17 Top Music Execs On Giving Back, The Charities They Support and Their Love For UJA

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Wesley Mann
Seventeen of the past UJA-Federation music visionaries photographed on Sept. 24 at The Pierre hotel in New York. In the back row, from left: Julie Greenwald, Daniel Glass, Joel Katz, Neil Portnow, Charlie Feldman, Cary Sherman, Rob Glaser, Fred Davis, Amy Doyle and Jason Flom. In the middle, from left: Avery and Monte Lipman.  In the front, from left: Kevin Liles, Craig Kallman, Barry Weiss, Lyor Cohen and Rick Krim.

From Justin Timberlake working his Borscht Belt comedy chops to performances by artists like Rihanna and The Weeknd, the annual UJA-Federation Music Visionary of the Year Awards luncheon has become the music industry’s hot-ticket charity event. With proceeds going to the largest local philanthropic organization in the world (United Jewish Appeal-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, founded in 1917), top executives are happy to fork it over during the high-profile gathering.

“Our music visionaries are the most important carriers of our message,” says UJA-Federation of New York CEO Eric S. Goldstein, 55. “We look for individuals who have a strong sense of community. Our honorees also tend to be bold and compelling leaders.” Each recipient has received the award for his or her lifelong contributions to any number of charities (including those not directly linked to UJA). Not only do the music industry heavyweights help amplify UJA’s message, proceeds from the fundraiser -- the 2015 event raked in more than $1 million -- go to support nearly 100 not-for-profit organizations in UJA’s “network,” with both Jewish and non-Jewish affiliations that target issues from homelessness to food insufficiency, with a percent annually earmarked for the New York-based Music for Youth. 

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1. Julie Greenwald, Chairman/COO, Atlantic Records (honored in 2010)

“Each year the public schools have cutbacks on money for their music programs, and the UJA provides instruments, buildings, teachers and lessons, and gives the kids vital access to music.”

2. Daniel Glass, 58, Founder/President, Glassnote Entertainment Group (2002)

“The nonprofit organization I co-founded, LIFEbeat, is the music industry’s organization fighting HIV/AIDS, because we saw our colleagues in the music business getting sick and there wasn’t any existing place or charity in our industry that could help them.”

3. Joel Katz, 71, Chairman of the Global Media and Entertainment Group, Greenberg Traurig (2003)

”When I was honored by the UJA, my friends Brooks & Dunn performed at the sold-out event. The dress code was ‘Southern comfortable’ -- jeans on bottom and formal on top.”

4. Neil Portnow, 67, President, The Recording Academy (2014)

“As the leader of MusiCares, the Grammy Foundation and chair of the board for the Grammy Museum, their missions -- of helping music people in times of need or crisis, ensuring our young people are exposed to music in school and archiving and preserving our musical history -- are all of paramount importance and a personal passion.”

5. Charlie Feldman, 66, VP writer-publisher relations, BMI (2001)

“I shall never forget when Michael Bolton came out from stage right and sang ‘Lean on Me’ [when I was honored]. It was a total surprise and meant so much to me.”

6. Cary Sherman, 67, Chairman/CEO, RIAA (2008)

“I know how much music meant to me as a child -- the ability to express myself, the confidence it gave me, a mental space all my own. I want every child to have that.”

7. Rob Glaser, 53, Founder/Chairman/CEO, RealNetworks; Co-Chairman, Rhapsody (2004)

Tikkun olam is a Hebrew phrase that signifies humanity’s shared responsibility to heal, repair and transform the world. It connotes social action and the pursuit of social justice.”

8. Fred Davis, 56, Partner, The Raine Group (2002)

“The UJA has helped to create a community within the music business, and it allows me the best outlet to fulfill my obligation to the Jewish/Israeli community. We all have to give back.”

9. Amy Doyle, executive VP music, VH1/Logo (2012)

“I believe in [and support] the All Stars Project. Their mission is transforming the lives of youth and underprivileged communities through the power of performance.”

10. Jason Flom, 54, Founder/President/CEO, Lava Records (2000)

“My father told me, ‘Do whatever you want, but make the world a better place. That is the definition of success.’ One of the main reasons why I am still working is because I want to give money to causes I care about.”

11. Avery Lipman, 49, President/COO, Republic Records (2015)

“I’m involved with Hope for Heroism, which is an organization that supports Israeli soldiers wounded in combat. Most of their injuries have healed but the debilitating effects of PTSD linger for years.”

12. Monte Lipman, 51, Chairman/CEO, Republic Records (2015)

“Our business allows us to make a significant impact on pop culture with the opportunity to change social consciousness. Whether we like it or not, we have a responsibility to the community.”

13. Kevin Liles, 47, Founder/CEO, KWL Enterprises (2003)

“With success comes responsibility. I’ve never been the guy to just write a check. When you see kids who want to break the cycle of a lack of education and poverty, and all they need is a chance, I’m up for the job.”

14. Craig Kallman, 50, Chairman/CEO, Atlantic Records (2010)

“Without musicians, there would be no music business, so it’s so essential that we support efforts to nurture the next generation of artists.”

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15. Barry Weiss, 56, Co-Founder/Partner, RECORDS (2009)

“I grew up in a home where we didn’t have the means to be philanthropic. I made a point that when I started to make some real money, I would set an example for my own children of how important it is to give back.”

16. Lyor Cohen, 55, CEO, 300 Entertainment (2001)

“For over a decade, my favorite charity has been The Boys & Girls Harbor, which invests in children primarily in East Harlem. It empowers them through education, cultural enrichment and performing arts.”

17. Rick Krim, 55, Co-President of U.S., Sony/ATV Music Publishing (2012)

“I am a national board member for the T.J. Martell Foundation, which over the past 40 years has raised over $250 million for cancer, AIDS and leukemia research.”  

For information on how to help UJA-funded efforts, go to ujafedny.org.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 24 issue of Billboard.