For Billboard’s inaugural Pride List, 40 executives who hail from every sector of the music business and self-identify as LGBTQ share their most recent professional achievements, why they’re optimistic in an era of unprecedented cultural change and their determination to see doors open wider -- for the benefit of the entire creative community.
Partner, Myman Greenspan Fox Rosenberg Mobasser Younger & Light
Songwriter, co-partner, Facet Records (Warner Records)
Tranter, 39, is the hitmaking, nonbinary songwriter with recent co-writes on Ariana Grande’s Thank U, Next and the soundtrack to A Star Is Born. They are also the co-founder (with Katie Vinten) of Facet Records, a partnership with Warner Records. Rosenberg, 42, is the legal wiz whose clients include Grande, Tranter, Troye Sivan and RuPaul. The duo -- whose client-attorney relationship dates back 10 years to when Tranter fronted glam-rock band Semi Precious Weapons -- are both passionate LGBTQ advocates. Together, the two Midwesterners were key galvanizing forces behind the charity single “Hands” following the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla.
When coming out, “I was lucky professionally to have an early support network in [fellow law firm colleagues] Eric Greenspan and Jeffrey Light, and a client base that truly supported me,” says Rosenberg. “But I get great pleasure from advocating for clients and people who feel ‘other,’ because for so much of my life I felt like that growing up in Kansas City, Mo.”
Tranter says they didn’t realize that “the doors closed to me and my Semi Precious Weapons bandmembers, [who are] straight, [resulted] from homophobia and femmephobia. I look at where we’re at now and see queer people thriving. But we still need a lot more of us thriving.”
Rosenberg sees encouraging signs ahead: “I don’t represent Lil Nas X,” he says, “but what it means for a black queer artist to triumph in a genre like country -- and other genres as well -- is a story that needs to be told for generations to come.”
Still, the doors need to open wider, says Tranter. “We need to be signing more queer artists, queer writers and queer producers, and hiring more queer executives.
“The music business likes to think of itself as very progressive and open-minded,” they add. “But I still hear things all the time like, ‘[This artist is] such an amazing singer but is someone really going to stream records from a queer femme person of color?’ I’m living proof that my ideas -- my queer ideas -- are mainstream ideas. There are thousands more queer people who deserve to have their ideas heard on the largest platforms possible.”
Alleman, 35, did $22 million in bookings for WME in 2018 with 370 fair and festival dates, and he has almost surpassed those numbers this year, he reports. The agent also co-signed (with colleague Carrie Murphy) Shy Carter, who co-wrote two No. 1 hits on the Country Airplay chart for Kane Brown, including “Heaven,” which SESAC named country song of the year in 2018.
An Inclusive Workplace Is: “Invaluable,” says Alleman, the first openly gay agent in WME’s Nashville office. “I’ve felt nothing but love and support from my colleagues.”
ALAYSIA SIERRA BRAGG-MILES
Head of R&B programming, Apple Music
Bragg-Miles* digs deep on social media to find voices that they feel need to be heard. “I’ve never seen anyone who looks like me here,” says Bragg-Miles, who identifies as a queer, nonbinary, black, woman-presenting person and works to add diverse new faces like Tierra Whack, Summer Walker and Omar Apollo to Apple’s playlists. “I’ve been able to help create visibility for artists of all identities who otherwise may not have received major support,” they say.
Most Important Issue: “The lack of visibility and [opportunity] access for women. I’m speaking more specifically about engineers, producers, A&Rs and executives. We need to create more spaces for women to be seen and heard.”
Co-founder/CEO, Terrorbird Media/Terrorbird Publishing
Under Caragliano, 37, Terrorbird has expanded beyond radio promotion, publicity, synch licensing and publishing administration into original music composition, working with digital service providers and international marketing strategy. “I am proud to lead a 15-person team, the majority of whom identify as female and/or queer,” says Caragliano of her fully independent music marketing company that recently celebrated its 13th year.
Most Important Issue: “Mental health and emotional well-being are crucial issues that need to be addressed for everyone’s long-term sustainability.”
Head of international marketing, Glassnote
Carson, 34, drives the success of Glassnote’s artists outside the United States. In the past year, label acts Mumford & Sons, Childish Gambino and The Strumbellas earned gold record certifications abroad; Jade Bird and Half Moon Run sold out European tours, says Carson; and Aurora broke through on the Australian Recording Industry Association charts.
Pride Today Is: “An understanding of the history of the LGBTQ+ movement and [the ability] to look back while progressing continually forward.”
VP integrated marketing, Live Nation
While Live Nation’s overall sponsorship and advertising revenue rose 13% in 2018, business doubled in categories that Chen* oversees: tech, mobile, gaming, travel and business-to-business. That was “driven by deals with brands we’ve never worked with before, like T-Mobile and Google Pixel, Dish network and Sony,” she says.
Where Inclusion Is Needed: As a lesbian woman of color, Chen says she embodies an “intersectionality” that she would like reflected at festivals. “People look up at the stage and see who is performing. It’s very obvious when certain identities are missing.”
VP music programming, SiriusXM
As part of SiriusXM’s Xtra Channels programming expansion, Colón, 51, created the Chillhop channel, an extension of her focus on “a newer generation of relaxing music” -- hip-hop and jazz [fusion], new age, standards and more. “We’re always looking for ways to create something that appeals to more than just the standard pop, rock and hip-hop audience.”
Most Important Issue: “Cultivating sustainable artist careers in an era of streaming singles. The way music is going right now with streaming, it’s just setting up one-hit wonders.”
President, iHeartMedia Networks Group/iHeartRadio
With the promotional clout of its more than 850 broadcast stations, iHeartMedia earlier this year overtook NPR as top podcast publisher worldwide, according to Podtrac, though Davis, 46, acknowledges that the two media companies now “jump back and forth” in the top spot. For June, Podtrac says iHeart’s 252 podcasts drew a U.S. unique monthly audience of 19 million and 130 million global downloads and streams.
Most Important Issue: “We can all use more courage, regardless of what part of our life we’re talking about.”
Senior vp fan experience, Ticketmaster
Elshareef, 44, led the launch of the Ticketmaster Smart Queue, the company’s latest scalper-fighting technology, which acts as a “virtual line” that has blocked more than 11 billion bots from nabbing tickets to events. The new technology has helped Ticketmaster increase revenue 20%, he says, while the interactive seat-map feature has led fans to opt for higher-tier tickets, says Elshareef.
Pride Today Is: “Advocating for the community -- the larger community of Americans in America -- and for each other and for what is right.”
Senior vp A&R/head of research and analytics, Sony/ATV
Fain, 36, an 11-year veteran of Sony/ATV, has signed Leon Bridges, Of Monsters and Men and The Chainsmokers to the market-leading music publisher. Last year, he struck a worldwide publishing deal with Atlanta-based rapper, singer and producer Russ, whose singles “What They Want” and “Losin Control” both went platinum in June.
The Music Business Can Promote Inclusivity By: “Honestly, not caring what someone looks like or who they may love, but just focusing on the attributes of what really matters in music.”
Senior director of partnership activation, festivals, AEG Presents
Fernandez, 34, led the team that activated over 40 partnership deals for Coachella and Stagecoach, she says, including the new Amazon Lockers and the integration of Postmates food delivery. “We ended up having some really innovative new partnerships this year,” she says. “We brought a lot of creature comforts to the show.”
To Promote Diversity: “Put a rainbow flag in your office. Put an ‘I am an ally’ sign in your office. Little stuff can make LGBTQ people feel welcomed.”
President, North America, Concord Music Publishing
Gaden, 56, has led the reorganization resulting from Concord Bicycle Music’s 2017 acquisition of Imagem, a $600 million deal that tripled Concord’s publishing portfolio to 380,000 compositions and gave it control of the Boosey & Hawkes and Rodgers & Hammerstein catalogs. When Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings,” an interpolation of “My Favorite Things,” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in February, Concord earned 90% of the song’s songwriting royalties.
Promote Diversity By: “Being open in recruitment. New perspectives can be really valuable. It’s often the imperfect résumé I’m intrigued by. It starts with having something great to add, even if it’s not on the piece of paper.”
Gerbitz, 48, grew Pandora’s ad revenue to over $1 billion annually, thanks in part to the platform’s acquisition of AdsWizz in May 2018 and a partnership with SoundCloud.
Most Important Issue: “The opportunity for artists to be discovered and compensated for their craft, not only in subscription tiers but also in ad-supported [streaming]. Pandora relies on the strength of our advertising business to drive revenue that flows directly to artists and labels.”
Senior vp promotion, RCA Records
For Goodman, 48, helping P!nk land her 10th No. 1 on the Adult Top 40 chart with “Walk Me Home” in June furthered the incredible run that she and the superstar have shared: P!nk holds the record for most chart-toppers by a solo artist on the tally. “To deliver a No. 1 for an artist I believe in so much, it’s an honor,” says Goodman. Another high point of 2019? Watching Khalid cross over to Adult Top 40 with both “Love Lies” and “Talk.”
A Cause She Supports: “The LGBT Center in Hollywood. The youth programs there are critical. The homeless epidemic [among] LGBTQ youth is staggering: of the 6,000 youth [ages 24 and younger] living on the streets of Los Angeles, most are in Hollywood, 40% are LGBTQ.”
Senior vp pop marketing, Atlantic Records
Grant, 49, helped drive the success of The Greatest Showman, one of just seven soundtracks to spend over 30 weeks in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 during the past half-century, and the top-selling album of 2018 in the United States, according to Nielsen Music. “Bringing a soundtrack that spoke to those who felt disenfranchised to an entire generation, that was extremely gratifying,” he says.
Most Important Issue: “Overcategorization, whether it’s music genres, demos or people. We need to stop trying to fit everything into a superficially defined box that ultimately divides us. Music and people transcend labeling.”
Digital content specialist, Columbia Records
Herman, 30, worked with John Legend on his video series Can’t Just Preach spotlighting activists like Parkland, Fla., high school shooting survivor and March for Our Lives co-founder Jaclyn Corin and the mother of the late Trayvon Martin, Sybrina Fulton. Tapping YouTube’s new donation feature, Herman turned these mini-docs and Legend’s “Preach” video into fundraising tools that collectively raised over $22,000.
Pride Now Is: “Not just making Pride playlists. I’m not mad at corporate Pride -- rainbows at Starbucks in June -- [because] the alternative is silence. It’s [about] not making people feel like they need to hide to be successful.”
Founder/president, Milk & Honey Music
Under Keller, 35, Milk & Honey has a roster of songwriters, producers, EDM artists and DJs that together have created tracks bought or consumed by millions in the past 18 months, according to the firm. Its clients have scored No. 1 songs in five genres: country, dance/electronic, pop, rock and rap. “We’re lucky for the renaissance that the record business is having,” says Keller. “But we have to make sure creators are properly respected and paid so that songwriting as an art is protected in the future.”
A Cause He Supports: “The City of Hope. I’m on its entertainment board. The organization is a reminder that there are thousands of passionate people who are trying to put an end to cancer. They have helped my mother who has suffered from cancer.”
Head of U.S. independent label relations, YouTube
Krinsky, 41, leads independent label relations, helping new acts like Omar Apollo, iyla and Bryant Myers create their best content on the platform and grow their audiences. But he has had success with established artists as well. “Our deep partnership with Daddy Yankee helped his hit ‘Con Calma’ become the first music video released in 2019 to break 1 billion views,” he says.
A Cause He Supports: “The San Francisco AIDS Foundation. They’re on a mission to make it a zero-transmission city and improve the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS through testing, medicine and other strategies.”
VP, Boosey & Hawkes
Lankenau, 43, coordinated 2,000 North American events during the past year to celebrate the centennial birth of the late Leonard Bernstein, whose works are represented by Concord-owned Boosey & Hawkes. “The Bernstein children were incredibly pleased,” says Lankenau of the tributes to the famed composer, which included a gala concert that was hosted by Audra McDonald and featured Andris Nelsons, John Williams and Yo-Yo Ma at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Pride Today Is: “A commercialization of a minority. I approach it with a certain amount of skepticism. [Pride flags] in storefronts seem [like an attempt] to cash in on the disposable income that gay men and women supposedly have.”
Senior vp/deputy general counsel/chief compliance, ethics and privacy officer, Sony Music Entertainment
On Sony Music’s legal team, Leak, 56, has worked to prevent the piracy of streams and helped “the industry make sure all of the streams that are being recognized are actual consumers choosing to listen to our music.”
Most Important Issue: “One of the important missions I have is to promote the core values of Sony Corp. [defined by the parent company as fairness, honesty, integrity, respect and responsibility] and show how those core values can lead to business success. That’s something that matters to me.”
Talent buyer, Goldenvoice
Tyler, The Creator’s 2018 Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival sold out in under two hours thanks in part to Lu, 29, who booked Kids See Ghosts, Brockhampton and Post Malone for the event, which moved last November to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
For Lu, who was selling merchandise as an AEG intern seven years ago at the first Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival, “[to be] booking this festival now [and] to see it grow into what it is today is still a bit of a pinch-myself [moment].”
Pride Today Is: “Loving yourself enough to know that you don’t have to compromise who you are for acceptance, equality or even visibility.”
Manager of creative sync, Kobalt Music
Marcello, 30, seeks synch opportunities across Kobalt’s catalog to ensure LGBTQ songwriters are in the mainstream. “Pride needs to be about affecting the bottom line for the most oppressed people in the room,” says Marcello. A placement for Big Freedia’s “Rent” in the promotional campaign for HBO’s Insecure helped make it the artist’s most streamed single and contributed to an overall 30% rise in synch revenue for Kobalt and AWAL artists.
A Cause He Supports: “The Trans Women of Color Collective, because they do real, effective work for a community that suffers greatly. Trans women of color, their lives are at risk. They need our support.”
VP global public policy, SoundExchange
Massimino, 47, helped lead Sound-Exchange’s advocacy of the Music Modernization Act; the organization’s members contacted Congress over 35,000 times, she says. “The biggest music platform in the country -- FM radio -- still doesn’t pay” royalties.
Pride Today Is: “An obligation to keep the movement going. I acknowledge that my family and I enjoy a level of security and legal protection and freedom in our lives together, and we are indebted to the people who worked before us.”
Founder/CEO, Smack Songs Publishing
Co-president, Monument Records
“When I came out to myself, I came out in the [writing] room,” says McAnally, 44, who struggled for years in Nashville before hitting his stride. “My work changed, and my success changed.” In 2019 alone, the songwriter-producer was named the Academy of Country Music’s songwriter of the year and won a Grammy for “Space Cowboy” with Kacey Musgraves and Luke Laird. “She’s such a big part of my coming out as a gay man in country music,” he says of Musgraves. “Not that I was in the closet before working with her, but she really stood up for the LGBTQ community.”
Most Important Issue: “Underpayment in the streaming world. I worry about the next generation of songwriters and how they will ever get a real leg up.”
Senior vp sales, Atlantic Records
McMorrow*, a 33-year veteran of Atlantic, has been key to the label’s transition “from a sales-based company to one of the leaders in the streaming space,” he says. The strategy has paid off for two of Atlantic’s top-streaming artists: A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, whose album Hoodie SZN topped the Billboard 200 for three weeks, and Cardi B, whose Invasion of Privacy debut was No. 6 on the 2018 Top Billboard 200 Albums recap. “It’s an exciting time,” says McMorrow. “Sometimes it’s the Wild Wild West.”
An Inslusive Workplace Is: “Absolutely vital. When I started at Atlantic Records as an openly gay man 33 years ago, it was a very different world in corporate America. But fortunately, Atlantic was ahead of its time back then.”
Senior artist brand strategist, Create Music Group
Nguyen, 27, launched Create Music Group’s first pop division in April and partnered with Jennifer Lopez and Hitco Entertainment to bolster the rollout of Lopez’s “Medicine” on the singer’s YouTube channel, which garnered 56 million views and 800,000 new subscribers in only three months, she says. “We’ve developed and fine-tuned strategies that keep seasoned artists relevant while creating new strategies to push emerging artists into the spotlight,” says Nguyen.
A Cause She Supports: “Planned Parenthood. Not only does it allow people access to basic health care, but also proper education to make informed health decisions.”
Senior Editor, American Music, Music Culture and Editorial, Spotify
In her role for Spotify, Ohls, 31, worked with Kane Brown to set up intimate fan experiences in Chicago for his Experiment album; helped create an original content piece on Spotify’s Hot Country playlist for the launch of Maren Morris’ second studio LP, Girl; and introduced Morris to attendees at Southern Girls Rock Camp in Tennessee.
Most Important Issue: “Visibility for women and LGBTQ creators and artists in the industry, especially here in Nashville.”
President, Universal Music Classics U.S.
Under the leadership of Parker, 49, Universal Music Classics artist Andrea Bocelli achieved his first No. 1 album, Sì, on the Billboard 200, while composer Max Richter doubled his streaming revenue. “Thinking globally, of music without borders, is really exciting,” says Parker. “Max is signed to Deutsche Grammophon, but we saw the potential for him in the U.S. and went for it. Music doesn’t need a translation.”
Pride Today Is: “I’m very proud of who I am as a gay man, a gay husband, a gay father and a gay employee. I am a complete human. Being open about that is what Pride is about.”
Senior vp sync licensing, Concord Music Publishing
Concord’s annual synch writers camp, which gathers 75 songwriters in studios all over Nashville, surpassed $3 million in revenue resulting from the sessions. Primont, 45, has high hopes for “Yes I Can,” written at the latest camp by Judith Hill and Tofer Brown. “We end up getting a lot of placements,” says Primont. “We also create lifelong relationships between the songwriters.”
Pride Today Is: “Being my true self at all times. I have a wife. We’ve been together for 20 years, and we have two boys and [are] showing them that we’re confident. I never want my kids to feel any shame or fear about their moms being gay.”
Senior events producer/festival director, AEG Presents/Winter Circle Productions
“I am, in a way, the conductor of the orchestra, organizing the chaos from the top down,” says Scott, 30, who oversaw Buku Music + Art Project’s biggest year in history, welcoming over 20,000 attendees a day in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. “It was the first year that we adapted to AEG’s processes and protocols, so I really led that charge.” In 2020, Scott will take over the role of festival director for Alabama’s Hangout Music Festival.
Pride Today Is: “[Going] beyond just awareness and beyond acceptance. In this day and age, it is about making equality actionable.”
President of independent music and creator services, Warner Music Group
The head of WMG’s independent distributor, Alternative Distribution Alliance, since 2015, Seton, 37, began overseeing new WMG initiatives in February: “adding Level as a community and technology platform for unsigned artists, [relaunching] Asylum as an independent label within WMG focused on developing hip-hop acts and [growing] Arts Music, our home for noncore genres,” he says.
Most Important Issue: “Technology has enabled artists to retain more creative control of their own development and their own business. This is a major innovation, and it’s one that we’re proud to contribute to.”
Artist relations, Apple Music
In the past year, Seviour* has created unique promotions for over 100 artists -- including Billie Eilish, Solange, Shawn Mendes, Ed Sheeran, Frank Ocean, 2 Chainz and Patti Smith -- and collaborated closely with Apple Music’s Beats 1 to bring to life radio shows for artists like The Weeknd (Memento Mori), Virgil Abloh (Televised Radio) and Nicki Minaj (Queen Radio). “We create a space,” says Seviour, “where artists can be artists.”
A Cause He Supports: “The ACLU, because we need to defend and preserve our rights.”
VP music programming, SiriusXM
Smith, 53, spearheaded the launch of Xtra Channels for SiriusXM, providing the streaming platform’s 34.3 million subscribers with over 100 curated music channels. “It has opened up a lot of creativity for us,” says Smith, who pioneered Xtra’s New Music Mash, which mixes pop, country and hip-hop, as well as music discovery extensions to such channels as Alt Nation. “It’s harder than ever to break artists in today’s saturated environment. At SiriusXM, we successfully hyper-target new artists, getting the right songs in front of the right users.”
An Inclusive Workplace Is: “About recognizing that every employee has something valuable to contribute. [Being out] used to be this gossip-y thing, and now here at SiriusXM, it’s a complete nonissue. There would be more gossip if my socks didn’t match.”
Founder/owner/manager, Little Operation
Stavros, 38, manages indie songwriter Angel Olsen, whose latest single, “All Mirrors,” arrived July 30. He also signed Devendra Banhart (“One of my all-time favorite songwriters”), whose 10th album, Ma, will arrive on Nonesuch Records in September.
To Promote Diversity: “I’d like to see the industry move away from showing nebulous support of the LGBTQ+ community with rainbow avatars for 30 days a year and actively start hiring, mentoring, promoting, signing and supporting more women, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals. Their perspective in the workplace will be invaluable to its creative output.”
Senior vp strategic alliances and innovation, Live Nation
Swope, 47, has brought lifestyle brands like ASICS, American Eagle and Pantene as well as spirit companies (Bacardí, Rémy Martin, Smirnoff) into the festival sponsorship space, joining existing partners like Corona and Hotels.com. He’s a leader within Live Nation’s media and sponsorship division, which grew revenue by 8% in the second quarter of 2019. Swope also is active in Pride Nation, “which is our employee resource group. Within that, we did a program with The Trevor Project [which works to prevent suicide among young LGBTQ people]. Students were able to come in and ask questions about [our] career decisions.”
A Cause He Supports: “The Point Foundation. They provide scholarships for LGBTQ youth who are demonstrating a lot of potential but may not get the support of their families.”
Head of Pop, Apple Music
“It’s a dream job,” says Timmermans*, who built the playlists Today’s Hits, A-List Pop and Breaking Pop on Apple Music. “Curation is about trusting my gut, placing bets and taking chances while keeping the listener at the center of programming decisions.” As the host of A-List Pop for Apple’s Beats 1, Timmermans invites artists like Alec Benjamin, Stephen Puth and Kim Petras to directly engage with fans. “It’s about finding the right moment and opportunities to help launch an artist,” he says.
An Inclusive Workplace Is: “Everything!”
Chief marketing officer, iHeartMedia
Troberman, 53, oversaw the production of the iHeartRadio and L’Oréal Paris Fangirls Award, which celebrates the power of women supporting women and was presented this year to Halsey. “This program has been at the core of bringing the most visual brand in beauty into the audio space, proving the power of iHeart,” says Troberman of the broadcast and digital company that reports its platforms reach nine out of 10 Americans. Now the self-described audio “evangelist” is leveraging the momentum into more partnerships. “Brands embracing radio with spending are surpassing their competitors,” she says. “I declare it the year of audio.”
Pride Today Is: “No longer a label for the few, but a rallying cry for us all to be more accepting.”
Head of music brand partnerships, United Talent Agency
Post Malone’s Posty Fest in Dallas last October was a highlight of the past year for Wallace, 38. Her team helped close 15 sponsorship deals for the 20,000-capacity event, helping it turn a profit in its inaugural year. The festival punctuated a 12-month period of unprecedented growth in which Wallace’s team closed 250 deals for artists on the UTA roster, increasing the division’s revenue by 275%, according to the agency.
Promoting Diversity Means: “Working to move away from homogenous teams. To be a real leader in a global and diverse marketplace, you need to surround yourself with people that are different from you.”
President, Ticketmaster International
Yovich, 45, oversaw a “transformative” shift to mobile digital ticketing, redesigning the company’s websites in 18 countries and 16 different languages. During his tenure, Ticketmaster International has launched in 10 new markets and doubled ticket sales. “Mobile conversion also has seen double-digit growth,” says Yovich. “The future is mobile.”
Most Important Issue: “There are two: sustainability and gender equality.”
*Declined to provide age
Methodology: Executives who publicly self-identify as LGBTQ were chosen by editors based on factors including, but not limited to, nominations by peers, colleagues and superiors at selected music companies. In addition to nominations, editors weigh impact on consumer behavior as measured by metrics such as chart, sales and streaming performance; social media impressions; career trajectory; and overall impact in the music industry, using data available as of June 6.
Contributors: Rich Appel, Megan Armstrong, Dave Brooks, Harley Brown, Stephen Daw, Thom Duffy, Nolan Feeney, Alexis Fish, Jenn Haltman, Cherie Hu, Steve Knopper, Joe Lynch, Taylor Mims, Gail Mitchell, Melinda Newman, Paula Parisi, Alex Pham, Annie Reuter, Eric Spitznagel, Nick Williams