Executive Turntable

Executive Turntable: WEA Hires Fan Experiences Head; Sony Publishing Names VP Creative, US Latin


Danielle Lee

Danielle Lee joined WEA, Warner Music Group’s label and artist services division, in the newly-created role of president, Warner Music artist and fan experiences. Lee was previously chief fan officer for the NBA. Prior to that, she spent four years as Spotify’s global vp of partner solutions.

Based in New York, Lee will report to WEA president Maria Weaver and lead WEA’s artist services division, overseeing ticketing, marketing, account management and data research and analysis. She will focus on broadening the company’s global fan engagement strategy and partner with WMG’s labels to create and execute custom plans regarding artists’ access to their fans.

“Danielle is a fan and marketing guru who brings deep expertise and knowledge to this role from both inside and outside the music industry,” Weaver said in a statement. “She’ll be a key change agent, helping us build upon WEA’s already impressive track record of success in traditional artist services, while also turbo-charging our global fan engagement strategy by finding new and inventive ways to bring fans closer to their favorite artists.”

Lee, who was named one of Billboard’s Branding Power Players in 2019, said in a statement that taking on this new role with WEA is an honor.

“In today’s world, it’s about the music and so much more – fans crave connection with their favorite artists through their shared interests and through memorable experiences, whether that be on social, gaming, audio, video, or in real life,” said Lee. “I look forward to working with this talented team to provide world-class service to our artists while creating impactful experiences that put the fans at the center of everything we do.”

Francisco Granados was appointed vp of creative U.S. Latin at Sony Music Publishing. He previously served as A&R director at Warner Music Mexico, Colombia, Peru and the Andean Region.

Granados will be providing strategic direction for U.S. Latin A&R efforts, search for new talent and sign artists in his new role. Based in Miami, he will report to Sony’s president and CEO of Latin America and U.S. Latin, Jorge Mejia.

The new role marks Granados’ return to the company -- previously, he spent four years as A&R director at Sony Music Publishing Mexico.

“I’m thrilled and honored to join Jorge Mejia and the fantastic U.S. Latin team,” Granados said in a statement. “Sony Music Publishing gave me my first opportunity to be part of the ever-evolving music industry, and I'm grateful to reunite with a family that shares my passion for music.”

“Francisco is an A&R executive who possesses that rare mix of talent for discovering and nurturing artists and songwriters, matched with an impeccable business acumen,“ Mejia said in a statement. “I have admired Francisco since I first started working with him early on in his career and am beyond excited about what we will do together in this new phase.”

Bob Becker, found of the alternative rock label Fearless Records, has launched the label Thriller Records and signed a global distribution agreement with ADA Music Worldwide.

Thriller Records is described in a press release as being dedicated to fostering a “diverse but focused roster” of rock and alternative artists.

Becker is joined in the new venture by former Fearless Records partner John Perenchio, Thriller Records label manager (and InVogue Records founder) Nick Moore; and former Fearless Records president and chief marketing officer Jenny Reader.

The label’s first signing is Seattle five-piece Avoid, who dropped the music video for the track “HostAge At A BeAch House PArty” today. The band, which was recently named a SiriusXM Octane Accelerator Artist To Watch, has seen nearly 1,000 radio spins for its single “Song About James.” Recently, the group struck a partnership with NASCAR that includes a sponsorship with Xfinity Series driver Joe Graf Jr. The deal will also see two of their songs and an Avoid-branded car being featured within the video game NASCAR Heat 5.

"I've always believed the artists and the fans need to be at the center of anything we do,” said Becker in a statement. “We need to advocate for them and for the creators, empowering them to be able to create on their terms, taking our years of experience and combining it with a fresh approach to what an independent label should look like in 2021 and beyond - an entity embracing the way music is now discovered and consumed, and running with it.”

Since forming Fearless Records in 1992, Becker has signed and fostered such acts as At The Drive-In, Portugal.The Man, Plain White T's and I Don’t Know How But They Found Me. He also masterminded the multi-million selling Punk Goes… compilation series, which has spawned 17 releases over almost 20 years.

Becker became chairman emeritus of Fearless at the end of 2018 after selling the label to Concord.

Sandi Spika Borchetta was elevated to executive vp, creative of Big Machine Label Group.

In her new role, Spika Borchetta will continue to oversee content including film, music videos, live performances, photography, design and graphics for BMLG and its roster of country stars, which includes Tim McGraw, Sheryl Crow, Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Lady A the band and Brantley Gilbert.

“Sandi has been a critical component of BMLG since the idea of the label,” BMLG president and Spika’s husband Scott Borchetta said in a statement. “Her undying support and belief in what the label could become has been my rock. There is nobody that works harder than Sandi and the Creative team and their content output is arguably unmatched.”

BMLG has won CMA, ACM and CMT Awards for videos under Spika Borchetta’s direction, including McGraw’s “Highway Don’t Care” and “Humble & Kind,” Rhett’s “Die A Happy Man,” Lady A’s “What If I Never Get Over You,” Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” and Carly Pearce’s “Every Little Thing.” The label’s creative team has also garnered Davey Awards for BMLG corporate integrative campaigns and projects such as Steven Tyler’s “Somebody From Somewhere” lyric video, Sugarland’s “Babe” music video and Cheap Trick’s BANG, ZOOM, CRAZY…HELLO album.

“I feel fortunate and blessed to have worked side by side with my best friend and hero, Scott, for the past 16 years,” Spika Borchetta said in a statement. “The BMLG Creative Team is the very best on the planet and I’m grateful for their passionate talents contributing to the success of the entire machine.”

Cynthia Johnson and Cory “Sparks” Johnson have been announced as Epic Records’ vps of urban promotion as part of “a major tactical restructuring of the national and regional staffs" of the label's urban promotion department, as described in a press statement.

In their new positions at Epic Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, Ms. Johnson and Mr. Johnson will work to obtain airplay exposure for their artists through urban radio promotion campaigns. They will work closely on a daily basis with the urban promotion local and regional team across the U.S. and report directly to Traci Adams, executive vp, promotion.

“With these changes in the Urban Promotion Department ranging from regional to national levels, Epic definitely has one of the best radio promotion teams in the business,” Adams said in a statement. “We will continue the legacy of Epic by breaking new artists in addition to carrying on the success of the established artist.”

Ms. Johnson previously served as vp, urban promotion at Columbia Records and has received the Living Legends Award from Billboard Women in Music. Meanwhile, Mr. Johnson has been with Epic Records for eight years. His most recent role with the label was national director, promotion, which he'd held since 2018.

“It’s an honor to play a small part in the legacy of Epic Records and to continue to work alongside our leader, Traci Adams,” Mr. Johnson said in a statement. “I am inspired to be a part of this awesome team. Now more than ever, I am excited for what the future holds at Epic.”

“It humbles me to work with such a well-respected group of Urban Promotion professionals, led by Traci Adams,” Ms. Johnson said. “I am looking forward to contributing to the growth of the department, working the healthy roster of popular artists, breaking new ones, and making history.”

Epic’s restructuring of the urban promotion department also entails a few other key changes. Maurice Harley was appointed to regional Midwest manager, urban promotion based in Chicago; Stephen Campbell, former Carolinas regional manager, urban promotion, was promoted to New York regional manager based in New York; and McKayla Sibblies, formerly an assistant, was promoted to take over the Carolinas regional manager spot, based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Further, Sylvon Marshall now has picked up the responsibilities of mixshow & lifestyle in the country in addition to his current role as West Coast regional manager based in Los Angeles. Harley, Campbell, Marshall and Sibblies will all report directly to Adams.

RCA Records promoted Jessie Maldonado to senior vp, promotion and operations and Pam Kaye to vp, hot AC promotion.

Maldonado will continue overseeing day to day operations of the pop promotion department while also executing national radio campaigns and working with video networks for RCA’s artist roster, which includes Doja Cat, H.E.R., Khalid, P!nk and Tate McRae.

In 2019, Maldonado was named a top executive on Billboard’s prestigious Women In Music list.

In her newly-expanded role, Kaye will oversee the strategy and rollout at the hot AC format. Over her 6 years at RCA, owned by Sony, Kaye has achieved the record-breaking airplay statistic for P!nk for having the most No. 1s by a solo artist at the format. She’s garnered No. 1 airplay success for various other RCA artists at the hot AC format, including Justin Timberlake, Sia, Elle King, Mark Ronson and Walk the Moon.

LaPolt Law, a Washington D.C.-based entertainment law firm, announced that attorney Sarah Scott is now managing partner. Scott previously served as senior vp of business & legal affairs for Universal Music Group Canada and joined LaPolt Law in 2017. She will continue to oversee the attorneys and workflow at the firm, as well as super-serve its clientele.

“Sarah is a great attorney and an amazing businesswoman,” founder Dina LaPolt said. “It is so gratifying to have Sarah with us in this new role. Together, we will continue breaking every possible glass ceiling while inspiring other women to do the same.”

Scott is known for navigating complex artist rights deals, long-term brand partnerships and multi-million dollar music asset sales.

“This role was Dina's vision and I thank her for that. It is so rewarding to now be her partner, and an entrepreneur, helping her continue to build global, dynamic, successful businesses for the firm’s clients.”

Since founding LaPolt Law in 2001, LaPolt has regularly landed atop numerous “best in the business lists,” notably in The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, Variety, Rolling Stone, Forbes and other publications.

Shane Cosme was promoted to the position of senior vp, international marketing, U.S. at BMG. Cosme has been with BMG since 2018, leading the company’s international recorded music efforts and overseeing international marketing teams.

Based in Los Angeles, Cosme will continue to report to Fred Casimir, executive vp global repertoire and marketing, alongside Jason Hradil, executive vp, New York and senior vp international marketing.

“Shane Cosme and Jason Hradil, who is leading our US international marketing team, are both colleagues with a truly international mindset, '' Casimir said in a statement. “One of BMG’s missions is to overcome silo-thinking and execute global campaigns in fast-changing markets. I am pleased to have such a strong international team in the US and the promotion of Shane Cosme is well deserved.”

Cosme is described in the statement as the person responsible for all outbound global releases from the U.S. to BMG’s international territories. He oversees the marketing efforts of the local teams based in each international territory, is dedicated to handling U.S.-based repertoire and navigates global priorities for BMG’s fully-integrated international platforms for current and new artist projects. He’s been involved in projects for artists like Blanco Brown, Conkarah, Curtis Waters and Run the Jewels.

Tilmann Richter will take on the newly-created position of vp of live ventures for Sony Music GSA (Germany, Switzerland, Austria). Richter previously worked for FKP Scorpio concert productions.

Richter, who worked as Universal Music's director live services from 2012 to 2019, will now lead Sony Music’s live division and develop campaigns for artists across the three countries his division serves. He will also work to intensify collaborations with live entertainment holding company Ibrahim & Boldt, founded by co-MDs Ronny Boldt and Massimo Ibrahim in Berlin.

"In my eyes, Sony Music has long set the industry-wide standards with regard to the innovative dovetailing of all segments of the music business”, Richter said in a statement. “Live Entertainment was, is and will be more than ever, an essential part of an artists’ ecosystem once the pandemic ends.”

Shawn Finnie has been promoted to executive vp, member relations and awards at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Finnie will report directly to COO Christine Simmons.

Leading a team of more than 20 staff members, Finnie will lead engagement and outreach initiatives for the organization’s global membership of more than 10,000 artists, filmmakers and executives. He will also oversee the Academy Awards processes for submissions, rules and voting and work closely with the Academy’s Office of Representation, Inclusion and Equity and the branch executive committees on member representation and inclusion efforts.

“He brings to this position the collaborative, solution-oriented and engaging style that has driven results throughout his time at the Academy,” Simmons said in a statement. “His efforts to foster greater representation and connectivity among the global membership, expand how we serve our members and strengthen relationships within the greater film community have been and will continue to be invaluable to the organization and the industry as a whole.”

Finnie most recently held the position of senior director, member relations and awards and has worked on the Academy staff for eight years. He’s been involved with member outreach and engagement, industry relations and amplifying the Academy’s initiatives in representation and inclusion. Last summer, as part of the Academy Aperture 2025 initiative, he also helped launch “Academy Dialogues: It Starts with Us,” a conversation series focused on race, ethnicity, gender, history, opportunity and the art of filmmaking.