Revealed: Billboard's 2019 Women In Music Top Executives

Revealed: Billboard's 2019 Women In Music Top Executives

Billboard’s annual celebration of more than 150 female industry leaders, veterans and next-gen talents.

Desiree Perez
COO, Roc Nation

On a typical day, Desiree Perez would prefer not to be here.

Well, not here, exactly -- in a conference room on the top floor of Roc Nation’s sleek new offices on Manhattan’s West Side -- but “here” as in doing her first interview about her career in the music business. Her path has taken her from part-time hip-hop club promoter to the C-suite of one of the most prominent, artist-friendly independent companies in the world.  

As COO of JAY-Z’s multihyphenate, one-stop music shop, Roc Nation, she’s certainly got plenty of other things to do. The Roc, which initially formed in 2008 as a $150 million joint entertainment venture between Jay and Live Nation (and included a 360 deal for Jay’s recordings, publishing and tours for 10 years), has during the past 11 years expanded into almost every facet of entertainment and grown from five employees to 450 -- of which 52% are minorities, according to the company. (A new $200 million touring-only deal between Jay and Live Nation was signed in 2017.)

There’s Roc Nation Records, which counts Rihanna, J. Cole, and Jaden and Willow Smith on its roster and has a global partnership with Universal Music Group (UMG), from which Roc’s label has generated over $200 million. There’s Roc Nation Management, which boasts Meek Mill, Mariah Carey and Shakira as clients. There’s a publishing wing with divisions specifically for country and Latin music; a touring arm, which handles live ventures for JAY-Z, as well as the annual Made in America Festival; and Tidal, the music streaming service and content hub Roc Nation purchased, rebranded and launched with 16 artist stakeholders in March 2015.

Roc Nation Sports represents some of the most famous athletes on the planet, including CC Sabathia, Kyrie Irving and Victor Cruz; Roc’s film/TV division has produced acclaimed docuseries on Kalief Browder and Trayvon Martin. Spirits, branding, apparel, consulting, indie distribution, a venture capital fund and philanthropic efforts -- the S. Carter Foundation, which raised $6 million in scholarship money during its gala on Nov. 15 and 16, and REFORM, a criminal justice reform initiative with Meek Mill, among others -- all fall under Perez’s purview too, giving her one of the broadest job descriptions an entertainment conglomerate could conceive. And that, somehow, doesn’t cover all of it.

Yet the Bronx-born Perez -- who runs the company alongside JAY-Z, CEO Jay Brown, co-founder/president of A&R Ty Ty Smith and her husband, head of Roc Nation Sports Juan Perez -- still manages to be the confident eye at the center of the Roc Nation storm. “I’m fair, I’m strong, and I’m transparent,” she says about her management style, which also includes picking up calls at all hours -- especially when her phone flashes “No Caller ID.” “You never have to worry about what I’m thinking -- I’ll always tell you.”

“Desiree is one of the most driven women I’ve ever met,” says Atlantic Records COO/co-chairman Julie Greenwald. “I always kid her and say, ‘When are you taking a vacation?’ She never does, because she’s always working. She’s there morning, noon and night, really driving that business. Everyone looks at Roc Nation as synonymous with JAY-Z, but she’s really the engine that drives it.”

Read the full profile on Billboard's 2019 Women in Music Executive of the Year, Desiree Perez, here.

Danielle Aguirre
Executive vp/general counsel, National Music Publishers' Association
Jacqueline Charlesworth​
Partner, Alter Kendrick & Baron
Susan Genco​
Co-president, The Azoff Company
Dina LaPolt​
Owner/CEO, LaPolt Law

To say that these executives, who played a crucial role in the passage of the Music Modernization Act, have remained busy in the year since the legislation was signed into law would be an understatement. All four were involved in the creation of the Mechanical Licensing Collective, the mechanical rights administration organization called for by the MMA. “It’s a technology and data company at its heart,” says Aguirre, a nonvoting board member of the MLC. Beta testing on a centralized public database accessible to both rights holders and anyone licensing mechanical rights is slated for the end of the second quarter of 2020. “We will have a portal, one place, where you’ll get paid, and there will be audit rights,” says Aguirre. “It’s something that’s intuitive, whether you’re a self-published songwriter with a few songs or you’re a major publisher with a few million songs.”

The MLC wasn’t the only new organization launched in 2018 to protect the rights of creators. Genco -- along with her fellow co-president of The Azoff Company, Elizabeth Collins -- was one of the founding forces behind the Music Artists Coalition, an artist advocacy group.

“Being an artist is an individual undertaking,” she says. “Folks on the other side who have interests that are not necessarily pro copyright/pro artist are very good at dividing and conquering. We haven’t always come together as a group.” So the Music Artists Coalition — whose board includes Irving Azoff, Coran Capshaw, John Silva and Live Nation Entertainment’s Ali Harnell -- will draw on the coalition-building that led to the passage of the MMA to protect artists’ rights.

For both Charlesworth and LaPolt, the past year has been a time of expansion. Charlesworth joined music copyright firm Alter Kendrick & Baron in May and moved to Los Angeles, where she’s building out the firm’s West Coast presence. “I had to take the California bar exam last summer, which was not a lot of fun, but I passed,” she says. For her part, LaPolt -- who made news when she got client 21 Savage out of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in February -- has grown her business enough that she’ll be expanding her namesake firm next spring.

All four recognize that there have been positive changes for women in the industry, and all four see the need for greater change. “The more that you can have not just women, but women of color in positions of power that show the diversity of the music that we’re actually representing, the stronger our industry is going to be,” says Aguirre.

Read the full story about Billboard's Women in Music: The Hall of Fame here.

Katina Bynum
Executive vp East Coast labels, ­Universal Music Enterprises
Celine Joshua
GM of commercial, content and ­artist strategy, Universal Music Group
Susan Mazo
Senior vp global corporate social responsibility, events and special projects, Universal Music Group
Jaime Weston
Executive vp consumer marketing, Universal Music Group

While Mazo oversaw the coordination of over 150 corporate social-responsibility projects across 60 countries in the past year, she’s particularly proud of developing and launching All Together Now, UMG’s companywide philanthropic platform, creating campaigns in the past 18 months “around recognized events like Pride, Black History Month, International Women’s Day, Election Day, Mental Health Awareness Month and Earth Day,” says Mazo. Bynum is helping UMG’s labels (Republic, Def Jam, Capitol and Island) position themselves, so that “artists still believe that signing with a record label is the best path for a successful worldwide career.” Highlights of her year included releases from superstars like Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj, as well as breakthroughs from newcomers such as Blueface and Kiana Ledé. Joshua pioneered a new strategy for early viewership with major music videos by customizing the YouTube premiere of Taylor Swift’s “ME!” Tallying a record-breaking 65.2 million views in 24 hours, it became the platform’s biggest 24-hour debut by a solo female artist, according to YouTube. Weston joined UMG from the NFL in October 2018 in a newly created role that oversees brand strategy, digital innovation and artist insight. “In this new world,” says Weston, “the consumer really has all the power.”

Advice for Next-Gen Women: “Three things: Be confident and kind; read the press every single day and have an opinion; listen to the stories of the women who have come before you and let their lessons help you find your own path.” - Mazo​

Monica Cornia​
Senior vp international marketing, RCA Records, Arista Records
Deirdre McDonald
Executive vp global public policy and industry relations, Sony Music ­Entertainment
Julie Swidler​
Executive vp/global head of business affairs/general counsel, Sony Music Entertainment
Melissa Thomas
Senior vp international marketing, Columbia Records, Epic Records

Swidler, 61, undertook the task of modernizing Sony Music’s recording agreements at the direction of CEO Rob Stringer. “We are an 80% digital global organization,” says Swidler. “What does that mean for our contractual relationships with our artists?” She also helped Sony upgrade the online portal through which artists can view streaming earnings and withdraw royalties monthly. “In my geeky music-business way, it’s very revolutionary,” she says. McDonald, 55, helped steer labels, publishers and what she calls a “coalition of the willing” into a 21-point “Code of Best Practice” designed to stamp out false plays and other forms of stream manipulation. “That was hard-fought,” she says of the June agreement. “The aim was to send a very public message: Money needs to flow fairly in this world of streaming.” Cornia and Thomas, both 38, drove international marketing efforts for their respective Sony Music labels. In September, Cornia notes that Khalid sold out two nights at the O2 Arena in London. She cites his blockbuster 2017 Marshmello collaboration “Silence” as an especially potent global hit: “We’ve done our best to move him to as many markets as possible.” Thomas helped break two of Sony’s biggest 2019 singles, Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” and Travis Scott’s “Highest in the Room.” Internationally, the former hit 2.3 billion streams; the latter, 199.6 million.

Advice for Next-Gen Women: “Women are told to be more X, be more Y, and the best way for you to be successful is to figure out who you are, to work with your own style.” - Swidler

Masha Osherova​
Executive vp/chief human resources officer, Warner Music Group
Oana Ruxandra​
Executive vp new business channels/chief acquisition officer, Warner Music Group

“Entrepreneurship, experimentation and innovation” are the watchwords cited by Ruxandra as her team leads digital strategy and business development for Warner Music Group. She’s working to close deals and secure partnerships at WMG “that protect the long-term value of music -- so our artists and songwriters can keep creating amazing music for their fans.” Osherova is working with WMG’s leadership to redefine “what a 21st century music company should look like.” Her focus is on inclusion and diversity, but also mobilizing employees around social concerns -- “things they care about” -- and issues like international opportunities and policies so “our people can find the right life-work blend.”

Have Attitudes Changed?: “There’s certainly more dialogue now -- there’s more discussion and more awareness -- and that’s a start.” - Ruxandra

Traci Adams
Executive vp promotion, Epic Records
Sylvia Rhone
Chairman/CEO, Epic Records

“I’m proud of our staff’s ability to consistently deliver breakthrough artists on a global scale,” says Rhone, whose promotion to chairman/CEO in April came amid a prolific 18 months for Epic artists. Adams notes that the label notched five debuts in the top three on the Billboard 200, including Future’s The Wizrd, 21 Savage’s I Am > I Was and Travis Scott’s Astroworld, all three chart-toppers, along with the No. 2 bows of DJ Khaled and Rick Ross. Scott logged his first Hot 100 No. 1 with “Sicko Mode” and his second chart-topper with “Highest in the Room.” Rhone reached another milestone in October as the first female African American recipient of City of Hope’s Spirit of Life Award.

Where She Unwinds: “A beach with warm, turquoise water.” - Rhone

Dahlia Ambach Caplin
Senior vp A&R, Verve/Impulse!

Ambach Caplin, promoted to her senior A&R role in May, signed Tank & The Bangas and helped them craft Green Balloon, the album that earned the New Orleans act a Grammy nomination for best new artist. She also signed J.S. Ondara, who debuted at No. 37 on the Emerging Artists chart on the strength of his album Tales of America, and Jon Batiste, who has recorded back-to-back Live at the Village Vanguard albums. She says she’s focused on “bolstering and revitalizing the storied label imprints that we oversee, which are Impulse!, Verve Records and Verve Forecast.”

Advice for Next-Gen Women: “Find your mentors and don’t be afraid to assert yourself.”

Michelle An
Senior vp/head of creative content, Interscope Geffen A&M
Annie Lee
CFO, Interscope Geffen A&M
Brenda Romano
President of promotion, Interscope Geffen A&M
Nicole Wyskoarko
Executive vp urban operations, ­Interscope Geffen A&M

While Billie Eilish launched her career on SoundCloud in 2016, she “hadn’t broken into the mainstream before our radio campaign,” says Romano, whose team helped send Eilish’s “Bad Guy” to No. 1 on the Hot 100. The same promotion savvy helped Selena Gomez achieve her first Hot 100 No. 1 with “Lose You to Love Me.” An engineered Eilish’s ceiling-dancing performance on Saturday Night Live and helped Gomez shoot her videos with only an iPhone 11 Pro, drawing, says An, “a combined 170 million views in the first few days alone.” Wyskoarko, 41, says her priority is “highlighting female voices and breaking female artists, particularly young black women,” from Ari Lennox to Summer Walker. Lee, 39, was upped to CFO in March and takes pride in finding the balance “between being fiscally responsible and not stifling creativity.”

Song That Inspires:Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’ is a classic. Her voice, the lyrics and production evoke a sense of renewal and power.” - Wyskoarko

Rayna Bass
Senior vp marketing, 300 Entertainment

Bass was promoted in January to lead the all-women marketing department at 300, with a focus on breaking down traditional genres that pigeonhole artists. She has also helped deliver a run of No. 1s this year across a variety of charts for artists like Young Thug (Billboard 200), Highly Suspect (Mainstream Rock), Cheat Codes (Dance/Mix Show Airplay) and Megan Thee Stallion (Rhythmic).

Most Urgent Issue: “Adaptability. The industry is changing every single day. We need to be able to quickly adapt to new technologies and keep up with the new ways that music is consumed.”

Margi Cheske
President, Fantasy Records, Concord

Cheske has overseen the successful relaunch of the storied Fantasy label (launched in the late ’40s as a jazz imprint and the label of Creedence Clearwater Revival in the ’60s), now home to a diverse and acclaimed roster. She has overseen the success of Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (“Hey Mama” is their third No. 1 on Triple A), Steve Perry (his first solo album in 24 years, Traces, hit No. 6 on the Billboard 200) and Tanya Tucker (While I’m Livin’ has received a Grammy nomination for top country album).

Have Attitudes Changed?: “There’s still a long way to go, but at least it’s a topic of discussion now, and that’s how real change begins.”

Sharon Dastur
Senior vp promotion, Republic Records
Wendy Goldstein
President of West Coast creative, ­Republic Records
Donna Gryn
Senior vp marketing, Republic Records
Kerri Mackar
Senior vp brand partnerships, Republic Records

After Ariana Grande’s back-to-back Billboard 200 chart-topping success of Sweetener in September 2018 and Thank U, Next in February, the reunion of the Jonas Brothers on the No. 1 album Happiness Begins in June kept Republic on a roll. “When I was the [program director] of [WHTZ New York] Z100, we played ‘Burnin’ Up,’ ‘S.O.S.’ and other Jonas Brothers tracks,” says Dastur. “Now, being on the label side, it’s a full-circle moment.” Adds Goldstein: “The stars aligned really well. My first choice [for producer on Happiness Begins] was Ryan Tedder, and he was like, ‘I’m so in.’ All I had to do was make the right record with them. The rest is history.” While Gryn works with Republic’s superstars, she is also focused on the growth of rising artists Julia Michaels, who just headlined her first tour, and Jeremy Zucker, who has logged 430 million streams. Mackar, 34, moved Republic from one-off deals with brands to increased repeat business, doubling revenue year over year. Post Malone’s 2019 “Dive Bar” campaign with Bud Light evolved this year with a custom can and co-branded merchandise.

Songs That Inspire: “ ‘One Moment in Time’ by Whitney Houston and ‘Shake It Out’ from Florence + The Machine.” - Mackar​

Phylicia Fant
Co-head of urban music, Columbia Records
Jenifer Mallory
GM, Columbia Records

“The new generation of Columbia rising stars is incredible,” says Mallory, 43, citing Rosalía; Tyler, the Creator; Dominic Fike; Lil Tjay; Polo G; and Lil Nas X, whose record-setting “Old Town Road” has earned 2.3 billion streams. “If you ever saw a team come together, it was during the Lil Nas X project,” says Fant, 41, who came to Columbia from Warner Records only a year ago to help nurture the roster. “We’re not only signing these artists but developing them to be long-term staples.”

Where She Unwinds: “Somewhere in nature. I like to hug trees and climb mountains to unwind and refill my tank.” - Mallory

Nicki Farag
Executive vp promotions, Def Jam Recordings
Natina Nimene
Senior vp urban promotion, Def Jam Recordings
Marisa Pizarro
Senior vp A&R, Def Jam Recordings

Farag, 40, has helped Florida upstart YK Osiris emerge as a promising talent with the success of “Worth It,” which broke through on the Hot 100 in March and has since logged 403 million streams. Farag declares that radio can still play a factor in developing an artist, saying, “Radio is the original playlist.” Pizarro arrived at Def Jam earlier this year from Republic in time to be part of the launch for Kanye West’s Jesus Is King. “It’s always a fire drill with Kanye, who is notorious for tweaking up until the last moment, and the A&R and production staff really pulled together to make it happen,” she says. Nimene, 39, promoted to her current role in July, worked on the promotion side for Jesus Is King and saw it top the Billboard 200, as well as the Top R&B/Hip-Hop, Rap, Christian and Gospel Albums charts. Says Nimene, “This is something that I take great pride in being a part of.”

Have Attitudes Changed?: “Drastically. We have meetings where we’re speaking about our artists that have provocative videos and men seem to be a little more cautious in how they articulate whether they like something or not. Men are a little bit more reserved.” - Farag

Maria Fernandez
Executive vp/COO, Sony Music Latin Iberia

Fernandez, 46, oversees finance, human resource matters and new business for Sony’s U.S. Latin, Latin America and Iberian operations -- and also has a hand in all of Sony’s Latin recording deals and strategic acquisitions. But she takes most pride in recently implementing (along with her counterparts at other Sony labels and divisions) new functions in Sony Music’s artist portal. “These tools allow our artists and royalty participants to view and withdraw earnings faster than ever before,” she says, “and went live on Oct. 28.”

Most Urgent Issue: “Equality and diversity continue to be the top ones, especially in areas like A&R and senior management.”

Lanre Gaba
GM/senior vp urban A&R, Atlantic Records
Dionnee Harper
Senior vp marketing, Atlantic Records
Marsha St. Hubert
Senior vp marketing, Atlantic Records
Nina Webb
Senior vp marketing, Atlantic Records

Gaba, a 20-year industry veteran, was honored by the RIAA with the label executive of the year award in September for playing a crucial role in the superstardom of artists like Lizzo and Cardi B. “What we did with Cardi in two years takes some people 10 years [or] almost a fucking lifetime,” says St. Hubert, 41, who is ready to break new artists like Roddy Ricch and Jack Harlow in 2020. “The way she has been able to slash everything from the last two years has really created a space for women.” Webb focused on supporting the creative visions of Atlantic artists, such as Janelle Monáe’s Grammy-nominated Dirty Computer, which was accompanied by a 46-minute narrative film, and Melanie Martinez’s simultaneous release of K-12 as an album and 92-minute feature film. Harper, 41, set her sights on bringing more under-the-radar rappers to the top of the charts. YoungBoy Never Broke Again’s Al YoungBoy 2 marked his first chart-topping album on the Billboard 200, while Kevin GatesI’m Him peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200, both in October.

Most Urgent Issue: “If we’re not careful to make sure songwriters stay afloat in this business, we’re going to lose the ability to have these life-changing songs that have shifted the culture and changed the world.” - Gaba

Most Urgent Issue: “With the rise of hip-hop, there’s a huge void across the board of black executives -- not just women. The sound of black music is really running the game, but when you look at the offices where the decisions are being made, you don’t see people who look like us.” - St. Hubert

Ethiopia Habtemariam
President, Motown Records; executive vp, Capitol Music Group

“Yesterday. Today. Forever.” The phrase used years ago to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Motown still rings true for Habtemariam, 40, as she presided over the 60th anniversary of the legendary label in 2019 -- while building its current roster with the likes of Migos, Vince Staples, BJ the Chicago Kid, Tiwa Savage and others -- as well as the soundtrack to the film Queen & Slim. Motown’s streams increased by over 604 million between September 2018 and September 2019. “I’ve grown up in the industry, starting young [at age 14], and learned a lot over time,” says Habtemariam. “I love the change. I love the innovation. That’s what kind of keeps me engaged and excited about music and our business overall.”

Advice for Next-Gen Women: “Roll up the sleeves. Do the work. Do your research. Study the business. It’s not just about standing up next to an artist or showing up at an event. Show your value by having an opinion and doing what’s necessary to make an impact.”

Allison Jones
Senior vp A&R, Big Machine Label Group

Jones, 50, and her Big Machine team celebrated several opening-week chart-toppers in 2019: Thomas Rhett’s Center Point Road reigned on the Billboard 200, Florida Georgia Line notched a No. 1 on Top Country Albums with Can’t Say I Ain’t Country, and Midland earned its inaugural peak on the same chart with Let It Roll. Jones’ recipe for success? “Always keep your ears, mind and eyes open for new talent and hit songs.”

Song That Inspires: “Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive.’ The lyric says it all.”

Michelle Jubelirer
COO, Capitol Music Group

Jubelirer, 45, helped Paul McCartney get back to where he once belonged, delivering a No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 with Egypt Station, his first album since 2005 for Capitol Records, the label that launched The Beatles in America. She also saw Korean supergroup SuperM open atop the Billboard 200 with its self-titled debut after a 10-week setup with the group’s management company SM Entertainment. Lewis Capaldi went to No. 1 on the Hot 100 with “Someone You Loved,” and Halsey’s “Without Me” turned into “the biggest [solo] hit of her career,” says Jubelirer.

Advice for Next-Gen Women: “Get into this business for the right reasons. Love the music, be prepared to work hard, and overcome any and all obstacles that could appear in your path. Lots of people want to be in the music business, now more than ever. Talent and hard work and passion will always win.”

Cris Lacy
Executive vp A&R, Warner Music Nashville

As her label continues to experience worldwide success with Dan + Shay -- thanks to the duo’s recent collaboration with Justin Bieber on “10,000 Hours” -- Lacy, 46, is most proud of her team’s recent successes with female artists. Ashley McBryde won new artist of the year at the Country Music Association Awards; fellow newcomer Ingrid Andress’ debut single, “More Hearts Than Mine,” reached No. 19 on Country Airplay; and American Idol alum Gabby Barrett earned her first Country Airplay hit with “I Hope.” “In three years,” says Lacy, “they will all be global household names.”

Have Attitudes Changed?: “Years ago, when I first started interviewing for A&R jobs -- with the exception of one record label -- it was a given that there was only one [A&R department] spot allotted for a woman. Now, at least in Nashville, the number of women is equal to, or greater than, the men in these creative positions.”

Taylor Lindsey
Senior vp A&R, Sony Music Nashville

With Lindsey, 33, playing a key role in the label’s A&R efforts and working with its joint-venture partners, Sony Music Nashville artists reigned at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart for 35 out of 47 weeks in 2019. Among those chart-toppers were Miranda Lambert’s Wildcard; Luke CombsWhat You See Is What You Get, This One’s for You and The Prequel EP; Brooks & Dunn’s Reboot; Old Dominion’s self-titled third album; and Maren MorrisGIRL, which broke the record for the largest streaming week ever for a country album by a woman, then won album of the year at the Country Music Association Awards. Says Lindsey: “I had a baby girl earlier this year, so Maren Morris’ GIRL is more meaningful than ever.”

Charity She Supports: “The Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. One in eight Tennesseans -- and one in six children -- struggle with hunger daily.”

Cindy Mabe
President, Universal Music Group Nashville

For Mabe, 46, it has been a golden year. Although it was released in March 2018, Kacey MusgravesGolden Hour gained huge acclaim this year, including album of the year at the Grammy Awards. “Golden Hour changed perception, sound and influence in music and really established Kacey Musgraves as an arena touring act who cannot be contained or defined musically, creatively or culturally,” says Mabe. “She’s one of the most important artists in all of music.”

Most Urgent Issue: “The lack of development in uniqueness, purpose and authenticity in our artists and music. It’s a very stale sound-alike world out there right now.”

Jessie Maldonado
VP promotion operations, RCA Records
Val Pensa
Senior vp pop and rock marketing, RCA Records

Maldonado and Pensa both enjoyed full-circle achievements this year. When the reunited Backstreet Boys hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with DNA, Maldonado recalled working with the group two decades ago at Jive Records. Pensa, 37, marketed Whitney Houston’s previously unreleased version of Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love,” as remixed by Kygo. “Whitney was one of the reasons that I wanted to work for Clive Davis,” recalls Pensa, who had previously worked with him at J Records. “[This] felt like a record that the world really needed.”

Most Urgent Issue: “Mental health. We have to really take care of each other and make sure [we’re] doing what we love, but in a healthy way.” - Pensa

Gabriela Martínez
GM/senior vp, Warner Music Latin America

Her dual roles within (and beyond) the United States allow Martínez an unusual bird’s-eye view of the total Latin market. No wonder her biggest successes are literally all over the map. She cites Puerto Rico’s Zion & Lennox, who earned three No. 1 hits last year on Latin Airplay and Latin Rhythm Airplay, and Argentina’s Paulo Londra, whose debut album, Homerun, has logged 108 million streams. Colombian band Piso 21 collaborated with The Black Eyed Peas’ Taboo, while Mexican alt singer-songwriter Ximena Sariñana was nominated for album and record of the year at the Latin Grammy Awards.

Song That Inspires: “ ‘I Am Woman’ by Helen Reddy. This song was a big hit when I was just [a young girl]. I remember singing it at the top of my lungs.”

Michele Nadelman
CFO, Warner Records

With over half the artists at the rebranded Warner Records signed in the past two years, Nadelman, who joined the label in January from Concord, has been kept busy finalizing agreements with acts brought to the label by co-chairmen Aaron Bay-Schuck and Tom Corson. “Deals happen very quickly, and it requires making fast, strategic decisions,” she says. “This has allowed us to transform our roster.”

Where She Unwinds: “My backyard. Right now, there is no getaway... and no time for one.”

Anaid Quijada
Marketing director, Universal Music Latin Entertainment

Quijada, 38, leads all marketing strategies for UMLE’s acts in the United States and Puerto Rico. Her recent standout projects include Sebastian Yatra’s Fantasía, which “brought ballads back into the mainstream,” she says, and reached No. 1 on the Latin Pop Albums chart, and Luis Fonsi’s Vida, whose journey started with the release of “Despacito.” “Music is more volatile,” says Quijada, “and we need a different, more dynamic strategy.”

Have Attitudes Changed? “I got a promotion [two years ago from label manager] while on maternity leave. There’s still plenty of progress to be made, but leaders are taking into account the importance of women’s roles within the industry.”

Elyse Rogers
Executive vp, Artist Partner Group

At Artist Partner Group, the joint venture with Warner Music Group founded by Mike Caren, Rogers sums up this year in three words: “global artist development.” “Working with our label partners, Artist Partner Group broke several new artists around the world: Bazzi, Alec Benjamin, Lil Skies and Ava Max -- all in parallel with the U.S.,” says Rogers, adding: “We’ll have more coming in 2020.”

Advice for Next-Gen Women: “You will find some great partners on your path -- some senior, some junior, some at your own ­company and some across the world. Value and protect them. There’s tremendous strength in building real trust. Make the time to do it.”

Jacqueline Saturn
President, Caroline/Harvest Records

At Caroline, the indie distribution and label-services arm of Capitol Music Group, Saturn boasts of “a team that really knows how to put [its] foot on the gas at the right time.” She cites success stories like capitalizing on the appearance of “Trampoline” by Shaed (Photo Finish Records) in an Apple ad and “turning that into a bona fide radio smash.” The song rose to No. 13 on the Hot 100 and has drawn 217 million streams. Saturn also cites a new partnership with Korea’s SM Entertainment, which has brought NCT 127 and SuperM into CMG’s fold, while a deal with Mavin Records in Nigeria includes releasing the singer Rema, who, says Saturn, “we know is going to be a global superstar.”

Ayelet Schiffman
Senior vp/head of promotion, Island Records

After 24 years with Sony Music and hungry for new challenges, Schiffman took charge of Island Records’ promotion team in January, saying, “I wanted to take a chance on myself.” Her radio savvy behind Shawn Mendes garnered his first Hot 100 No. 1 with “Señorita” (with Camila Cabello), notching his sixth No. 1 on the Adult Top 40 chart and breaking Ed Sheeran’s record for a solo male artist.

Most Urgent Issue: “How [does] radio keep up in the streaming world. There are artists who break in the streaming world, but when you really dig into it, they’re not really broken globally until radio puts their stamp on it.”

Colleen Theis
COO, The Orchard

The Orchard has galloped to a 5.23% current market share so far in 2019, confirming its status as the largest independent distributor in the United States. Yet the company has also flexed its outsize international presence by “successfully executing a global, timed physical and digital release for BTS’ Map of the Soul: Persona album earlier this year,” says Theis, 50. So far, that title has shifted 608,000 equivalent album units in the United States and has topped charts in four countries, including the Billboard 200. Says Theis: “Our smart, empowered team keeps pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a distributor while breaking records.”

Charity She Supports: “Covenant House, which provides shelter to homeless teens. Everyone deserves a warm meal and a safe place to sleep, especially those too young to fend for themselves.”

Katie Vinten
Co-Founder, Facet Records/Facet Publishing; founder, Black Diamond Artist Management

After over six years in publishing at Warner Chappell Music, Vinten, 36, struck out on her own in January by co-founding Facet Records and Facet Publishing alongside prolific songwriter Justin Tranter (whom she also manages), in partnership with Warner Records. In June, Vinten also founded Black Diamond Artist Management, which includes songwriters Tranter, Boy Matthews, Caroline Pennell and Zach Skelton on its roster. “It’s like a full-circle moment, because my first No. 1 [“Good for You” topped the Mainstream Top 40 chart in 2015] was with Justin, Julia [Michaels] and Selena [Gomez], and now the first No. 1 of the next phase of my career [“Lose You to Love Me” topped the Hot 100 in November] will also be Justin, Julia and Selena.”

Advice for Next-Gen Women: “Trust your instinct and know that your voice and your opinion matter, no matter what the tone in whatever room you’re in tries to tell you.”

 

Alisa Coleman
COO, ABKCO Music & Records; board chair, Mechanical Licensing ­Collective; board member, RIAA; New York chapter president, Association of Independent Music Publishers

Coleman could win an industry award for most hats worn -- or most acronyms claimed. In addition to leadership roles at ABKCO, the MLC and AIMP, she sits on the board of the RIAA. While her achievements are varied, she says, “the one thing that stands out is I’m the first person -- if not the first woman -- to sit on the boards of the recorded side and the publishing side, and give the indie perspective -- a culmination of all the years of being an advocate for the indies.”

Most Urgent Issue: “It’s the same issue that has been facing the music industry since I started in this business: fair licensing for songwriters, music publishers and artists.”

Elizabeth Collins
Co-president, The Azoff Company

Since closing the $125 million buyout of Madison Square Garden’s 50% stake in what was then called Azoff MSG Entertainment in December 2018, Collins and co-president Susan Genco are focused on growing all divisions of the newly minted Azoff Company. “Most of our businesses we grew from scratch,” she says, citing Full Stop Management (Harry Styles, Eagles), performing rights organization Global Music Rights, arena developer Oak View Group and its venture LaneOne, a premium experiences company.

Song That Inspires: “I love Lizzo and her song ‘Good As Hell.’ She is the embodiment of female empowerment. Her success reflects the power of great music and that there is no formula to becoming a hit.”

Tracy Nurse
Founder, Tracy Nurse Consulting

In a four-decade career that began in 1981 at CBS Records, spanned 30 years at Sony Music International and continues with her consultancy, Nurse has guided global strategies for Barbra Streisand, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Beyoncé and David Bowie, among others. For three decades, she has worked alongside Bruce Springsteen’s managers, Jon Landau and Barbara Carr, most recently on Blinded by the Light, director Gurinder Chadha’s film about a Pakistani writer inspired by Springsteen’s songs, and the Toronto Film Festival debut in September of Springsteen’s film Western Stars. “To look back on it all,” says Nurse, “it was like one long, busy day. I just kept going because I was too busy to stop to think about it.”

Charity She Supports: “I’ve been involved with the Kristen Ann Carr Fund since it began over 25 years ago,” says Nurse. Honoring the life of the daughter of Barbara Carr and writer Dave Marsh, who died in 1993 of sarcoma (a type of cancer), the fund supports research, education for young physicians and efforts to improve the quality of life for cancer patients. “Kristen was a remarkable young woman who would be so proud of the fund.”

Lisa Barbaris
Owner, So What Management

Through 20 years of managing client Cyndi Lauper, Barbaris and the singer have remained committed to True Colors United, the foundation they co-founded in 2008 that works to end homelessness among LGBTQ youth (40% of homeless youth in the United States are gay, according to one study). Barbaris was part of the team that struck the deal for Lauper to join actress Jane Lynch in a new Netflix comedy series shooting next spring.

Song That Inspires: “That’s an easy one -- ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’ by Cyndi Lauper.”

Virginia Bunetta
Managing partner, G-Major ­Management

For management client Thomas Rhett, Bunetta, 39, in the past year supervised his tours including dates in the United States and Australia (he has sold 670,000 tickets in 2019); saw him sell out Madison Square Garden and play Saturday Night Live; helped launch his album Center Point Road, which topped the Billboard 200; and cheered as he won male vocalist of the year at the Academy of Country Music Awards -- all while caring for her infant daughter, who was born in the past year. “It all goes together in one massively coordinated effort,” she says.

Advice for Next-Gen Women: “Invest in yourself. You are your own most important asset. Treat yourself as such.”

Martha Earls
Owner, EFG Management

Earls, 42, has guided Kane Brown’s career through “genre and cultural barriers,” she says, noting the singer’s success not only with four No. 1s on the Country Airplay chart but his collaborations with EDM star Marshmello (“One Thing Right” topped Hot Country Songs in October), Khalid (“Saturday Nights”), Camila Cabello (“Never Be the Same”) and Latin act Fernando & Sorocaba (“Paraíso [Heaven]).” “We are continuing to show the world that great music knows no boundaries,” she says.

Most Urgent Issue: “The continued siloing of genres. Completely unnecessary.”

Ann Edelblute
Owner, The HQ

After Carrie Underwood debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with Cry Pretty in September 2018, Edelblute -- who has managed the singer since 2005 -- oversaw the Cry Pretty Tour 360, which hit 64 cities from May to October. Along with the tour’s high-end production, Edelblute is proud of its all-female lineup (Maddie & Tae and Runaway June served as support). “We saw so many parents bring their daughters to the shows,” she says. “It meant the world to Carrie to show all these young girls what is possible.”

Kerri Edwards
President, KP Entertainment

Edwards represents all four artists -- Luke Bryan, Cole Swindell, Jon Langston and DJ Rock -- who were featured on Bryan’s 2019 Sunset Repeat Tour, which has grossed $30.2 million and sold 550,000 tickets to 34 shows since May. “I’m not sure that will ever happen again,” she says. “It was so amazing to watch them all perform each night.”

Charity She Supports: “A special one is the Brett Boyer Foundation, in honor of Luke and Caroline Bryan’s niece.” (Having been prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome and a congenital heart defect, she died at 7 months.) “She was a special baby girl, and I love how their family is helping others through her.”

Allison Kaye
President, SB Projects; partner, Ithaca Holdings

As president of SB Projects, Kaye, 38, shared in the success of client Ariana Grande as the singer topped the Billboard 200 twice in six months with Sweetener and Thank U, Next, mounted a world tour and set a new record among female artists with 11 simultaneous top 40 hits on the Hot 100. But within the past year, Kaye was also named partner in Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings. The firm has since “acquired Atlas Music Publishing, Big Machine Label Group and taken a position in [label/marketing firm] 740 Project,” she says, summarizing an eventful year.

Most Urgent Issue: “It becomes very easy for people to fall in love with a song without investing any time or real money into the artist -- making it harder for new artists to build sustaining businesses.”

Marion Kraft
CEO, ShopKeeper Management

On Nov. 1, Kraft’s management client Miranda Lambert served up Wildcard; the singer became the second artist (after Carrie Underwood) to send her first seven albums to No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart. For Kraft, 55, that achievement was paired with the success of Lambert’s Roadside Bars & Pink Guitars Tour (with an all-female support bill) and the earlier launch of “the Miranda Lambert lifestyle brands to engage our existing fan base as well as build a wider audience,” she says.

Charity She Supports: Kraft notes that sales of Lambert’s MuttNation-branded dog beds, dog toys, collars and leashes benefit the singer’s MuttNation Foundation, which works to promote adoption of pets from animal shelters.

Rebeca León
Founder/CEO, Lionfish Entertainment

León, 44, has managed the “meteoric” rise of Spanish star Rosalía. “It has been 18 months since we dropped ‘Malamente,’ ” says León, and the song has registered nearly 114 million views on YouTube. León signed Rosalía as a fledgling flamenco act and oversaw her signing to Sony Spain and Columbia, followed by her album El Mal Querer hitting No. 1 on Latin Pop Albums. León also previously managed Juanes and, until midyear, J Balvin, whom she helped book as a main act at Coachella and Lollapalooza, a first for a Latin artist.

Most Urgent Issue: “We need more Latin managers, more sophisticated Latin managers. Since artists are mainstream, Latin managers need to be thinking mainstream, too.”

Jeanine McLean Williams
President, MBK Entertainment

As head of the MBK Entertainment team that’s working with H.E.R., Williams helped the R&B singer-songwriter launch her inaugural Lights On Festival in September. The event at the 14,000-capacity Concord Pavilion outside San Francisco sold out in an hour and netted a seven-figure profit, says Williams, who’s already looking toward “superserving the R&B fan base” at next year’s event.

Charity She Supports: “Bring the Noise, created by H.E.R., to bring much needed music [education] programs and instruments back into schools and after-school programs.”

Lynn Oliver-Cline
Founder/CEO, River House Artists

“To think we are helping put out great songs that become the soundtrack to people’s lives might sound cliché, but it feels incredible.” So declares Oliver-Cline, 46, who co-manages Luke Combs with Chris Kappy of Make Wake Artists. Watching Combs’ debut album, This One’s for You, tie Shania Twain’s Come On Over as the longest-reigning title on the Top Country Albums chart “is truly unreal,” she says. As a music publisher, adds Oliver-Cline, River House is enjoying hits with Ashley McBryde’s “One Night Standards” (co-written by Nicolette Hayford), Jake Owen’s “Homemade” (co-written by Drew Parker) and Combs’ “Even Though I’m Leaving” (co-written by Ray Fulcher).

Have Attitudes Changed?: “I have been fortunate to work with great people -- but I still know when something will mean more coming from one of my male colleagues rather than me.”

Joyce Smyth
Manager, The Rolling Stones

Smyth, 62 (“But young at heart,” she adds), is nearing her 10th year managing The Rolling Stones, and she has a particular philosophy about her job. “They are the ones doing the work, not me, and they are still passionate about what they do,” she says. “I’m trying to steward everyone else around them, like being the conductor of a brilliant orchestra.” Smyth pivoted this year when the North American leg of the Stones’ No Filter Tour was delayed two months due to frontman Mick Jagger’s heart procedure. The show went on, however, with the 16 dates grossing $177.8 million for a tour total of $415.6 million over three separate legs. The Stones are working on their first new studio album of original songs since 2005’s A Bigger Bang, which Smyth calls “a work in progress,” with no release details established yet.

Song That Inspires:Karen Carpenter’s ‘I Won’t Last a Today Without You.’ She is vocal perfection. Listen to the lyrics. When times are great, people are keen to share in the good times, and that’s wonderful. But when they’re not great, it’s so important to be grounded with our husband, partner, family.”

Ty Stiklorius
Founder/CEO, Friends At Work

Stiklorius, 44, combines management services and social activism at her 5-year-old firm Friends at Work. “We’re interested in positive change beyond a top song on the radio,” she says. One example: She helped marquee client John Legend land a gender stereotype-upending Super Bowl commercial for Pampers, which installed 5,000 diaper changing tables in U.S. men’s bathrooms. She also guided the Netflix rap competition series Rhythm & Flow with Cardi B, Chance the Rapper and T.I.; Raphael Saadiq’s acclaimed album Jimmy Lee, which touches on addiction; and Tour Support, an initiative that offers therapy packages for touring professionals.

Where She Unwinds: “A lake in Maine is my go-to place, even in the winter. We went last winter, and I brought my kids and we were all ice-skating on the lake, which was so cool. They’re California kids, so they were like, ‘What is this?’ ”

Janet Weir
Owner, House of 42; manager, Red Light Management

Weir, 45, saw management client Maren Morris lead the field of nominees with six nods for the Country Music Association Awards in November, taking home album of the year for her sophomore record, GIRL. When it was released in March, GIRL set the record for the largest debut-week streaming sum for a country album by a woman, logging 23.96 million on-demand audio streams.

Advice for Next-Gen Women: “The only thing I can offer is the way I started, which was interning, observing, learning, working hard, trusting your instincts, meeting the right mentors and sticking with it through the ups and downs with fortitude.”

Bridget Bauer
Senior vp, Messina Touring Group
Stacy Vee
VP festival talent, Goldenvoice; vp artist relations, Messina Touring Group

California’s preeminent country festival, Stagecoach hit a record attendance of 80,000 in April thanks to Vee and her team at Goldenvoice. “We had that number in the back of our heads and pushed every single day to get there,” says Vee, who added her role at Messina Touring Group in May. Bauer, 44, worked with Eric Church for his first headlining stadium show that brought 56,521 fans to Nissan Stadium in Nashville, breaking the venue’s attendance record, according to the company. She also works with George Strait, who made $31.3 million in combined stadium grosses in New Orleans and Atlanta, and at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. “Having the continued experiences working with George Strait will never get old,” she says.

Most Urgent Issue: “Secondary resale continues to be problematic. Eric Church and his management team have gone to great lengths to fight back against scalpers over the last five years.” - Bauer

Becky Colwell
Regional booking director, West ­region; gm, Greek Theatre, ASM Global
Dana DuFine
VP global content and development, ASM Global

Colwell and DuFine, formerly executives of SMG and AEG Facilities, respectively, now work with ASM Global, which formed through an October merger of those two companies. Colwell played a critical role in the team effort to renew a management contract for Los Angeles’ prestigious Greek Theatre and oversees 13 venues in her West Coast region. DuFine worked on the merger, uniting the GMs, bookers and marketers for the first time in November. The new standalone venue management mega-company’s portfolio of 310 venues includes the United Kingdom’s Manchester Arena and Chicago’s Soldier Field. “We have so many venues/facilities globally that we are going to be able to really help artists, managers, agents and promoters be able to create routing for tours in not just major markets, but secondary and tertiary markets,” says DuFine.

Song That Inspires: “ ‘Nick of Time’ by Bonnie Raitt. It reminds me of the women in my life, all navigating the ups and downs life is throwing them in careers, families and friendships.” - Colwell

Donna DiBenedetto
VP global touring, AEG Presents
Brooke Michael Kain
Chief digital officer, AEG Presents
Melissa Ormond
COO OF festivals, AEG Presents

Ormond helps AEG Presents stand out in the saturated festival market with a mix of multigenre events, as well as genre-specific properties like Day N Vegas, which debuted in November. The hip-hop festival that featured J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar sold out within hours of going on sale. Kain oversees nine departments that maximize the data and marketing information AEG collects to benefit both the company and consumers. “I’m incredibly proud of the people I have hired and the young stars I have grown and built up,” she says. “The entire focus in my group is teamwork, teamwork, teamwork.” DiBenedetto has done bookings for Hugh Jackman, Carrie Underwood (a “female powerhouse performer”) and Elton John’s farewell tour, which has brought in over $265.5 million.

Advice for Next-Gen Women: “You belong here. As women, we bring meaningful qualities and capabilities to the table.” - Ormond

Ali Harnell
President/chief strategy officer, global, Women Nation/Live Nation ­Entertainment
Heather Lowery
President/CEO, Femme it Forward, Live Nation
Kelly Strickland
Senior vp U.S. tour marketing, Live ­Nation
Kathy Willard
CFO, Live Nation Entertainment

“We’re approaching 100 million fans this year at our events, which is a monumental number,” says Willard of Live Nation. The company has reported another year of growth across its three core businesses -- concerts, sponsorships and ticketing -- with total revenue up 6% to $8.7 billion and 92 million tickets sold year to date. Strickland oversees tour marketing and cites artist outings -- “Everything from Billie Eilish to Jennifer Lopez and Hootie & The Blowfish and BTS” -- that have contributed to Live Nation’s record results. Lowery has developed events and strategic partnerships in R&B, hip-hop and gospel with artist-curated festivals including Lil Wayne’s Lil WeezyAna Fest, the Roots Picnic and H.E.R.’s Lights On Festival. Under a joint venture with Live Nation, her Femme It Forward platform will spotlight “female visionaries” in the urban sector. After 15 years at AEG, Harnell, 51, joined Live Nation in March to lead its newly created Women Nation division. Building on the Women Nation Fund investment venture that CEO Michael Rapino launched last year, the startup aims to “level the playing field” for women in the live sector, says Harnell. “I’ve been a female on the planet and a woman in music, and both have a systemic oppression of women.”

Have Attitudes Changed?: “It’s very clear in the last year or two, there’s an awareness so the way that [men] behave has shifted, and that is a great start.” - Harnell

Laurie Jacoby
Senior vp New York concerts and entertainment, Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden ranked as the No. 1 venue worldwide in its capacity class in Billboard’s midyear recap -- and debut concerts by rising stars contributed to that success. “It has been incredibly rewarding to be a part of so many artists’ first headlining shows at Madison Square Garden,” says Jacoby, citing dates by Robyn, Brandi Carlile, Khalid, Vampire Weekend, Vulfpeck, Slayer and Tyler, the Creator.

Where She Unwinds: “Hawaii, the Big Island. There’s something very spiritual in the air that erases a year’s worth of the New York City hustle and grind.”

Patti-Anne Tarlton
Chairman, Ticketmaster Canada; ­Executive vp venues and promoters for North America, Ticketmaster

Under Tarlton, Ticketmaster’s partnership with Montreal-based sports entertainment giant Groupe CH, the parent company of promoter evenko, “has added multiple millions of tickets” to its inventory for fans. Evenko manages over 1,500 events annually across 20 venues, including the critically acclaimed Osheaga Music and Arts Festival. “As I was born in Montreal and kicked off my career at [promoter] Donald K Donald Concerts, it goes without saying that this partnership is both a personal and professional highlight of my career.”

Most Urgent Issue: “We have made an impact -- with a combination of technology, legislation and industry best practices -- to fulfill our mission of getting tickets in the hands of fans [instead of scalpers].”

Jenna Adler
Agent, Creative Artists Agency
Emma Banks
Agent/Co-head of international touring/co-head of CAA Music London, Creative Artists Agency
Alli McGregor
Agent, Creative Artists Agency
Marlene Tsuchii
Agent/co-head of international ­touring, Creative Artists Agency

Tsuchii, as CAA’s Los Angeles-based co-head of international touring, helped plot U.S. and European dates on Ariana Grande’s Sweetener world tour, which will wrap Dec. 22, having so far earned $118.3 million from over 1 million tickets sold to 77 shows through Oct. 16. Tsuchii also helped spearhead CAA’s deal to represent Korean music powerhouse SM Entertainment and its groups NCT 127 and SuperM, for whom she booked a breakout U.S. arena tour. For her London counterpart, Banks, the year’s highlights included March’s Red Hot Chili Peppers concert in front of the pyramids in Giza, Egypt; two shows by Florence + The Machine in Athens, Greece; and Katy Perry in Mumbai, India. McGregor orchestrated Grande’s American Express deal for her Sweetener world tour and initiatives surrounding her Coachella and Lollapalooza headlining sets earlier this year. Adler helped client Jennifer Lopez bring in $101.9 million from her record-breaking Las Vegas residency in 2016-18 while setting the stage for her It’s My Party summer tour that grossed $54.7 million from 31 shows. Next up is Green Day’s 2020 Hella Mega Tour with Fall Out Boy and Weezer, which has so far earned nearly $50 million, she says.

Advice for Next-Gen Women: “Forget about being a woman -- be a person, work hard, listen to people, get over yourself and just do it.” - Banks

Sara Bollwinkel
Agent, Paradigm Talent Agency
Lori Feldman
Chief marketing officer, Paradigm Talent Agency
Corrie Christopher Martin
Co-head of music, West Coast, ­Paradigm Talent Agency

Bollwinkel, 35, has worked for the past three years with Billie Eilish (who is now 17), helping the breakout superstar sell out her first arena tour in October, she says. Over a half-million tickets worldwide sold in under an hour, says Bollwinkel. Martin, 42, who has worked with Imagine Dragons for a decade, reports that the band surpassed 1 million tickets sold in 2018, while client Janet Jackson launched her first Las Vegas residency. She’s a board member of the Loveloud Foundation, created by Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds to support LGBTQ youth. In September, Feldman joined Paradigm as the agency’s first chief marketing officer after a long, successful tenure at Warner Records, where she was able to “find white space in the market and build businesses to fill it.” She’s now building brand partnerships and more for Paradigm artists.

Most Urgent Issue: “Our industrywide mental health issue is definitely something every company needs to address immediately.” - Bollwinkel

Most Urgent Issue: “Climate change is the most urgent issue facing every industry. Freak storms and unusual weather patterns make traveling unpredictable and can put the safety of artists and fans at risk.” - Martin

Lucy Dickins
Head of U.K. Music, WME
Becky Gardenhire
Partner/co-head of Nashville office, WME
Samantha Kirby Yoh
Partner/head of East Coast Music, WME
Sara Newkirk Simon
Partner/co-head of music, WME

While Kirby Yoh has guided WME clients like Rosalía, Florence + The Machine, St. Vincent and dance titan ZHU, the accomplishment of the past year that she singles out is co-founding (with Alicia Keys, Universal Music Publishing Group chairman/CEO Jody Gerson and producer Ann Mincieli) the nonprofit She Is the Music, with the goal of increasing the number of women working in the global music industry. Gardenhire, 38, was promoted in September to co-head WME’s Nashville office. (She’s now the highest-ranking female executive at any Nashville-based agency, according to WME.) While working with a team to oversee some 14,000 global bookings last year, she also runs “Talk the Talk,” a lecture series she started that connects women in the industry. Dickins, 44, after 20 years with International Talent Booking, became head of WME’s U.K. Music division in June, bringing her A-list roster of clients (Adele, Mumford & Sons, James Blake) with her. Newkirk Simon helped launch Pharrell Williams’ Something in the Water festival, brokered deals for Selena Gomez’s Netflix series Living Undocumented and Camila Cabello’s film career with Cinderella. What else? “The rise of Lizzo,” she says.

Song That Inspires: “ ‘Stronger’ by Kelly Clarkson.” - Gardenhire

Cara Lewis
Founder/Agent, Cara Lewis Group

Lewis, an entrepreneur who left Creative Artists Agency in 2016 to open her own agency, reports that her eclectic roster enjoyed a banner year. Eminem swept through Australia (five concerts with 304,000 tickets sold), Khalid sold out 45 arena shows globally and played Coachella and other festivals, Travis Scott drew 808,000 to his Astroworld -- Wish You Were Here Tour, and Chance the Rapper debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 in July with The Big Day, setting up a 2020 tour. “I take a lot of pride in being able to say that I have spearheaded many artists in this genre to build long-lasting careers,” she says.

Have Attitudes Changed? “The ability to grow [my firm] with support from other professionals across the industry has signified a major change. This would have been called impossible a decade ago.”

Natalia Nastaskin
GM, Global Music Group, UTA
Cheryl Paglierani
Music agent, UTA

Strategic bookings for clients like Post Malone, 21 Savage, Saint Jhn and Dominic FIke, as well as elite brand partnerships (Arnette, Hyper X and Dolby are just a few) continue to fuel global growth for UTA. “We are regularly signing and developing exciting festival artists and headliners,” says Nastaskin. “And we’re bullish on international markets thanks to the democratization of music discovery through streaming and social media.” Paglierani, 35, is the agent for Post Malone who’s having a “tremendously successful year,” she says. He has sold 850,000 tickets and grossed $89.6 million in grosses from arena dates in Europe, Australia and the United States. His second Posty Fest in Arlington, Texas, on Nov. 2 (with Pharrell Williams, Jaden Smith, Meek Mill and others) more than doubled its fan count to 45,000, says Paglierani.

Favorite Getaway: “My weekend home where I hike, meditate, do yoga and get my mind right for the week ahead.” - Nastaskin

Yves C. Pierre
Agent, ICM Partners
Jacqueline Reynolds-Drumm
Agent, ICM Partners

Pierre and Reynolds-Drumm, 33, take pride in representing a diverse group of upcoming female artists, such as City Girls, Yung Baby Tate and Leikeli47. “It’s really important that the female voice is heard, especially for young women these days,” says Reynolds-Drumm. Along with booking established stars like Migos and Lil Yachty, Pierre also has been involved with ICM’s rising roster. “The streaming numbers indicate these artists are starting to hit benchmarks and grow.”

Most Urgent Issue: “Diversity and inclusion, both gender and racial.” - Pierre

Marsha Vlasic
President, Artist Group International

“I get around,” says Vlasic in a classic understatement. The veteran agent, who never misses client Neil Young’s annual September set at Farm Aid, guides her acts crisscrossing the globe. This year, that has included The Strokes’ comeback tour, the summer double bills of Cage the Elephant with Beck and Elvis Costello with Blondie, and Norah Jones’ first dates in tertiary markets. “And we’re always trying to develop new bands and get new things going,” says Vlasic. “We need to be able to look back and say, ‘There are the new headliners -- massive new headliners.’ ”

Advice for Next-Gen Women: “Don’t worry that you’re a woman or a man; it’s what you’re qualified to do. Women have to think of themselves as equal and just go out there and do the job and earn that respect.”

Dominique Casimir
Executive vp repertoire and marketing for Continental Europe, BMG

Casimir, 38, reports that she has overseen growth of 30% in BMG’s recorded-music business revenue in Germany, Europe’s second-largest music market. The achievement reflects BMG’s success “in a market increasingly polarized between streaming and high-end physical product,” says Casimir. Her team has struck deals with some of the country’s “most relevant and successful recording artists, including Seeed, Adel Tawil and Trettmann,” says Casimir, who was promoted to her Pan-European role in April.

Have Attitudes Changed?: “Dramatically. I was recently at a conference in Bilbao, Spain, and was amazed by how many young female managers there were.”

Marni Condro
Senior vp film and television, ­Universal Music Publishing Group
Alexandra Lioutikoff
President of Latin America/U.S. Latin, Universal Music Publishing Group
Joy Murphy
Senior vp/head of film and television music licensing, Universal Music Publishing Group

Lioutikoff was promoted to her current role this year and helped sign one of Latin music’s hottest new stars, Spain’s Rosalía, as well as the Brazilian YouTube channel KondZilla and Miami-based Rich Music, whose artists include Sech and Dimelo Flow. Murphy, 45, secured lyric-reproduction deals for the Prince memoir The Beautiful Ones, cut marketing agreements for the Bruce Springsteen-inspired film Blinded by the Light and numerous other placements “that are being recognized for Grammy Award and/or Academy Award consideration,” says Murphy. Condro executed the creation of a new Latin synch division “and strengthened communication with our A&R and international synch teams” to the benefit of the L.A. synch team.

Advice for Next-Gen Women: “Be open, honest and true to who you are. If you have a question, ask it. If you have an idea, share it. If given a challenge or task, take it on and don’t be afraid to fail.” - Murphy

Amy Cranford
VP publishing administration, Sony/ATV Music Publishing
Wende Crowley
Senior vp creative marketing film and TV, Sony/ATV Music Publishing
Amanda Hill
Senior vp A&R, Sony/ATV Music Publishing
Jennifer Knoepfle
Senior vp A&R, Sony/ATV Music Publishing

Knoepfle, 43, “proudly signed” rising pop artist King Princess and helped Jack Antonoff and Joel Little make history in collaboration with Taylor Swift on 12 of the songs from Lover, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with the biggest week for any album since her 2017 release reputation. Thanks in part to Hill, 36, songwriters Sarah Aarons and Greg Kurstin earned a Country Airplay No. 1 with Maren Morris’ “Girl” while Sean Douglas did the same with Thomas Rhett’s “Sixteen.” Cranford, 50, is leading the business teams responsible for the upgrades to the royalty-payment system for songwriters, helping launch Sony/ATV’s “Cash Out” service, which, she says, “will allow our songwriters to request some or all of their current royalty balance to be paid immediately, instead of having to wait until their next distribution.” Crowley, 46, and her team of 16 grew the company’s film synch business by double digits with the release of Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star Is Born. Crowley, who also pulls double duty as an independent music supervisor, was nominated this year for a Guild of Music Supervisors award for her work on the Sony Pictures film Peter Rabbit, which grossed over $350 million at the box office, according to Box Office Mojo.

Song That Inspires: “ ‘Natural Woman’ by Aretha Franklin. When I hear that song, it instantly makes me feel more confident and content.” - Knoepfle

Maria Egan
President/head of creative, Pulse ­Music Group

Pulse took home indie publisher of the year honors last December from the Association of Independent Music Publishers. Under Egan, 41, the company has enjoyed a string of successes including Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You” (featuring Cardi B), which set the record for the longest No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary radio airplay chart, and Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode,” which became the first hip-hop song to spend 30 weeks in the top 10 of the Hot 100. “We’ve had these massive cultural breakthrough songs with what’s really on the front line of music,” says Egan.

Where She Unwinds: “We work by the Silver Lake reservoir [in Los Angeles], so my daily ritual is I walk by the reservoir and listen to music and playlists -- and try and get clarity.”

Most Urgent Issue: “An understanding of globalization in music. It’s not Los Angeles and London and New York the way it used to be. It’s Mexico City, it’s India, it’s Korea. It can come from anywhere.”

Golnar Khosrowshahi
Founder/CEO, Reservoir

In Billboard’s latest publisher market-share rankings for the Hot 100, Reservoir came in fifth with a 3.96 share for the third quarter of 2019 -- and has made that list in all three quarterly rankings since the tally launched. Khosrowshahi, 48, says company revenue also grew by 39% in fiscal year 2018 and 34% in the first six months of this year. She’s now reshaping this leading indie publisher as a full-service music company with the acquisition of Chrysalis Records, which boosted Reservoir’s recorded-music catalog to 20,000 masters.

Charity She Supports: “Silkroad, an organization rooted in cross-cultural collaboration via music and dialogue, founded by Yo-Yo Ma and on which I serve as board chair. The work Silkroad does to build a more hopeful and inclusive world is more important than ever.”

Carianne Marshall
Co-Chair/COO, Warner Chappell Music

“The past 12 months have been quite the whirlwind,” says Marshall, who along with Guy Moot was named co-chair of Warner Chappell Music in January. Warner Chappell continues to dominate the Billboard rankings in country-radio market share, coming in at No. 1 on the top 10 Country Publishers airplay chart for the last 11 consecutive quarters. Says Marshall, “I’m so excited to build this next chapter at Warner Chappell with a partner who shares the same drive and passion for our songwriters.”

Advice for Next-Gen Women: “I’d tell both men and women beginning in the music business to really take pride in their work -- no matter how big or small the request or project. It’s also important to follow through and honor your word. People really value working with others who are dependable and trustworthy.”

Sas Metcalfe
Chief creative officer, Kobalt
Jeannette Perez
Chief experience officer, Kobalt

Metcalfe’s global creative team of nearly 40 members (65% of whom are female) had over 100 Kobalt-affiliated individuals and groups nominated for Grammy Awards in 2019, an all-time high for the company, says Kobalt. For the third quarter of 2019, Kobalt represented 16.59% of the songwriters on hits from Billie Eilish, Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes, Panic! at the Disco and Ed Sheeran. Perez, 40, who was named chief experience officer in November, has seen a year-over-year increase in global synch revenue of 22% and directed the negotiation of over 14,000 synch deals for songs by writers including Stevie Nicks, Trent Reznor, Max Martin, Dean Lewis and Sam Fender, according to Kobalt. Perez adds that the company’s increase in global synch revenue for the 2019-20 fiscal year is trending toward double digits.

Song That Inspires: “Beyoncé’s ‘Run the World’ because it’s the ultimate female empowerment song: ‘We run this motha!’ ” - Perez

Helen Murphy
CEO, Anthem Entertainment

Murphy, who assumed leadership of the music publisher formerly known as ole a year ago, has transformed the company from one apparently on the verge of being sold, to renaming and reasserting it as one of the top indie music publishers in the world, while also boosting its recorded-music presence and expanding its array of music production and film/TV collection services. Most recently, Anthem has acquired the Ricky Reed catalog of co-writes from Boardwalk Music Group (Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” and “Good As Hell”; Halsey’s “Bad at Love”; Leon Bridges’ “Bet Ain’t Worth the Hand”), along with a catalog from songwriter-producer Doc McKinney (The Weeknd’s “Wicked Games” and songs recorded by Drake and Khalid, among others). On the recorded-music side, Anthem plans a release early next year from legendary singer-guitarist José Feliciano.

Where She Unwinds: “I love Goldeneye in Jamaica. It’s a stunningly beautiful resort [with] the world’s best host, Chris Blackwell.”

Molly Neuman
President, Songtrust

Since Neuman joined Songtrust two years ago, she has reshaped the company, hiring a quarter of the roughly 80 people on staff and reports helping the rights management firm reach 140% growth in revenue and 160% growth in clients (both year-over-year measurements). “To be able to have accomplished that in 18 months is something of immense pride,” says Neuman, who was promoted to her role as president of Songtrust in October.

Charity She Supports: “The Sound Thinking program to give women and girls in New York City public schools access to music companies for both production work and industry jobs.”

Mary Megan Peer
Deputy CEO, peermusic

Mary Megan, 42, is a third-generation executive at one of the industry’s most successful global independent music publishers, representing over a half-million titles with 35 offices in 30 countries. It is also a firm with a legendary history, whose founder, Ralph S. Peer -- Mary Megan’s grandfather -- is credited with giving birth to the business of country music when he recorded the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers and others in Bristol, Tenn., in 1927. Ken Burns brought that history to some 34 million PBS viewers this fall in his documentary Country Music. Mary Megan is proud that Burns captured both Ralph’s ability to discover and nurture talent and his business acumen -- “making sure people got paid,” she says -- that still marks peermusic today. The family firm also offers a lesson in female empowerment; after Ralph’s death, Mary Megan’s grandmother Monique ran peermusic for 20 years before her father, Ralph Peer II (now chairman/CEO), took charge. Female executives, including company president/COO Kathy Spanberger, run peermusic offices in 10 countries. Burns’ history lesson notwithstanding, Mary Megan is very much focused on the present and future. Among the company’s recent achievements is its acquisition of MusicCube, a large independent publisher in Korea. “That added 40,000 Korean copyrights to our catalog [in a] territory we hadn’t been active in before,” says Mary Megan. And a long way from Bristol.

An Indie Global Publisher Without Compare: “We do have this 90-year history and are very lucky to represent a lot of older copyrights that are strong, and then at the same time, we’ve created this global footprint that pretty much gives us the same reach as a major publisher.”

Carla Wallace
Co-owner/CEO, Big Yellow Dog Music

“It’s never about numbers, just quality,” says Wallace of the roster signed to her boutique publishing/artist development firm of creators who connect deeply with listeners. Daniel Tashian won two Grammy Awards for his work on Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour; Maren Morris achieved her third No. 1 on Country Airplay with “Girl,” breaking a 17-month hiatus for women in the top position; and newcomer Tenille Townes won four Canadian Country Music Awards. Townes, says Wallace, is “determined to make everyone feel connected through the heartache we all see or pain we endure.”

Where She Unwinds: “Dollywood.”

Elizabeth Matthews
CEO, ASCAP

Responding to the torrent of data in the streaming age, Matthews reports that ASCAP has tapped “bleeding edge technology” to scale up its global IT systems and infrastructure, and digital access for its songwriters, composers and music publishers. The performing rights organization has finalized over 40 deals with TV/cable broadcasters, radio networks and digital service providers. Says Matthews: “Making smart, strategic agreements with our licensees enabled ASCAP to return more than $1 billion in distributions to our members for the second year in a row in 2018.”

Where She Unwinds: “My couch. It’s close and cheap. Plus, I tend to find my kids there.”

Anjula Singh
Executive vp/CFO, SoundExchange

For Singh, who added executive vp to her CFO title at SoundExchange in September, the highlight of the past year came when “we were able to distribute $1 billion” to performers and record labels -- 190,000 accounts in all -- for U.S. digital performances. Adds Singh: “It’s important for us to do right by creators.”

Most Urgent Issue: “Data accuracy. It’s so important to get people paid. It’s core to where we are. There’s so much meta associated with a track. Does it matter that you’re getting [a royalty payment] out? Or does it matter that you’re getting it out as accurately as you can?”

Alison Smith
Executive vp distribution, ­publisher ­relations and administration ­services, BMI

Smith, 58, directed the BMI team that distributed royalties of nearly $1.2 billion to the performing rights organization’s songwriters, composers and music publishers. With her counterparts at ASCAP, she laid the foundation for Songview, the joint database that “will bring together and reconcile songs currently housed in both PROs’ proprietary databases,” says Smith. With final testing of the system underway, “we are extremely encouraged by the results we’re seeing.”

Advice for Next-Gen Women: “Love music, respect the creative process, listen and learn all the time, find a mentor or mentors, and trust your instincts. Always be kind, respectful and ethical in your dealings with others.”

Kelli Turner
President/COO, SESAC

In August, two-and-a-half years after SESAC was acquired by the private equity firm Blackstone, Turner oversaw SESAC’s refinancing of its capital structure. The PRO sold $530 million in debt and gained commitments for a $30 million revolving credit facility. As SESAC went on a “road show” to potential investors, says Turner, there was “significant over-demand for the offering and the pricing came in better than SESAC expected.”

Have Attitudes Changed?: “The #MeToo movement has provided women a more equal playing field. Issues have really come to light that helped get women recognition and opportunities that they deserve.”

Tami Hurwitz
VP global marketing, Amazon Music

“Since the advent of the MP3, digital music has prioritized convenience over [sound] quality,” says Hurwitz, 47, who led the marketing team behind the launch of Amazon HD Music, adding over 50 million tracks to the high-definition audio service, plus several million in Ultra HD. Amazon partnered with artists “including Neil Young, Halsey, Garth Brooks and Brittany Howard -- with more to come -- to celebrate the launch,” says Hurwitz.

Song That Inspires: “I listen to Brandi Carlile’s ‘The Joke’ at least once a day. She is such a powerful singer-songwriter with an amazing voice. I love the meaning and message of [that] song.”

Vivien Lewit
Global head of artist services, YouTube

To oversee and strengthen YouTube’s relationships with artists, Lewit has built a team to help acts worldwide take full advantage of the platform -- from educating artists in Japan on how to target a global audience to working with Nigerian act Mr. Eazi on emPawa, an incubator that provides career guidance and funds music videos for up-and-coming artists in Africa. “We’re seeking ways to catalyze artists’ access and connection to fans near and far,” says Lewit.

Where She Unwinds: “Antiparos, Greece. A magical place, small enough to feel like a special secret but chock-full of beautiful nature on the island and in the waters around it.”

Rachel Newman
Global senior director of editorial, Apple Music
Jen Walsh
Senior director, Shazam/Beats 1, Apple Music

Apple Music’s content team, led by Newman, has been on a roll in 2019, announcing a flurry of new Beats 1 shows, revamped playlists and working with artists like Camila Cabello to create one-off experiences around their albums. After Apple acquired Shazam in 2018, Walsh was tasked with integrating the audio recognition service into Apple’s corporate culture and structure, as well as taking over business leadership for Beats 1, focusing “on people and innovation when measuring our success,” she says.

Most Urgnet Issue: “Preserving the value of artistry and artists’ stories is one of the most crucial issues in the streaming era. We need to be really careful that we don’t turn music into a commodity.” - Newman

Dawn Ostroff
Chief content officer, Spotify

Ostroff has led Spotify’s podcast movement in 2019, saying, “We acquired best-in-class podcasting companies -- Gimlet, Anchor and Parcast -- and we now have more than 500,000 podcast titles available on the platform, including exclusive titles and partnerships with President Barack and Michelle Obama, Jordan Peele and others.” But her proudest achievement? Over 50% of her music team identify as female. “It’s an enormous step forward not only for the company,” says Ostroff, “but for our industry.”

Advice for Next-Gen Women: “Be willing to work harder than anybody else and think outside the box to help differentiate yourself. Be an innovator -- don’t just follow the tracks that have been laid out in front of you.”

 

Lizzie Widhelm
Senior vp ad innovation, Pandora

When Widhelm, a 13-year veteran of Pandora and the broader Pandora team, tapped the company’s Music Genome Project data to place Lewis Capaldi’s “Someone You Loved” in front of new fans, the company reported that total Pandora streams of the song increased by 811%, helping drive the track to No. 1 on the Hot 100 in November. Says Widhelm: “Helping talent find their audience has always been our mission.” Her next challenge: “Cracking the code” for the best podcast ad format.

Song That Inspires: “It has to be Dolly Parton’s ‘9 to 5.’ Even on a tough day, that song is everything.”

Alessandra Alarcón
President, SBS Entertainment, ­Spanish Broadcasting System

Promoted to her new role in March, Alarcón, 32, has been expanding the concert division of SBS Entertainment, adding a second night to the annual Calibash event in Los Angeles in January and launching the two-date summer concert series Megaton. “There is a lot of creativity and talent that needs and deserves exposure,” says Alarcón. “I want [us] to be a place where artists are supported across markets.”

Most Urgent Issue: “Recognition of the ‘explosion of the Latin genre’ in [the] general market. It’s a very exciting time for Latinos in the music and entertainment industry.”

Mary G. Berner
President/CEO, Cumulus Media

Berner, 60, led Cumulus out of bankruptcy by June 2018 and has since launched its aggressive expansion. Now a multiplatform “audio first” company, she says that the radio giant reaches 250 million terrestrial listeners monthly in addition to marquee podcasts, streaming, smart speakers and digital channels. Says Berner: “First you fix it, so you can earn the right to innovate.”

Where She Unwinds: “I am at my happiest when traveling with my family; second best is being transported by a great book, with my kids and pets right there with me.”

Amani Duncan
Senior vp music, MTV

Since taking on her current role in 2017, Duncan has seen year-over-year spikes for songs performed during the MTV Video Music Awards. (Overall ratings for the show itself in 2019 were flat despite a 6% rise in ratings for the 25-54 demographic.) The 2019 show resulted in a 74% increase in song sales and a 12% increase in streams the week of Aug. 23.

Have Attitudes Changed?: “There have been countless studies that point to one conclusion: having women in the C-suite significantly impacts net margins. The music industry has been late to this discovery, but not all is lost -- we are the change we seek.”

Leslie Fram
Senior vp music and talent, CMT

Fram has been at the forefront of the gender disparity conversation within country music. She has led CMT’s Next Women of Country franchise and the 2018 CMT Artists of the Year celebration of women, which was the No. 1 social cable special of October 2018, according to CMT. She’s also a co-founder of Change the Conversation, which aims to empower women and provide knowledge and mentorship.

Advice for Next-Gen Women: “Carry your passion, work ethic and desire to help others throughout your career. Remain true to yourself.”

Cindy Hill
VP content, industry and affiliate relations, Univision

For Spanish-language media giant Univision, Hill helped drive such events as August’s sold-out Latino Mix Live in Dallas headlined by J Balvin and Bad Bunny, which drew 19,200 fans, according to the company. In 2018, the Bueno Mala & El Feo Fest, which brings the best of regional Mexican music to many U.S. cities, drew 15,000 concertgoers to San Jose, Calif., according to Univision. “Radio is such a powerful connection tool for Hispanics,” says Hill.

Charity She Supports: “I discovered the St. Jude [Children’s Research Hospital] Heroes program a few years ago and have run a half-marathon annually for St. Jude ever since. It’s a wonderful feeling of community and connection.”

Tamara Hrivnak
VP music business development and partnerships, ­Facebook
Malika Quemerais
Head of music partnerships, Facebook

As Facebook’s chief music strategist, Hrivnak leads a team (including numerous other female executives) that’s driving a string of deals with labels and publishers. Wherever possible, Facebook is leveraging its licenses to let 2.8 billion users across its family of apps personalize their posts with music content, according to the company. Quemerais, 34, leads music partnerships and teams focused on social impact for public figures. This year, that meant working with Kelsea Ballerini and Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman to put together the first-ever Women of Nashville event during this summer’s CMA Fest, as well as supporting She Is the Music, the nonprofit endeavoring to increase the number of women working in the music business.

Song That Inspires: “Brandi Carlile’s ‘The Joke.’ It’s about rising up and going against the grain. It’s about resilience and speaks to me deeply as a woman in ­business.” - Hrivnak

Thea Mitchem
Executive vp programming, ­iHeartMedia; Program director, WWPR (Power 105.1) New York
Marissa Morris
Senior vp artist relations, iHeartMedia

Mitchem guided WWPR (Power 105.1) New York to the best ratings in its 17-year history, reaching over 2 million listeners monthly, while the hip-hop station’s syndicated morning show, The Breakfast Club featuring Charlamagne Tha God, beams out to listeners of 80 stations and millions more on digital platforms, according to iHeartMedia. Morris, 33, guided launch campaigns for Taylor Swift’s Lover, among other projects, that leveraged an audience reach that iHeartRadio puts at a quarter-billion listeners. Her team also promoted and curated the lineup for such annual events as Jingle Ball, Fiesta Latina and the iHeartRadio Music Festival.

Have Attitudes Changed?: “We’re in a time when our voices and contributions to the music industry are starting to be recognized.” - Mitchem

Connie Orlando
Executive vp specials, music programming and music strategy, BET Networks

Three years after Orlando was named BET’s executive vp/head of programming, she was promoted to her current title in October. In that time, she has led BET to a near double-digit upswing in growth, with this year’s BET Hip Hop Awards raking in 1.3 million viewers, up over 9% year over year, according to the company. “When I began, there was a dearth of women, and few of those held key positions,” she says. “My ascension, along with my peers, has helped reshape the landscape.”

Advice For Next-Gen Women: “Identify the sector you desire to impact, craft a plan and work hard toward your goal each day. Never feel as though you have to compromise or cower to your male counterparts. Be authentically you.”

Lisa Alter
Founding partner, Alter Kendrick & Baron

Alter, who negotiates transactions involving the acquisition and sale of music assets, says this is a “golden age for music publishing” -- and for the business in general. The total value of her firm’s deals during the past year and a half has just hit “the billion-dollar mark,” she says.

Song That Inspires:Janis Joplin and ‘Piece of My Heart.’ She took the work of a male songwriter and made it her own. That’s so cool.”

Christine Lepera
Co-chair of the entertainment & IP ­litigation department, Mitchell ­Silberberg & Knupp

A powerhouse litigator, Lepera is known for her fierce arguments and her determination to turn a loss or setback into an eventual win. Although a jury in July ruled against her clients in a copyright infringement suit over Katy Perry’s hit “Dark Horse,” Lepera is not giving up. “We are fighting this one -- big time,” she says.

Most Urgent Issue: “How [copyright] cases are handled and the problems we have with music being [like] a foreign language and courts and juries not being able to evaluate these things in that setting.”

Monika Tashman
Entertainment partner, Manatt Phelps & Phillips

Tashman in March joined Manatt Phelps & Phillips, “a firm that is not just supportive but enthusiastic about my passion to bring more efficiency and innovation to the practice of law,” she says. Among her projects is the Women in Music Workplace Initiative, which plans to name the best music companies for women and “raise gender diversity and equality standards.”

Most Urgent Issue: “Every minute of every day, the metadata and verification problem is getting worse. This is causing money to disappear into the ether or be claimed by third parties.”

Debbie White
Vice chair, music industry/­entertainment, Loeb & Loeb

White had a nonstop year providing legal and business counsel to a roster of A-list clients: Big Hit Entertainment, BTS, Tencent, The Who, Regina Spektor, Melanie Martinez, James TW, Diane Warren, Young the Giant, Friends at Work, Christie Brinkley, Citi, Uber and Ultimate Fighting Championship. “Watching BTS win group of the year at the Billboard Music Awards was something I will never forget,” she says. “When the boys stood on that stage as the winner, I felt like a proud mom.”

Where She Unwinds: “Harbour Island in the Bahamas. Since it’s hard to get to, you don’t run into the entire music industry.”

Marcie Allen
Founder/president, MAC Presents

Allen this year celebrated the 15th anniversary of her music partnership and experiential agency MAC Presents with programs for Citi, Uber and Swisher Sweets. Her latest coup was ATLive, a three-day veterans benefit concert at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium in November, headlined by Keith Urban, Blake Shelton, Eric Church, Sam Hunt, Luke Combs and others. “For a first-year event to sell over 90,000 tickets with the hottest country artists out there, I’m very proud,” she says.

Have Attitudes Changed? “We’re starting to get women in the C-suite who are absolutely in charge, but I would like to see more women who own their own businesses. That’s somewhere we have room to improve.”

Julie Boos
Chairman/business manager, FBMM

Like many financial advisers, Boos, 50, keeps FBMM’s client list confidential. But her stature within the Nashville community was affirmed last year when she was named business manager of the year at the Country Music Association’s 2018 touring awards. The accolade is nice, but Boos takes greater satisfaction from a client recently reaching a lifetime financial goal after 12 years of her guidance. “For a business manager,” she says, “that’s the holy grail.”

Charity She Supports: “I’m passionate about children in foster care and the challenges these kids face. I had 16 kids through my home in two years. Each story was different, but they each face the same struggles to survive and overcome the hand they’ve been dealt.”

Jennifer Breithaupt
Global consumer chief marketing officer, Citi

With the launch of its social impact and mentorship program #SeeHerHearHer on NBC’s Today in March, Citi joined the fight against gender bias and disparity in the music industry, committing to “50/50 gender parity” in its advertising and to bring 50 other brands into the fold. Artist partners have included Maren Morris, Sheryl Crow and Brittany Howard, with more scheduled for 2020. “It’s really a commitment to accurately portray women and girls in our advertising, storytelling and the media that we purchase,” says Breithaupt, whose international team oversees 12,000-plus events and experiences globally through the Citi Entertainment program.

Artist That Inspires: “I always point people back to Ella Fitzgerald as one of the groundbreakers for women in music.”

Deborah Curtis
VP global brand partnerships and ­experiences, American Express

While boosting American Express’ global brand platform (“Powerful Backing: Don’t Do Business/Live Life Without It”) and giving customers priority access to tours (the latest: Jennifer Lopez, Lizzo and Oprah Winfrey), Curtis’ focus has been the continued expansion of the company’s music partnerships with “over 40 venues in seven countries, eight music festivals across the U.S. and London, and presale access in 17 countries,” she says. Curtis also pioneered AmEx’s annual Women in Music Leadership Academy, a three-day workshop dedicated to empowering the next generation of female music industry professionals, which took place for the second time in June.

Most Urgent Issue: “For the next generation of fans, how you’re able to connect with them in new and different ways and the complex media landscape to get there.”

Martha Henderson
Executive vp/manager of entertainment banking, City National Bank

Henderson has run the entertainment division of City National Bank for 36 years, managing a team of over 250 entertainment bankers in New York, Nashville, Miami, Atlanta and Beverly Hills, Calif., and overseeing more than $7.3 billion in loans and $11.5 billion in deposits. She recently guided a new partnership between the bank and fintech company CASHét to provide business managers with new credit and payment tools designed for the touring industry. “For me, it’s trying to look ahead,” says Henderson. “What else can we do to help the music community?”

Song That Inspires: “If you ever feel down and you need to pick yourself back up, go get Tina Turner’s ‘Simply the Best’ and sing that out loud.”

Lou Taylor
CEO, Tri Star Sports and Entertainment Group

“We put together many deals this year, which total in the hundreds of millions of dollars, that were unique and out of the box,” says Taylor, 54, one of the music industry’s most high-profile business managers. One client, Travis Scott, has cut a string of deals with Nike, General Mills and Netflix. Tri-Star doesn’t limit itself to working within the music business, counting actors, athletes, coaches and creatives among its clients.

Have Attitudes Changed?: “I still believe that men will always stick together and help each other out -- and worry that women are not there yet.”

Michele Ballantyne
COO, RIAA

“Bringing people together and building trust” are Ballantyne’s priorities, which allowed the RIAA to push for the passage last year of the Music Modernization Act and, in February, led to the expansion of the RIAA’s board of directors “and the election of the most diverse slate of board members in the organization’s history,” she says.

Have Attitudes Changed?: “Every young woman who comes into the business today has a much wider set of options and a whole rich roster of role models and category breakers who have paved a lot of the way.”

Deborah Dugan
President/CEO, The Recording Academy

Starting in August as the new president/CEO of The Recording Academy, Dugan has a vision to invigorate the 21,000-member organization with service and activism, from fighting for embattled music education programs to advocating for the CASE Act to support copyright infringement claims. “Our North Star is the artist,” says Dugan. “Their work improves our lives, and our work at The Recording Academy is to improve theirs.”

Charities She Supports: “The Grammy Museum and the Music Coalition, because every child should have equal access to music education. And MusiCares [to] support music makers in time of hardship and great need.”

Most Urgent Issue: “We must drive change and tackle some of music’s greatest challenges -- challenges like fair pay for creators, removing music-career barriers for women, and strengthening and protecting all students’ access to music education. We must collectively use our voices, our power and our influence to make some real change.”

Sarah Trahern
CEO, Country Music Association

Trahern, 54, and her CMA team watched a yearslong marketing collaboration with Ken Burns come to fruition with the acclaimed PBS documentary Country Music, an eight-part series that debuted in September. “Our industry saw significant growth in consumption,” says Trahern, referring to the sales and streaming boosts for some of the nearly 500 songs featured in the doc. Among those, Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” garnered 4,000 downloads between Sept. 13 and 26, and Johnny Cash’s Nine Inch Nails cover “Hurt” earned 3.1 million streams alone in that period.

Most Urgent Issue: “Continuing to educate the country consumer on streaming and how consumers can utilize the platforms for music discovery in addition to finding their favorite artists.”

Methodology: Billboard editors and reporters weighed a variety of factors in determining the 2019 Women in Music executives power list, including, but not limited to, nominations by peers, colleagues and superiors; and impact on consumer behavior as measured by chart, sales and streaming performance, social media impressions and radio/TV audiences reached, using data available as of Oct. 21. (Data in profiles is updated as of Nov. 25.) Career trajectory and industry impact were also considered, as were financial results when available. Where required, U.S. record-label market share was consulted using Nielsen Music’s current market share for album plus track-equivalent and streaming-equivalent album-consumption units and Billboard’s quarterly top 10 publisher rankings. Unless otherwise noted, Billboard Boxscore and Nielsen Music are the sources for tour grosses and sales/streaming data, respectively. Nielsen is also the source for radio audience metrics. Unless otherwise noted, album streaming figures cited represent collective U.S. on-demand audio totals for an album’s tracks, and song/artist streaming figures represent U.S. on-demand audio and video totals.

Contributors: Rich Appel, Cathy Applefeld Olson, Megan Armstrong, Karen Bliss, Dave Brooks, Dean Budnick, Britina Cheng, Ed Christman, Tatiana Cirisano, Leila Cobo, Danica Daniel, Camille Dodero, Thom Duffy, Chris Eggertsen, Eric Frankenberg, Adrienne Gaffney, Bianca Gracie, Gary Graff, Sarah Grant, Lyndsey Havens, Steve Knopper, Katy Kroll, Carl Lamarre, Joe Levy, Brooke Mazurek, Taylor Mims, Gail Mitchell, Melinda Newman, Paula Parisi, Chris Payne, Glenn Peoples, Alex Pham, Bryan Reesman, Annie Reuter, Jessica Roiz, Claudia Rosenbaum, Dan Rys, Micah Singleton, Richard Smirke, Eric Spitznagel, Colin Stutz, Taylor Weatherby, Deborah Wilker, Nick Williams, Xander Zellner

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 14 issue of Billboard.

2019 Billboard Women in Music


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