Women In Music 2016: The 100 Most Powerful Executives
From making records to protecting rights, negotiating contracts to discovering talent, the female executives included on Billboard’s 2016 Women in Music list represent the best of today’s dealmakers, influencers and tastemakers. For this year’s edition, in addition to categories for labels, publishing, live music, agencies, digital, media, branding, management and performance rights organizations, the editors of Billboard have also chosen a group music attorneys and public relations executives for whom 2016 was especially busy. Read on for the profiles of the 100 most powerful women in music.
EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR
BOZOMA SAINT JOHN, 39
Head of global consumer marketing, iTunes/Apple Music
When Apple's Bozoma Saint John took the stage at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference in June, grooving along to "Rapper's Delight" while demonstrating the new functions of Apple Music, the couple of thousand gathered at San Francisco's Bill Graham Civic Auditorium strained their necks to take in the 6-foot-1 "badass," as Twitter declared when her name started trending. Within minutes, BuzzFeed blasted a post titled "Bozoma St. John Is the Coolest Person to Ever Go Onstage at an Apple Event," while The Verge proclaimed "Apple's Bozoma Saint John Is My Hero." Both noted the significance of the first black woman to present at an Apple event.
That Saint John, 39, was chosen to represent the streaming service, undergoing days of script doctoring and intense run-throughs under the watchful eye of Apple CEO Tim Cook, is a testament to her influence on the $596 billion tech giant. She joined the company through Beats, which Apple acquired three months after she started working there in 2014. Says Jimmy Iovine, who hired her: "She's a force of nature. She walks it. She talks it. She knows what's going on, whether it's fashion, music, sports... That's what attracted me to her. I didn't need a technology person; I needed someone to sell a streaming service. And if she could sell me, she could sell anybody."
Quickly upstreamed to head up music marketing efforts, Saint John was soon stewarding such buzzy campaigns as the ad featuring Taylor Swift's workout wipeout to Drake and Future's "Jumpman" (followed six months later with a commercial showing Drake pumping iron to Swift's "Bad Blood"), and another starring Mary J. Blige, Kerry Washington and Taraji P. Henson and directed by Ava DuVernay, which premiered on Emmys night in 2015. In the latter, the ladies played themselves, trading music notes through which consumers could be introduced to the playlist concept. The clip became a social media sensation, prompting conversations about race and gender and helping drive subscribers to Apple Music -- 17 million of them, as last reported by the company in September.
Read the full story on Saint John.
Chairman/COO, Atlantic Records Group
CAMILLE HACKNEY, 45
Executive vp brand partnerships and commercial licensing, Atlantic Records; head of global brand partnerships council, Warner Music Group
‣ WMG's prophets of profitability
On a Friday in November when Atlantic Records held four of the top 10 spots on the Hot 100, Julie Greenwald sat in her New York office reflecting on the company's biggest year since she and chairman/CEO Craig Kallman took over in 2004. Greenwald works at the head of a long desk -- originally made for a dining room. ("If you're in this room, you have a seat at the table and I need your opinion," she says.) Along the window sill overlooking 51st Street sit signed posters from Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars, both of whom call her a "bad muthaf--a." It all sets the tone for a company where the mother of two -- she's married to former MTV executive Lewis Largent -- mixes the hustle she has long been known for with a familial vibe.
That hustle has nearly doubled Atlantic's market share the last 12 years to 9.08 percent -- track equivalent albums (TEA) plus stream equivalent albums (SEA) -- through the third quarter of 2016, putting the label second only to Columbia, though that's not the metric Greenwald tracks.
"I always watched our industry do crazy, dumb stuff in the name of market share, and it didn't mean that they were super profitable," she says. "I wanted to be profitable so I could keep growing staff and getting more resources. I came in with a mission statement and said, 'I don't want to be the biggest company, I want to be the best company.' " Since 2004, she has worked toward that by building a diverse roster that includes breakouts from rapper-singer Kevin Gates (whose first album Islah has earned 1.1 million equivalent album units, making it the top-selling debut studio set of 2016), R&B singer-songwriter Kehlani (who earned her first two Hot 100 hits in 2016, including "Gangsta," from the film Suicide Squad, which hit No. 41), rapper-producer D.R.A.M. (who had a left-field No. 5 on the Hot 100 with "Broccoli") and K Michelle, whose More Issues Than Vogue became her second album to hit No. 2 on the Billboard 200.
Atlantic also holds three slots on the list of 2016's best-selling albums year to date -- unstoppable alt-rockers Twenty One Pilots and the soundtracks to Hamilton and Suicide Squad -- and that's before the Nov. 18 release of Bruno Mars' third album, 24K Magic. Meaning, the best year Atlantic has had since Greenwald got there is about to get better.
Hackney, meanwhile, has hooked up artists on Warner Music Group labels with lucrative branding deals. The mother of three orchestrated several major partnerships in the past year: Missy Elliott and Sprite, Janelle Monáe and Pepsi, and a multigenre, multi-artist (Charlie Puth, Brett Eldredge, Sofia Reyes, Ty Dolla Sign) tie to Fiat Chrysler for a TV commercial during the 2015 American Music Awards. While the Fiat spot generated more than 9 million YouTube views, Hackney points to the Elliott/Sprite partnership as a point of pride. "That was the third time we were able to work with The Coca-Cola Company and Missy. I love it when we can do repeat business with a brand."
Biggest Splurge: Greenwald: "A brownstone in Brooklyn Heights. It should be ready to move into in spring/summer of 2018." // Hackney: "My chocolate-brown Fiat 500c convertible. I have a husband and three small kids and we cannot fit in it -- legally -- but it does not matter because it's all mine. I love it."
MICHELE ANTHONY, 60
Executive vp, Universal Music Group
‣ Built UMG's branding battalion
Until this music-biz powerhouse joined UMG in 2013, the world's biggest label didn't have a branding team. As chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge's No. 2, Anthony changed that, hiring GroupM's Mike Tunnicliffe to oversee branding and sponsorships, recruiting Sony's Todd Goodwin for college and lifestyle marketing in 2015 and, in March, buying digital-marketing agency Fame House. In 2016, Anthony's team has partnered with Honda and HP, created 350 brand showcases, turned 80 college students into volunteer buzz-building reps and changed how the label works with corporations. "We have built a single access point to create deals," says the former Sony Music COO about the two-year process. "We wanted people with real expertise."
Famously, the native New Yorker grew up in the industry, joining her father Dee Anthony's management team at age 12 and touring with Peter Frampton. Her father assumed she'd follow into the family business, but she detoured into law: "I started thinking, 'If I became a music lawyer, I could also be a manager, but I'd really be able to protect my artists.' " It wasn't a popular decision in the Anthony household, but the education allowed her to represent Guns N' Roses, Alice in Chains and Ozzy Osbourne, then join Sony Music as a senior executive and part of Tommy Mottola's hitmaking team, breaking Pearl Jam and Oasis.
While Anthony's father influenced her career, the George Washington University alum credits her mother for her work ethic. Her parents divorced in the '60s; her single mom worked at a pen factory, a hospital, then Zales as a jewelry designer, all while contending with old-school sexism -- HR scolded her for wearing pants, bosses handed her unsolicited hotel keys on the road. "She dealt with all of that with grace," says Anthony. "When you grow up with that, it leaves a very strong impression."
SARA CLEMENS, 45
‣ Converting enemies to allies
When Pandora founder Tim Westergren returned to the company as CEO in March, one of his first acts was to promote Clemens to COO. At the time, labels and publishers were still suspicious of the Internet radio service's efforts to drive down royalties, which included a 2013 purchase of a South Dakota terrestrial radio station to qualify Pandora for cheaper songwriting rates under law. (ASCAP president Paul Williams publicly denounced the sale as a "stunt.") Now, 10 months into her new role, and with Pandora poised to launch a new interactive streaming service in January, Clemens has made allies out of the company's biggest skeptics.
"In a year, we'll have built a new service, gotten the licenses and launched," says Clemens, a New Zealander who lives in San Francisco's Glen Park with her husband, the COO of a financial-tech startup. "But the real accomplishment is the change in our relationship with the industry."
As chief strategy officer in 2015, Clemens oversaw Pandora's purchases of the data company Next Big Sound (in May, terms undisclosed) and Ticketfly (October, $450 million) -- acquisitions made to give artists and labels more tools to market tickets directly to fans. She also led the charge on other artist-friendly resources and innovations (like a data dashboard to track listening habits) that ultimately made productive negotiations possible.
"She walked into a very tender situation," says Westergren. "Label by label, artist by artist, she built a change in perception."
All of this was essential to the 2017 launch of Pandora's interactive service. "It won't be 40 million songs and a search box," says Clemens, declining to offer more detail. "We'll give people the most personalized experience of any online service."
First Female Artist With Whom She Identified: Sinéad O'Connor. "Her first album was the first album where I felt like a female artist had really owned her voice as a singer-songwriter."
JODY GERSON, 55
Chairman/CEO, Universal Music Publishing Group
‣ Nothing compares 2 landing Prince's catalog
As head of the industry's second-largest music publisher, Gerson scored the business' most coveted deal in 2016: exclusive worldwide administration of Prince's songwriting rights. "Obviously, it was a very competitive deal," says Gerson, who came to UMPG at the end of 2014 from Sony/ATV, where she had held a co-president position since 2008. Also in 2016, UMPG signed worldwide exclusive deals with R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Romeo Santos (who had never before done a publishing deal), Joe Jonas (and his dance-funk band DNCE) and rapper Travis Scott, whom Gerson had pursued long before his September LP, Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. More crucially, global revenue is up 4.1 percent since 2015, and global synch revenue up 13 percent.
Although the Beverly Hills resident is quick to credit the company's administration and 800 "extraordinary" employees for these wins, Gerson, who was Billboard's 2015 Executive of the Year, is the one who keeps walking these huge signings across the finish line. "I don't do anything half-assed," she says. "I go all the way."
Music publishing historically has been a cigar-chomping boys' club. As the first woman to run a major label's music publishing arm, the divorced mother of three has not only changed the face of the business but softened its often ruthless competitiveness. "I don't need my success to be about somebody else's failure," she says. Case in point: Gerson hasn't drawn much attention to re-signing Pearl Jam, which had left UMPG for Kobalt in 2010. "Whatever we've done here has gotten better, so they came back," she says. But the Prince deal, she admits, made her feel "a little like Superwoman."
Nonmusical Female Icon: "Michelle Obama. I wish she was my friend."
WENDY GOLDSTEIN, 54
Executive vp, Republic Records
‣ Working for The Weeknd, Ariana and DNCE
Goldstein likes to say that A&R is "half skill and half luck," though the steady stream of hits she has racked up during more than two decades seems to take chance out of the equation. Her most recent masterstrokes? The Daft Punk-buoyed title track from The Weeknd's upcoming album, Starboy, which already has climbed to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and "Cake by the Ocean," the Hot 100 top 10 from Joe Jonas' DNCE, the 15th-best-selling track of 2016 year to date, moving nearly 1.4 million downloads.
The Brooklyn-raised college dropout has been making major moves since her first week as an A&R rep at Geffen Records in 1993, when -- acting on a tip -- she went down to Philadelphia to see a band of high school kids and signed The Roots. Her combination of two classic A&R virtues -- long-term talent development and the ability to place hit songs with key artists -- has powered her rise at UMG's Republic, where she was upped to executive vp in October, and where the corporate culture is set by Lucian Grainge, a chairman/CEO with a background in A&R, not finance.
Goldstein has worked with Ariana Grande since the pint-sized diva's signing at 16, helping guide the former teen Nickelodeon star to Dangerous Woman status -- Grande's third album has earned 903,000 equivalent album units year to date. And Goldstein's impeccable hip-hop credentials made her the perfect person to help transform The Weeknd from alt-R&B mixtape savant to the triple-platinum, Oscar-nominated pop king. Recalls Goldstein: "He said, 'I want to learn the DNA of how to write a hit song,' " so she brokered a sitdown with Max Martin, resulting in the Hot 100 No. 1 "I Can't Feel My Face."
Nonmusical Female Icon: "Jane Fonda. She's a badass, she's political, she's smart, and she can still be girly. She's no dummy."
Senior vp commerce, Epic Records/Sony Music Entertainment
President, Epic Records
‣ Led Epic to an epic year
You wouldn't think an album no one bought would place high on a list of year-end accomplishments, but the Epic Records compilation Epic AF isn't just any album. In fact, it's not an album in the traditional sense, but more of a playlist solution to a music-packaging problem. The problem, as Epic's Joshua saw it, was that the Billboard 200 album chart now tallies 1,500 streams, or 10 purchased downloads of a song, as one album sold -- but if an online single isn't tied to a larger project, those streams don't count on the chart. So Joshua proposed to label chief Antonio "L.A." Reid that Epic take its artists' hugely popular one-off tracks -- like DJ Khaled's Jay Z and Future collaboration "I Got the Keys," the Snapchat star's lead single to his then-unreleased LP Major Key -- bundle them as one streaming-only playlist and call the compilation an album. It worked: Released July 17, Epic AF debuted at No. 16 on the Billboard 200, spent four weeks in the top 10 and peaked at No. 5.
"I wanted to create a product meant to behave the way consumers do," says Joshua, a Beverly Hills resident who was born in Tehran, Iran, and raised in Los Angeles. "Epic AF was the first of its kind: a playlist, product and consumption [tool] rolled into one." The concept also worked as a kind of promotional tool, helping the label score Billboard 200 No. 1s by Future, Travis Scott and Khaled.
Also in 2016, under the auspices of Rhone -- who served as Universal Motown Records president before joining Epic in 2013 -- Epic's bragging rights include the Billboard 200 No. 1 debut of A Tribe Called Quest's swan song We Got It From Here... Thank You 4 Your Service, two Billboard 200 top five sophomore albums (Meghan Trainor's Thank You and Fifth Harmony's 7/27, which included the girl group's Hot 100 No. 4 hit "Work From Home"), four No. 1s on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (LPs from Future, Scott, Khaled and Yo Gotti) and a Top Rock Albums No. 1 from Chevelle. In addition, Epic estimates its streaming business to be up more than 130 percent in 2016 versus 2015.
As Epic settles into it new Culver City digs on the Sony Pictures Entertainment lot, Joshua and a now bicoastal Rhone are focusing on 2017. One major push will be the debut album from Swedish artist Zara Larsson, named best new act at the recent MTV Europe Music Awards. The other will be maintaining Epic's hot streak. As Joshua says, "Innovation is important."
Biggest Splurge: Joshua: "Quality, well-designed, handmade watches. Looking down and seeing them always keeps me on time."
First Female Artist With Whom She Identified: Rhone: "Dinah Washington. My parents played her music all the time -- and I can still sing 'What a Diff'rence a Day Makes' after all these years."
ALLISON KAYE, 35
President of music, SB Projects
‣ The Bieber whisperer
When your client -- in this case, Justin Bieber -- releases a critically acclaimed record that debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, earns 1.6 million equivalent album units in the United States and generates 1.7 billion on-demand audio streams, there is no such thing as sitting out the accompanying tour, even if you're seven months pregnant. "It's not the first time I've toured while pregnant, but it will be the last," says Kaye, one of the principal architects behind Bieber's Purpose World Tour, which has grossed more than $139 million so far.
Underscoring the mother of two's resilience is her feat in helping execute one of the most successful image makeovers in recent pop history, transforming the Biebs from a house-egging public urinator into a matured, sympathetic heartthrob. "We took Justin from being maybe the most hated person in the music industry two years ago, to people seeing he's just a good kid who was going through it," says Kaye, whose own tight-knit relationship with the wunderkind has metamorphosed since they met in 2009.
Promoted from GM in July, Kaye will now focus more on "putting out fires" and remaining hands-on with clients Ariana Grande, Kanye West and Tori Kelly. But balancing the demands of her job with family life? "Sometimes you have to realize you can't be all things to all people, and that's OK."
First Female Artist With Whom She Identified: "Debbie Gibson. My parents' basement was tile, so we roller-skated to Debbie Gibson."
Co-founder/CEO, First Access Entertainment
‣ Developing Zayn in more than One Direction
After more than 20 years in the music industry, half of it running her own shop, Stennett says she operates by one guiding principle: "Keep moving forward. If you have an instinct, follow it."
In October 2015, the Liverpool, England, native did just that when she announced a joint venture with Russian-born American billionaire and Warner Music Group owner Len Blavatnik. Her Turn First Artists management firm -- Zayn Malik, Ellie Goulding, Rita Ora and Iggy Azalea are clients -- became First Access Entertainment, an enterprise now focused on finding synergistic opportunities for Stennett's acts in film, TV, fashion, technology and, yes, music.
"It's about positioning ourselves to ensure that every opportunity, every market shift isn't missed," she says. So, when Malik's debut solo album, Mind of Mine, topped the Billboard 200 and sold 632,000 equivalent album units, but extreme anxiety kept him from touring, Stennett turned to other media. Malik and Law & Order creator Dick Wolf are developing Boy, a series for NBC based on his experiences in One Direction, and in November, Delacorte Press published his best-selling memoir.
Nearly every artist on the First Access roster is engaged in some genre-bending, cross-platform project. Ora will be a judge on VH1's America's Next Top Model reboot in December, and Lion Babe's Jillian Hervey has landed campaigns with H&M, Pantene and The Gap.
Stennett, who is the parent of fraternal twins with songwriter George Astasio, says she seeks to "find a balance between pushing [my artists] and supporting them." Offices in New York, Los Angeles and London mean marathon workdays, which she mostly shrugs off as no big deal. "I travel a lot, much to my husband's displeasure, and I'm on the phone until 2 or 3 a.m. when I'm home in London," she says. "I feel I'm able to be everywhere at once."
JULIE SWIDLER, 58
Executive vp business affairs/general counsel, Sony Music Entertainment
‣ Sony's closer
As streaming becomes a dominant model, Sony Music Entertainment executive Swidler will be one of the industry's key figures dictating the terms. In 2016, SME was the last of the three major labels to reach a licensing agreement with SoundCloud, even though the corporation was the first to initiate talks with the German platform. "We held out for a long time and we got the right kind of deal," says Swidler, who lives in Manhattan with her husband, a corporate finance lawyer. The money has followed: For the first half of Sony's fiscal year 2016, streaming generated $575.6 million, up 47.8 percent from the same period of 2015.
Good deals aren't just about the immediate bottom line. "It's about trying to take back control of our content," says Swidler. "Some services will say to us, 'It's all promotional,'" she says. "But we sell access, so unless you're promoting someone going to a paid service, what is the promotion [for us]?"
From March to July 2015, Swidler also oversaw Sony Nashville, where she helped guide Tyler Farr's Suffer in Peace to No. 4 on the Billboard 200 -- before handing the division to Randy Goodman, whom she helped hire. "Julie had every meal with an artist, manager or publisher, and people here were blown away that a temporary top-level executive would spend so much time [with them]," says Sandbox Entertainment CEO Jason Owen, who manages Little Big Town and Kacey Musgraves. "That went a long way."
In 2016, with help from president of global digital business and U.S. sales Dennis Kooker, Swidler will keep counseling Sony acts and their managers on how streaming will help them. "That's something we think about every day," she says. "What works."
What She Learned From Her Mother: " 'Be careful what you say in the ladies' room.' She never was."
SARAH TRAHERN, 52
CEO, Country Music Association
‣ Country music's No. 1 advocate
Before the 50th annual Country Music Association Awards even aired on ABC on Nov. 2, Trahern helped the CMA achieve an even more audacious milestone. "Forever Country," a three-song medley performed by 30 of the genre's biggest artists past and present, became one of only three songs to debut at No. 1 on the 58-year-old Hot Country Songs chart. "We were really able to harness the power of our whole industry together," says Trahern, a married "mother" of Griffey, a shepherd-hound mix she and her husband rescued.
The mega-single helped pave the way for other unexpected collaborations at the CMAs, which have become a trademark of the telecast as well as a media and ratings draw.
The most headline-grabbing of all was Beyoncé's surprise team-up with the Dixie Chicks on her Lemonade track "Daddy Lessons," which sparked country-purist backlash and racist comments from online trolls. The CMA was accused of deleting subsequent clips of the performance to avoid further fallout, but Trahern waves off the controversy. "We continue to share the full-length [video] via our official social channels," she says.
Although airing against Game 7 of the World Series cut into the live ratings, the CMAs posted large gains in live-plus-three-day and live-plus-seven-day Nielsen viewership -- which take into account DVR and on-demand plays -- and retained 93 percent of 2015's viewership. "One of our board members is a Chicago Cubs fan and said to me, 'Sarah, the CMAs have only been around for 50 years, and the Cubs haven't won for 108. I've got to support them,' " recalls Trahern. "I gave him a fierce look. Our goal is to grow country music on a nationwide basis." With Keith Urban and Little Big Town leapfrogging up the charts in the weeks since the awards, Trahern has achieved that goal.
Executive vp/GM of sales, Universal Music Group
‣ The bottom line: Revenue is up
In her second year helming UMG's sales and digital distribution, Berry oversaw a third quarter that posted a 10.8 percent revenue boost from $1.3 billion to $1.6 billion. Fueling that gain were hits by Drake, Rihanna and Desiigner -- and that's not counting a fourth-quarter release schedule featuring Lady Gaga, The Weeknd, DNCE, Mary J. Blige and Sting. "The best executives aren't afraid to hire really talented people," says Berry. "We all learn from each other, so it's good for the business."
Biggest Splurge: "I've loved showing horses from the time I was a teenager."
Senior vp A&R operations, Def Jam Records
‣ Kanye and Bieber's green light
Celebrating 15 years at Def Jam, Brunson has earned the nickname "The Closer" by overseeing the creative team responsible for project rollouts and "never delivering a 'no' " to a roster that includes Alessia Cara, Logic and Justin Bieber -- along with the perpetually tinkering Kanye West, whose Tidal-exclusive LP, The Life of Pablo, became the label's first Billboard 200 No. 1 in 2016. Her open-door policy and industry expertise keep both veterans and rookies coming back. Says Brunson: "They look for me when they come into the building."
Advice for Up-and-Comers: "Stay focused and go at it like it's the last thing on earth."
Executive vp strategic marketing, Warner Bros. Records
HILDI SNODGRASS, 49
CFO/executive vp, Warner Bros. Records
‣ The wind beneath Andra Day's wings
Although Andra Day sold just 11,000 first-week copies of her Grammy-nominated single, "Rise Up," Feldman made sure the R&B singer was well-stocked in brand partners, including Diet Coke, Citi, State Farm, Delta, the NFL and Apple. "No one had heard of her, yet her message was so positive and uplifting we were able to bring all these various partners to the table," says Feldman. Day generated more than 27 million Spotify streams for "Rise Up" and sold 250,000 copies of her 2015 debut LP, Cheers to the Fall. It was one of the success stories that, says Snodgrass, contributed to WBR's 30 percent market-share increase.
MARIA FERNANDEZ, 43
Senior vp operations/CFO of Latin Iberia; Sony Music Entertainment
‣ Making the most of mucho market share
The Venezuelan numbers whiz oversees Sony's U.S. Latin, Latin American, Spanish and Portuguese financial operations, and the numbers are strong. In the United States alone, SME's Latin-track market share stood at 54 percent year to date in September, up from 36 percent. "It has been years since we had such a big presence from Latin acts," says Fernandez, who was essential in negotiating Sony Music's joint venture with ticketing agency CTS Eventim in Brazil that served as the official ticket platform for the Olympic Games in Rio.
Nonmusical Female Icon: Joan of Arc
ETHIOPIA HABTEMARIAM, 37
President of urban music, Universal Music Publishing Group; President, Motown Records
MICHELLE JUBELIRER, 42
COO, Capitol Music Group
GM, Harvest Records/Caroline
‣ The Tower's power trio
As the label group kicks off Capitol Records' 75th anniversary, it closes out a banner year, thanks in part to these three executives. Eighteen months into her promotion to COO, Jubelirer has overseen a massive restructuring and developed breakthrough stars Troye Sivan and Halsey, whose smash collaboration with Columbia Records' The Chainsmokers, "Closer," spent 12 weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100. Saturn splits her duties between Harvest Records -- where sophomore LPs from Banks and Glass Animals debuted in the Billboard 200 top 20 -- and Caroline, which signed Prophets of Rage. And Habtemariam remains one of urban music's most powerful players, mentoring Motown rising talent Lil Yachty. At Capitol, says Jubelirer, "more women are in our executive team meetings than men."
CRIS LACY, 43
Vp A&R, Warner Music Nashville
‣ Winning the long game
"It seems like a year for honesty at our label," says Lacy, who saw Blake Shelton's If I'm Honest become 2016's biggest-selling country album. It also was a year of hard-won artist development: 23-year-old William Michael Morgan reached No. 2 on Hot Country Airplay more than 59 weeks after the release of his Sam Hunt co-penned single, "I Met a Girl" -- and nearly four years after Lacy signed him to the label. "We were met with opposition on all fronts, but the song and the vocal won out," says Lacy, who's an avid book collector in her off hours.
Advice for Up-and-Comers: "Trust yourself. Women's intuition is real -- it's a gift."
Executive vp marketing, Columbia Records
NANCY MARCUS SEKLIR
Senior vp business and legal affairs, Columbia Records
‣ Adele and Solange's support group
In their respective roles, Lombardi and Marcus Seklir have supervised Columbia's string of 2016 home runs, including Solange's Billboard 200 No. 1 debut, A Seat at the Table, and the continuing dominance of Adele's 25. "There are such amazing women at the label," says the mother of two. "I feel inspired every day."
Advice for Up-And-Comers: Lombardi "You can have everything with balance, focus and dedication."
CINDY MABE, 43
President, Universal Music Group Nashville
‣ Music City's market-share leader
After a 2015 in which breakout stars Sam Hunt and Chris Stapleton went multiplatinum, Mabe spent 2016 developing a new generation of hitmakers. The effort paid off at the Country Music Association Awards on Nov. 2 when rising act Brothers Osborne won vocal duo of the year. Veterans Keith Urban and Little Big Town also scored when their standout performances of their latest singles, "Blue Ain't Your Color" and "Better Man," respectively, leapt to the top two spots on the all-genre iTunes chart the following morning. The married mother of three likens watching their CMA performances "to a gigantic group hug," and fans apparently agree. "Blue" has become Urban's highest-charting single in more than seven years on the Hot 100, and the Taylor Swift-penned "Better Man" is performing on par with LBT's 2016 Grammy winner, "Girl Crush." UMGN's 29.5 percent market share for the first half of 2016 put it comfortably ahead of its rival labels.
Advice for Up-and-Comers: "Find your path and don't keep comparing yourself to others."
President of promotion, Interscope Geffen A&M
‣ Broke "Black Beatles" big
As the guiding force of IGA's radio and video promotion department for more than 20 years, Romano knows how to play the long game or go all in when it comes to breaking new acts and working hits -- 22 tracks on Mainstream Top 40 so far in 2016, including songs by Lady Gaga and Selena Gomez. Her team used a slow-build strategy with X Ambassadors, whose songs "Renegades" and "Unsteady" built during the course of 18 months. And when Rae Sremmurd's "Black Beatles" surged to No. 1 on the Hot 100 thanks to the viral Mannequin Challenge, Romano put the pedal to the metal. "Something like that has to be organic," she says, adding, "We're going to have some fun breaking these guys now. Big."
THE IMAGE MAKERS: TOPLINE MUSIC PUBLICISTS
Keeping up with the frenetic pace of today's media while managing the public's demand on their superstar artists -- these are among the challenges facing music's premiere PR execs, six of whom are profiled as part of Billboard’s 2016 Women in Music list.
Shore Fire Media founder Marilyn Laverty (clockwise from top left) ran point on longtime client Bruce Springsteen's bravura book rollout; Epic Records executive vp Laura Swanson oversaw a banner year for Antonio "L.A." Reid; PMK-BNC head of music Kristen Foster opened new horizons for Tim McGraw and Harry Connick Jr.; Schure Media Group founder Yvette Noel-Schure kept Beyoncé at the pinnacle of popular culture; and Capitol Music Group senior vp Ambrosia Healy and RCA Records executive vp Mika El-Baz broke new stars while keeping older ones relevant. Says Foster of her mission: "Artists have an internal sense of who they are and what their art means, and our jobs are to help convey that to the world." Read the full story on music's top publicists.
REBECCA ALLEN, 43
Managing director, Decca Records U.K.
The first woman to head Decca Records in its near 90-year history, London-based Allen has put the label on a winning track in the two years since she took its helm. She signed legendary film composer Ennio Morricone and worked to make jazz artists Gregory Porter and Melody Gardot crossover stars, while cementing Decca's position as the United Kingdom's biggest classical label.
BETH APPLETON, 45
Senior vp global marketing, Warner Music Group
Responsible for coordinating international marketing campaigns for WMG's acts, Appleton delivers sales on a global level. Major Lazer's "Cold Water," featuring Justin Bieber and MØ, topped the iTunes chart in 46 markets, while management systems introduced by the London-based Appleton have enabled execs to quickly identify and push priority songs in multiple territories.
COO, Sony Music U.K. & Ireland
Since her promotion to COO in 2014, Tuer has been instrumental in tightening the gap between Sony Music U.K. and market leader Universal. She has worked closely with CEO Jason Iley to reshape the business and drive sales. Her responsibilities also include leading the label's catalog division, Sony Commercial Group, which sold more than 8.5 million albums in 2015.
KATHRYN FRAZIER, 46
Owner/CEO, Biz3; co-founder, OWSLA
‣ Provides clients with key media exposure --and shaman visits
Frazier's Biz3 celebrated its 20th year in 2016, providing press and management services -- and transcendental meditation coping skills -- to a roster that includes Daft Punk, Skrillex, J. Cole, Die Antwoord and Lauryn Hill. "I buy [my clients] visits to a shaman, especially the rappers," says Frazier. "It's such a machismo kind of world." Business coups included helping to broker Run the Jewels' Xbox collaboration for Gears of War 4, which made the duo characters in the game, and getting the unlikely pairing of Skrillex, Chance the Rapper and indie band Hundred Waters to perform together on Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Recent 'Man-Splaining' Moment: "I have spent 24 years being mistaken for a groupie backstage."
President of national sales, media and sponsorship; Live Nation
AMY HOWE, 44
COO, Ticketmaster North America
KATHY WILLARD, 50
CFO, Live Nation Entertainment
‣ Ticket masters
Willard, Howe and Ford are three reasons why Live Nation's third-quarter earnings are up 23 percent over 2015, and its 2016 attendance totals are projected to exceed 70 million concertgoers, which would topple the 2015 total of 63 million -- a record for the company. Willard says Live Nation continues to grow through the acquisitions of the Governors Ball music festival in New York and promoter AC Entertainment. "The way we run this business is very decentralized," she says, "because we believe the entrepreneurs within our business are what make us unique." And in the face of competition for StubHub, SeatGeek and Amazon, Howe explains that the company is developing a software strategy that will allow its clients to "distribute inventory on multiple platforms, not just Ticketmaster."
ALI HARNELL, 48
Senior vp, AEG Live
REBECA LEON, 41
Senior vp Latin talent, Goldenvoice
Senior vp, AEG Live
‣ Sellout specialists
This trio of senior vps was responsible for a diverse array of tours and live events that starred Justin Bieber, The Who and the Rise Up As One border concert. Rathwell orchestrated 64 sold-out arena dates for Bieber's Purpose Tour in the spring and another 49 arena/stadium shows in Europe in the fall. She also was key to the success of The Who Hits 50 Tour that culminated in two nights of shows with The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and other rock behemoths at the Goldenvoice-produced Desert Trip in October. Leon worked the Rise Up As One concert on San Diego's U.S.-Mexico border on Oct. 15, and Harnell is credited with more than 550,000 tickets sold worth $28 million.
Lesson Learned From Mom: Leon: "She taught me that there is more glory playing on the field than being a cheerleader."
President of corporate development, Superfly
‣ Growth agent
After 17 years as Roc Nation's general counsel, Justice joined Bonnaroo producer Superfly in 2016 in a role that she says is "pretty similar" to what she was doing with her previous boss, Jay Z. "We bring in deals and are part of the growth strategy," she says. Justice also has established a new process for vetting potential partnerships and is set to close several within the year, "with like-minded people that have complementary skill sets." Justice is Superfly's first female executive in a revenue-generating role, as well as president of the advisory board of WIE Network, an empowerment community for professional women.
Music agent, Creative Artists Agency
Co-head of international touring; co-head of CAA Music London, Creative Artists Agency
Co-head of international touring, Creative Artists Agency
‣ Booking Bieber, J.Lo and the Chili Peppers
Although Banks claims that agenting is "an invisible profession [because] most people don't know about it," she and her fellow CAA colleagues cut quite a profile in the industry. Tsuchii's client Justin Bieber sold 1 million tickets on the U.S. leg of his Purpose Tour; Jennifer Lopez, whom Adler represents, has generated $15 million so far during her first Las Vegas residency; and thanks to the London-based Banks' international bookings, Red Hot Chili Peppers are selling more tickets in Europe than ever before.
Lesson Learned From Mom: Tsuchii: "Tenacity. She left Japan during the war, went to Brazil and learned Portuguese. Then she picked up and came to America. She learned English, met my father and basically scrapped a life together from nothing."
MICHELE BERNSTEIN, 46
Partner, William Morris Endeavor
SAMANTHA KIRBY YOH, 47
Partner, William Morris Endeavor
SARA NEWKIRK SIMON, 39
Partner, William Morris Endeavor
‣ WME's music power trio
"The truth is, each year it gets better here," says Newkirk Simon, who, with Bernstein and Kirby Yoh, helped make WME a powerhouse in the live-music arena, with bookings of more than 35,000 shows in 2016, as well as film deals, sports tie-ins and art exhibitions for their clients. Newkirk Simon set up a deal for Pharrell Williams -- whom she represents along with Selena Gomez, Usher and Adam Levine -- to produce the film Hidden Figures (which stars Taraji P. Henson in a true story about NASA scientists in the 1960s) and compose the soundtrack. Kirby Yoh worked behind the scenes on LCD Soundsystem's reunion shows and Florence Welch's sold-out arena tour. And Bernstein, who is WME's tour marketing and ticketing guru, rolled out Bruno Mars' 24K Magic World Tour after strategic appearances on 60 Minutes and the American Music Awards on Nov. 20.
Founder, Cara Lewis Group
‣ Does well by Chance
In a whirlwind year that began when Lewis parted ways with Creative Artists Agency in November 2015, the famously tough and meticulous agent says she was given a mandate by her artists, who include Eminem, Pitbull, Chance the Rapper and Bryson Tiller. "Everybody unanimously agreed: 'You should start your own company,' " recalls Lewis. In its first year, Cara Lewis Group booked more than 800 shows around the world, including Chance's 30-plus-date Magnificent Coloring World Tour. "It's about artists, it's about imaging, and it's about the team," says the New York native.
Recent Splurge: "My Hermes So Black Birkin limited collector's piece and my [nickel-plated bronze] Hermes Kelly Bag sculpture."
CORRIE CHRISTOPHER MARTIN, 39
Senior agent, Paradigm Talent Agency
Senior agent, Paradigm Talent Agency
‣ Establishing a new Paradigm
A year after partnering with The Windish Agency's nearly 30 agents and 750 acts, Paradigm continues to evolve. Martin, whose roster includes Imagine Dragons and Riot Fest, opened an office in San Diego in 2016 and helped relaunch hardcore punk band Descendents, which put out its first album in 12 years. For Nalpant, whose acts include Walk the Moon, which had a triple-platinum hit with "Shut Up and Dance," and rising stars The Strumbellas -- 2016 was bittersweet. "I lost my mentor, boss and best friend, Chip Hooper," she says of Paradigm's worldwide head of music, who died in March.
Head of U.S. music operations, United Talent Agency
‣ Guns N' Roses n' growth
Nastaskin was pivotal in integrating The Agency Group and United Talent Agency in 2016, which, in short order, made the combined firm a music-industry player on a global level. Under her leadership the division has amassed a team of 100 agents; added worldwide representation of Muse, DJ Khaled, Chris Brown and Toby Keith; and mounted tours for G-Eazy and a reunion Nastaskin still can't contain her enthusiasm over. "Guns N' Roses was one of the concerts of the century," says the avid fan who has the title of GNR's power ballad "Don't Cry" tattooed on her wrist.
Recent 'Man-Splaining' Moment: "I get man-splained all the time by the male makeup artists at Sephora -- but I don't mind that."
President, Artist Group International
‣ Chartered Neil Young's Desert Trip
As an agent for nearly 45 years, Vlasic has represented music's biggest stars, from Elvis Costello to AC/DC to Metallica, but says she has never worked on anything as challenging as Desert Trip. Her client Neil Young performed with The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, The Who, Bob Dylan and Roger Waters in October. The festival grossed $130 million over two weekends. "These six people had to agree," she says. "All of the pieces of the puzzle had to fit."
CAROLINE YIM, 38
Concerts agent, ICM Partners
‣ Kendrick and Future's road warrior
Three of Yim's longtime clients had exceptional years: Kendrick Lamar was the toast of the Grammys and rocked the summer festival circuit; Future made the leap to live headliner, both on his own and as co-headliner of Drake's Summer Sixteen Tour; and three-year client Anderson Paak rode the buzz from breakout album Malibu. Says Yim: "One thing I love about my clients is they're still the guys I met when we started working together."
First Female Artist With Whom She Identified: "TLC. I was in junior high when their first album came out. Some days I felt like T-Boz, other days Chilli and some days I even felt like Left Eye. I loved watching the girls grow up and get sexier."
Executive vp/general counsel, National Music Publishers' Association
Aguirre was a key architect of the Spotify settlement that will pay publishers and songwriters for all streams and minimize unmatched royalties.
SUSAN GENCO, 50
Executive vp, Global Music Rights
Genco has negotiated many of the deals that put Irving Azoff and Randy Grimmett's invite-only boutique -- the first U.S. performing rights organization founded in 70-plus years -- on the map.
ELIZABETH MATTHEWS, 48
Under Matthews' leadership, ASCAP has topped $1 billion in revenue for its second straight year, re-signed Paul McCartney and Max Martin, and joined forces with rival BMI to fight for composers' rights.
ANN SWEENEY, 57
Senior vp global policy, BMI
Sweeney oversees international collections, ensuring that BMI songwriters are paid and bolstering the PRO's bottom line. Like ASCAP, revenue passed $1 billion for the second year.
KELLI TURNER, 46
CFO/executive vp operations and corporate development, SESAC
Turner has played a key role growing SESAC's revenue from $182 million to $206 million in 2016, in part through a deal with Universal Publishing Production Music.
POWER OF ATTORNEYS: SEVEN MUSIC LAWYERS AT THE TOP OF THEIR GAME
Whether restructuring Perry Farrell's interest in Lollapalooza (from left: Jamie Young, Hertz Lichtenstein & Young); representing Dr. Luke (Christina Lepera, Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp), Foo Fighters (Jill Berliner, Rimon Law) or contestants on The Voice (Debbie White, Loeb & Loeb); or advocating for creators' rights (Linda Edell Howard, Adams and Reese; Dina LaPolt, LaPolt Law) or free agent Frank Ocean (Laurie L. Soriano, King Holmes Paterno & Soriano), the industry's top female lawyers didn't just break the glass ceiling, they obliterated it. "I've had my firm since 2001," says LaPolt, who represents Steven Tyler and Deadmau5, "but this is the first year I feel I can really compete with these guys." Young looks to her own client, Stevie Nicks, for inspiration: "She's a strong, powerful woman who has to a large degree broken the mold." And then there's the unenviable case of a producer accused of sexual and emotional abuse by an artist he signed. "It's not a man/woman issue," says Lepera of the Kesha lawsuit, "it's about human beings."
To read more on the power of these attorneys, go here.
JENNIFER KNOEPFLE, 40
Senior vp/head of West Coast A&R, Sony/ATV Music Publishing
‣ Antonoff investment pays off
Knoepfle's signing of Jack Antonoff as a songwriter and a joint-venture partner in his Rough Customer publishing company paid dividends for Sony/ATV in 2016. Antonoff got a co-writer credit on Rachel Platten's "Stand by You," which has logged 894,000 downloads, and "Out of the Woods," one of three songs he wrote and produced for Taylor Swift's 1989 album that has sold 546,000 copies. Knoepfle says watching Antonoff play guitar with Swift's band when she performed the song at the 2016 Grammys was a "personal highlight" of her year.
Partner, Songs Music Publishing
‣ Synch savant
Although few of the company's songwriters had new albums out in 2016, Marshall says synch licensing revenue from movies, TV and commercials rose 38.6 percent in 2016. Key placements this year include getting a hip-hop version of George Gershwin's "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" in a Gatorade ad. Her team also placed X Ambassadors' "Collider" in a movie trailer for Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.
SAS METCALFE, 55
President of Global Creative, Kobalt Music Group
‣ New business energizer
Kobalt's revenue grew to $245 million in 2015, up from $195 million the previous year (2016 financials aren't out until May) and that was before Metcalfe and her 40-person creative team went on a signing spree that added Zayn Malik, Danger Mouse, Raphael Saadiq, Mike Will Made It, Father John Misty and the Pet Shop Boys catalog to its roster. Established acts all, but Metcalfe also likes to sign new talent and says she's excited about the prospects of indie rockers The Lemon Twigs, who just released their debut album, Do Hollywood.
Biggest Splurge: "An electric bike."
ANGIE PAGANO, 36
GM, Artist Publishing Group
‣ The secret weapon in Mike Caren's A&R-senal
In addition to representing a stable that includes James "JHart" Abrahart, who wrote Keith Urban's No. 1 Country Airplay single "Wasted Time," and Madison Love (Machine Gun Kelly and Camila Cabello's "Bad Things"), Pagano has doubled the size of APG's A&R department to 14 full-time employees. "It's pretty unparalleled that nobody on our staff has more than 10 writers," says the West Hollywood resident. Pagano grew up in Chicago making playlists for her friends and says, "It wasn't until I got to [John Marshall Law School] that I realized you could be in the music industry."
BEKA TISCHKER, 40
Manager; President, Prescription Songs
‣ Hit specialist
Running the shop at Dr. Luke's Prescription Songs, managing such writers as recent Republic Records signee Julia Michaels (whose music publisher is Warner/Chappell) and fighting for creators' rights on Capitol Hill keeps the relentlessly upbeat executive in a state of "organized chaos." And Tischker's roster has flourished amid Dr. Luke's controversial legal battles with Kesha. Prescription landed six top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2016, including The Weeknd's "Starboy" (No. 2), Meghan Trainor's "No" and The Chainsmokers' "Don't Let Me Down" (both No. 3). Her Rx for Prescription: "I want staff who can out-negotiate me and writers who are creatively satisfied."
First Female Artist With Whom She Identified: "Shirley Manson. I liked her fearlessness, the risks she took. She's unapologetic about who she is."
KATIE VINTEN, 33
Senior vp/co-head of A&R U.S., Warner/Chappell Music
‣ Justin Tranter and Julia Michaels' earth mother
When Vinten became a first-time mother in August, she already was an old hand at successfully nurturing sensitive souls -- of the songwriter variety. Her roster includes Tranter, who had a stellar 2016 writing for DNCE and Selena Gomez; Asia Whiteacre, who had a hit as a co-writer for Hailee Steinfeld's "Starving" (360,000 units scanned); and Michaels, who, after writing hits for Nick Jonas and Britney Spears, "discovered her voice as an artist" and will release a record through Republic in 2017. "It just takes one song to change it all," says Vinten, "and then it will all roll from there."
Advice For Up-and-Comers: "Be heard! Do not be silenced by male-dominated society."
ROCIO GUERRERO, 30
Global head of Latin content programming, Spotify
‣ Making reggaetón a global genre
Treated perfunctorily when Spotify first launched, Latin music streams have grown exponentially under Guerrero's leadership. It's the second-biggest genre globally for the on-demand service and drives three of Spotify's seven most-streamed playlists, including "Exitos Mexico" and Guerrero's pet project, "Baila Reggaetón," which has given key exposure to Nicky Jam and J Balvin. Guerrero, who studied classical violin in her native Spain, gets her musical kicks in other ways. "I play every Thursday with the New York Symphonic Arts Ensemble," says the Brooklyn resident.
TAMARA HRIVNAK, 40
Director of music partnerships (Americas), Google Play
VIVIEN LEWIT, 46
Global head of artist and label relations, Google Play
‣ Google's music maestros
Google's increasingly global music strategy -- the tech giant has paid out more than $3 billion in royalties to the music industry -- rests largely in the hands of this duo. In 2015, Lewit, whose domain is artist relations, shepherded the launches of YouTube Red and the YouTube Music app. Hrivnak introduced YouTube Red in Mexico and expanded the brand through a partnership with Canada's Juno Awards.
SHARON DASTUR, 46
Senior vp programming and integration, iHeartMedia
MARISSA MORRIS, 30
Vp artist relations, national programming group; iHeartMedia
‣ Making radio waves
Dastur, a 20-year company veteran who thinks her day is wasted if it starts later than 7 a.m., transitioned two years ago from overseeing New York pop station WHTZ (Z100) to helping guide programming, ratings and revenue strategies for 850 stations nationwide. She also is an executive producer of the company's annual 12-city Jingle Ball tour, which she calls her "proud baby." Morris -- who earned vp stripes before her 30th birthday -- supervises a team of five women, which in 2015 secured artists and brand partnerships for more than 200 company initiatives.
DEBRA LEE, 62
Chairman/CEO, BET Networks
‣ Brought BET to the White House
For the first time in its 16-year history, the BET Awards aired on 12 networks across Viacom, including CMT and MTV. And thanks in large part to Beyoncé's surprise performance of "Freedom" -- with an assist from Kendrick Lamar --and a four-part Prince tribute, the June telecast is 2016's No. 1 cable awards show among adults 18 to 49. For an encore, BET went to the White House to produce Love and Happiness, a musical tribute to Barack and Michelle Obama that featured Common, De La Soul, Usher and Janelle Monáe. "We're still very committed to music," says Lee. "Our tentpoles and specials are very important to our audience." Coming in January: The New Edition Story, a three-part miniseries on the R&B group that featured Bobby Brown.
Recent 'Man-Splaining' Moment: "A guy friend tried to tell me about Trump's Access Hollywood tape, 'That's just the way men talk.' I just didn't accept that at all."
SARAH MOLL, 40
Founder/CEO, Exit 13 Events & Entertainment
‣ Scored Gaga for Super Bowl 51 halftime show
After she and her team put together three of the highest-rated halftime shows in Super Bowl history -- in 2014 with Bruno Mars, 2015 with Katy Perry and 2016 with Coldplay, Beyoncé and Mars -- Moll departed the NFL after 17 years to open her own events production company. The Playa del Rey, Calif., resident says she's expanding her purview into producing and talent coordination, but she's still contracted to orchestrate the halftime festivities for Super Bowl 51, which will star Lady Gaga -- a deal that took root when the singer-songwriter was invited to sing the national anthem at Super Bowl 50. "I knew she would kill it vocally," says Moll. "I'm not going to say it sealed the deal for 51, but it helped her get in."
DAWN SOLER, 56
Senior vp TV music, ABC Studios
‣ Charting the alphabet net's musical future
A 10-year veteran of ABC, Soler oversees all of the music used in the programming it broadcasts and produces -- 25 in all -- including Once Upon a Time, Scandal, Grey's Anatomy and the Netflix series Luke Cage, which featured a hip-hop- and R&B-flavored soundtrack as well as guest performances by Raphael Saadiq and Charles Bradley. "It has been such an interesting year of transition -- finding the next trend and figuring out how to take advantage of it." Soler says she's looking at how to incorporate such apps as Snapchat and Musical.ly as a way to engage audiences with ABC programming. Meanwhile, her ABC.com pet project ABC Music Lounge is still going strong, while another passion project, On the Record, which gives artists like Malaysian singer Yuna a platform to share their stories and their music, debuted during the summer. "I love On the Record," she says, "because it's a chance for artists to express themselves and have audiences fall in love with them."
JAMIE GRANET-BEDERMAN, 40
Supervising producer, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
JULIE GUROVITSCH, 34
Talent executive for music
The duo behind Fallon's often-viral musical segments. Booked Madonna on 24 hours' notice for President Obama's June visit.
MONICA ESCOBEDO, 39
Entertainment producer, ABC News/Good Morning America
Escobedo booked Rachel Platten to sing "Fight Song" during its peak success -- a performance that beat out appearances by Adele, Bruno Mars and Annie Lennox for a Daytime Emmy Award.
DIANA MILLER, 37
Talent executive, The Late Late Show With James Corden
Played a leading role in developing "Carpool Karaoke" from an idea that guests turned down to a viral sensation that has starred Adele and Michelle Obama, and will become a stand-alone Apple Music series.
BRITTANY SCHREIBER, 29
Music Booking Producer, NBC News/Today
Shawn Mendes, Nick Jonas and Steven Tyler are among the artists who climbed the Billboard charts after Schreiber booked them to perform at Rockefeller Plaza on Today's summer concert series. (Mendes filled three city blocks.)
LINDSAY SHOOKUS, 36
Producer, Saturday Night Live
A 14-year veteran of the show, Shookus still makes news. She booked indie artist Chance the Rapper and the SNL debut of A Tribe Called Quest, a day after the reunited rap group released its first album in 18 years.
SHERYL ZELIKSON, 46
Senior music producer, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert
MARCIE ALLEN, 43
President, MAC Presents
‣ Chance the Rapper x Kenzo x H&M = winner
In 2016, the music sponsorship and experiential marketing agency re-upped Citi as a sponsor for Billy Joel's residency at Madison Square Garden in New York and created Miller Lite activations at the Governors Ball and Austin City Limits festivals. But Allen's mic-drop moment in 2016 was pairing Chance the Rapper with the Kenzo x H&M fashion-design collaboration. Since 2004, when Allen launched MAC "on my dining room table in Nashville," sponsor revenue for music has grown from $550 million to $1.5 billion, according to IEG Sponsorship Report.
Advice for Up-and-Comers: "The music industry is small. No deal is worth [damaging] a relationship."
JENNIFER BREITHAUPT, 44
Managing director of media, advertising and global entertainment, Citi
‣ Making big bank on music events
Breithaupt -- who in early 2016 assumed responsibility for Citi's U.S. advertising and media, plus global entertainment -- oversaw a groundbreaking year for the Citi Private Pass music access program. Partnering with more than half of the United States' top-grossing tours (Guns N' Roses, Coldplay, Luke Bryan), Citi posted a whopping 34 percent increase in music revenue -- the best year-to-date results since the program launched 10 years ago. Looking ahead, Citi plans to host up to 10 live virtual-reality concerts. As Breithaupt says, "Virtual reality is the new frontier."
Recent 'Man-Splaining' Moment: "In my last fantasy football matchup, my male opponent felt he needed to explain the basics of football. I beat him 162 to 81."
Vp global experiential marketing and partnerships, American Express
‣ Uber-successful with Beyoncé promotion
Thanks to Curtis, AmEx offered exclusive presale tickets to three of the top five grossing tours in the past two years -- including Beyoncé, Justin Bieber and Rihanna in 2016 -- and a groundbreaking promotion with Uber that gave riders the chance to win tickets to sold-out Beyoncé shows, plus one-of-a-kind offers for customers who enrolled their credit cards in the Panorama festival app.
Recent 'Man-Splaining' Moment: "When I hear the words 'you're just being emotional,' I think, 'When did emotion become a negative?'"
LORI BADGETT, 42
Senior vp/team manager, Nashville Entertainment; City National Bank
DENISE COLLETTA, 49
Senior vp, entertainment division; City National Bank
‣ Bankers to the stars
City National helps half of all Broadway shows, including Tony-winning heavyweight The Book of Mormon, hit stages from London to Sydney. In 2016, City led a 12-bank syndicate in a $500 million credit line for Canadian publishing powerhouse ole. "Year over year, we provide more than 100 million dollars in financing to the music industry," says Los Angeles-based Colletta. Badgett, who says she "grew up backstage at the Grand Ole Opry," helps the artists connect with Music City commerce.
First Female Artist With Whom She Identified: Colletta "Pat Benatar, and she was a bank teller, which is how I got my start in 1987."
MARY ANN MCCREADY, 64
Founding co-owner/president, Flood Bumstead McCready & McCarthy
‣ Music City's secretive weapon
McCready has an epic client list she can't discuss -- Blake Shelton and Lady Antebellum among them -- because as a business management firm, discretion is everything. As befits her Midwestern values, the Ohio native stresses stability, not status. "We have a kick-ass tax department; everybody tries to hire our royalty people," she says. In 27 years, the partnership has grown from three to eight. "Our clients don't have to worry about succession," says McCready. "In management, that's rare."
LOU TAYLOR, 51
CEO, Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group
‣ J.Lo and Britney's ledger domain of choice
Leading a primarily female 78-person staff, the business manager oversees a roster that includes Gwen Stefani, Meghan Trainor and the Las Vegas residencies of Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears, whose show has grossed $82 million since its 2013 opening. "I wanted to create an environment where women could have the freedom to succeed without any limitation," says Taylor. "That's what I've built."
What She Learned From Her Mother: "Presentation matters."
GLENNE CHRISTIAANSEN, 26
Lead, music partnerships, Snapchat
Plays a key role in making Snapchat a must for music promotion. Partnered with Live Nation and iHeartMedia, as well as artists Selena Gomez and Ariana Grande.
POPPY CRUM, 42
Chief scientist, Dolby Laboratories
A neurophysiologist and violinist, Crum leads concept and design efforts at the audio giant with an eye toward virtual reality and artificial intelligence applications.
KAREN LIEBERMAN, 41
Vp sales and digital, Disney Music Group
The digital marketing pro mounted buzzy campaigns for the soundtracks to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which hit No. 5 on the Billboard 200, and Lin-Manuel Miranda's Moana.
CYBELE PETTUS, 48
Senior music supervisor, EA Music
Pettus' soundtracks for wildly popular video-game series FIFA, Madden NFL and NBA Live reach millions of ears -- making EA's releases a major source of music discovery.
SALLY WILLIAMS, 45
GM, Ryman Auditorium
The incoming chairman of the Country Music Assocation has grown attendance 175 percent over eight years and oversaw a $14.5 million expansion in time for the Nashville institution's 125th anniversary in 2017.
Methodology: A committee of Billboard editors and reporters weighed a variety of factors in determining the Women In Music Executive Power List, including but not limited to impact on consumer behavior, as measured by such metrics as chart performance, touring grosses and ticket sales, social media impressions and radio and tv audiences reached; company growth; career trajectory; reputation among peers; and overall impact in the industry during the past 12 months. Unless otherwise noted, Billboard Boxscore (touring figures) and Nielsen Music (album and track sales, streaming and radio airplay) were utilized as data sources. estimated annual earnings were calculated by Billboard using these and other sources.
Contributors: Michele Angermiller, Dean Budnick, William Chipps, Ed Christman, Leila Cobo, Camille Dodero, Adrienne Gaffney, Andy Gensler, Jenn Haltman, Andrew Hampp, Lyndsey Havens, Steve Knopper, Robert Levine, Joe Levy, Jason Lipshutz, Kerri Mason, Brooke Mazurek, Gail Mitchell, Cathy Applefeld Olson, Paula Parisi, Adelle Platon, Dan Rys, Phyllis Stark, Chris Willman