Billboard ’s 2023
40 Under 40 List Revealed
The minds powering the live sector’s post-shutdown resurgence — along with next-gen forces from Capitol Hill to the silver screen — highlight Billboard ’s annual celebration of the industry’s young leaders
President, MTG Nashville // Messina Touring Group
Haley McCollister has had a busy spring: Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran, two of the flagship artists promoted by AEG Presents affiliate Messina Touring Group, launched stadium tours just seven weeks apart. McCollister, president of Messina’s Nashville office, joined Swift on the road for the opening weeks of her blockbuster The Eras Tour, which began March 17 — as she also readied the May 6 kickoff of the North American leg of Sheeran’s Mathematics Tour.
“The past few weeks have been… wild,” says McCollister, 35, exhaling deeply as she anticipates hopscotching between the two runs. Yet she also points out that because she’s been through this exact daunting scenario before — when Sheeran and Swift had concurrent stadium treks in summer 2018 and finished at Nos. 1 and 2 on that year’s Top 25 Tours tally, respectively, with a combined gross of over $740 million, according to Billboard Boxscore — she feels more prepared for the mega-selling madness. “Every tour is different, every artist is different,” she says, “but knowing how much time management and advanced preparation is needed? That’s really where the experience has played in for me.”
For McCollister, who was promoted to her current role last August, professional longevity has eased the process of setting up the biggest stages in live music. After graduating from Clemson University in 2010, McCollister moved to Texas as a new Messina hire — helping to handle ticket requests for Swift’s 2011 arena tour — and spent five years in Houston before moving to Nashville in 2015 to build up the company’s Music City office. McCollister has only ever worked for founder and CEO Louis Messina and his company, and admits that growing from a college grad to a president role at the same place over the course of 12 years is an industry rarity. “With Louis, he would always say, ‘You’re in charge of your own destiny. What is it you want? I’ll give you the resources to go after it,’ ” McCollister recalls. “And instead of just saying that, he really did it.”
From left: McCollister, Sheeran, Messina and MTG’s Keena Cheatham.
As McCollister kept asking for more responsibilities and taking on more tours, she embraced the quality-over-quantity deal structures of Messina Touring Group, whose heavyweight touring roster also includes George Strait, The Lumineers, Kenny Chesney and Eric Church. By not spreading itself too thin, Messina Touring Group has long promoted VIP artists with long-term goals — and since her promotion, McCollister has been tasked with more overarching growth initiatives for that clientele. “We only work with so many artists, we keep the teams we have on these tours relatively consistent, and when we have conversations, we’re never talking about the next tour — we’re talking about the next 10 years,” McCollister says.
The past three years have been particularly tricky for promoters to navigate due to the pandemic. The sector experienced something of a soft relaunch in late 2021 and 2022 as COVID-19 hesitancies lingered, but now touring has fully roared back; this year, Beyoncé, Metallica, Morgan Wallen and more will pass through the same venues as Swift and Sheeran. “I cannot believe how many stadium tours there are,” McCollister says. “It’s insane to me that we’re in a time where this many artists are headlining 50,000-plus [capacity] venues.” While the stadium circuit might be less crowded in 2024 and beyond, McCollister predicts a trickle-down effect to the festival market, which she believes has been affected by the myriad of headliners routing their own tours this year. “Once everybody gets their own stadium headlining shows done, that’s when I think we’ll see new festivals pop up.”
Ethan Miller/TAS23/Getty Images
While McCollister is looking forward to a busy summer full of stadium singalongs and strategy sessions, she’s also steeling herself for more external conversations about the live industry’s hot-button issue: ticketing. The mid-November timing of Ticketmaster’s Eras Tour presale fiasco — where the platform’s online infrastructure couldn’t handle the enormous ticket demand and bots, an experience which Swift described as “excruciating” in a letter to fans — resulted in McCollister fielding questions about concert tickets from family members at Thanksgiving.
Ultimately, McCollister believes the current attention on ticketing issues will help push the live industry forward — and she’s excited about the possibility of real progress soon. “It’s a headache now, because it’s what’s loud in terms of the feedback that artists are getting, but it’s something that their fans have been dealing with for [a while],” she says. “So I feel like, while the willingness to pay attention and see what we can do about this is not completely new, there’s more sincerity behind making an effort.” —JASON LIPSHUTZ
Courtesy of UTA
Music agent // UTA
Just five years after booking Rosalía in clubs, “it’s incredibly special to see her perform to raucous crowds across the world,” says Abreu, 36, who, with UTA’s Sam Kirby Yoh, orchestrated her 2022 world tour. The London-based executive also oversees European and Latin American booking for Bad Bunny, who sold over 900,000 tickets across Latin American stadiums last year. “I work with artists and their teams to develop their live careers by building strategies that are uniquely tailored to each individual vision,” he says.
If I wasn’t working in the music business, I’d be: “Running a dive shop or dive boat operation. Scuba diving is my favorite hobby.”
Senior vp // Wasserman Music
Atamian, whose clients include Sturgill Simpson, Black Pumas, Blackberry Smoke and Noah Kahan, can easily pick his highlight of the past year: “As a die-hard [Chicago] Cubs fan, watching The Lumineers onstage at Wrigley Field in front of a sold-out crowd will be hard to top,” the 39-year-old says of the band he has represented since its club days. And, as a member of Sound Future, a 501c3 organization bringing emerging climate technologies to live events, he’s also committed to ensuring a sustainable future for the sector.
If I wasn’t working in the music business, I’d be: “A bartender at The Blue Coconut in Bocas del Toro, Panama.”
Artist manager // Full Stop Management
Balden, 34, manages Lizzo alongside Kevin Beisler and guided the “true multihyphenate” through a mammoth 2022, where she released her Special album; launched her Yitty clothing brand; created her Emmy-winning Amazon series, Watch Out for the Big Grrrls; released an HBO documentary and concert film; won record of the year at the Grammys; and, with Live Nation, donated $1 million from her first sold-out arena tour to Planned Parenthood and the National Network of Abortion Funds. Says Balden: “As managers, we touch every aspect of an artist’s career, business and life, and it’s our job to make an artist’s vision come to fruition.”
My favorite piece of merch I own is: “A concert T-shirt from Britney Spears’ July 2000 Oops!… I Did It Again show at The Forum.”
Partner/agent // WME
Promoted to partner in April 2022, Baxter has spent more than a decade at WME booking clients such as Miley Cyrus, Kygo, Kali Uchis, Sofi Tukker, Ashnikko, Carly Rae Jepsen and Gryffin. The 35-year-old is especially “proud of the role we’ve played in helping Sofi Tukker,” as well as 2022 accomplishments by Cyrus (headlining Lollapaloozas Chile, Brazil and Argentina), Kygo (selling out Madison Square Garden) and Jepsen (embarking on her biggest North American tour yet).
If I wasn’t working in the music business, I’d be: “[Working] in architecture and interior design. I love the intersection between visual art and our spaces, and how that impacts the way we live and our emotions.”
COO // Rancho Humilde Entertainment
Earlier this year, Rancho Humilde-signed act Fuerza Regida notched its first No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Latin Songs chart with the Grupo Frontera-assisted, cumbia-tinged “Bebe Dame” — which also became the band’s first Billboard Hot 100 entry. “It’s amazing being able to witness our Mexican artists receiving the recognition they deserve,” says the L.A.-based Becerra, 38, who alongside business partner Jimmy Humilde, the indie label’s CEO, has fostered a new generation of Mexican music acts such as Fuerza Regida, Junior H and Natanael Cano.
The best concert I’ve ever seen is: “Los Bukis, when they reunited.”
Senior vp/talent buyer // Goldenvoice
At Goldenvoice’s Bay Area office, Bell runs booking, oversees marketing and strategy, and personally books local one-offs (including arena shows), San Francisco’s Warfield Theater and Frost Amphitheater in Palo Alto, Calif., where Goldenvoice has presented shows as exclusive contemporary music booker by artists from Bob Weir to Joji since the venue’s 2019 reopening. All five festivals that the 34-year-old has booked and produced for the company — San Francisco’s dance-focused Portola 2022 (which he also conceived), three years of Porter Robinson’s Second Sky Festival and Day N Vegas 2021, where Kendrick Lamar did a one-time career-spanning set that Bell calls “epic” — sold out.
The best advice I’ve received is: “Don’t be an asshole and do a good job.”
GM // 88rising
Borge, 36, has worked with founder and CEO Sean Miyashiro since 88rising’s 2015 launch and says the label applies “the talent management perspective to all aspects of what we do.” That includes marketing, A&R, publishing, synch and merchandise — as well as touring and live events, which enjoyed a “milestone” 2022: 88rising’s Head in the Clouds festival debuted outside the United States (in Manila, Philippines, and Jakarta, Indonesia), it became the first label to boast its own Coachella slot, and artists Joji, Niki and Jackson Wang mounted “breakout” tours. Next up: HITC’s New York expansion in May.
My favorite piece of merch I own is: “The jean jacket we printed onsite at 88’s first roster show at the Shrine in L.A. in 2018. It was the first tour with all of our artists together and I’ll never forget the energy of the crowd. Since the beginning of 88rising in 2015, clustered in a small Brooklyn office, we had dreamed of one day potentially having our own festival. The Shrine was truly the proof-of-concept moment that dream was not too far off.”
Director of touring // Cárdenas Marketing Network
Cárdenas oversees and manages the touring and media departments for CMN — ranked third on Billboard’s 2022 year-end Top Promoters chart — which includes ticketing, talent negotiations and touring operations. Coming off a year where he managed Bad Bunny’s record-breaking stadium tour in the United States and Latin America, and added Feid and Christian Nodal to CMN’s roster, Cárdenas, 32, notes regional Mexican touring’s growth, calling it a “testament to the power of digital marketing and social media.”
The best advice I’ve received is: “Never assume,” from CMN CEO (and his father) Henry Cárdenas. “Things move quickly and are constantly changing, so taking the time to reconfirm doubts will always save you a lot of headache along the way.”
CEO // Propeller
These are busy times for DeRoche, who created digital marketing and social impact platform Propeller to help artists partner with nonprofit organizations devoted to issues like LGBTQ+ equality, racial justice, climate change and reproductive rights. Over the last year, Propeller, which incentivizes cause-related actions with a sweepstakes model for coveted tickets, merch and more, surpassed “$5 million raised and 8 million actions taken on the platform,” the 39-year-old says, citing campaigns with artists including Justin Bieber and Lizzo; festivals such as Bonnaroo and Outside Lands; and Propeller’s first venue partnership, with Denver-area Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
If I wasn’t working in the music business, I’d be: “Writing code.”
Jeremy David Creative
Vp of talent and booking // Live Nation Urban
In junior high school, Mari Davies would use her father’s department store credit card to buy concert tickets from the store’s Ticketmaster kiosk — and then sell them to friends for a minimal markup.
“It was just a couple of bucks,” Davies, 36, says with a laugh. “And my dad was aware. In hindsight, I’m like, ‘Oh, shit. I was making money off of concerts since I was a kid.’ ”
Now, the Los Angeles native and graduate of St. John’s University in Queens (where J. Cole was a classmate) has come full circle, joining Live Nation Urban last year as vp of talent and booking. Playing an integral role in the company’s festival curation, Davies helms a slate that includes LNU’s partnership with the Washington, D.C.-based Broccoli City Music Festival (Brent Faiyaz, Jazmine Sullivan and Lil Uzi Vert will headline 2023’s 10th anniversary); Philadelphia’s Roots Picnic (topped this year by Ms. Lauryn Hill and Diddy & The Roots); Park Jams, a Central Park concert of hip-hop legends celebrating Juneteenth; and Atlanta’s ONE Musicfest.
Upon joining LNU, Davies formally established its new touring department “to build our hard-ticket business,” putting on emerging African artist Rema’s club run in 2022; LNU’s 2023 tours include Ari Lennox, Jill Scott, dvsn, Davido and LL COOL J’s first arena trek in 30 years. She’s also especially proud of curating and marketing Mary J. Blige and Pepsi’s inaugural Strength of a Woman Festival and Summit on Mother’s Day weekend in 2022 featuring Chaka Khan, City Girls and Blige herself; the fest returned to Atlanta May 11-14, planned again by the all-female team Davies calls a “special sisterhood.”
Prior to LNU, Davies spent 10 years as an ICM agent, representing R&B/hip-hop clients such as Kelly Rowland, Kodak Black, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Davido and Teyana Taylor. At the agency, she was also a founding member of Diversify ICM and was part of the initial class of mentors for Next Gem Femme, the mentorship program affiliated with Live Nation joint venture Femme It Forward.
When Davies transitioned to LNU, she says she was “seeing the shift in trends. A lot of artists were doing tour deals direct, whether with Live Nation or AEG.” Today, drawing on relationships forged at ICM, she approaches her job “almost like a hybrid agent,” she explains. “Managers still call me and, of course, I loop in the agents. I’m able to connect with all of them because I came from a management and agency background.”
Her vision moving forward “is all about scale.” That means strategically building out LNU’s touring and festival divisions while identifying new partnerships and properties. Davies, whose late mother was from Cameroon, also wants to expand further into gospel/inspirational and African music. And the LNU executive continues to seek ways to increase diversity in the live sector.
“For me, it’s important to hire, work with and represent all people of color,” says Davies. “Especially women, because I haven’t seen enough change, enough new faces or enough women being retained in positions within the live touring and agency space.” —GAIL MITCHELL
Head of music // National Football League
As the NFL’s first head of music, a role he assumed in 2022 after nearly a decade with the league, Dudowsky’s role encompasses booking, staging, broadcast integration and show execution for musical performances at NFL events — including the Super Bowl halftime show, where he’s the league’s executive-in-charge and works closely with executive producer Roc Nation. Performances like Rihanna’s memorable Super Bowl LVII set in February “are changing the future of how live broadcasts and musical performances can look, how they sound and what they feel like,” says Dudowsky, 35.
The best advice I’ve received is: “Don’t fuck this up,” from “mentor and industry legend” Ron Semiao, when given the opportunity to oversee Super Bowl entertainment. “Every day since then I’ve been doing my best not to.”
Co-founder/co-owner // Best Friends Music
Since Goodman co-founded Best Friends Music with Danny Rukasin in 2019, they’ve built a tight-knit team to support a roster that features superstars like Billie Eilish and FINNEAS alongside Bishop Briggs and emerging talents like Mimi Webb and Blake Rose. Today, Goodman, 38, is most excited that artists “can be entrepreneurial and explore new ways to expand their brand,” as Eilish has done with her Nike deal and own perfume line. “My role is to guide the careers of my clients while being an advocate to help them achieve their goals,” he says.
The best concert I’ve ever seen is: Billie Eilish’s 2022 Coachella headlining set, which was “a career highlight. Watching an artist who we have worked with since the beginning of their career reach such a level of success and put on such a fantastic show was incredibly fulfilling, especially while in the company of the many people we’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside throughout the journey.”
HTS Business Strategy Department lead // HYBE
As K-pop’s global live clout rapidly grows, Hahn, 36, has been integral in the concert strategies of major HYBE draws including BTS, Tomorrow X Together, Seventeen and Enhypen. Following a stint at Live Nation Korea, where she planned Korean artists’ global tours and foreign artists’ Korean concerts, the Seoul-based executive joined HYBE in early 2019, ultimately leading a concert business division that made HYBE No. 8 on Billboard’s year-end Top Promoters chart in 2022 and prompted her to assume a new role in April that encompasses concerts and other HYBE business activities.
The best concert I’ve ever seen is: Adele in 2016 “had me laughing and crying throughout.”
Senior vp, film music // Universal Pictures
Whether pitching and selecting songs, hiring and interfacing with score composers or helping make original songs happen, Hayden fulfills music-related needs for Universal films. Last year, she ensured the award-winning Tár’s authenticity, hiring Cate Blanchett’s conducting coach and choosing music selections with director Todd Field; on the opposite end of the cinema spectrum, she secured Karol G for Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’s original end-credits song. “It has been incredible to see film and TV become such a destination for music talent,” says Hayden, 36.
The best concert I’ve ever seen is: “Yeah Yeah Yeahs and LCD Soundsystem at the [Hollywood] Bowl in 2018. As an elder millennial, that really got me!”
Mary Caroline Russell
Mary Catherine Kinney
Head of artist partnerships // Spotify
Kinney leads a U.S.-based team that handles artist and manager relationships, which in 2022 included partnerships with acts from Bad Bunny to Taylor Swift to Blackpink. Based in Nashville, Kinney, 35, is also proud Spotify recognized Zach Bryan’s star potential early, including him on playlists starting in 2020 and naming him Spotify’s first country RADAR US artist ahead of his 2022 album, American Heartbreak.
If I wasn’t working in the music business, I’d be: “Owning an interior design studio or an antique shop. I love what I do, but trust me, no one does antiquing like me.”
Paul Morigi/Courtesy of the Recording Academy
Senior director, advocacy and public policy // The Recording Academy
Lewan’s efforts on Capitol Hill shape policies affecting the entire music business. In 2022, his state policy work helped pass California’s Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act, which limits how song lyrics can be used as trial evidence — “the first bill of its kind in the U.S.,” the 36-year-old says. Recently, Lewan and the academy joined other organizations to launch the Human Artistry CampAIgn to “collectively look out for the impact on the human creating the music” as artificial intelligence develops.
Ten years ago, I was: “Not in the music industry! I was getting my career started in D.C., and I was working in renewable energy advocacy.”
Co-founder/CEO // STEM Disintermedia
“The music industry’s financial framework is antiquated and unreliable,” says Lewis, 35, who launched Stem in 2015 to provide high-level distribution and services to indie artists and labels. Today, the company also offers flexible financing options for independent clients and transparent royalty accounting so artists and their collaborators know “how much their project is earning and get paid in a predictable and streamlined manner.”
My favorite piece of merch I own is: “I started buying merch at every show I went to when I was pregnant for my daughter to wear when she’s older. We have merch from Morgan Wallen, Harry Styles, Paramore, Elton John and bbno$, to name a few.”
GM, artist services // Sofar Sounds; CEO // Seated
McKay works “to help artists connect with their fans, sell more tickets and generate more revenue at every stage in their careers” at ticketing startup Seated, which he co-founded in 2017, and as GM of artist services at Sofar Sounds, which acquired Seated in 2021. McKay, 37, oversees services for the 20,000-plus artists who play Sofar concerts annually while still leading Seated, which recently facilitated presale ticketing and registrations for Harry Styles, Jack Harlow, Brandi Carlile and Dead & Company, among others.
The best concert I’ve ever seen is: John Mayer more than two decades ago at St. Louis club Mississippi Nights. “Prior to this concert, I had only attended large concerts with my parents at amphitheaters to see the likes of Tina Turner, The Beach Boys, and Tom Petty,” McKay says. “This was my first time seeing live music in a small intimate club setting with just my friends. I immediately fell in love with live music, went home and bought a guitar, and have tried to find more ways to experience live music ever since.”
Managing partner // TBA Agency
In the last year, pandemic-era upstart TBA doubled its staff and opened New York and Los Angeles offices — growth that McTaggart, as part of the agency’s founding team, helped spearhead while overseeing his own 45-artist roster, which includes Ethel Cain, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Yaeji. “The live industry has had to adjust and learn how to manage rapid growth into longevity,” says McTaggart, 37, “and I believe that’s best led by a clear, shared vision between artists and their teams.”
If I wasn’t working in the music business, I’d be: “Running a hotel with a great restaurant.”
Chimgornum “Siggy” Sigmund
Justin “Meezy” Williams
Founder/manager // Meezy Entertainment
Before Justin “Meezy” Williams became 21 Savage’s manager in 2015, he was a well-known party promoter in Atlanta. “Everybody in Atlanta knew me,” he recalls. “I knew Future before he blew up. I knew Migos before they blew up. I knew 2 Chainz as Tity Boi, and I threw all the parties.” But despite his impressive Rolodex, his future wasn’t clear until he professionally connected with Savage.
“I’ve known him since he was 12. We grew up on the same side [of town],” says the 34-year-old owner of Meezy Entertainment and president of Savage’s imprint, Slaughter Gang. “When I was in high school, he used to be on the street when I walked home from school. I just had a good reputation as a party promoter, and that’s what linked us doing this together. It made sense. He had the real shit, and I had the club shit.”
Since Williams partnered with Savage, now 30, the formidable rapper has notched 14 Hot 100 top 10 singles, including two No. 1s, and three Billboard 200 chart-toppers, including last November’s Her Loss, a collaborative project with Drake. But while Williams had heard rumblings that the duo, whose previous collaborations included the 2022 Hot 100 No. 1 song “Jimmy Cooks,” were working on more music together, he didn’t press the “very private” Savage for details.
“I heard pieces, like the skeleton of ‘Rich Flex,’ ” he recalls. “I knew where it was going, but I never heard the whole album until it came out. We let them do what they needed to do.” Williams worked with Drake’s longtime manager, Future the Prince, on a rollout that included spoof appearances on NPR’s Tiny Desk and The Howard Stern Show.
Williams looks forward to seeing Savage and Drake together this summer when their It’s All a Blur Tour plays arenas in major U.S. markets, including seven New York shows in July. Noting that they’re “still building out creative about how [the stage setup is] going to look,” Williams is confident that now is the perfect time for Drake and Savage to tour together. “In anybody’s imagination, they would’ve wanted this tour,” he says. “Sometimes, give the people what they want.”
But he’s clear-eyed about the competition Savage faces in this year’s crowded concert market and beyond. “You have to give them an experience,” Williams adds. “You have to be a showman at this point or have some personality that people gravitate to. You can’t just lean on these shows. Your business has to be right.”
Through Meezy Entertainment and Slaughter Gang, Williams — who describes himself as part of “this new generation of managers; we do everything” — is applying lessons learned from Savage’s success to other clients. “[We’re] just really building up the artists that we have,” he says, referencing 21 Lil Harold, SG Tip and producer Kid Hazel. “Really establishing the company outside of you knowing the name because of 21 Savage and really getting hands-on feeling like we are creating something.” —CARL LAMARRE
Senior tour director // Live Nation
Moine, a 10-year Live Nation veteran who says she acts as “a one-stop shop” for managers, agents and other stakeholders for touring aspects from marketing to ticketing to operations, worked on last year’s Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Weeknd stadium runs, two of 2022’s 10 highest-grossing tours. The electronic music fan is intently watching as EDM acts like ODESZA and Rüfüs Du Sol increasingly frequent amphitheaters and arenas. “The future for artists in this space is massive,” says Moine, 33.
The best concert I’ve ever seen is: “Rüfüs Du Sol with Fred again.. at the Gorge last summer was legendary.”
Founder/co-head // The Neal Agency
It has been quite a year-and-a-half for Neal. He launched Nashville-based Neal Agency in December 2021 (shortly after departing WME), with clients including Morgan Wallen, HARDY and Chase Rice, and this January added Adi Sharma as co-head and rising star Bailey Zimmerman to its roster. As Wallen embarks on his first stadium tour, featuring double plays in many markets, and HARDY on his first arena tour this year, country’s “expansion into international markets” excites Neal — but the 36-year-old is concerned about ticketing: “From scalpers to fees, we need to find better solutions.”
The best concert I’ve ever seen is: “The War on Drugs at Red Rocks.”
Executive director // National Independent Venue Association
Named NIVA’s executive director in January, Parker has a background in policy, including as a Country Music Association adviser, that has primed him to lead the group that secured $16 billion in federal funds in 2020 and continues to advocate for independent venues and promoters. “Independent live entertainment’s time has come to finally be recognized as an economic and cultural powerhouse for national and local economies,” says Parker, 36.
My favorite piece of merch I own is: “Vinyl of Vulfpeck’s Live at Madison Square Garden. I was there the night it was recorded in September 2019, the night before my birthday, and it represents one of the first times an independent artist without a major record label has sold out The Garden. I listened to it over and over in 2020 because it was a perfectly preserved moment of live music I experienced right before the closures of COVID-19 – and it gave me hope we would see it again.
Vp of business operations // Loud and Live
Paz oversaw business operations for the nearly 400 tours, concerts and festivals Loud and Live produced last year, including negotiating with superstars like Camilo and Carlos Vives, and leading booking for Miami’s first country festival, Country Bay. At just 30, he has already witnessed explosive growth in market size and ticket sales, especially in the Latin market — which, he says, “is now mainstream. We are doubling the amount of markets in most of our tours.”
My favorite piece of merch I own is: “The Jacksons’ Victory tour program book from 1984 that my mom handed down to me when I decided to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.”
Courtesy of Amanda Phelan
Senior director of talent/buyer // Danny Wimmer Presents
In her first year filling the DWP talent buyer role Gary Spivack previously held, Phelan, 33, curated lineups and negotiated booking deals for several of the company’s 2022 festivals, including massive hard-rock events like Sonic Temple in Columbus, Ohio, and Aftershock in Sacramento, Calif. As Phelan sees it, it’s an exciting time to be a talent buyer: “All genre barriers are off the table, leaving room for an insane amount of creativity and fresh spin on everything.”
The best advice I’ve received is: “Be unapologetically yourself, and never stay at a company that doesn’t value you,” from grandfather John Harvey.
Executive vp of A&R // Def Jam
As Def Jam’s senior-ranking A&R executive, Preston, 34, says his job is to “understand the artist’s vision and help them make it come to life” — and with that guiding principle, he has scored major wins, from developing Jhené Aiko’s career (and handling A&R for her Grammy-nominated 2020 album, Chilombo) to signing acclaimed producers DJ Dahi and Hit-Boy as artists to helping YG score a Rhythmic Airplay No. 1 last year with “Toxic.”
Ten years ago, I was: “Still completing my undergraduate degree at Loyola Marymount, while also just completing my first year as a full-time A&R at Def Jam. I had signed Jhené, Logic, and August Alsina prior, and that year they all released debut albums. All projects have multi-platinum successes.”
Vp, international label management // The Orchard
At the helm of The Orchard’s International Label Management division, Putney, 37, drives “cooperation and meticulous execution of campaign strategy” across more than 46 offices globally. She has overseen campaigns for acts from Bad Bunny to BTS, and recent accomplishments include working “hand in hand” with Rimas on Eladio Carrión’s 3MEN2 KBRN rollout and collaborating with Human Re Sources and its artist RAYE, whose success Putney says she’s “humbled” by. “The level of appreciation people have for music today from another corner of the globe is really profound,” Putney adds.
If I wasn’t working in the music business, I’d be: “Working in the nonprofit field. I currently volunteer with an international NGO called Studio Samuel Foundation. This nonprofit started back in 2012 with a close work colleague of mine. When I found out about the amazing work she was doing I jumped on board and I’ve been donating my time ever since.”
Courtesy of Dom Rodriguez
Senior vp/head of SM Entertainment USA // SM Entertainment
A 13-year veteran of SM Entertainment, Rodriguez has overseen the company’s North American operations since 2017, making him instrumental in K-pop’s continued growth stateside. “K-pop is here to stay and is a part of the global pop fabric and culture,” says Rodriguez, 39, who has shepherded stars like SuperM, NCT 127 and aespa. “We continue to push the boundaries of K-pop and expand into various areas of the U.S. industry, such as fashion, film and television, and more.”
If I wasn’t working in the music business, I’d be: “A baseball coach — my whole life has always revolved around music and baseball.”
Vp of music intelligence // SoundCloud
After working at tech and music’s intersection with companies including Shazam and Pandora, Savage co-founded AI company Musiio, which has helped over 75 companies (including Sony, Downtown and Hipgnosis) tag tracks and provide more descriptive musical metadata. Last year, the 39-year-old sold Musiio to SoundCloud, where she still runs Musiio sales and has spearheaded SoundCloud’s integrations with services like 7digital, LyricFind, ACR Cloud and Tuned Global “in the spirit of creating a better ecosystem for metadata.”
If I wasn’t working in the music business, I’d be: “A long-distance lorry driver. I love driving, and I could listen to classic rock radio all day!”
Tour director // Coffey Black
Every year, Killer Mike is one of the first people who calls Christian Coffey to wish him a happy birthday.
“We all have a text chat that’s, you know, talking shit to each other like brothers,” says Coffey, 37, of Mike and his Run the Jewels partner, El-P. “I was at El-P’s wedding, and I know all Mike’s kids.”
For the last eight years, anyone who has been to a Run the Jewels show has witnessed Coffey’s work in action — and the reason why he has built such a trusting relationship with the hip-hop duo, among other high-profile clients. Coffey runs Coffey Black, a five-person company that provides comprehensive touring services to help artists execute their visions on the road. This spring, he was tasked with bringing Frank Ocean’s elaborate vision to life as set producer for the star’s headlining Coachella performance, which included extensive, last-minute production modifications (such as eliminating an onstage ice rink) after the artist sustained an ankle injury in the days leading up to the show. (Ocean canceled his second-weekend Coachella set.) While Coffey has performed the traditional tour manager role (ensuring logistics for band and crew run smoothly) for acts such as Run the Jewels, OK Go and Miike Snow previously, his current work as a tour director is much broader.
“A Monotone [Inc.] or a Red Light [Management] has people overseeing a touring department,” he explains. “With a lot of independent managers or mid-level managers — companies that may not have it — I effectively started working to make myself and my company their touring department.”
Early in tour planning, artists and their teams enlist Coffey Black to assist in virtually every aspect of hitting the road. Budgeting, routing, logistical planning, crew hiring, vendor contracting, business management and account reconciliation are among the components Coffey collaborates on with managers, agents, lawyers and other members of artists’ teams, and recent clients include A$AP Rocky, Childish Gambino, Clairo and Dermot Kennedy. When touring resumed in 2021, Coffey began working with pgLang’s roster, including Kendrick Lamar, whom he helped navigate lingering COVID-19 protocols and labor shortages for a successful 2022 world tour, along with running point for the rapper’s major televised appearances on Saturday Night Live and the Super Bowl halftime show.
“One of the things that I tell every client whenever I meet with them is, ultimately, my job is to work to bring your creative vision to life so that you just have to worry about the actual creative,” Coffey says. “The how-it-gets-done is what we handle.” —ERIC RENNER BROWN
CEO // Vinyl Me, Please
In 2013, the former U.S. Air Force captain pivoted to selling music as part of Vinyl Me, Please’s founding team. By mid-2021, the company had 80,000 mail-order customers for its premium vinyl releases, and it keeps growing: In April, it opened a 14,000-square-foot Denver pressing plant and launched Vinyl Me, Parton, a record-of-the-month reissue series devoted to Dolly Parton classics. “We occupy a small corner of the industry universe, but one that’s vitally important to the heart and soul of it,” says Schaefer, 39.
Ten years ago, I was: “Flying MQ-1 Predators out of Creech Air Force Base [in] Nevada.”
Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC
Talent producer // Saturday Night Live
If SNL’s musical guests over the last year — including Rosalía, Brandi Carlile, Japanese Breakfast and Steve Lacy, along with host-performers Jack Harlow and Megan Thee Stallion — have seemed particularly diverse, high-profile and relevant, credit Schwartz, 35, who co-heads “a team of extremely intelligent people with a broad spectrum of tastes” ensuring the long-running show “can represent all types of genres.” Schwartz also produced NBC’s Miley’s New Year’s Eve Party, a special stacked with performances by David Byrne, Dolly Parton and, of course, Cyrus herself.
Ten years ago, I was: “In the infancy of my Lana Del Rey fanaticism.”
Principal, label relations // Amazon Music
As Amazon Music’s principal of label relations, Sexton helps artists reach the masses — which has recently entailed work with the “most exciting thing happening right now” in the industry: the integration of sports and music. Sexton, 38, curated the lineup for Amazon Music Live, launched in October to complement Amazon Prime’s Thursday Night Football broadcasts, booking host 2 Chainz and acts including Lil Baby, A$AP Rocky, Lil Wayne and Megan Thee Stallion. Sexton has also led Amazon’s marketing plans and rollouts surrounding album launches by Taylor Swift, The Weeknd, Post Malone and more.
If I wasn’t working in the music business, I’d be: “Trying to figure out how to be in the music business.”
Courtesy of Ian Simon
Co-founder/CEO // Strangeloop Studios
Since Simon co-founded Strangeloop in 2015, the boutique production company has provided concert visuals for Flying Lotus, Zeds Dead, Lil Nas X — and, in April, Blackpink’s headlining Coachella set. Strangeloop also ventured into the metaverse with virtual-character studio Spirit Bomb and launched emerging technology division SLS Projects. “My role is to nurture the insane creativity of our team and the artists we work with, and then get out of the way and let the magic unfold,” says Simon, 33.
Ten years ago, I was: “On my first arena tour with Kendrick [Lamar], opening for Kanye [West] on the Yeezus tour. I had no idea what it would feel like to see how the following years took Kendrick from an opener to a global arena act, but I’m glad I was awestruck enough by the experience to take it all in and not take it for granted.”
Caitlin Stone Jasper
Partner/head of activism // Activist Artists Management
The youngest of Activist’s six partners, Stone Jasper equates management to a circular target, with artists as the bull’s-eye and managers the first ring, being “the first line of defense and the [collectors] of information from every other ring [that] represents another part of the team.” The 34-year-old, who began her career with a seven-year stint on Zac Brown Band’s management team, now day-to-day manages Michael Franti and Brittney Spencer — and serves as Activist’s head of activism, spearheading partnerships with organizations such as Everytown for Gun Safety and HeadCount.
My favorite piece of merch I own is: “An oversize Bruce Springsteen shirt from his 1999 tour gifted to me by a dear friend. It gets packed in every suitcase I carry.”
President // DICE
From DICE’s New York headquarters, Tannen led the mobile ticketer to its strongest year yet in 2022, with over 55,000 artists and 10,000 venues and promoters using the platform to sell tickets, including the legendary Newport Jazz and Folk festivals, Primavera Sound and Brooklyn club Avant Gardner. “Ticketing has historically been a frustrating and painful experience for fans, and it has reached a breaking point,” says Tannen, 36, of the sector. “We must prioritize the fan experience if we want to grow the industry.”
The best advice I’ve received is: “Never send an angry email,” from DICE founder and CEO Phil Hutcheon.
Managing partner // Range Media Partners
Thomas began managing Jack Harlow in 2016 and took the rapper with him when he joined management startup Range in 2021. Today, Thomas, 35, helps the superstar juggle acting (starring in the White Men Can’t Jump reboot and hosting Saturday Night Live), investing (in caffeinated enhanced sparkling beverage Phocus) and touring (selling out arenas as one of rap’s hottest new headliners). Management is most exciting, Thomas says, “when we take the tiniest seed of an idea and grow it together, with a client, into a massive tree.”
Ten years ago, I was: “Preparing to graduate law school while planning the first album rollout for Houndmouth, my very first client. I never signed up for the bar exam.”
Courtesy of Ryan Thomson
Music agent // CAA
Thomson identifies “the emergence of new niche subgenres and their corresponding, massively engaged fan bases” as one of the most exciting developments in touring — and the versatile CAA agent specializes in booking such artists across the musical spectrum, from indie-pop’s Clairo to alt-R&B’s keshi to rage rap’s Playboi Carti, whom Thomson, 34, has helped quickly become an in-demand festival and arena headliner.
The best concert I’ve ever seen is: Frank Ocean at Philadelphia’s Union Transfer in 2012. “Everyone in that room knew we were witnessing a generational talent and master of his craft.”
Senior manager, tour merchandise // Warner Music Experience
Touring has returned to full force post-pandemic shutdown, and fans aren’t just watching their favorites perform — they’re also hitting the merchandise tables. “Tour merch sales are at an all-time high,” says Warner, 39, who has 20 years’ experience managing day-to-day merch logistics for artists and now leads the WMX team that handles “literally everything A-Z for merch on the road” for a bevy of acts ranging from Muse to Jack Harlow to Paramore.
Ten years ago, I was: “On tour with Fall Out Boy for their Save Rock and Roll tour cycle.”
Katie Atkinson, Katie Bain, Dave Brooks, Eric Renner Brown, Leila Cobo, Chris Eggertsen, Griselda Flores, Josh Glicksman, Lyndsey Havens, Steve Knopper, Carl Lamarre, Cydney Lee, Elias Leight, Jason Lipshutz, Heran Mamo, Elizabeth Dilts Marshall, Rebecca Milzoff, Taylor Mims, Gail Mitchell, Melinda Newman, Jessica Nicholson, Kristin Robinson, Neena Rouhani, Dan Rys, Andrew Unterberger
Nominations for Billboard’s executive lists open no less than 150 days in advance of publication, and a link is sent to press representatives by request before the nomination period. (Please email email@example.com for inclusion on the email list for nomination links and to obtain an editorial calendar.) Billboard’s 40 Under 40 list was chosen by editors from selected industry sectors, based on factors including, but not limited to, nominations by peers, colleagues and superiors. This year’s list emphasized the live sector and its executives. In addition to information requested with nominations, editors consider industry impact as measured by metrics including, but not limited to, chart, sales and streaming performance as measured by Luminate and social media impressions using data available as of March 21.