Executive Turntable

Executive Turntable: Industry Vets Form New Management Venture, Spotify EMEA Chief Exits

Vaughn Lewis, Kenny Gabor and Steve Davis
Courtesy Photo

Vaughn Lewis, Kenny Gabor and Steve Davis

Strong Management founder and co-owner Vaughn Lewis, along with Strong Management co-owner Kenny Gabor, have joined Davis Entertainment Group founder Steve Davis to form the new joint company Unchained Management, Music & Media in New York City.

The Unchained roster will combine the trio’s clientele, which includes Cannibal Corpse, Queensryche, Ministry, Children of Bodom and Killswitch Engage. The company is planning to expand its activities beyond music management in the future.

Founded in 1996, Strong Management grew out of Lewis' stint managing New York punk band H2O. Over 25 years, the company has represented a roster that also includes As I Lay Dying, William Elliott Whitmore, Oxymorrons and D Generation. Gabor joined the company in 1997.

During his decade as a talent agent at Associated Booking Corporation, Premier Talent and the William Morris Agency, Davis helped book national tours for artists including B.B. King, Talking Heads, The Who, Bon Jovi, The Replacements, The Ramones and The Clash, among others. He later served for nine years as senior vp of artist development at Atlantic Records before starting Davis Entertainment Group, which he's operated for 17 years.


Spotify vp, EMEA sales & multi-market global sales Marco Bertozzi is exiting the company after four years. He announced his departure via a LinkedIn post on Monday (Jan. 25).

“I have achieved what I set out to do and it’s now a good time to think about the future AND take a Zoom break,” read Bertozzi’s post. “I have had an amazing four years at Spotify, but now it is time for something new.”

Bertozzi joined Spotify in 2017 from his previous post as global chief revenue officer at Publicis Groupe’s Performics division.

“I was hired by Spotify to put us on the map in the media industry both in the UK and across the EMEA region. We have been on a journey to up-level the team and service to where we are today,” Bertozzi added. “I feel very good about having achieved that goal and I am so excited for the hires in place today. I was never happier to be part of Media Week Sales Team of The Year award win last year. That felt like a real proverbial bow on the last four years.

“As I said, after a break from Zoom for a while, top of the agenda is looking for my next role. No one is done with me yet (all around groans)! I may dip my toe in the mythical land of consultancy as well! I would love to talk to any of you about what those possibilities could be.

“I have had a blast, but as I always tell my mentees, embrace change and that’s exactly what I intend to do when I look for my next opportunity! Thank you all for your support, my friends, colleagues, customers, partners and mentors and to the wonderful TeamEMEA at Spotify. I wish you all the best and will support you always.”

Europe is Spotify’s largest territory, hosting 34% of the service’s 320 million monthly active users as of Q3 2020.

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Music industry entrepreneurs Bob Murray, Zack Dekkaki and Ric Wake have formed Loki Artist Group, a global entertainment company that will “assist music companies with financial, business, and creative support to build and implement new fundamentals for future success,” according to a press release.

Loki Artist Group launches with two recording studios (one in Los Angeles, one in Toronto) as well as a record label, publishing division and management firm, Murray’s Elev8 Global Entertainment, which brings a roster that includes Jorge Blanco, Jonathan Antoine, Shaun Jacobs, Anna Chase and J Broadway. In addition to strategic investment opportunities with music companies, Loki Artist Group will seek out new artists, songwriters, and producers for its management clientele, providing A&R, artist development, digital promotion, social media management and marketing and sync services.

“Loki Artist Group is a global music family of like-minded individuals and organizations working together to prepare for the new world of our business with a model focused on the development of music copyrights and their creators,” said Murray in a statement. “With the challenges presented in the last ten months, the music industry has needed to adapt to redefine its goals and continue its creative growth. We look forward to being part of that new development wave.”

“At Loki Artist Group, we are currently looking for strategic investment opportunities with music companies that are managed by leading executives whose unique artist rosters show the ability to adapt during this time and prepare for the anticipated return to the stage,” added Dekkaki. “With the shifts we have been seeing across music and the larger entertainment industry as a whole, Loki Artist Group will not only provide funding, but also management, music publishing, creative, and other resources in partnership to support these businesses as they adjust to the rapidly changing music market.”

Murray, who will serve as CEO, has worked as a personal manager, company consultant and television concert producer. His management clients have included Loki co-founder Wake and Yanni, for whom he produced several TV specials and oversaw and negotiated the release of six albums as well as global concert tours and sponsorship opportunities.

Wake, who will serve as chief creative officer, co-founded Hollywood.tv and founded Reality Branding 360. As a music producer, he’s been nominated for three Grammys and won two, including Album of the Year for Celine Dion’s 1996 album Falling into You. He has also produced for artists including Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez and Diana Ross.

Dekkaki, who will serve as president, formerly worked as the international A&R manager for the music division at Talpa, where he sourced music and talent for The Voice - International. In 2013, he joined producer RedOne’s record label 2101 Records as vp for Europe and was later installed as vp of A&R at the company’s Los Angeles office. He went on to manage RedOne, later spearheading the sale of his lucrative catalog to Hipgnosis Songs.


Sony Music Entertainment’s Commercial Music Group (CMG) has promoted Jessica Shaw to senior vp, sync licensing. She was previously vp, sync licensing, Commercial Music Group, a role she’s held since first joining the company in 2014.

In her new role, the New York-based Shaw will lead Sony Music Syncshop, the centralized sync licensing team within CMG, overseeing the group's sync-related creative and licensing activities across all entertainment media. She will additionally focus on driving Sony Music’s sync licensing priorities while developing a range of new new sync opportunities for the company’s labels, international repertoire and back catalog of recordings and visual content.

Over the course of her career at Sony Music, Shaw has played an instrumental leadership role in growing SyncShop’s business in the commercial sync space, overseeing its music for brands & advertising team and securing placements for brands including Apple, Google, Target, Volkswagen, Toyota, and Bank of America.

Before Sony Music, Shaw served as director of music for advertising at Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) from 2013-14. Prior to that, she was senior manager of strategic marketing for Warner/Chappell Music from 2009-13. She began her career in 2006 as a music consultant in the licensing group at Boosey & Hawkes.

Shaw currently serves as co-president of The Village, a Sony employee network resource group offering support to parents and caregivers. She is also president of the board of directors for the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus.


Peermusic has hired Matt Phipps-Taylor as chief information officer. He replaces current chief information officer Jeff Wicher, who is retiring after 18 years with the company.

In the London-based role, Phipps-Taylor will lead strategic technology and data initiatives, overseeing the technology and data platforms used across peermusic’s global network of music publishing and neighboring rights companies.

Phipps-Taylor comes from PPL, where he served as chief data officer, overseeing data strategy, analytics and business intelligence, data architecture and governance. During his time there, he led the company’s involvement in a number of global industry data initiatives and partnerships, including serving on the board of Digital Data Exchange (DDEX). Before that, he worked at Deloitte Consulting in the UK and U.S.


The Numero Group, the revered Chicago label known for unearthing long-lost songs from forgotten eras in soul, gospel, folk and rock, has hired Tim Zawada as its new managing director. A Windy City native as well, Zawada arrives from his own label, Star Creature Universal Vibrations, which has cultivated a cult following through limited pressings of modern disco, boogie, electronic soul music and beyond.

"Numero is a company that I can bring my operational and technical skills to help really scale and mature into the modern media company,” commented Zawada. “We're building custom CRM and ERP tools from scratch, adding automation to handle analytics, reporting, and KPI metrics - all to free up our creative staff to creatively operate."


Yesenia Bello has been named iHeartMedia’s first-ever senior vp of diversity and inclusion, effective immediately.

In her new role, Bello will work closely with iHeart chief human resources officer and chief diversity officer Michele Laven and the executive leadership team to drive measurable diversity and inclusion strategies at the company. She will also develop and execute “specific diversity and inclusion goals and solutions for employee, community, client and agency engagement that drive inclusive behaviors and business practices.”

More specifically, Bello will lead the development and implementation of inclusion strategies that center on employee retention and development, including identifying existing high-potential talent across the company while promoting internal mobility; collaborating on diversity and inclusion training and education for employees and leadership; and draw in diverse, multi-generational talent to the company.

Elsewhere, Bello will develop opportunities to engage and collaborate with iHeartMedia’s advertising and business partners on diversity and inclusion initiatives; support the ad sales and marketing teams on diversity and inclusion client and agency conversations; work on sales and marketing materials; and form partnerships for diversity and inclusion events and projects supporting iHeartMedia businesses across the U.S.

Originally from the Dominican Republic, Bello has been with iHeartMedia since Oct. 2019, when she joined as senior vp of multicultural sales. She has also worked at Telemundo Network, Hulu’s Latino division and Google, where she focused on multicultural strategy and sales for YouTube advertisers.


Universal Music Canada (UMC) has named Craig “Big C” Mannix to the role of senior director, urban marketing. Mannix is the first new hire focused on urban marketing for UMC’s domestically signed urban repertoire, according to a release.

“At the start of my career at Virgin Records, I had the opportunity to work with and learn from ‘Big C,’” said Universal Music Canada chairman and CEO Jeffrey Remedios in a statement. “I’ve always wanted to reunite though it had to be at the right time and for the right reason – in support of our incredible Canadian artists on the world’s stage. With Craig’s wealth of insight, creativity and experience rooted in every element of the music business, that time has now come as he builds and leads with us in this important space.”

Reporting to vp marketing JP Boucher, Mannix will work across UMC departments in partnership with artists and their teams to create a vision for their projects while developing domestic and global campaigns.

“I’m honoured to be joining Universal Music Canada and to be a part of a team that is dedicated to giving Black Music and Black Music culture the respect and focus that it needs to grow within the Canadian market and beyond,” added Mannix.

Mannix most recently served as A&R manager at Sony Music Entertainment Canada. Prior to that, he owned and operated the lifestyle marketing agency Offshoot Communications for 15 years, where he worked with Nike, Adidas and Nokia on product placement and marketing and helped guide lifestyle brands including LRG, Fresh Jive and Casio G-Shock. He is also a founding member of Advance, Canada’s Black Music business collective, and sits on the board of directors for the Remix Project.


James Sutcliffe has been named chief marketing & content officer at LIVENow, the livestreaming platform founded by Leeds United chairman and Aser Ventures founder Andrea Radrizzani that has spearheaded virtual concerts for Dua Lipa, Ellie Goulding, Gorillaz and Pete Tong.

Sutcliffe joins LIVENow from Monster Energy, where he served as marketing director. During his tenure, he drove brand strategies that connected with consumers through culture, including through activations and partnerships with UFC, Lewis Hamilton, F2 Freestylers, nine Premier League Clubs, National Student E-Sports and Post Malone. Prior to that, he served as director of music at Monster, where he led the EMEA music strategy, curating the Relentless Stage at Leeds Festival and signing partnerships with Stormzy, Elrow, Live Nation, Pete Tong, London Warehouse Events and the International Music Summit.

In his new role, Sutcliffe will look to curate content from the worlds of sports, music, comedy, fitness and culture and build a content slate through rights acquisitions, co-productions with brand partners and original formats created in-house.

“Virtual events have become an essential part of the marketing mix, generating hype for a live tour, building anticipation for an album or building community outside the walls of a venue or sports ground,” said Sutcliffe in a statement. “Our events are inclusive of all fans, regardless of geography and as a medium we are only just scratching the surface of its potential. I’m excited by the conversations we are having in how we push the boundaries in this space, what it means for merchandising, supporting real world events, brand storytelling and more.”


Veteran country music agent Stan Barnett has joined APA Nashville.

Barnett comes to the agency from CAA, which he joined in 1999. During his tenure there, he signed acts including Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols, Ralph Stanley and Brandy Clark and was a key force in establishing the agency’s fair & festival department.

Barnett is a longtime member of the Country Music Association, The Academy of Country Music, The International Buyers Association and The Nashville Association of Talent Directors, which recognized him for his career accomplishments and service to the Nashville entertainment industry at the organization’s 2018 gala. He was also awarded a Senate resolution from the State of Tennessee for his industry accomplishments in 2009.


SoundExchange has appointed Warner Music Group (WMG) vp, digital strategy & business development Jessica Goldenberg to its board of directors.

“Jessica’s expertise, experience, and values will be tremendous assets as our board and company help drive the modernization of the music industry,” said SoundExchange President and CEO Michael Huppe. “Her understanding of how technology is changing the industry, and the business and legal complexities that transformation brings, is invaluable. We’re fortunate to have her as a member of the SoundExchange board.”

At WMG, Goldenberg leads recorded music deal negotiations and manages relationships with streaming platforms, spearheads new partnerships and contributes to the company’s global digital strategy.

“I’m proud to contribute to SoundExchange’s mission of protecting the long-term value of music,” said Goldenberg. “It’s a critical moment in the digital transformation of the music industry, with streaming and emerging technologies on the rise, and it’s vital that we lay the foundations today that will establish future benefits for artists.”


New York-based artist manager Justin Becker has launched the new management firm Murmuration, bringing a roster of clients that includes Alex Lahey, Bayonne, Okkervil River, Sondre Lerche and Tift Merritt, whom he will co-manage with his former company Ekonomisk Management.

Becker spent the last ten years at Ekonomisk, where, in addition to his roster, he worked on Andrew Bird’s management team. Originally based in Chicago, Becker moved to New York in 2013 to open a second office for the company.


ALIBI Music, a provider of music and sound effects for licensing in advertising, trailers, promos, programming, video games and other multimedia content, has upped Tim Hare to vp, business development. He will work alongside fellow vp, business development Kent Carter.

Hare, a professional composer who graduated magna cum laude from the Berklee College of Music, joined ALIBI as a director in early 2017. Due to the pandemic, he has been dedicating his spare time to composing music for ALIBI alongside writing partner Jesse Billson.

Prior to ALIBI, Hare worked at Extreme Music, Sonic Librarian and Artist Arena. He also spent a year as a tour assistant for Foreigner.


King Business & Financial Management LLC (KBFM) has added Mallory Mason to the firm. She joins as business manager.

Mason started her career at Cumulus Media before moving to the entertainment business management firm Martin, Allbee & Associates, where she spent over six years. She later moved to Wiles + Taylor & Company, where she spent three-and-a-half years before joining KBFM.

Started by Chris King in early 2019, KBFM’s roster includes touring artists, songwriters, producers, industry executives and publishing companies.