Executive Turntable

Executive Turntable: Greenberg Traurig Adds Legal Heavyweight; SiriusXM Names Podcast Head

Brad Smith
Courtesy Photo

Brad Smith

Greenberg Traurig, LLP has expanded its entertainment & media practice with the addition of music and content attorney Charles J. “Jeff” Biederman as a shareholder in its Los Angeles office. He was previously at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.

According to a release, Biederman has worked on music catalog deals valued at more than $1 billion, including, most recently, representing Round Hill Music Royalty Fund in acquiring a $363 million publishing catalog comprising songs performed by The Beatles, Marvin Gaye, Celine Dion and the Backstreet Boys. He additionally represented Downtown Music Holdings in its recent sale of 145,000 copyrights to Concord Music, including songs from Aretha Franklin, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie and Adele.

Biederman represents recording artists, such as Dierks Bentley and the estate of Miles Davis, as well as producers, composers, managers and executives in the music industry. His clients also include studios, publishing companies, actors, athletes, writers, designers, apparel and accessory companies and advertising agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

In a statement, Biederman noted that Greenberg Traurig’s overseas footprint was a key factor in his return to the firm, where he worked as an associate for a brief period earlier in his career.

“The entertainment marketplace is a global marketplace,’’ said Biederman. “We all work in a global media space. When I’m doing licensing deals in Europe or Asia, having experienced colleagues in markets like London and Milan, is incredibly helpful. I know that for any question that comes up, there’s a Greenberg Traurig lawyer somewhere in the world who can answer it.’’

Bobby Rosenbloum, chairman of Greenberg Traurig’s global practice group, added that the firm plans on “more expansion to come in Los Angeles and beyond,” noting the recent addition of Neil Miller as shareholder in its London office.

In his own statement, Daniel H. Black, Greenberg Traurig’s vice chairman of global practice and chairman of its West Coast entertainment and media practice, lauded Biederman for his “extensive experience and connections” that “will help us continue to strengthen and expand the capabilities of our Los Angeles office and our global entertainment team.’’

“His work on behalf of both creative artists and companies allows him to serve as a strategic advisor to entertainment clients of all sizes,” added Gregory A. Fishman and Barbara A. Jones, co-managing shareholders of Greenberg Traurig’s L.A. office.

Biederman earned his B.A. from Cornell and his J.D. from the Vanderbilt University School of Law.

Former Simplecast founder and CEO Brad Smith has been named head of podcast products at SiriusXM.

In the newly-created role, Smith will lead a team responsible for implementing SiriusXM’s podcast product strategy across all of its owned platforms -- including SiriusXM, Pandora, and Stitcher -- for creators and listeners.

Simplecast, a podcast management and analytics platform, was acquired by SiriusXM in 2020.

Earlier this week, SiriusXM CEO Jennifer Witz detailed SiriusXM’s plans in the podcasting space, including growing its portfolio of both owned-and-operated and third-party podcasts while continuing to offer “a full set of hosting ad tech and ad sales solutions” to both podcast publishers and advertisers.

Wasserman Music has promoted five to agent: Amanda Ilgunas, Paige MaloneyLauren Marker, Edenized Perez and Mallory Smith, the latter two in the brand partnership department. The company has also brought on two new tour marketing directors, Stephanie Gherini and Mika Posecion.

Based in San Francisco, Ilgunas began her career as a receptionist at Paradigm before moving on to talent, corporate communications and human resources roles at the agency, whose music division was acquired by Wasserman earlier this year. She later joined Paradigm’s partner agency AM Only, where she worked as an assistant, and later coordinator, for agent Ben Shprits. In her time with Shprits, she helped book several fast-growing acts in house, underground, and indie electronic music. Her clients now include Dom Dolla, Charlotte de Witte, DJ Seinfeld and NALA.

Maloney joined Paradigm in 2015 as an assistant to agent Joe Atamian following an earlier stint as an administrator at Live Nation in Philadelphia. Her current roster includes Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and Black Pumas. She is based in Nashville.

Marker was previously with WME, where she started in 2018 as agent Brent Smith’s booking assistant. She was later promoted to agent trainee at the agency before moving to Wasserman Music with Smith this past summer. She continues working with Smith and is based in Los Angeles.

Perez previously worked as an assistant, and later coordinator, for agent Anthony DiStasio in Paradigm’s brand partnerships department. She has worked on partnering Kaytranada with Stella Artois for a virtual DJ set at the Sessions at Solstice virtual concert, partnered Toro Y Moi with Cartier for a New York Times content piece and booked Killer Mike’s participation at the ComplexLand virtual pop culture festival. She is based in New York.

Also based in New York is Smith, who joined Paradigm alongside chief marketing officer Lori Feldman in 2019. At the agency, she worked on “facilitating holistic initiatives” throughout the internal marketing and services teams across departments. She previously worked as an assistant for strategic marketing & brand partnerships at Warner Records.

Gherini, who is now based in Nashville, joins Wasserman after a five-year run at Live Nation’s Los Angeles headquarters, where she oversaw marketing on national tours for artists including Halsey, 21 Savage and Anderson .Paak. She has also worked in management, publishing and at record labels during her 11 years in the music industry.

Finally, the Los Angeles-based Posecion comes to Wasserman from WME, where she worked for five-and-a-half years, most recently as a global tour marketing agent. While there, she executed marketing campaigns for artists including AJR, Duran Duran and Steve Aoki. Before that, she founded the artist development and management company 91 Projects and managed DJ and producer Mikael Wills. She started her career at Spin Artist Agency.

Warner Chappell Music (WCM) has promoted Santiago Menéndez-Pidal to president, Southern Europe, effective Oct. 1. Menéndez-Pidal will continue to be based in Madrid and report to Warner Chappell co-chair and CEO Guy Moot.

In his new position, Menéndez-Pidal will continue running WCM Spain but will also oversee the company’s operations in Italy. In the latter country, he’ll be taking over for Roberto Razzini, who stepped down from his role as managing director of WCM Italy at the end of August. Menéndez-Pidal will also work with WMC’s local consultants in Greece to expand the company’s presence there, while also collaborating with WCM’s Paris-based team.

Menéndez-Pidal has been with Warner Chappell since 2017, when he was hired as managing director of WCM Spain. The hire marked a return for the executive to the company, where he worked earlier in his career. Menéndez-Pidal works with several of Spain’s leading songwriters, including Pablo Alboran, Alizzz, Jorge Drexler, El Guincho, Dani Martin, Vanesa Martin, Melendi and Joaquin Sabina. He launched his career at BMG Music in 1992 before moving to WCM Spain and, later, EMI Music Publishing in Spain and Australia. He later served as A&R director of Sony Music Spain, where he signed artists including Dvicio, Ana Mena, Melendi, C Tangana, Rozalén and Andrés Suarez.

“We think that connecting our businesses across Southern Europe even more will lead to synergies that’ll benefit our writers throughout the region,” said Moot and his Warner Chappell co-chair Carianne Marshall in a statement announcing Menéndez-Pidal’s promotion. They also paid tribute to Razzini, calling him “a stalwart leader for Warner Chappell Music Italy over many years, building and maintaining an amazing business and supporting writers from all different genres and backgrounds.”

Ciara Shortridge has been elevated to vp, country publishing/A&R at Curb | Word Entertainment. She was previously senior creative director.

Shortridge has been with the company since the beginning of 2020, following 10 years at Disney Music Publishing Nashville. In the new role, she will be responsible for overseeing the creative operations of the country roster alongside vp, country publishing & creative Colt Murski.

Curb | Word's country roster includes Dylan Scott, Luke Bryan, Jimmie Allen and Lee Brice.

TuneCore CEO Andreea Gleeson has been named U.S. ambassador for Keychange, the international initiative designed to transform the music industry by reaching 50% women and gender minority representation across festivals and organizations. TuneCore and its parent company, Believe, have committed to the Keychange global gender pledge for parity.

“While the discrepancy that exists currently in the music industry has become more recognized, the challenges and barriers facing female creators are still there and remain poorly understood and unsolved,” said Gleeson in a statement. “We all need to be aware and ask ourselves what we can do to move the needle.”

Under Gleeson’s leadership, earlier this year TuneCore partnered with MIDiA Research to spearhead the study BE THE CHANGE: Women Making Music 2021, which examined why women continue to be underrepresented in the music industry. Of 401 women creators who responded to the survey, 81% felt it was harder for female artists to get recognition than male artists. Thirty-four percent asked for female-friendly resources and safe workspaces, while 35% of female creators want more change to come from learning and shared experiences in the form of coaching and mentoring.

Gleeson used the study as the foundation for the Gender Equality Hub, her first activation on behalf of Keychange. Sponsored by TuneCore and Believe and curated by Gleeson, the hub will host networking, mentoring sessions and workshops with companies including TikTok, Sentric Music, SongTrust and Native Instruments at the 16th Annual Reeperbahn Festival, which is slated to run from Sept. 22-25 in Hamburg, Germany. The activiation's so-called “speed mentoring” program will be run by female and gender minority advocacy community shesaid.so.

The Gender Equality Hub’s presence at Reeperbahn will serve as a pilot, with a planned expansion to other conferences next year.

Alli Galloway has been hired as head of audience and creative at music credits database Jaxsta. She’ll report to chief marketing officer Beth Appleton.

In her role, Galloway will lead Jaxsta’s audience growth strategy by overseeing communications with Jaxsta’s growing membership, among other functions. Before Jaxsta, she was senior audience & channel manager at Warner Music Australia (WMA), where she relaunched the company’s website and oversaw the strategic growth of media brands, including I Like Your Old Stuff, Maniacs, Cool Accidents and WMA’s direct channels. Over more than 20 years of music industry experience, she has served as a touring and festival promoter and agent for artists in the U.K. and also held strategic roles at Jaden Digital, where she was head of artist & label marketing, and Social Family Records, where she was digital and marketing manager.

“Jaxsta's membership is growing daily and we have a tunnel vision on ensuring that we meet the needs of our membership,” said Jaxsta CEO and co-founder Jacqui Louez Schoorl in a statement. “Alli joining Beth's team as Head of Audience and Creative is another proud moment as we continue to grow our Olympic team.”

Songwriter and artist Donovan Woods and his longtime manager Michelle Szeto have launched the record label End X Music (End Times Music), distributed by The Orchard.

The label’s first signee is Cassidy Man, who recently released her first single with the label, “Election Night.”

“Since Donovan and I started working together over 5 years ago, the idea of sharing what we’ve learned and the relationships we’ve built with another artist has always thrilled us,” said Szeto in a statement. “We never questioned the hard work that would come with it, but rather, we didn’t think we would ever agree on an artist. When we independently came across Cassidy and sent her music to one another, it was a coincidence we couldn’t ignore.”

Kiswe, an interactive video company that creates real-time live streams, has named Ruby Kam as CFO.

Kam comes to Kiswe after more than 20 years of leadership experience in finance, strategy, product and account management. She will be responsible for the company’s strategic finance, investor relations, human resources and accounting functions. She joins Kiswe from United Health Group (UHC) National Accounts, where she also served as CFO. Prior to that, she worked at New York-based private equity firm TCR and was also a strategy consultant with McKinsey & Company.

In a statement, Kiswe CEO Mike Schabel noted that the company’s revenue grew 10 times in 2020 over the prior year. “Ruby’s strategic vision and financial acumen will be instrumental to the continued hyper growth of the company, and her experience will help lead the team on our journey to become an industry leader for interactive video,” he said.

In 2020, Kiswe reported 537.2 million interactive engagements in nearly 200 countries.

Oak View Group (OVG) has appointed three executives to posts at the forthcoming Coachella Valley Arena: JoAnn Armstrong as vp of programming, Joyce Szudzik as vp of marketing and Ruth Hill as vp of finance. All will be based in Palm Desert and report to John Bolton, senior vp of entertainment-facilities at OVG and general manager of the arena.

Armstrong will be tasked with spearheading strategic content programming of all concerts, family shows and special events, as well as facilitating the AHL hockey schedules. She comes from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, where she worked for 28 years. During her time there, she oversaw all programming for the arena and scheduled games for the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. Prior to that, she was part of the management team at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa, California and at the Laff Stop Comedy Nite Club in Santa Ana, California.

Szudzik arrives at OVG/Coachella Valley Arena from AEG Worldwide, where she will oversee the planning and execution of the arena marketing strategy, including brand, ticket sales, media buying, partnership marketing, social and digital media. A two-time Billboard Digital Power Player, she will also serve as a liaison and work with OVG Los Angeles and other arena stakeholders to ensure brand alignment. Szudzik is described as “a digital native and social media strategist” with a long track record in marketing on both the promoter and venue side. She started her career in Live Nation’s PACE amphitheaters and later worked in national tour marketing at AEG Live, where she led marketing campaigns for A-list artists and built the digital marketing team. She most recently led AEG’s social media listening and strategy, consumer data governance programs.

In her new role, Hill will establish the arena’s financial infrastructure and compliance, develop budgets and monthly forecasts, assist with projecting event deals and P&L and oversee daily accounting and finance operations. Before joining OVG, she worked for NBA teams including the Utah Jazz, Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs; NHL teams including the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars; and, most recently, at the full-service marketing agency Mod Op.

Located in California’s Riverside County, the Coachella Valley Arena will be more than 300,000 square feet and boast over 11,000 seats, as well as modern suites and premium hospitality clubs. It will be the home of the Seattle Kraken’s affiliated American Hockey League (AHL) team and include an adjoining community gathering space and training center for the team. It is projected to open in the final quarter of 2022.

Nashville-based music marketing firm Songfluencer has named Chelsea Kent as international, director of Europe and Michael T. Fox as international, director of Canada.

Kent has 10 years of experience in the entertainment field, with a focus on on international publishing, writer/producer/artist management and A&R. In her new role, she’ll be the primary liaison for all Songfluencer business in Europe, including identifying cross-Atlantic opportunities for Songfluencer clients, nurturing relationships with clients and creators and laying the groundwork for future opportunities across the globe.

Fox previously worked as head of music partnerships at World Vision Canada. At Songfluencer, he will work alongside the company’s co-owner and chief technology officer Louis O’Reilly to expand Songfluencer’s reach in the Canadian market.

Inertia Music has announced several promotions: director of label services Yvonne Cho has been upped to general manager; digital strategy manager Cameron Walsh is now director of label services; A&R label group coordinator Sophie Brown has been elevated to A&R and marketing manager – [PIAS] Australia; and sales account manager Phoebe Kwan will move into the role of product operations manager while her colleague Janine Rankin goes on maternity leave at the end of September.

Cho will report to Inertia Music & [PIAS] Australia managing director Colin Daniels, who said Cho’s “contribution to the strategy and operation of Inertia has been instrumental in our growth.”

Walsh, who reports to Cho, will lead the label services team and oversee management of Inertia Music & [Integral] label services clients and their releases. His team includes recently-promoted marketing manager Fiona Priddey, label managers Brendan O’Keeffe and Joshua Gibbs and digital manager Vanessa Bartel. Brown will report to head of marketing Mari Stuart, who will also oversee newly-hired [PIAS] Australia label group promotions manager Liz Ansley.

Mike Murray has been named head of creative at Hillsong Music Publishing out of Nashville, Murray announced via Instagram last week (as reported by the Gospel Music Association). He comes to the company after a 12-year stint at Christian record label and publishing house Integrity Music.

Over a career spanning more than 25 years, Murray has also served in roles at Christian labels including Capital CMG and Provident Label Group, working with artists and songwriters including Hillsong Worship, Leeland, Kari Jobe, All Sons & Daughters and Matt Redman. Prior to that, he worked as a roadie for 4-Him and Geoff Moore & The Distance.