Executive Turntable

Executive Turntable: Troy Carter Joins SoundCloud Board, Def Jam Vet Rises to Marketing SVP

Troy Carter
Courtesy of Q&A

Troy Carter

SoundCloud has added Q&A founder and CEO Troy Carter to its board of directors. He will serve as a strategic advisor to SoundCloud CEO Michael Weissman and the company’s board of directors across all music industry topics, including new business models, artist development and artist services.

Carter’s appointment arrives with SoundCloud’s renewed focus on “building deeper, more direct relationships with artists, labels, and music fans,” according to a release. He will continue separately leading Q&A.

“Troy is one of the few leaders that have operated and succeeded in all sides of the music industry. And, at all times, Troy is one step ahead of the pack,” said Weissman in a statement. “We share the same vision and excitement for SoundCloud’s potential to shape the future of the music business. It’s hard to think of someone better suited to join SoundCloud as we enter this new phase.”

“Independent music continues to be the fastest-growing sector in the music industry and SoundCloud sits in the center,” added Carter. “I’m looking forward to working with Mike and the board to unlock massive opportunities for independent artists and labels throughout the world.”

In 2020, Carter launched Venice Innovation Labs, a software division of Q&A that assists labels with data analysis, artist roster management and distribution. He was previously founder and CEO of the branding, entertainment and artist management company Atom Factory and the global head of creator services at Spotify.

Earlier this month, Billboard reported SoundCloud is getting ready to introduce a new payment system that would allow fans to compensate artists directly -- a move that would make it the first major music streaming service to institute a direct payment model. The company also recently announced it would host its first-ever livestreamed gaming tournament, SoundCloud Player One, in order to help participating SoundCloud creators win new fans in the gaming community.

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Fifteen-year Def Jam Recordings/UMG veteran Marisa Lauro-Norris has been promoted to senior vp, international marketing. Lauro-Morris will lead all international marketing activities for Def Jam in the new role out of New York, reporting to Def Jam interim CEO Jeff Harleston.

“Marisa is an experienced, thoughtful, valued member of our executive team, known and respected for her passionate stewardship of Def Jam’s brand and artists for the rest of the world over the past decade and a half,” said Harleston in a statement. “With her unique perspective on artist development, and the strength of her long-built relationships within UMG’s powerful international network, Marisa brings unparalleled savvy and leadership to her important role. On behalf of the entire Def Jam family, I’m extremely proud of, and impressed by, Marisa’s growth as an executive.”

Lauro-Norris has led and overseen Def Jam's global marketing campaign for Justin Bieber over the past year and a half. After Lauro-Norris strategically launched Bieber's Changes album with a London fan event last February, the LP debuted at No. 1 in the U.K. and Canada and at No. 1 on Apple Music and iTunes in 85 countries. Two singles from the album, “Holy” and “Anyone,” have also experienced global success, with international territories accounting for over 70% of streaming activity from the releases. Four subsequent singles have also racked up more than 2 billion combined global streams in the past four months.

Lauro-Norris has been with Def Jam since 2004, when she started at the label as an intern. In 2014, she was promoted to vp, international marketing, which led her to spearhead successful campaigns for Alessia Cara & Logic and Kanye West, among other artists.

“It was always a dream of mine to work at Def Jam, the most iconic hip hop label & brand in the industry," said Lauro-Norris. "I’d like to thank Jeff Harleston for his unmatched leadership and support. The most exciting part of this job is that the way we consume and market music around the world is constantly evolving. I look forward to continuing to find new ways to develop, grow and deliver for our Def Jam artists globally.”

Downtown Music Publishing has promoted Bea Koramblyum, who has been with Downtown for nearly a decade, as global head of business affairs, a newly created position. Additionally, Corey Roberts will take on an expanded role to lead A&R research globally, while Carla Downs has been elevated to vp of film & television music.

The New York-based Koramblyum and Roberts will both report directly to Downtown Music Publishing global president Mike Smith, while the Los Angeles-based Downs will report to senior vp of film & television music Jumee Park.

Koramblyum will oversee all of Downtown Music Publishing’s legal and business affairs activities in the new role. She was previously a senior member of the legal and business affairs team for the publisher’s parent company, Downtown Music Holdings, where she was instrumental in transacting agreements with Wu-Tang Clan, the Miles Davis and George Gershwin estates, Tori Amos and The 1975. She previously spent over seven years with Davis Shapiro Lewit & Hayes, LLP, where she started as a legal assistant and was later promoted to paralegal. She serves on the advisory board for Women in Music.

Roberts, who joined Downtown in early 2018, previously led the company’s A&R function in North America. During his time there, he has helped identify and sign artists including Caamp, The War and Treaty and Midas800. Over a music industry career spanning nearly two decades, he has additionally worked in roles at Songs Publishing -- where he discovered Lorde -- as well as at Universal Republic Records, Motown Records and Epic Records.

Downs was previously a member of the creative marketing team working on film, TV and commercial placements. Her key sync licensing deals since her hire at the company have included John Prine’s “I Remember Everything” for This Is Us, The War and Treaty’s “Take Me In” for Grey’s Anatomy, “Hey Mickey” for The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Yoke Lore’s “Chin Up” for Council of Dads, Melii’s “Como Si Na” for Insecure, and the Meghan Trainor original “I’m In A Perfect Relationship” for Central Park.

Longtime artist manager Bruce Kalmick, who launched the management company WHY&HOW late last year, has formed Hazel Street Records, a joint label venture with The Orchard. Kalmick, who has been named to Billboard’s 40 Under 40 and Country Power Players lists in years past, will serve as the label’s CEO.

Joining Kalmick in the new venture are Laura Bender, who will lead the label as general manager out of Nashville. In her most recent role as general manager of Hard 8 Management/Folsom Records, Bender worked with acts including Dashboard Confessional, Twin Forks and Dan Layus while overseeing the company’s team of day-to-day managers along with digital marketing and touring personnel. Before that, Bender was national director, promotion at Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA), which followed her decade-plus stint in promotion at RRP/Warner Music Group.

Also boarding Hazel Street are Lesley James and MJ Marty, who will serve as directors of radio and streaming, respectively, at the label. James was previously at East City Management, where he served as head of U.S. radio and streaming promotion, and as an on-air talent and program director at WWCD in Columbus, OH. Marty has worked at Epic Records, Island Def Jam and Columbia Records and most recently established Realid Records at Warner Music Group. In those roles, he has helped promote artists including Beyoncé, John Legend and Fall Out Boy.

Lastly, Andrew de Torres has been appointed director, digital and artist marketing. De Torres most recently spent two years at record label Thirty Tigers as digital sales manager, where he helped execute streaming strategy across the roster. Earlier in his career, he toured as an artist, during which time he was signed to Photo Finish Records/Atlantic Records.

Hazel Street Records’ first two signings are alternative rock band Goldpark, whose first single, “Beautiful Desperation,” drops today; and alt-pop duo Nox Holloway, who released the song “Separate Ways” last summer and are now at work on their debut album. The label’s roster will span several genres.

Sound Diplomacy, a U.K.-based strategic consultancy that works with city governments on developing music strategies and policies, has announced the hire of its very first North American CEO, Kate Durio.

In her new role, Durio will lead Sound Diplomacy’s work in North America and the Caribbean in order to expand its growth in the market, where it currently works with more than 25 cities including New York, Orlando, Fort Worth, St Louis, Indianapolis and Hunstville, Alabama.

Sound Diplomacy also owns Music Cities Events, a suite of business conferences connecting music industry and city policymakers and the Music Cities Community, an online platform centered on the Sound Diplomacy mission.

“Kate’s incredible expertise in both city government and as a consultant working with cities is an asset. She’s both a policymaker and a practitioner; a thinker and a doer,” said Sound Diplomacy founder and group CEO Shain Shapiro PhD. “As we move towards recovery, music and the night time economy are going to play a deeper role in how cities and places rebound. We’re excited to have her lead our work in North America and the Caribbean, which has been our fastest growing market since our first project in the US in 2018.”

Before joining Sound Diplomacy, Durio served as chief cultural officer and advisor to the Mayor-President of her hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana, where she founded the city and parish’s first cultural economy initiative and directed its $535,000 annual budget. She is also the founder and president of the Culture Crowd Agency, “a cultural economy consulting firm based on her work funded by the National Endowment for the Arts Grant to take a more equitable and responsive approach to the cultural economy on a local, state and global level.”

Early in the pandemic, Sound Diplomacy released the Music Cities Resilience Handbook, a guide to music and recovery, and led the Cares for Music initiative, which supports more relief funding being allocated to local music ecosystems. It is currently planning two global business conferences: the Music Tourism Convention, slated to be held in Cleveland in September, and the Music Cities Convention, set for late autumn in Alberta, Canada.

Nashville executive Ryan Wesley Smith has launched Big Future Music Group (BFMG), a record label, music publishing and management company that has partnered with The Orchard for distribution as well as publisher Sony/ATV.

Boarding the company at launch are veteran manager and label executive Mike McCloskey as an advisor and producer- songwriter Tyrus Morgan as A&R consultant.

Additionally, BMFG has signed Christian pop artist Abby Robertson, whose debut single, “Sanctuary,” comes out today.

Smith moved to Nashville in 2014 and has since worked at concert promoter Awakening Events and Story House Collective, where he handled day-to-day marketing operations for singer-songwriter Matthew West. In early 2019, he founded development and music marketing company Chordwell, whose clients include For King & Country, Ty James, YoungHeart, Cade Thompson and labels Wordicurb Entertainment and Loyalty Records.

McCloskey has worked with Chris Tomlin, Crowder and Newsboys, while Morgan has written songs including Courtnie Ramirez’s “Who We Are” and Unspoken’s “Good Fight.”

Songtrust has promoted three executives across departments. They are: Lisa Robinson, named vp of income tracking; Anna Bond, upped to head of creative and partnerships, a newly created department; and Rob Wetstone, promoted to global head of client relations.

In her new role, Robinson will continue overseeing the team charged with ensuring Songtrust clients are compensated for their music usage globally. A 20-year industry veteran, she joined Songtrust in 2019 following previous roles at the Harry Fox Agency and EMI Music Publishing.

Bond will now oversee Songtrust’s creative strategy, branding, messaging and client-focused business partnerships. She will direct the company’s expanded efforts to be a premier destination for comprehensive, reliable, and accessible educational materials on music publishing while also shaping how Songtrust “tells its story” in the broader music industry and beyond. Bond previously led the company’s business development team as senior director.

Wetstone will direct Songtrust’s global strategy for onboarding songwriters and provide them with the ability to register their musical works with pay sources globally. Under his leadership, the company continued scaling its client relations approach last year, bringing on songwriters and music companies from countries around the world. Before joining Songtrust, Wetstone served as vp of digital strategy and operations at Sony’s RED Distribution (now The Orchard).

Veteran agent Brett Saliba has joined the music department at UTA, based out of the Nashville office. He was previously with CAA.

Saliba started his career at Buddy Lee Attractions and has worked with artists including Midland, Billy Currington, Kid Rock, Uncle Kracker and Drake White.

Triple 8 Management has promoted six staff members: Christina Egan to CFO; Chris Fairbank to senior vp of marketing; Allison Bostrom to vp of marketing, Mark Noel to vp of management; Karrie Tatum to marketing director; and Amy Brauchle to marketing coordinator.

“We have seen our staff step up and excel in spite of the challenges the pandemic has presented,” said Triple 8 Management founding partner George Couri in a statement. “These promotions serve to acknowledge some of those people, who have helped our clients find creative ways to continue to grow and have impact during these dramatically changing times. We are quite proud of how all members of our 27-person team also step up to support each other and truly work collaboratively.”

“It’s very rewarding to look back at a year like 2020 and be incredibly proud of the hustle & resilience our entire staff has displayed,” added partner Paul Steele. “It’s a true joy to elevate from within, and I look forward to more opportunities to do so in the future.”

LL Cool J’s direct-to-consumer brand Rock The Bells, which started as a hip-hop station on Sirius XM and expanded its operations last June, has brought on former BET executive James Cuthbert as president to oversee the company’s growth. Cuthbert will report to LL Cool J, who will remain as CEO.

Cuthbert comes from over 15 years of executive experience at companies including Red Bull, The Coca-Cola Company, Kellogg's, General Mills and at non-profit organizations including KIPP Philadelphia Charter Schools and The Center for Youth Service. As senior vp of brand marketing & strategy at BET, he helped redefine the BET brand and network.

“It’s been fascinating to watch how LL COOL J has morphed what started as a song into a multi-platform media, commerce, and experiences business, inclusive of a widely listened to radio station with SiriusXM, a digital media site and thriving commerce business,” said Cuthbert in a statement. “I am looking forward to working closely with the team to further expand and grow the brand.”

“We want to leverage the tremendous growth from 2020 and continue expanding our premium content, e-commerce, and experience offerings,” added LL Cool J. “James has an extremely impressive track record of helping brands carve out their voice, and with him at the helm, I feel confident that we’ll be able to cultivate the right relationships and further define what Rock The Bells means.”

Jeremy Stover’s RED Creative Group has hired John Cantu as general manager of RED Recreative Records.

In his new role, Cantu will oversee day-to-day operations, marketing, distribution, branding and creative direction for RED’s artist and development roster, which includes LJ, Noah Hicks and Baker Grissom.

Cantu was previously marketing director at Riser House Entertainment, where he helped launch artists including Mitchell Tenpenny. He was most recently at Anthem Entertainment in a global label and corporate marketing role.