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Women in Music 2023
Hall of Fame

Honored as leaders among their peers in prior years, these former Executive of the Year honorees reflect on their recent achievements — and offer support to their fellow women in the industry


Sage East

Golnar Khosrowshahi

Founder/CEO, Reservoir Media

After being selected as Billboard’s Women in Music Executive of the Year in early 2022, Khosrowshahi went on to carry Reservoir Media through its first full year as a publicly traded independent music company. “It has been a real labor of love,” she says. Under her leadership, Reservoir welcomed many new front-line writers and catalogs, including Oak Felder and Killer Mike, and works of the late Louis Prima; celebrated client Joni Mitchell as MusiCares Person of the Year 2022; and, most recently, began ushering De La Soul’s key albums onto streaming services for the first time. In addition, Khosrowshahi, a longtime fan of classical music, joined the board of the New York Philharmonic and acted as the National Music Publishers’ Association’s board director amid multiple important developments in how songwriters and publishers are paid. “This year was a truly historic moment for songwriters and music publishers,” she says. “I was honored to advocate alongside [president/CEO] David Israelite and the NMPA team.”


Robyn Beck/AFP/GI

Brianna Agyemang

Co-founder, The Show Must Be Paused; senior artist campaign manager, Platoon

Jamila Thomas

Co-founder, The Show Must Be Paused; vp of artist marketing, Motown

Agyemang (left) and Thomas joined forces in 2020 over their mutual desire to hold music companies accountable for their racial bias and pledges of racial justice — and launched a hashtag that spiraled into a movement. The Show Must Be Paused halted the work of the multibillion-dollar industry for a day on June 2 in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, and the co-founders continue to inspire both critical discourse and action. All the while, they’ve been excelling at their day jobs and augmenting their roles as mentors — Agyemang at Platoon and Thomas at Atlantic. At a time when “there has been so much focus on policies and laws that affect our bodies and lives without our input,” Agyemang’s advice to her sisterhood is “to breathe, take it day by day, focus on your goals and keep fighting.” Thomas cautions women “to never doubt yourself for dreaming big, and don’t be hard on yourself for wanting more. We all deserve to live out our wildest dreams.”


Andrew Zaeh

Desiree Perez

CEO, Roc Nation

After Roc Nation “executive-produced a historic Emmy-winning Super Bowl halftime show” in 2022, Perez says, the label’s marquee artist, Rihanna, headlined the Apple Music Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show on Feb. 12. Rihanna also earned her career-first Golden Globe nomination for best original song with “Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which reached No. 2 on the Hot 100. Megan Thee Stallion made history by becoming the first Black woman to appear on the cover of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 issue. Perez says, “All are evidence that the Roc Nation family continues to grow in every way.”


Lexey Swall

Danielle Aguirre

Executive vp/general counsel, National Music Publishers’ Association

In 2018, Aguirre shared recognition as Billboard’s Women in Music Co-Executive of the Year with Jacqueline Charlesworth, Susan Genco and Dina LaPolt for their support of the Music Modernization Act. This past year, Aguirre and the NMPA celebrated the approval by the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board of a record-setting royalty rate for writers and publishers for the use of compositions by streaming services.


Frazer Harrison/GI

Susan Genco

Co-president, The Azoff Company

Genco, who is co-president of The Azoff Company alongside Elizabeth Collins, has helped guide the organization’s Iconic Artists Group, which has expanded quickly since its founding in 2020, and kept “growing its roster and driving revenue for its artists” in 2022, Genco says. In March 2022, the company purchased a bundle of rights from the estate of Nat “King” Cole, then followed up by making deals with Stephen Stills and the Dean Martin Family Trust. “I am humbled that so many legendary artists have trusted Iconic Artists Group as custodians and partners for their incredible legacies,” Genco says. “Like other Azoff companies, Iconic has proven that taking care of our most important artists is a recipe for success.”


Matt Winkelmeyer/GI

Jacqueline C. Charlesworth

Principal, Charlesworth Law

Charlesworth has been a respected force in entertainment and copyright law for decades and is as adept at representing clients such as music companies, film studios, songwriters, recording artists and other creators as she is providing testimony before Congress. She drafted and advocated for passage of the 2018 Music Modernization Act while working at Covington & Burling, drawing from her prior experience as general counsel/associate register at the U.S. Copyright Office. In 2021, she founded Charlesworth Law, where she continues to make an impact across copyright, music and film law. Her recent career highlights include the June launch of the Copyright Claims Board, based on a study Charlesworth oversaw during her tenure at the Copyright Office. She says, “Musicians and other creators who depend upon the copyright system for a living need an affordable alternative to federal court.”


Bonnie Schiffman

Dina LaPolt

Founder/owner, LaPolt Law

When it comes to intellectual property and entertainment law, LaPolt is literally on the case. In 2021, the firm she founded — which counts as clients Mary J. Blige, Cardi B, The Kid LAROI and 21 Savage — celebrated its 20th anniversary, and LaPolt’s influence stretches well beyond that. She is producing the first biopic on Tupac Shakur’s mother and social activist, Afeni Shakur, titled Peace, Love & Respect. The film comes after years of LaPolt working with Shakur to settle her son’s estate. “The challenge for women is still trying to find a space where there is no glass ceiling,” she says. “Find your passion in the business and stick with it.” In the last year, The Black Music Action Coalition, on whose executive leadership council she serves, honored LaPolt with its Change Agent Award, and the substance abuse recovery program Friendly House bestowed on her its Visionary Award. LaPolt has also been a pivotal adviser to members of Congress on the RAP Act, working to rein in the practice of citing artists’ rap lyrics as evidence in legal proceedings against them.


Araya Doheny/GI

Bozoma Saint John

Marketing executive/author/entrepreneur

In an industry where most are identified by job title, Saint John is once again breaking the mold. This time, she’s taking a sabbatical from her career path — she was most recently global chief marketing officer at Netflix and had stints heading marketing at Pepsi, Beats Music, Apple Music, iTunes and Uber — to write her memoir, The Urgent Life, published by Viking. She’s a master at amplifying the role of music in storytelling and shares some of her secrets in her online tutorial “The Badass Workshop.” But her lens has always been broader. She cites Mahsa Amini, the Iranian woman whose murder last year set off protests around the world, as a recent hero. For women in the music business, she says, “The greatest challenge is that the old challenges still need attention. We want equality in the boardroom, in the studio and in every aspect of music creation; therefore, the call to action remains the same — equality now!”


Gary Gershoff/GI

Jody Gerson

Chairman/CEO, Universal Music Publishing Group

Since Gerson became UMPG chairman/CEO in 2015 — when she was honored as Billboard’s Women in Music Executive of the Year — she has worked to not only grow UMPG’s business but to also make the business at large a better, safer place for women. Gerson is co-founder of the nonprofit She Is the Music, which launched in 2018 to provide more opportunities for young women to make it in the music business through mentorship programs, women-only songwriting camps, college ambassadorships, scholarships and more. She’s proud of many of its new ventures, but perhaps most of recent songwriting camps in Los Angeles, Miami, Paris and the Republic of Ghana in West Africa, connecting women songwriters with artists Tems, Alicia Keys and Gyakie. “Even with all of this activity, we haven’t seen enough change,” says Gerson. “Every individual and company needs to use their power to open doors for women.” Apart from her advocacy, Gerson is celebrating that “2022 was UMPG’s most successful year ever. That’s quite a historic achievement in our first year as a public company, especially in an ever-changing world that continues to be impacted by the pandemic, major global events and worldwide economic volatility.” With revenue more than double what it was when she assumed the helm, Gerson is eager to keep moving forward in the next year. “We embrace change and innovation … [and] are always looking for ways to further improve our global teams to best serve our songwriters.”


Taylor Hill/WireImage

Michele Anthony

Executive vp, Universal Music Group

Nearly a decade in her senior role, Anthony has been a key driver of UMG’s status, both as the largest music company in the world and a stalwart for humanitarian issues. This year, UMG worked with Global Citizen on Stand Up for Ukraine, a campaign that helped drive the European Union’s pledging summit to raise $10.1 billion in new grants and loans to secure relief for refugees. In September, the company was awarded the Ukrainian Peace Prize for the humanitarian support provided by its employees and artists across a range of activities. Anthony cites Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, as a heroic woman of 2022. In the music industry, she says, “More than ever, it’s important for young women to continue to build strong professional and personal networks and communities.”


Matt Furman

Julie Greenwald

Chairman/CEO, Atlantic Music Group

Greenwald may be in the Women in Music Hall of Fame, but that hasn’t stopped her from putting fresh stats on the board — along with a new title: In October, she was promoted to CEO of the newly created Atlantic Music Group. She’s celebrating the success of Lizzo, Jack Harlow, Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, Silk Sonic and newcomer Fred again.. “I love the fact that these artists are doing fantastic work and holding their own in a marketplace that everybody’s saying is the craziest right now,” she says. “And yeah, the marketplace keeps moving. But we’ve lived through this before. Napster, downloading, streaming — the marketplace has shifted on us 19 different times. But the thing that is still tried and true: You need great music with great art, and you need great performers.” Greenwald was also named Women in Music Executive of the Year in 2008, 2010-13 and 2017.


Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

Judy McGrath

Board member, Amazon

McGrath, the former chair/chief executive of MTV Networks, was named Billboard’s inaugural Women in Music Executive of the Year in 2005 (and again in 2007 and 2009). She stepped down from her pioneering music TV role in 2011, but she stays in touch with the music business. (HBO’s cameras focused on her during the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Dinner in Los Angeles on Nov. 5.) McGrath, who remains on the board of Amazon, declined an invitation from Billboard to speak about her Hall of Fame recognition this year, but said, “I salute and admire all the women in the industry.”

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