“The trailblazing women executives who are celebrated in these pages aren’t just leading the music industry — they’re transforming it,” writes Hillary Clinton in her introduction to Billboard’s annual Women In Music issue. The people below are leaders across every facet of the industry; consider Marcie Allen’s transformative brand work, Jody Gerson’s historic appointment to the top of Universal Music Publishing’s C-suite, Michelle Jubelirer’s indispensable ears and eyes at the Capitol Tower. Taken together they form the bedrock of the business. Congratulations — and thanks.
Co-head of international touring/co-head of CAA Music London, Creative Artists Agency
Agent, Creative Artists Agency
Co-head of international touring, Creative Artists Agency
Banks and Tsuchii, based in London and Los Angeles, respectively, co-manage international touring for CAA, an increasingly important part of the agency’s business. Banks worked on Katy Perry‘s Prismatic World Tour and guided up-and-comer Hozier to major festival spots, while Tsuchii is plotting Justin Bieber‘s 2016 global itinerary, after working in 2015 for such Billboard Boxscore leaders as Foo Fighters and Ariana Grande. Meanwhile, Kinzel helped her client Lana Del Rey set multiple venue records on her summer tour of amphitheaters.
SARA NEWKIRK SIMON, 38
Partner/co-head of music department, William Morris Endeavor
SAMANTHA KIRBY YOH
Partner, William Morris Endeavor
New York-based Kirby Yoh (left) and Los Angeles-based Newkirk Simon scout opportunities for their diverse clientele on both coasts. Kirby Yoh, who manages WME’s New York music team, cites the recent launch of the M2M fashion channel on Apple TV by WME and its affiliated IMG agency as a new exposure opportunity for clients Florence & The Machine, Grimes, FKA Twigs and Alicia Keys. Division co-head Newkirk Simon guides Lady Gaga, Pharrell Williams and Selena Gomez with an eye on new career options; client Miguel has just joined the cast of the upcoming crime film Live by Night, starring Ben Affleck.
Head of U.S. music operations, United Talent Agency
The former CEO of the Agency Group USA spent the summer negotiating the acquisition of her 2,200-client firm by United Talent Agency. “It’s a major game-changer,” says the New York-based Nastaskin, who opened a Miami office and created a college and casino booking division for her agency.
President, Artist Group International
A veteran agent with a loyal client list of superstars and critically acclaimed acts (Neil Young, Elvis Costello, Muse, Regina Spektor, The Strokes, Band of Horses), Vlasic still seeks out additions to her roster. “There’s always room for one more, especially when you’re a Jewish mother,” says the Brooklyn native. Highlights of her year included Young’s tour backed by Promise of the Real (the band led by Willie Nelson‘s son Lukas) and Costello’s Detour Tour.
CAROLINE YIM, 37
Concerts agent, ICM Partners
Under Yim’s guidance, Kehlani Parrish — the 20-year-old former America’s Got Talent contestant — embarked on her first solo tour. The Los Angeles native also has orchestrated road runs for Kendrick Lamar (13 intimate shows), The Internet (40 cities domestically), Earl Sweatshirt (62 cities) and duo Rae Sremmurd (with 155 dates booked). “This is my music,” says the UCLA alumna. “I’ve been a hip-hopper from day one.”
MARCIE ALLEN, 42
President, MAC Presents
Allen flies weekly between her home in Nashville and office in New York, which helps explain why she saw the potential in an airline-artist partnership. Among the deals her team brokered this year were a Southwest Airlines tour sponsorship for Imagine Dragons, including an in-flight concert. Thanks to diversification with clients like Microsoft Windows, revenue is up 20 percent over 2014 to a record eight figures, and Allen will begin 2016 by rolling out a Sundance Film Festival programming partnership in January with the venue Park City Live. She also promises a “breakthrough summer festival strategy” with a major beer brand.
JENNIFER BREITHAUPT, 43
Global head of entertainment, Citi
Selling millions of tickets to its credit-card holders, Citi has partnered with more than 1,400 artists and bands and 11,000 events in 21 countries in 2015, including a majority of the year’s top tours, says Breithaupt. The brand, which one informed source estimates is working with a $100 million budget — Citi doesn’t disclose this information — and has seen double-digit year-to-year growth in ticket sales and U.S. ticket revenue, also is focused on creating opportunities for fans “who may never leave the house,” like Yahoo’s concert-a-day series, explains Breithaupt. For 2016, she and Citi are working on technology to identify card holders in venues and give them ”special access to artists” as the ultimate door prize.
Vp global sponsorships and experiential marketing, American Express
In 2015, Curtis delivered presale access for American Express card holders to tours by The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Kenny Chesney, Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift. With Swift’s team, she created the Emmy-winning Amex Unstaged Taylor Swift Experience app, which included an interactive video of “Blank Space.” (One industry insider put the deal at $3 million to $5 million.) Newer acts have received a boost from Amex Unstaged Artists in Residence, which has showcased Børns, Rae Sremmurd and Pia Mia.
SARA CLEMENS, 44
Chief strategy officer, Pandora
Clemens and her team have spent the last year positioning Pandora to better compete in the digital marketplace. In November, the company acquired some of the assets of Rdio for $75 million with the intention of entering the on-demand subscription marketplace with Spotify, Apple and YouTube. In October, it spent $450 million on Ticketfly, which will allow artists to sell concert tickets directly to Pandora listeners. “There was a crew of probably more than 100 people that leaned in to get this done,” the New Zealand native says of the deal.
TAMARA HRIVNAK, 39
Director/head of Americas music partnerships, Google Play/YouTube
Director/global head of artist relations, YouTube/Google Play
HEATHER MOOSNICK, 43
Director/head of label partnerships (Americas), YouTube
Through complementary roles at Google, these three women are driving the tech giant’s digital music strategy for YouTube and Google Play. Hrivnak focuses on partnerships with hardware manufacturers, telecommunication firms and retailers, as well as labels and music publishers. Lewit prepped the November launches of subscription service YouTube Red and the YouTube Music app. Moosnick, a veteran of digital roles at MTV and Warner Music, secured the label licenses for YouTube Red.
Senior director of label relations for North America, Spotify
As Spotify has grown from 15 million to 60 million listeners during the past five years, Schlosser, an alumna of the Berklee College of Music, has worked “to generate meaningful artist success stories.” This year, for instance, EDM group Major Lazer racked up 38 million streams of its single “Lean On” — landing it at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 — after Spotify orchestrated “a concerted marketing push,” she says.
MONICA ESCOBEDO, 38
Entertainment producer, ABC News/Good Morning America
Escobedo did her part in the perpetual ratings battle for network morning-show supremacy by amping up GMA’s summer concert series lineup. Jason Derulo‘s June 12 gig scored particularly big, attracting 5.1 million viewers — the highest Nielsen numbers of the series — and translated to the kind of exposure that’s increasingly difficult for an artist to get from a single appearance: Sales of his album Everything Is 4 jumped 20 percent afterward. Escobedo also orchestrated special coverage of One Direction in conjunction with the release of its new album, Made in the A.M. Says the UCLA graduate: “It’s all about creating those television moments.”
JULIE GUROVITSCH, 33
Talent executive for music, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
LINDSAY SHOOKUS, 35
Producer, Saturday Night Live
When it comes to music, SNL and The Tonight Show are the most influential shows in late night, and Gurovitsch (left) and Shookus are their gatekeepers. Shortly after Gurovitsch booked blues rockers Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats‘ national TV debut on Aug. 5 at Fallon’s request, streaming of the band’s single, “S.O.B.,” jumped 279 percent to 173,000 plays, according to Nielsen Music. And when Shookus, who leads a team of three other bookers, landed Miley Cyrus for SNL’s fall premiere on Oct. 3, the show saw a 14-percent ratings boost over the 2014 season debut. They make it look easy, but Shookus, who has been an SNL producer since 2010, says, “You get one chance to make the right impression. And people have long memories when you make the wrong one.”
DEBRA LEE, 61
Chairman/CEO, BET Networks
Lee acknowledges it has been a tough year, characterized by layoffs and restructuring that rocked BET parent company Viacom. “But it hasn’t slowed us down,” she says. Despite a 1.4 million dip in viewers in 2015, music tentpole the BET Awards still ranks as cable’s No. 1 awards telecast. The third annual BET Experience festival was another success: Attendance was up 36 percent (150,000-plus), and the event has been renewed through 2018.
SARAH MOLL, 39
Director of media events, NFL
In February, Super Bowl XLIX made history, and not for anything having to do with football. The glory belonged to the 12-and-a-half-minute halftime show put together by Moll’s NFL team, which featured Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz and a resurgent Missy Elliott. A record 118.5 million viewers tuned in at halftime — the largest in Super Bowl history. Although Moll, who resides in Playa del Rey, Calif., isn’t commenting, she reportedly has drafted one of her favorite artists, Bruno Mars, whose 2014 halftime appearance ranks second to Perry’s, to curate the music for Super Bowl 50.
BRITTANY SCHREIBER, 28
Music booking producer; NBC News, Today
Although Today‘s intense rivalry with Good Morning America means Schreiber must land ratings-getters, she thrives on booking an emerging act and “watching it become a success.” When Wiz Khalifa wasn’t available to join up-and-comer Charlie Puth for an August appearance, she booked Puth solo — and will bring him back in January for his album release. Seasoned acts also benefit: After Duran Duran played Today, the band notched its highest Billboard 200 chart debut in 22 years with Paper Gods (No. 10).
DAWN SOLER, 55
Senior vp music, ABC
Now that ABC’s Nashville has spun off 11 soundtracks and sold more than 900,000 units and 4 million song downloads, Soler plans to build ancillary music markets around other ABC series, including How to Get Away With Murder, Wicked City and Marvel Studios’ Luke Cage superhero series, which is being developed for Netflix. “I’d love to create a musical experience for at least half our shows and have a few more like Nashville,” says the Los Angeles native, who admits to having a special affinity for bass solos.
LIA VOLLACK, 51
President of worldwide music/executive vp theatrical, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Pressure is finding a memorable song for the 24th movie in the $7 billion James Bond franchise, but Vollack rose to the occasion when she secured Sam Smith‘s “Writing’s on the Wall” for Spectre. On 007’s home turf, the song became the first Bond theme to hit No. 1 on the Official U.K. Singles Chart. The Colorado native, who calls both Los Angeles and New York home, says the key to her success is choosing her battles. “The trick to this business is knowing when to give up.” Her next challenge: the perfect theme for the summer 2016 Ghostbusters reboot.
LORI BADGETT, 41
Senior vp/team leader, City National Bank
Executive vp/head of entertainment division, City National Bank
Badgett (left) and Henderson, based in Nashville and Los Angeles, respectively, exemplify City National’s deep ties to the entertainment industry, a long-established market strength that led Royal Bank of Canada to acquire the financial institution in 2015. Day to day, says Badgett, “you can be setting up a $5,000 credit card for a touring artist or a $25 million publishing syndicate.” The Royal Bank deal, says Henderson, “gives us a lot more to offer our clients. It’s expanding what we do today.”
JULIE BOOS, 46
Co-owner/vp/business manager, Flood Bumstead McCready & McCarthy
MARY ANN McCREADY
President/co-founder/business manager, Flood Bumstead McCready & McCarthy
The duo helps run one of the industry’s top financial management firms, which counts Keith Urban and Blake Shelton among its clientele. McCready’s investments also extend to Nashville itself — she’s a fierce civic booster and co-creator of the Music City Music Council — while Boos, who rose from an entry-level gig to co-owner in 20 years, says she enjoys mentoring the firm’s up-and-coming business managers.
MICHELE ANTHONY, 59
Executive vp U.S. recorded music, Universal Music Group
At press time, the label group’s artists held the Billboard 200‘s No. 1 album spot for 31 of 46 weeks in 2015 and accounted for seven of the 10 best-selling albums. How does Anthony, who oversees the big picture for UMG (and led the 2014 Women in Music list), improve upon those statistics? By growing revenue, she says, “in areas of expertise that we either didn’t have or that needed to be reimagined.” To that end, the company added branding and sponsorship vp Mike Tunnicliffe and a playlist strategy team led by Jay Frank, and also took a larger role in developing UMG’s catalogs into film, TV and theater projects like the Amy Winehouse documentary, Amy.
Executive vp/GM of sales, Universal Music Group
Following Jim Urie’s retirement at the end of 2014, Berry, his longtime second-in-command, ascended to the top spot of UMG’s revamped distribution unit, which keeps the company pipeline flowing with product from hitmakers Taylor Swift, Drake, Shawn Mendes, The Weeknd and Nick Jonas. The Indiana native, who says she’s “proud of still having the slight Southern accent” she picked up while attending high school in Atlanta, also manages UMG’s digital distribution — where streaming royalties accounted for 51 percent of digital revenue in the third quarter.
MARIA FERNANDEZ, 42
CFO/senior vp operations, Sony Latin Iberia Region
The Venezuela-born Fernandez oversees finances, operations and systems at the regional label, which has the largest share of its market. Signings of Enrique Iglesias and Il Volo, and the launch of marketing agency Arcade Latin are among the investments that have grown the division’s revenue 15 percent during the last four years. Fernandez, the mother of a 5-year-old son, credits Sony Latin chairman/CEO Afo Verde with another growth sign: Nearly half of her division’s employees are women, up from a handful when she started in 2007.
Executive vp/head of urban A&R, Republic Records
“Once you have an artist’s confidence, leading him in a new direction becomes a lot easier,” says the A&R veteran, who did just that with The Weeknd when she connected him with songwriter Max Martin. The result: The artist’s Beauty Behind the Madness album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, propelled by the No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 single “Can’t Feel My Face,” which Martin co-wrote. An interior-design aficionado, Goldstein is readying a new home in Beverly Hills in addition to 2016 albums by Ariana Grande, Hailee Steinfeld and Joe Jonas‘ DNCE.
Chairman/COO, Atlantic Records
Greenwald hates to choose among her label’s successes — “I’m a mother, they’re all my babies,” she says — but she’s in the position of having many children to brag about in 2015. Her 11-year stint at the label — which she runs with CEO Craig Kallman — has maintained a remarkably steady market share, hovering between 5 percent and 7.3 percent since 2005. With hit albums from Ed Sheeran, Twenty One Pilots, Meek Mill, Jill Scott, Wiz Khalifa and David Guetta in 2015 and new or forthcoming releases from Coldplay, Missy Elliott, Ty Dolla Sign, Sturgill Simpson, The War on Drugs and Charlie Puth, Atlantic’s hot streak doesn’t show any sign of abating.
ETHIOPIA HABTEMARIAM, 36
President, Motown Records; president of urban music/co-head of creative, Universal Music Publishing Group
Habtemariam, whose first gig was a LaFace Records internship at 14, re-upped global publishing deals with J. Cole, Big Sean, Childish Gambino and Nicki Minaj — and watched signees R. City (“Locked Away”) and Sebastian Kole (Alessia Cara‘s “Here”) enjoy chart breakthroughs. Following Ne-Yo‘s No. 1 album, Non-Fiction, in 2015, Motown is ramping up newcomer BJ the Chicago Kid‘s hotly anticipated LP for 2016.
ALLISON JONES, 46
Senior vp A&R, Big Machine Label Group
Ever since her first visit to the Grand Ole Opry at the age of 12, Jones has been obsessed with country, and, today, her artist roster includes some of the biggest names in the genre, including Tim McGraw and Florida Georgia Line. Jones, who lives in Nashville with her 10-year-old son Dylan, prides herself on matching artists with future hits. This year, for instance, she brought the Meghan Trainor-co-written “I Like the Sound of That” to the attention of Rascal Flatts. The single is No. 29 on the Hot Country Songs chart.
MICHELLE JUBELIRER, 41
COO, Capitol Music Group
It has been a good year for Jubelirer. She was promoted from executive vp to COO in May, and CMG artists racked up 49 Grammy nominations and 12 wins. “We’re an artist-development company; that’s at the heart of every decision we make,” says the attorney-turned-label executive, who points to the successes of Sam Smith, 5 Seconds of Summer and Bastille as proof. Jubelirer, who lives with her 17-month-old son Stone and fiance, Buckcherry guitarist Keith Nelson, in Encino, Calif., credits colleagues Jody Gerson and Michele Anthony with teaching her that “it’s possible to be a strong leader by taking charge and taking care at the same time.”
CINDY MABE, 42
President, Universal Music Group Nashville
Growing up in North Carolina, Mabe says she owned every Alabama album and made her brother and sister join her in dressing up like members of the ’80s country hit machine. “I was always [frontman] Randy Owen,” says Mabe, who now leads a new generation of country stars who have helped UMGN dominate the genre in 2015 with a 40 percent market share. Sam Hunt’s debut album Montevallo is, to date, the 10th-best-selling digital album of any genre in 2015; Little Big Town‘s “Girl Crush” spent 13 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart; and Chris Stapleton‘s surprise sweep at the Country Music Association Awards resulted in his debut LP, Traveller, becoming the first in history to re-enter the Billboard 200 at No. 1.
SYLVIA RHONE, 63
President, Epic Records
Rhone shepherded a flock of top 10 Billboard 200 debuts from Epic artists Future, Fifth Harmony, Travis Scott, Sara Bareilles and, most notably, Meghan Trainor, whose freshman album Title bowed at No. 1. Scott’s Rodeo was innovatively marketed with a $150 action figure that also appeared on the album cover. Says Rhone: “No one in hip-hop has ever had a debut album released along with creative, interactive merchandise.” The year also yielded a joint venture with Janelle Monae’s Wondaland imprint — which scored a hit out of the box with “Classic Man” by Nigerian-American artist Jidenna, whom Rhone calls a “cultural guru.”
President of promotion, Interscope Geffen A&M
Romano, the executive behind the consistent radio success of Interscope Records (and its Geffen and A&M imprints), is a 20-year veteran of the label who is well-known within the industry for her unabashed competitive drive. This year’s successes on the Hot 100 include four top 10 hits: Selena Gomez‘s “Good for You” (featuring ASAP Rocky), Maroon 5’s “Sugar” and “Animals,” and Ellie Goulding‘s “Love Me Like You Do.”
GM, Harvest Records
Saturn continued to revitalize the storied label that featured Pink Floyd in the 1970s and Duran Duran in the 1980s with successful releases by upstart artists Banks, who, says Saturn, has “amassed 200 million streams”; Glass Animals, which had a No. 1 Spotify track with “Gooey”; and the New Basement Tapes project, producer T Bone Burnett’s all-star-band take on Bob Dylan and The Band’s classic 1975 album. The Los Angeles-based mother of two is an avid runner. And as she says, “The music game is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Executive vp business affairs/general counsel, Sony Music Entertainment
Swidler’s planned two-week stay in Nashville lasted three months as she essentially ran Sony’s Nashville division — working with superstars Kenny Chesney and Carrie Underwood and releasing albums by Tyler Farr and Old Dominion — while conducting an arduous search for a new CEO (ultimately hiring Randy Goodman). “I got to exercise muscles I hadn’t used in a while,” says Swidler, who came away from the trip with a new pair of cowboy boots. She also supervised Sony deals with Apple Music, Tidal and YouTube.
DANA DUFINE, 50
Head of entertainment bookings, MSG Entertainment
Dufine oversees live entertainment for MSG Entertainment’s coast-to-coast portfolio of top-grossing venues, including Madison Square Garden in New York and The Forum in Los Angeles. Since joining MSGE in 2014, the Los Angeles native has created the company’s cross-venue touring division, which leverages the booking power of MSGE’s buildings in major cities. On a more personal level, says DuFine, “You get to go on these journeys,” which means that the teen who snuck out of the house to see her first concert — U2 in Los Angeles in the ’80s — got to oversee the 13 shows that the band played this year in New York and Los Angeles. “That,” she adds, “was an amazing journey.”
MAUREEN FORD, 51
President of national and festival sales, Live Nation Entertainment
AMY HOWE, 43
COO, Ticketmaster North America
Live Nation’s 2015 festival business has “exploded, particularly in country,” says Ford (left), whose team increased overall festival sponsorship and media by 50 percent. The Boston-based executive secured new multiyear partnerships with Toyota, Hilton and State Farm, while expanding media relationships with Yahoo, Snapchat and Vice. At Ticketmaster, a division of Live Nation Entertainment, Howe works directly with president Jared Smith on strategy and executive talent, where there has been a lot of movement: More than 50 percent of the company’s senior team was hired within the past year. Through key acquisitions and new mobile ticketing technology, Howe says Ticketmaster aims to “transform the end-to-end live event experience” for fans.
ALI HARNELL, 47
Senior vp, AEG Live
REBECA LEON, 40
Senior vp Latin talent, AEG Live/Goldenvoice; manager (Juanes, J Balvin)
Harnell, as head of AEG’s Southeast territory, produced some 180 shows in 2015, grossing $36 million — including a run of dates by Little Big Town that generated $3.5 million — a $10 million year-to-year increase. The mother of a 15-year-old son, Harnell also plays a role in the Country 2 Country festival, which expanded from the United Kingdom to Scandinavia. For AEG’s Latin business, Leon reports a 12 percent rise in revenue and guided the successful Enrique Iglesias/Pitbull/J Balvin tour. As manager, she added Balvin to her roster and got Juanes on the Grammy Awards telecast. “Our big goal,” says Leon, “is to penetrate the mainstream.”
DEBRA RATHWELL, 60
Senior vp, AEG Live
Rathwell has built AEG Live’s New York office into a powerhouse that promotes some 1,000 events annually throughout the Northeast. Her proudest achievements during the past year include John Mellencamp‘s 80-date theater tour and 65 arena dates with Shania Twain. Next up: Justin Bieber’s spring/summer tour of North America.
KATHY WILLARD, 49
CFO, Live Nation Entertainment
Willard has watched Live Nation’s numbers tick upward this year as the world’s largest event company took majority stakes in C3 Presents (Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits Music Festival) and the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., and partnered with top German promoter Marek Lieberberg. “The festival deals were huge for the business, not only for our overall North American festival base, but also for sponsorships and ticketing,” says the resident of Los Angeles’ Westwood neighborhood. Willard notes Asia and South America are likely areas of future expansion for Live Nation.
LEE ANNE CALLAHAN-LONGO, 47
GM, Parkwood Entertainment
After co-producing Beyoncé and Jay Z‘s 2014 On the Run Tour, which grossed more than $100 million, Callahan-Longo this year focused on growing Parkwood’s management, production, music and philanthropy divisions. “I’m especially proud of the merger of Chime for Change [of which Beyoncé is a co-founder] with nonprofit Global Citizen, focusing on initiatives for women and girls around the world,” says the one-time Boston College communications major. “At Parkwood, we are crazy perfectionists who are never fully satisfied.”
ALLISON KAYE, 34
President, SB Projects
Returning to work after maternity leave, Kaye this year worked on another comeback — Justin Bieber’s third album Purpose, which yielded the No. 1 single “What Do You Mean?” Of Bieber, she says, “He worked really hard on himself [and showed] the world … that he went through a phase and came out the other side.” She also has guided the careers of Tori Kelly, Ariana Grande and Martin Garrix while preparing for Rixton‘s return in 2016.
CEO, First Access Entertainment
Stennett invested in the future in a major way in October when she inked a joint venture with Access Industries, owned by billionaire Len Blavatnik (also owner of Warner Music Group). The deal turned her management firm Turn First Artists — which counts Zayn Malik, Iggy Azalea and Ellie Goulding as clients — into First Access Entertainment, a music, film, TV and fashion concern. “We’re living in a very different, fast-moving, culturally diverse space,” she says, “and you have to have resources for artists to explore those interests.”
TY STIKLORIUS, 40
Founder/CEO, Friends at Work
Stiklorius declared her independence in October when she departed Troy Carter’s Atom Factory, where she was co-president, to launch her own management firm and brought John Legend and Lindsey Stirling with her. The mother of two credits her career to a break she got during her college years. An English major at the University of Pennsylvania, Stiklorius took charge of the school’s jazz and blues a cappella group, which included a young, unknown Legend. His performance of Joan Osborne‘s “One of Us” at New York’s Carnegie Hall in the national finals “made me want to work with musicians like him,” she says.
ELIZABETH MATTHEWS, 47
In January, after two years as executive vp/general counsel, Matthews became CEO of ASCAP at a crucial moment in the performing rights organization’s history. With the U.S. Department of Justice reviewing how PROs license music in the digital age, Matthews will play a key role in the thorny debate. She also is rebuilding ASCAP’s leadership team, the start of a six-year plan to strengthen its efficiency and effectiveness.
ANN SWEENEY, 56
Senior vp global policy, BMI
Sweeney sets BMI’s agenda in Washington, D.C., and oversees its relationships and revenue with counterpart PROs in international markets. Seeking to “unlock more value” for BMI writers, she cites the PRO’s support this year for the reintroduction of the Songwriter Equity Act in March, which seeks better royalty rates for songwriters.
KELLI TURNER, 45
CFO/executive vp operations and corporate development, SESAC
Turner has a key role at the PRO, which is currently on a roll. SESAC’s September acquisition of mechanical rights organization The Harry Fox Agency — and new deals inked during the last 16 months with Mariah Carey, Green Day, Zac Brown and Kurt Cobain‘s estate — will boost the music license fees and royalties that SESAC administers by more than 50 percent.
CEO, Universal Music Publishing Group
As the first woman to run a major label’s music publishing concern, Gerson admits she’s “very conscious of being a woman in power. I grew up in a business that was a boys’ club. Now I feel a responsibility to be in a sisterhood.” At UMPG, she’s in good company. Gerson sees friends Universal Music Group executive vp Michele Anthony and Capitol Music Group COO Michelle Jubelirer regularly for lunch at her office or dinner at her Beverly Hills home. “We talk one another off the ledge,” she says. (Gerson is Billboard’s Executive of the Year — read our full profile here.)
JENNIFER KNOEPFLE, 39
Senior vp A&R, Sony/ATV Music Publishing
When Jody Gerson departed Sony/ATV to head Universal Music Publishing Group, Knoepfle deftly juggled her A&R duties while running the Los Angeles office with interim co-head Jonas Kant prior to the arrival of newly appointed U.S. co-president Rick Krim. She also helped Bleachers frontman and Fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff form a joint venture with Sony/ATV to sign and collaborate with up-and-coming talent. “He wanted to expand who he was working with, including developing writers and artists,” she says.
Partner, SONGS Music Publishing
Marshall drives a lot of business for SONGS, thanks to the efforts of her synchronization team, which places its artists’ music in films, TV shows, advertisements and other media. In 2015, her group generated a 110 percent increase in revenue over the previous year. Placements from the SONGS catalog include Diplo‘s “Revolution” in a Hyundai commercial and The Weeknd’s “High for This” in a Hugo Boss ad. Marshall prizes the indie scale of SONGS. “I know all of our writers,” she says, “which, at bigger companies, is impossible. Practically all of our writers make money from synchronization.”
SAS METCALFE, 54
President of global creative, Kobalt Music Group
In 2001, Metcalfe was the first employee hired by Kobalt Music Group founder Willard Ahdritz, and today she guides signings, acquisitions and administration partnerships with emerging publishers. The Welsh executive, who says she lives by the motto “You’re only as good as your last hit,” has lured Lionel Richie, TV on the Radio and Deadmau5‘ label Mau5trap to Kobalt in recent months and helped push the indie publisher to an impressive third-place 12.7 percent market share of the top 100 radio songs in the third quarter.
KATIE VINTEN, 32
Co-head of A&R, Warner/Chappell Music
Vinten started the year as a director and rose to co-head of A&R on the strength of identifying hit-making teams of songwriters. She signed Julia Michaels and her writing partner Justin Tranter, and the two have collaborated on four top 40 tracks: Justin Bieber’s “Sorry,” Gwen Stefani‘s “Used to Love You,” Selena Gomez‘s “Good for You” and Hailee Steinfeld’s “Love Myself.” (Both also have penned Hot 100 hits individually.) Vinten’s philosophy: “Put the writers and music first. When I focus on that, results occur.”
JESS BESACK, 33
Director of programming; The Spectrum, SiriusXM
Besack programs The Spectrum, one of the most influential destinations at SiriusXM, which reports 29 million subscribers. (It does not break out listenership by channel.) Proof: During the week that Adele’s new album 25 arrived and smashed sales records, the pop phenomenon made her first U.S. radio appearance at a Town Hall Q&A session carried on The Spectrum, and a week earlier, gave a rare interview to channel DJ Jenny Eliscu. Besack also championed new act Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, who had a 500 percent sales jump after The Spectrum was first to play its track “S.O.B.”
SHARON DASTUR, 45
Senior vp programming and integration, iHeartMedia
Dastur, a former programmer at New York’s powerful top 40 WHTZ (Z100), celebrated her first year in a national role by bringing in $50 million-plus from advertisers seeking more than just another commercial. “We’re always looking for creative partnerships with brands,” says Dastur, a one-time member of the marching band at the University of Texas at Austin. Recent iHeartMedia deals have included Coca-Cola’s First Taste Fridays podcast and Bacardi’s Ultimate House Party Tour.
Executive director, NPR Music; interim vp programming, NPR
Through podcasts like First Listen — a prerelease album stream that now includes radio interviews and live performances — and All Songs Considered — iTunes’ No. 1 podcast — NPR connects artists with an audience of 20 million-plus, guided by Grundmann, who grew up in Baltimore in “a house filled with music.” The 2014 Tiny Desk Concert Contest, devoted to unknown and unsigned acts, had more than 30,000 participants. “Our winner, Fantastic Negrito,” she says proudly, “went from busking in Oakland to playing big stages, touring and recording.”
Methodology: Executives were chosen based on business impact, audience, market share and chart and/or tour performance of their artists or clients in the past year, tracked by Nielsen Music and Billboard Boxscore.
Contributors: Rich Appel, Jem Aswad, Katie Atkinson, Ed Christman, Leila Cobo, Andy Gensler, Gary Graff, Shirley Halperin, Gail Mitchell, Melinda Newman, Cathy Applefeld Olson, Glenn Peoples, Mitchell Peters, Deborah Evans Price, Dan Rys, Eric Spitznagel, Colin Stutz, Ray Waddell and Chris Willman.