Tobi Parks
Pride

Billboard Announces 2021 Pride List of Industry-Shaping LGBTQ Professionals

After enduring a year of unprecedented challenges, 40 LGBTQ+ professionals from across the music business share the wins that have kept them going, the innovations that inspire them and the steps they’re taking to ensure that everyone has a place in the music industry.

Charlie Adelman
Director of marketing/artist manager, Crush Music

Whether he’s working with rock stars like Weezer or pop powerhouses like Sia, Adelman, 33, finds creative ways to “make noise with our artists” through brand partnerships and other opportunities. Last year, he spearheaded Such Pretty Forks in the Mix, an EP of Alanis Morissette remixes from a trans-inclusive pool of women producers. He also co-manages singer Marina, whose 2012 track “Bubblegum Bitch” just went gold thanks to a TikTok trend. “The growth and opportunity for catalog,” he says, “continues to excite me.”

My Favorite Gay Bar: “Julius’ in Greenwich Village. Historic and heavenly burgers.”

Eric Alexander
VP global consumer marketing, Universal Music Group

Alexander, 32, focuses on brand strategy and marketing initiatives that put fans “front and center of our thinking” — whether that’s promoting new releases from LGBTQ+ superstars like Sam Smith and Halsey or supporting UMG’s Use Your Voice voter registration campaign, which featured A-listers like Billie Eilish. It’s all in service, he says, of building “a stronger relationship with music fans for our artists and our labels.”

As Tours Return, I Can't Wait to See: “It’s a tie between Megan Thee Stallion and Lady Gaga.”

David Alvarado
Senior vp operations, Rich Music

With stints at major labels and Telemundo under his belt, Alvarado, 47, brings his myriad talents together at independent label Rich Music, where he has a hand in everything from management to publishing to merchandise for a roster that includes rising stars Sech and Dalex. Alvarado, who has long pushed for ­LGBTQ+ inclusion in the Latin music industry, is especially focused on growing Rich’s digital business. “It’s no longer just ancillary revenue,” he says, “but a must for us.”

The Pandemic Hobby I Picked Up: The mobile app Parchisi STAR “is so addicting but great stress relief.”

Mark Baker
Senior vp public policy and government relations, Warner Music Group

Baker, 52, spends his days at “the intersection of music and technology,” advising on legislation and dealing with regulatory organizations around the world, often with the goal of ensuring that rights holders are properly compensated in the streaming age. He also serves on the board of WMG’s $100 million Social Justice Fund that was established last year to combat racial injustice — “one of the most rewarding things I’ve worked on in my career.”

This Year, I'll Celebrate Pride By: If events are virtual, “the motorcycle club may do our own Pride parade.”

Theo Battaglia
Executive vp/head of creative, 10K Projects

Whether it’s with TikTok or blockchain, Battaglia, 28, spent the pandemic helping artists get creative with how they ideate, market and monetize their art. His work overseeing all consumer-facing aspects of the independent label boosted hits like hip-hop collective Internet Money’s “Lemonade,” which hit No. 6 on the Hot 100. “The unconventional approaches we’ve adopted will continue to be woven into our strategies post-pandemic,” he says.

My Favorite Gay Bar: “Barracuda in New York. The drag shows are hilarious, and the energy in there is always buzzing.”

Akim Bryant
Head of R&B programming, Pandora

Bryant launched Pandora’s Black Music Forever station at the start of Black Music Month in June 2020, but it met the moment in the wake of George Floyd’s death. The station, which has drawn a million unique listeners, showcases decades of Black artists who have inspired progress and demanded justice. “We still face intense resistance to change,” he says, “but I feel even more responsibility to continue using my voice.”

My Favorite Gay Bar: “I’m constantly daydreaming about The Warehouse, which used to exist in the Bronx during the early 2000s.”

Branden Chapman
COO, Recording Academy

Reimagining the Grammy Awards was no easy task: Chapman and colleagues worked with COVID-19 compliance officers and redesigned both indoor and outdoor stages so honorees could celebrate safely. “The significance of this moment was not lost on us,” says Chapman, who has helped make LGBTQ+ inclusion a pillar of the academy’s diversity initiatives. “So we also [showcased] independent venues from around the world, as they’ve been hit so hard.”

The Pandemic Hobby I Picked Up: “Does mastering the Netflix menus count?”

Richie Coppolino
Senior vp finance/controller, 300 Entertainment

Coppolino, 32, handles all accounting operations under the C-suite level but has recently expanded his role to include leading the company’s student loan and tuition assistance program — something that hits home for him as a recent MBA — and handling the label’s “300 Takes a Break” mental health initiative, which “gave each employee a stipend to spend on themselves in any way they chose, as long as they were offline for three working days,” he says. “It was a huge hit, and we’ll be bringing it back.”

My Side Hustle: “I began a small nonprofit called PADL that [supports] different LGBTQ+ causes each year during Pride Month.”

Michael Crepezzi
Assistant vp distribution and administration services, BMI

With over three decades of experience, Crepezzi, 55, helps the rights-management company’s roster of TV and film composers understand “how their work is being consumed and monetized” in a complex and increasingly digital world. In collaboration with BMI chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer Sandye Taylor, he’s currently organizing a panel of publishing professionals and studio leaders “to ensure that underrepresented communities have a voice.”

The Pandemic Hobby I Picked Up: “Exploring the Hollywood Hills on foot.”

Joshua Edmond
Senior director of A&R, BMG

“What I do as a creative is an inspirational game of chess,” says Edmond, 32, who works alongside hitmakers like Bebe Rexha, Diane Warren and Kim “Kaydence” Krysiuk. “Every move we make on behalf of our artists, songwriters and producers is strategic, calculated and well thought out. We’re here to better their careers.” And not just in the studio: Edmond led BMG’s #Voices4Change campaign on social media, where he hosted conversations about how social justice movements impact creatives.

This Year, I'll Celebrate Pride By: “Donating to LGBTQ+ charities.”

Evangeline Elder
Director of brand partnerships, EMPIRE

Every day, Oakland, Calif.-based Elder, 29, looks for opportunities for the independent label, distributor and publisher’s roster to work with brands like Dolby, Jack Daniel’s and Bumble to “enhance an artist rollout or elevate an artist’s career.” A livestream concert she put together in March with Amazon Music starring EMPIRE Grammy nominees like D Smoke and Freddie Gibbs drew over 400,000 viewers on Twitch — one of Amazon’s biggest livestreams to date.

My Side Hustle: “I’m the co-founder of Women Sound Off, a true intersectional platform for women and nonbinary creatives.”

Jeff Florez-Taylor
Director of marketing, Ticketmaster

The pandemic sidelined most events in 2020, but Florez-Taylor, 38, kept busy with the Live From the Drive-In series — socially distanced shows from Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, Jon Pardi and Nelly — and Dua Lipa’s record-breaking Studio 2054 livestream. “As the world opens up, there isn’t going to be a one-size-fits-all solution in our return to shows,” he says. “We’re putting the work in to make sure the experience is as seamless as possible for fans.”

My Favorite Gay Bar: “The Stonewall Inn. It’s sacred ground.”

Liz Goodwin
GM, Atlantic Records U.K.

“I’ve still yet to meet some of the team in person,” says Goodwin, 44, who started her job early in the pandemic. But with recent U.K. chart smashes like Joel Corry and MNEK’s “Head & Heart” and Anne-Marie’s “Don’t Play,” she has been able to hit the ground running. Coming out of lockdown, “I’d like to hang on to our improved level of creative thinking when planning and executing global launches.”

This Year, I'll Celebrate Pride By: “Heading up to Manchester [England] with my wife to the events there, probably taking our nieces to see Shura play as well.”

Jerrold Grannis
Senior director, digital business development, Universal Music Publishing Group

Grannis, 45, works with tech startups to open new revenue streams for UMPG songwriters, and last year — in conjunction with Universal Music Group’s Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging team — he helped launch Prism, the company’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group. Among its priorities: “Reviewing HR policies and benefits to make sure they are best-in-class, especially as they relate to the trans community.”

The Pandemic Hobby I Picked Up: “Nesting. I bought my first home during the pandemic.”

Michael Grinspan
Comedy touring agent, ICM Partners

With a roster of many queer clients, Grinspan, 34, spent 2020 “getting ICM into the drag business” — he signed top-tier RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Bob the Drag Queen, Katya and Trixie Mattel — and continuing to highlight standup’s underserved LGBTQ+ market. (In the past, he has had clubs advertise shows on Grindr and Scruff, resulting in big box-office gains.) Now he’s excited about the “calendar reset” of the live industry’s return: “It has scrambled the old ways of doing things and opened up a lot of opportunities.”

This Year, I'll Celebrate Pride By: “Finally going out dancing for the first time in 16 months.”

Kristina Hedrick
VP U.S. business development, Sony Music Publishing

Hedrick’s in-depth financial analysis and strategic thinking have made her one of the publisher’s top dealmakers. A co-chair of OutLoud, Sony’s New York LGBTQ+ employee resource group, the 41-year-old describes the company’s uninterrupted service to its songwriters as a major win during a pandemic — while noting that “achieving fair compensation for songwriters continues to be the most pressing issue in music publishing.”

As Tours Return, I Can't Wait to See: “Janelle Monáe and Tegan and Sara — they’re all incredibly innovative songwriters.”

Sam Houston
Director of visual content production, RCA Records

Courtesy of Sam Houston
Sam Houston (right) and Doja Cat

Read more about how Houston is helping artists like Doja Cat bring their music-video dreams to life here.

Garrett Illing
Social media marketing manager, YouTube Music

In a year without touring, Illing, 31, made it easier for fans to connect globally: His social media promotions for Blackpink: The Show, YouTube’s first livestream concert that used channel memberships, reached over 2 billion people, and his extensive digital campaign for the Save Our Stages Festival helped the National Independent Venue Association raise $2 million in relief funds. “As we see artists and festivals increasingly lean toward livestreaming,” he says, “YouTube Music’s socials will become more of a promotional lever for ticket sales.”

My Side Hustle: “Music supervision. I got my start in the Music for Visual Media department at WME and am still fascinated by soundtracks that complement storytelling.”

Matt Jones
Partner/vp copyrights and royalties, Primary Wave Music

A 13-year veteran of the company, Jones wears many hats: negotiating sample clearances, providing catalog valuations and working on publishing/master acquisitions with artists such as Stevie Nicks, Devo, Air Supply, Olivia Newton John and the Ray Charles estate. “Despite everyone being in different cities and countries,” says Jones, 44, “we closed some of the biggest deals in Primary Wave’s history and in the industry as a whole.”

The Pandemic Hobby I Picked Up: “I adopted a pandemic puppy. He’s a Corgi named Pepper, and he’s a handful.”

Lenore Kinder
Senior vp, Wasserman Music

In addition to steering the live careers of country powerhouses like Kacey Musgraves and Tanya Tucker, Kinder signed rising queer singer-songwriter Joy Oladokun to her roster in 2020 and notes the importance of “waving my flag high” and “using my influence to amplify all marginalized voices.” Now at Wasserman (which recently acquired Paradigm’s North American live-music business), she’s juggling “confirming tours for [the fourth quarter] of 2022 and relaunching tours that start in two months.”

The Pandemic Hobby I Picked Up: “Cooking — I love the New York Times app and Mission Chinese cookbook.”

Daniel Lang
VP digital licensing, Europe, Middle East, India and Africa, Warner Chappell Music

Now a few months into the job, London-based Lang, 29, handles commercial negotiations with digital services around the world, working closely with regional subpublishers, local societies and other partners with the goal of “maximizing opportunities” for songwriters. The pandemic has changed the landscape: “From live streaming to in-home fitness,” he says, “the challenges have been to adapt to the influx without reinventing the wheel and to legitimize the revenue stream for songwriters without stifling innovation.”

This Year, I'll Celebrate Pride By: “Having a boozy dinner party with my boyfriend, my best friends and the people I love.”

Nick Lehman
Executive vp/chief strategy and digital officer, ASCAP

Lehman, 50, and his team found “common ground” with the performing rights organization’s biggest competitor, BMI, to “drive data integrity, transparency and consistency across the industry” with the joint launch of Songview in December. The tool mines data for 20 million works to give users accurate and comprehensive information about songs’ rights holders — and it even earned a commendation from the U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust division.

As Tours Return, I Can't Wait to See: “Alanis Morissette’s rescheduled Jagged Little Pill tour, to reexperience songs that were so meaningful to me 25 years ago.”

Inez Lopez
Senior manager of security, festivals, Goldenvoice/AEG

As a queer woman of color working in the male-dominated field of security, Lopez knows that festival safety needs to include everyone there. She’s working closely with GV BLACK — a resource group started by Black employees at the promoter in 2018 — to assess inclusion practices at festivals like Coachella. “As festival promoters,” she says, “we must do everything in our power to make the event industry equitable.”

My Favorite Gay Bar: “Akbar in Silver Lake. It’s one of those places where you always run into a friend.”

Drew Maniscalco
Senior director, streaming and sales, Atlantic Records

How do you get a No. 1 single? Just ask Maniscalco, 30, whose team crafts Hot 100 strategy for chart-toppers like Cardi B and Silk Sonic by analyzing streaming data and building relationships between the label’s roster and digital service providers. Just as exciting to him, though, are the organic successes: “For every song being heavily backed by a label, there are so many artists putting up singing videos or track demos that are going ‘viral’ and finding real fans.”

The Pandemic Hobby I Picked Up: “Rhinestoning! From my reading glasses to my calculator, everything has been stoned.”

Carly Mann
Head of marketing/manager, Three Six Zero

While looking after twin toddlers from home, Mann, 39, helped launch client Calvin Harris’ Love Regenerator side project and worked with the DJ-producer and his frequent collaborator, director Emil Nava, on NFT art drops. She also oversees the campaign for WILLOW’s forthcoming album, adding that she’s thrilled about bringing “female-fronted rock back to the forefront of modern music.”

As Tours Return, I Can't Wait to See: “Lady Gaga. I instantly fan-girl out at her shows.”

Mark McDevitt
Senior vp/deputy chief content protection and enforcement, RIAA

Courtesy oc Mark McDevitt
Mark McDevitt

Read more about how McDevitt is fighting piracy in the streaming age here.

Glenn Miller
Brand consulting and music executive, Creative Artists Agency

As COVID-19 ravaged the live-music industry, London-based Miller provided a glimmer of hope as an instrumental team member behind the outdoor Virgin Money Unity Arena, the United Kingdom’s first socially distanced music venue. Launched last summer, it supported rising artists like Sam Fender and L Devine and “showed how the live industry can innovate and adapt to the changing environment,” says Miller, who also leads CAA’s international podcast strategy.

My Favorite Gay Bar: “The Glory on Kingsland Road. So much more than a gay pub, it’s an important place for the LGBTQ+ community to gather.”

Tommy Moore
VP artist and industry relations, board administration and governance, Academy of Country Music

After the pandemic delayed last year’s ceremony, Moore, 32, helped produce the 2020 and 2021 ACM Awards only seven months apart. “The logistics and communications needed to put on a safe show for all the artists, industry and crew were no small feat and something I’m very proud of,” he says. As a founding member of the ACM’s diversity and inclusion task force, he’s also excited to see the group’s work this past year “take shape with actionable steps.”

This Year, I'll Celebrate Pride By: “Supporting my friends’ LGBTQ-owned small businesses.”

Jen Mozenter
VP A&R, Splice

In just four years on the job, Mozenter, 32, and her team have built relationships with over 800 creators who now use the music platform to distribute their sounds and samples — some of which have ended up on hits by Bad Bunny and Doja Cat. The company paid creators a record $15 million last year, and Mozenter is particularly proud of Splice’s efforts to support female and gender nonconforming producers by offering “education, tools and the mentorship needed to succeed.”

My Favorite Gay Bar: “Gay Asstrology, a queer dance party in L.A.”

Tobi Parks
VP, National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) Foundation; owner/artistic director, xBk; founder/board president, Station 1 Records; attorney, business affairs administration, Sony Music Entertainment

Megan Poole
Tobi Parks photographed on May 12, 2021 at xBk in Des Moines, Iowa.

Read more about how Parks is helping “usher in the next generation” of live-music professionals here.

Roberta Pate
Head of artist/label partnerships, Latin America, Spotify

Making sure LGBTQ+ artists are represented in every Spotify initiative is a priority for Miami-based Pate, 34, who leads a team spread across Latin America and the United States. Last year, she took a lead role with the inaugural Spotify Awards in Mexico City and helped launch the streaming giant’s emerging-artist program, RADAR, which boosted 45 Latin acts and “became a central pillar for stimulating local music” during the pandemic.

The Pandemic Hobby I Picked Up: “Taking online courses on modern art and the history of Brazilian art.”

Enrique Santos
President/COO/radio host, iHeartLatino

With his show kicking off at 6 a.m. and meetings that can go until 9 p.m., Miami-based Santos — the first openly gay Spanish-language radio personality — says there’s “never a dull moment” juggling on-air duties with his role developing Latin-focused programming. The 46-year-old, who also hosts and produces iHeartRadio Fiesta Latina, credits his audience with keeping him on track: “The most urgent thing in my line of work is my listeners.”

My Side Hustle: “I’m a proud partner in the growing Cuban Guys fast-food chain.”

Darrin Schnur
Regional director of promotions, Southeast, Elektra Music Group

A veteran radio promoter, Atlanta-based Schnur has helped the label notch 13 No. 1 singles across multiple formats since its 2018 relaunch while also helping it secure the biggest market share at alternative radio in 2020 for the second consecutive year. “While airplay can be data-driven, you cannot have success unless the radio programmer has a reaction,” says Schnur, 52. “Eliciting that reaction is still the most fun part of the job.”

As Tours Return, I Can't Wait to See: “Tones and I. Who wouldn’t want to shake off the last year by seeing ‘Dance Monkey’ live?”

Jeremiah Silva
Music/talent executive, NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers

When he’s not helping Meyers hit the bar with Rihanna and Kelly Clarkson for the show’s viral “Day Drinking” segments, Silva is out securing buzzer-beater bookings. For Election Day eve, he landed Tracy Chapman’s first TV appearance in five years, then in January locked in Run the Jewels’ Killer Mike for a powerful, last-minute conversation about the U.S. Capitol riot.

As Tours Return, I Can't Wait to See: “At this point, almost anyone. But mostly and always Mariah Carey.”

Marissa Smith
Music agent, WME

“This pandemic has forced us to ask the question ‘Should we add a virtual element to this show?’ more than ever before,” says Nashville-based Smith, 27. In addition to her own roster, she leads both WME Music’s social action efforts, which involves booking talent for nonprofit and political events, as well as the agency’s digital concert business. In 2020, its new Virtual Appearances group took part in hundreds of shows, including Dua Lipa’s Studio 2054 livestream.

My Side Hustle: “Mentoring the next generation of women in music. I also sit on the boards of She Is the Music, Diversify the Stage, Noise for Now, Sustainable Partners and Children in Conflict.”

Macie Spear
Artist partnerships, North America, TikTok

Even artists need help navigating TikTok. That’s where Spear, 30, comes in. Over the past year, she has served as a bridge between the short-form video app and acts like Daya and Rebecca Black, helping them amplify their music and tell their stories in ways that feel authentic. “I believe it’s important to make [LGBTQ+] artists feel supported and champion them through their careers,” she says.

As Tours Return, I Can't Wait to See: “Kim Petras. I’ve been a stan since I first saw her music video for ‘I Don’t Want It at All.’ ”

Julie Vastola
Director of visual content, Republic Records

Vastola, 30, works on campaigns for tentpole releases (like Ariana Grande’s Positions and Nicki Minaj’s Beam Me Up Scotty) and commissions assets ranging from custom motion graphics to Spotify Canvas loops. In helping to bring artists’ visions to life, she’s able to empower her community, too: “I was proud to work on Drake’s first two lyric videos, created by a fellow LGBTQ+ creative whom we frequently work with, [photographer-animator] Katia Temkin.”

As Tours Return, I Can't Wait to See: “Joy Oladokun, an extremely talented singer-songwriter.”

Jessica Vaughn
VP sync and creative, Heavy Hitters Music; president, Head Bitch Music

The recently promoted vp increased department revenue by 107% in her first year at the boutique publishing/licensing firm — and kept the numbers up during the pandemic. “I’ve always refused the limits and labels others assign to me in my career,” says the 33-year-old, who also runs custom music house Head Bitch Music. “Every day, I make a step to dismantle the old ways to create space for the industry we all deserve to work in.”

My Side Hustle: “The over 20 monikers I create music under: LACES, JPOLND and Rvrside are my favorites.”

Alyse Vellturo
Associate director of label management, The Orchard; founder, Sleep Well Records

Vellturo, 33, serves as “the go-between for all of our different services” at the Sony-owned distributor — the kind of work, she says, that puts her “at the forefront of any and all changes in music, social media and technology.” Vellturo, who also runs her own label, appreciates that there’s no one right way to do business at The Orchard: “It’s scary and risky, but being able to watch everyone adjust and grow from it has been really exciting.”

My Side Hustle: “I’m also known as the artist PRONOUN — I fully write, record and produce all my own music.”

Zoe Williamson
Agent, music, UTA

“Live performance is a huge piece of every musician’s career,” says the 26-year-old, whose roster includes acclaimed LGBTQ+ artists like St. Vincent, Arlo Parks, Big Freedia and Pom Pom Squad. But Williamson — who co-founded La Femme Majeure, a UTA event series spotlighting women in the industry — likes to think beyond tours, too: “[Helping] clients recognize a variety of brilliant personal and unique creative aspirations is the part of my job I love the most.”

My Favorite Gay Bar: “Cubbyhole! There are way too few lesbian bars left in NYC.”

Contributors: Katie Bain, Alexei Barrionuevo, Dave Brooks, Leila Cobo, Stephen Daw, Nolan Feeney, Griselda Flores, Josh Glicksman, Lyndsey Havens, Alim Kheraj, Carl Lamarre, Cydney Lee, Joe Levy, Joe Lynch, Heran Mamo, Taylor Mims, Gail Mitchell, Mia Nazareno, Melinda Newman, Jessica Roiz, Claudia Rosenbaum, Dan Rys, Micah Singleton, Avery Stone, Andrew Unterberger, Nick Williams

Methodology: Billboard’s Pride List was chosen by editors based on factors including but not limited to nominations by peers and colleagues; timely career accomplishments; and overall impact on the music industry. Nominations for each Billboard power list open not less than 120 days in advance of publication. (For our editorial calendar, please email thom.duffy@billboard.com.) The nomination link is sent to press representatives and/or honorees of companies previously featured on any Billboard list, as well as those who send a request to thom.duffy@billboard.com. Nominations close and lists are locked not less than 90 days before publication. Unless otherwise noted, MRC Data is the source for tour grosses and sales/streaming data.

This story originally appeared in Billboard’s 2021 Pride Issue, dated June 5, 2021.