shapes every decision, says Dietz. “When somebody bought a [physical] record, you didn’t know whether they listened to it one time or a thousand times. Now we see how they’re interacting with music. That gives us an opportunity to identify fans in a different way.”
NANDO LUACES, 51 Founder/CEO, Altafonte
Altafonte, a Madrid-based digital distribution and marketing company launched in 2011, has since built a customer base that spans 150 countries, says Luaces, adding that revenue has increased 40 percent from 2017 to 2018. (The company does not provide specific revenue figures.) “We have signed distribution agreements with eight new platforms in China and the Middle East,” says the CEO, whose company is also working with acts including Gilberto Gil, the group Los Ángeles Azules and Erika Ender, co-writer of Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito.”
BRAD NAVIN, 47 CEO, The Orchard COLLEEN THEIS, 49 COO, The Orchard
In June 2017, The Orchard became one of the largest independent distributors in the world after merging with its sister distributor RED Music (both owned by Sony Music Entertainment). With a two-decade history in digital music, The Orchard is optimally positioned, says Navin, as “the digital promise has finally come to fruition, with year-over-year growth” in what has become a global industry. One sign of that global reach: The Orchard’s marketing (in partnership with South Korea’s Big Hit Entertainment) of Love Yourself: Tear by K-pop sensation BTS, which debuted in June at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. “We have representation locally in the [South Korean] market, which was able to talk to them early on and then plug into our team in North America,” says Theis, who oversees The Orchard’s global team. “We’ve gone to 43 markets from 30 last year [and] up to more than 450 staff, plus consultants around the world.”
BRANDON SQUAR, 42 Executive vp global digital sales and strategy, Alternative Distribution Alliance
ADA has represented Macklemore since 2012, and the artist is enjoying another huge year thanks to his album Gemini, “primarily driven by streaming,” says Squar, whose company works with “independent artists and labels of all sizes, in all genres, from all around the world.” Driven by the singles “Good Old Days,” featuring Kesha, and “Glorious,” featuring Skylar Grey, Gemini reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and has logged 465.3 million on-demand audio streams for its tracks, according to Nielsen Music. Macklemore is an “amazing example of an artist successfully transitioning to streaming as the digital marketplace has evolved,” says Squar.
STEVE STOUTE, 48 Founder/CEO, UnitedMasters and Translation
Stoute, the major-label veteran and founder of marketing agency Translation, on Oct. 30 announced a new partnership between his digital distribution company UnitedMasters and the NBA that will allow artists to have their music placed and promoted across an array of the league’s digital platforms, including NBA.com and the NBA app, reaching a potential global audience of 1.5 billion. In a statement, UnitedMasters said Stoute’s latest venture “creates a direct line between artists and a global sports and media business, resulting in unparalleled access to worldwide audiences and the ability for artists to amplify their music at scale.”
KEVIN CHERNETT, 49 Executive vp global partnerships and content distribution, Live Nation JULIA HEISER, 36 Executive vp, marketing, Live Nation Concerts JEREMY LEVINE, 45 Head of digital and publishing, media and sponsorship, Live Nation AARON WILSON, 47 Senior vp tour marketing and digital, Live Nation Clubs and Theaters
“We’re not just selling [fans] a ticket,” says Heiser of her marketing team’s involvement in more than 150 major tours for such acts as Beyoncé and Jay-Z, U2, Drake and Guns N’ Roses. “We are trying to collect and understand every piece of data about them to help make that experience as good as possible.” A data-centric approach drives the work of several Live Nation executives. Chernett struck the partnership with Samsung that led to the livestreaming, in virtual reality, of Coldplay’s performance at Chicago’s Soldier Field in August 2017 to more than 50 countries. He has also built social media partnerships with platforms including Twitter to livestream festivals and performances by St. Vincent, Jack White, Zac Brown Band, Imagine Dragons, Niall Horan and G-Eazy. “We have cooperative partners who understand that value of extending the reach and the moments,” he says. Levine developed partnerships with leading music and entertainment publishers and sites including Consequence of Sound, BrooklynVegan, Bandsintown and CBSi to syndicate content over various platforms. He also launched Live Nation’s data product portfolio, FanBase, which is touted as the world’s most exhaustive database of live-event fans. At the club and theater level, Wilson’s team handles marketing for more than 70 Live Nation venues -- a number that has more than doubled since 2015 as data is increasingly used to identify new opportunities in the live space. “We’re actually able to roll into new markets rather seamlessly [by] looking at the specifics of the DNA of that population.”
KATHRYN FREDERICK, 40 Executive vp growth and insights, Ticketmaster
Frederick, who has an educational background in neuropsychology and conflict resolution, leads Ticketmaster’s efforts to enrich fan engagement. “There’s real science behind how to have that one-to-one conversation” with ticket buyers, says Frederick, replacing what she wryly calls the old “spray-and-pray” method of marketing. “The elegance of that orchestration is why we’ve seen so much consumer receptivity, and we’re seeing it in our numbers.” In her three years with Ticketmaster, those numbers included a 30-plus percent growth in the company’s marketing program, 1 billion-plus annual impressions across its digital footprint and close to $1.5 billion in incremental gross revenue. “That, to me, is fans telling you with their wallets that you’re doing something right,” she says.
BROOKE MICHAEL KAIN, 38 Chief digital officer, AEG Presents
Kain, who came to AEG Presents two years ago after digital marketing roles at Apple Music, Beats and Interscope Records, has staffed up eight departments with more than 50 new hires, including executives from Google and Apple. “I’m looking for digital talent first -- I’ll teach them the music business,” she says. Kain is tasked with enhancing digital marketing, customer relationship management and analytics for AEG’s portfolio of festivals like Coachella and Electric Forest, as well as tours for Panic! at the Disco and Elton John’s farewell run. She has expanded AEG’s consumer database nearly sevenfold to 200 million fan records. “Using data also enabled our team to completely redo the way we marketed our events at the Shrine Auditorium [in Los Angeles] and helped us sell out 13 events thus far [this year].”
MATT URMY, 40 Founder/chief strategy officer, Artist Growth
Since its founding in 2012, Urmy’s Artist Growth has tracked $2.6 billion in event revenue and allowed touring artists and their teams to track finances, availabilities, tour schedules, promotions and more. Next up is a partnership Urmy has negotiated over two years with Pinnacle Financial Partners executive vp music Andy Moats. “One of the biggest problems for artists is trying to get their hands on capital,” says Urmy, who is now in the beta-testing phase for a Pinnacle pilot program that has handed out more than $100,000 in artist development financing secured by tours. “It’s cheaper than going to a promoter or record label for the money,” he says, explaining that loans are made based on advances and artist guarantees and don’t require a credit history or deposit. “It’s really clean, and we can enable the whole thing with software,” says Urmy. A public launch of the financing program is targeted for early 2019.
“I can still be that die-hard fan,” says Driver. “I want that setlist! And I know I’ll want that sign off the dressing room door.” For Driver and Petrey, thinking like the fans of the stars they represent -- Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Guns N’ Roses and others -- has led to the success of their digital marketing firm Crowd Surf, which has helped drive a collective 1 billion followers on social media for their clients. Working with pop group Why Don’t We, Driver and Petrey helped the quintet reach 3.3 million Instagram followers in 18 months. Now the duo has moved into artist management with Max & Harvey, who have signed to Hollywood Records and gained 5 million followers on TikTok.
NATHAN HANKS, 45 CEO, Music Audience Exchange (MAX)
“We’re out to change the nature of what music does in advertising,” says Hanks of his company, which micro-targets fans for brands and has teamed Brantley Gilbert with Ford trucks, Cole Swindell with U.S. Cellular and Brett Eldredge with Dr Pepper, among others. Through surveys distributed via the social media accounts of artists, MAX has built a database “with insight into the demographic, psychographic, geographic and behavioral attributes of the fan bases of more than 1.8 million artists worldwide,” says Hanks. He’s also out to change how artists break through, with brand partnerships that put a primary emphasis on showcasing songs.
GARY VAYNERCHUK, 42 Chairman, VaynerX
Vaynerchuk, who spotted early opportunities to transform his family’s New Jersey liquor store into e-commerce site Wine Library and then created a digial media agency, recently entered a partnership with Guy Oseary to create content for brands starring Oseary’s Maverick artists. (The venture has not yet announced which acts will be featured in the content.) “I’m always looking for signals in the culture,” says Vaynerchuk. “I pay attention to what people are paying attention to.” The past year, he says, involved studying consumer desires “and meeting with 54 emerging artists to create bigger fan bases for them.”
JAD DAYEH, 35 Partner, digital media, WME
“It’s all about these platforms and brands that have decided to broaden” their reach, says Dayeh, who has helped close more than 35 content production deals for music-focused digital brands including WorldStarHipHop, Mass Appeal and Pharrell Williams’ i am OTHER. “We’ve really started to find ways to pair up those content brands with people from the ‘traditional’ world -- directors, writers, actors, musicians -- [to create] these new hybridized content properties and initiatives.” In the works with WME client RZA: a new documentary series on Wu-Tang Clan to mark the 25th anniversary of the hip-hop group, as well as a separate Ol’ Dirty Bastard biopic (via Quentin Tarantino’s WME agent, Mike Simpson).
KELLY DURONCELET, 30 Digital partnerships agent, Paradigm Talent Agency
Duroncelet has solidified her position leading Paradigm’s digital deals for music with a focus on boosting clients’ exposure. She recently began curating happy-hour concerts at Instagram’s New York office, yielding more than 4.5 million impressions for singer Chelsea Cutler this summer -- something she says is a “testament” to Paradigm’s roster and relationship with the company. “I don’t think they’re doing this with any of the other agencies.”
SHANNON FITZGERALD, 36 Tour marketing executive, CAA
Fitzgerald helped build the agency’s 10-member tour marketing team, “a department that’s filled with really smart, proactive executives -- that all happen to be women,” she says, adding, “They all really get that content is king and that we have to make a splash in the marketplace.” The digital team is involved in everything from tour announcements to ticketing, she says. In 2018, Fitzgerald has helped make a digital splash for more than 1,100 shows by 30 clients, including campaigns for Kesha, Jeff Lynne’s ELO and Panic! at the Disco.
KENDALL OSTROW, 33 Head of IQ Strategy, United Talent Agency
Since UTA IQ launched in January, Ostrow has led a 14-person team feeding data and detailed insights to the agency’s departments that are driving better deals for touring, branding, sponsorships and more. She cites Post Malone’s co-headlining status at Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival in July as an example of where UTA’s added intel on his popularity “secured [Post Malone] a more prominent set at a much higher fee.”
PETER TRINH, 38 Managing director of the international and independent film group, ICM
Digital outlets have transformed movies as well as music, including movies driven by musicians. Of the more than 75 deals that Trinh and his team have struck over the last year, his recent YouTube distribution agreement for director Joseph Kahn’s battle-rap satire Bodied is among the biggest. With a full theatrical release planned for November for the Eminem-produced movie (the rapper is also an ICM client), Trinh says, “It’s a great home … that represents such a great crossover in various sectors of entertainment.”
DAVID ISRAELITE, 49 President/CEO, National Music Publishers' Association
Multiple players in the music business united behind the Music Modernization Act, but Israelite was at the center of the negotiations that led to the passage of the bill, which became law in October. The MMA will remake the mechanical licensing system for the digital age. Israelite also steered the litigation that led to a summary judgment against bootleg concert website Wolfgang’s Vault for copyright infringement, and the NMPA’s strategy for a Copyright Royalty Board verdict that gives publishers and songwriters a 43.8 percent raise over the next five years.
STEVEN MARKS, 51 Chief, digital business and general counsel; RIAA
Marks spent much of 2018 negotiating the language with the many stakeholders of the landmark Music Modernization Act, which, in addition to improving the licensing process for streaming services, will more fairly compensate artists for pre-1972 recordings and improve royalty payouts for producers and engineers via SoundExchange. “It’s satisfying to look back at the last 15 to 20 years and all the things the RIAA team did to help first position the industry for success in the streaming market,” says Marks, who’s proud of helping secure “the right structures and licenses in place so that those services could flourish.”
LAUREN APOLITO, 51 Senior vp strategy and business development, Harry Fox Agency/Rumblefish STEPHEN H. BLOCK, 54 Senior vp business and legal affairs, Harry Fox Agency/Rumblefish JOHN RASO, 54 Senior vp client services, Harry Fox Agency/Rumblefish
Apolito reports that licensing opportunities for publisher clients grew 35 percent over the previous year. Block has focused on streamlining HFA’s representation in Europe and the rest of the world through Mint Digital Services, the joint venture between HFA’s parent SESAC and the Swiss authors’ rights society SUISA. Raso, who has seen HFA add 4,100 publishing catalogs and 1.5 million compositions in the past 12 months, aims to educate creators about the importance of “getting your songs registered in the HFA database in order to be paid mechanical royalties for many of the largest digital music services in the U.S.”
JONATHAN BENDER* COO, SoundExchange
The digital performance rights organization, with the help of the National Music Publishers’ Association and the RIAA, replaced an archaic, email-based, mechanical license system with the launch in May of the Music Data Exchange portal -- the first mechanism to automate the exchange of data between record companies and publishers. “There’s thousands of releases a week now, so the volume of data doesn’t lend itself to email,” says Bender, who oversaw the transition. “If you’re a record company and you’re getting ready to release a new product, you need to know who the publishers are, because you need to secure mechanical licenses.” More than 400 labels and publishers have already begun using the system.
CHARLES CALDAS, 55 CEO, Merlin
Under Caldas, Merlin remains a growing force in the global recorded-music marketplace. As the digital rights agency for the independent-label sector, Merlin represents more than 800 member companies and 20,000 indie labels in 55 countries around the world and collected close to $500 million in royalties last year from digital music services. Merlin’s clout extends beyond the labels it represents, as the terms it negotiates for its members often become the benchmark for indie labels that do direct deals. Caldas claimed an equity stake for Merlin in Spotify as a condition of licensing indie music to the service. When the streaming service went public, Merlin sold its shares, bringing in a reported $100 million, which it distributed to its member labels in 2018.
J.D. CONNELL, 42 VP new media licensing, SESAC
Connell closed out last year with “the greatest sprint I’ve ever done since I started at SESAC” in 2004: 10 significant deals he needed to complete for the performing rights organization by Dec. 31, 2017. While he can’t disclose the parties involved, they included major cable and TV broadcast networks, along with leading digital service providers. A key industry challenge, he says, is “under-monetization. You have to understand the economics of each different service or platform that you’re licensing, and if it’s not properly monetized -- or not monetized at all -- to look at the other metrics to understand what the appropriate license fee should be.”
JOE CONYERS III, 32 Co-founder/GM, Songtrust; vp technology, Downtown Music Publishing MOLLY NEUMAN, 47 Global head of business development, Songtrust
Songtrust, the New York-based global royalty collection service and publishing administrator that is part of Downtown Music Publishing, has extended its worldwide reach through a partnership with International Copyright Enterprise, which has offices in London, Stockholm and Berlin. As a result, Songtrust’s royalty collections grew 86 percent in the first half of 2018, compared with the same 2017 period, and the company now represents more than 150,000 songwriters, adding as many as 4,000 songs a month, reports Conyers. Neuman, herself a former indie musician, reports 35 percent more new clients in the first eight months of this year than in all of 2017. “The opportunity that’s out there for independent songwriters, and the ecosystem that supports them, is kind of an incredible thing,” she says.
Stem is delivering for Sheryl Crow, Childish Gambino and others who have signed with the music-and-royalties-distribution startup. The company, which Rabkin Lewis describes as “an end-to-end solution for rights owners,” paid royalties for 3.6 billion-plus streams during the first half of this year alone. Luckow says Stem now has partnerships with streaming services on five continents. “We can report triple-digit growth in the past 12 months,” he says. Cronin-Wilesmith sees Stem moving beyond music to other such creative fields as graphic arts. “We can help the people who are normally cut out of the process entirely,” he says. “Our business has been shining a light on all these creative businesses that also need a back-office suite of solutions.”
NICHOLAS LEHMAN, 47 Executive vp/chief strategy and digital officer, ASCAP
Lehman, who joined ASCAP in April after a long career of digital innovation at MTV and NBCUniversal, among other companies, is focused on multiple initiatives at the performing rights organization. “Our goal is to have stronger, more mutually beneficial relationships with multiple partners so that we can launch new services that create value for the industry as a whole and our creators in particular,” says Lehman, who also oversees an array of new digital tools for ASCAP songwriters. “We’re constantly looking for ways to add value for our members.”
DAVID LEVIN, 47 VP new media, BMI
For its 2018 fiscal year, BMI reported a 32 percent increase in digital revenue, totaling $215 million. “Digital now is almost on par with our traditional television/radio broadcasting [revenue] -- about 25 percent of our licensing,” says Levin. “So it’s a great achievement for us.” Levin struck a new licensing agreement with Facebook and extended deals with Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Studios, SoundCloud and Vevo -- and moved BMI into the digital fitness market via a licensing deal with Peloton.
JEFF PRICE, 51 Founder/CEO, Audiam
Price, who previously founded TuneCore to help indie artists get their music onto digital services, launched Audiam to ensure that songwriters and music publishers get paid by confirming that streaming services matched songs to their copyright owners and music publishers in their databases. Price is at the forefront of bringing the issue of “unmatched” songs to the industry’s attention, and since launching in 2013, Audiam has recovered more than $20 million -- $11 million in the past year -- in royalties that had gone unpaid due to matching errors.
JONATHAN STRAUSS, 32 Co-founder/CEO, Create Music Group ALEXANDRE WILLIAMS, 30 Co-founder/COO, Create Music Group
Revenue for Create Music Group -- which helps clients like Deadmau5, Trippie Redd and Marshmello find untapped royalties on YouTube and for unofficial releases like mixtapes — reached $30 million in 2017, up from $16 million the previous year. “We currently monetize over 9 billion monthly music streams across platforms,” reports Strauss. In September, CMG launched a publishing arm that has signed 6ix9ine. It also has moved into original video production via Flighthouse‚ a top TikTok channel with 18 million fans. Williams says CMG’s new dashboard tool allows artists to view revenue from multiple streaming platforms as well as publishing royalties. “You can see everything, every day. It’s crazy,” he says.
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Contributors: Rich Appel, Steve Baltin, Dave Brooks, Dean Budnick, Ed Christman, Leila Cobo, Camille Dodero, Adrienne Gaffney, Andrew Hampp, Cherie Hu, Gil Kaufman, Steve Knopper, Juliana Koranteng, Robert Levine, Geoff Mayfield, Taylor Mims, Paula Parisi, Alex Pham, Dan Rys, Eric Spitznagel, Colin Stutz, Deborah Wilker, Nick Williams