Executive Turntable

Executive Turntable: Disney Names Music Biz Affairs EVP, UMG Catalog Division Hires VP of A&R

Dennis Wolfe

Dennis Wolfe

Peter DiCecco has been promoted to executive vp, music business affairs at Disney General Entertainment (DGE).

In the role, DiCecco will lead the DGE music affairs team across several entities at Disney, including ABC-owned TV stations, Disney+, Disney parks and Disney consumer products. Under his direction, the team will handle all deal-making, strategy and business and legal affairs related to the production, acquisition and distribution of music for programming produced by DGE brands and studios including Hulu Originals, ABC Entertainment, ABC News, Disney Branded Television, FX Networks, Freeform, National Geographic, ABC Signature and 20th Television.

DiCecco will also continue running the ABC music publishing catalog globally and oversee music business affairs for Disney’s TV productions based in Latin America, Asia and other regions. He reports to DGE executive vp, strategy and business operations Trish Husson.

“Peter is a well-respected industry executive who has been integral to the ever-evolving business of music in television,” said Husson in a statement. “His creative deal-making and vision have helped shape and expand the storytelling landscape through music, bringing greater dimensionality to DGE’s award-winning content.”

DiCecco was previously senior vp and general manager, music, overseeing music affairs for the Disney/ABC TV group and setting music policy and creating ancillary business opportunities for the music assets from franchises including High School Musical, Dancing with the Stars and Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Before that, DiCecco was vp, music and business affairs at ABC Entertainment Group, where he set music policies for ABC and brokered all music deals for the network’s entertainment, daytime, sports, late-night and news divisions.

DiCecco started as senior counsel in the intellectual property section of the corporate legal department at Disney, where he provided counsel to business units including Disney Cruise Lines, Walt Disney Records, Touchstone Television and Disney Character Voices International. He negotiated music deals for the grand opening of Disney’s California Adventure theme park and launched the Radio Disney Jams and Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack franchises.

Universal Music Enterprises (UMe), the global catalog division of Universal Music Group, has hired Dennis Wolfe as vp, A&R, effective immediately.

In the newly-created role, Wolfe will develop strategic initiatives across UMG’s catalog. He will also spearhead multi-media projects “that drive value for UMG artists, fans and stakeholders,” according to a release. Wolfe will be based in Los Angeles and report to Jane Gowen, UMe's executive vp, marketing and A&R.

Wolfe brings over two decades of experience to UMe. As a consultant, he previously led UMG’s HD remastering initiative in partnership with YouTube, during which over 1,000 music videos from the ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s were remastered in HD and high-quality audio for the first time. He was previously head of catalog A&R for Capitol Records, where he worked with major artists including The Beach Boys, for whom he co-produced The Smile Sessions.

Wolfe is also a former artist who recorded and toured as the drummer for Virgin Records artists U.S. Crush and The Exies.

“Dennis’ involvement with numerous artists and managers, as well as being a former recording artist himself, are key to his collaborative, long term relationships with artists spanning UMG’s labels,” said Gowen in a statement. “Additionally, his background in branding and content strategy will help us build core activations beyond the traditional releases.”

Lori Giamela and Kevin Valentini have both been promoted to senior vp, promotion at RCA Records.

Giamela and Valentini both previously held the role of vp, rhythm promotion at the label, where they will continue running the rhythm team -- Giamela from the West Coast and Valentini from New York.

During their five-year leadership tenure, Giamela and Valentini have racked up hits for artists including Miguel, G-Eazy, Khalid and Doja Cat. Most recently, their efforts helped lead Chris Brown to a record on Billboard’s Rhythmic Airplay chart for “Go Crazy,” which has remained in the top 10 of the tally for 40 weeks and counting.

Mitú, the national, millennial Latino-focused entertainment and OTT platform that’s now part of Latido Music, has hired Luciana Villalba as executive director of Latido Music by mitú, the company’s new music entertainment arm content channel and social media presence.

In the role, Villalba will be responsible for directing directing all music content, securing and filming interviews with top artists and franchising video content into series across social channels including TikTok and Instagram. She will lead an international team across Miami, Los Angeles and Colombia.

Villalba has handled on-air promotions for Latin America at Discovery Channel, where she also worked as a digital producer leading digital and social for branded content. She also served as a digital and social producer at NBCUniversal/Telemundo, where she grew all social accounts for the company and created original franchises on social media platforms. In that role, she additionally led social and digital coverage for projects including the Latin Billboard Awards, the Latin American Music Awards and Premios Tu Mundo.

Entertainment attorney Jodie Shihadeh, named one of Billboard’s Top Music Lawyers in 2020, has launched Shihadeh Law P.C., a boutique transactional entertainment law firm with offices in New York and Los Angeles.

The firm’s roster includes creators, entertainment companies and industry executives including producer-songwriter J White Did It, producer-songwriter Roy Lenzo, songwriter Paul Phamous, artist-producer-songwriter El Guincho, artist EDEN and singer-songwriter Audrey Mika.

Prior to launching her own firm, Shihadeh was a partner at The Davis Firm, where she negotiated deals for top artists, producers, songwriters, management and production companies, executives and more.

Shihadeh additionally advises the CreateSafe Record Deal Simulator on behalf of Grimes’ longtime manager Daouda Leonard.

Guitar maker Fender’s music education foundation Fender Play has announced the inaugural members of its board of directors, which includes Fender CEO Andy Mooney and CFO Jim Broenen. They are:

Musician, percussionist, bassist, turntable master, songwriter and producer Iz Avila, a champion of music education via his leadership with the Grammy in the Schools Program, Turnaround Arts and the 1500 Sound Academy.

Winston Cox, the implementation director for Turnaround Arts at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Charmaine Jefferson, a former professional concert dancer who operates Kélan Resources; is a volunteer commissioner for the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs; and serves as a trustee of the California Institute of the Arts. She is also an advisory committee member for the LA County Art Commission Cultural Equity & Inclusion Initiative and an advisory board member of the LA Chamber Orchestra and president of The Museum Group.

Terry Lewis, a five-time Grammy-winning songwriter and producer who, alongside Jimmy Jam, has penned hits for Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion and Sting.

David Robinson, an NBA Hall of Fame inductee, two-time Olympic gold medalist, and co-founder of Admiral Capital Group. Robinson has previously raised tens of millions of dollars for The Carver Academy and IDEA Public Schools.

CAA co-head of contemporary music in Los Angeles Rick Roskin, whose client roster has included Eric Clapton, Santana, Kelly Clarkson and Cheap Trick.

With the appointment of the new leadership board, Fender Play Foundation will look to further its mission of expanding music education, with a goal of serving 10,000 students by the end of 2021 and 1 million students by 2030.

ONErpm has expanded its Nashville marketing division with the hire and promotion of five new executives. They are:

Stephanie Onder, project manager for outlaw & country. She joins the company from CMG/The Orchard, where she served as marketing manager. Onder is responsible for artists Adam Calhoun, Struggle Jennings, Moonshine Bandits, Cash Campbell and Trey Lewis.

Stephanie Murphy, country project manager. She joins from CAA, where she served as a marketing manager. Murphy is responsible for Brett Kissel, Love and Theft and Pam Tillis.

Julia McLeod, associate director of artist marketing/head product manager of alt & rock, who was promoted from her former position as project manager. McLeod is responsible for Sports, Bryce Fox, Small Pools, Solence and the Cult Records label. McCleod will continue overseeing all of ONErpm’s product managers in the U.S.

Casey Childers, senior and lead project manager of pop and dance, who was promoted from project manager. Childer is responsible for Paul Oakenfeld, Elohim, Sebastian Paul and Ookay.

Diana Garcia, director of marketing for Verge Records, who joins the company from AMG. Garcia, who is the founder of House of Darlings, will oversee marketing strategies for Trace Adkins, Chuck Wicks, Scott Stevens and Jay Allen and provide support to the rest of ONErpm’s country music roster.

Splice, the music creation platform that helps creators make and collaborate on music remotely, has appointed Kehinde Hassan -- producer and co-founder of the hip-hop/electronic duo Christian Rich -- to the newly-created role of director of global music culture.

In his new role, the Chicago-born, Nigeria-raised Hassan will help strengthen Splice’s relationships with the commercial music ecosystem across the globe while cultivating new partnership opportunities with music companies, producers and brands. He will report to Splice chief music officer Maria Egan and vp of A&R Jen Mozenter.

As a producer, Hassan (who comprises one-half of Christian Rich alongside his twin brother Taiwo) has worked with Childish Gambino, Drake, Earl Sweatshirt and J. Cole, among others. The duo has released several EPs and one full-length project, as well as a joint single with Jaden Smith. They also also have tracks in the works with artists including Snoh Aalegra, Channel Tres and Davido.

Splice, which boasts more than 4 million users, closed a $55 million Series D funding round led by Goldman Sachs Growth in February. The company says it handed out $15 million in royalty payouts to creators last year.

Nina Lee will kick off a new role as director of communications at The Oriel staring in June, working out of the company’s New York office.

Lee started her career at Press Here Publicity before moving to Shore Fire Media, where she was hired as a junior account executive in 2015.

The Oriel was launched by Carleen Donovan, Jen Appel and Chloe Walsh last year.

Universal Music Group Nashville director of media marketing Ailie Birchfield resigned to join New York-based Havas Formula as a director. Her clients will include Dr Pepper, Snapple and Keurig … Nashville-based Jonas Group Entertainment tapped Phil Guerrilla as CEO. He spent 28 years with Disney, where he was most recently Radio Disney vp music strategy/GM … Music City entrepreneur Doak Turner joined The Business Side of Music podcast as partnership specialist. Turner is the former co-owner of MusicStartsHere.org.  -- Tom Roland