From making records to protecting rights, negotiating contracts to discovering talent, the female executives included on Billboard’s 2017 Women in Music list represent the best of today’s dealmakers, influencers and tastemakers — starting with our Executive Of The Year, Atlantic Records’ Julie Greenwald.
Read on for the profiles of more than 100 women pushing the music industry forward.
Chairman/COO, Atlantic Records
The first Wednesday in November found Atlantic Records chairman/COO Julie Greenwald at the YouTube Space on Manhattan’s West Side, where astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was lobbing questions about the artistic process at Kelly Clarkson before a performance celebrating the release of her new album, Meaning of Life. (“You’re a scientist, but I’ve figured it out,” joked Clarkson.) Backstage, beforehand, Greenwald introduced herself to Tyson, who asked her who the biggest artists in the history of Atlantic Records were.
Tyson, whose normal conversational tone has a boom to it, boomed back, “That’s major!”
“I can’t take credit for the whole 70 years,” said Greenwald. “Just the last 14.”
That’s enough. Under her leadership, Atlantic is experiencing a two-year hot streak of growth that has earned Greenwald Billboard‘s 2017 Women in Music Executive of the Year award. Atlantic led total market share through the first three quarters of 2017, with 10.17 percent as of Nov. 9, a year-over-year gain of 1.1 percentage points. Before Taylor Swift reset the clock with Reputation, the label had the top-selling album of 2017, Ed Sheeran‘s Divide (931,000 copies, through Nov. 16), with Bruno Mars‘ 24K Magic holding down the No. 4 spot (624,000 copies). Sheeran and Mars also scored the No. 2- and No. 4-selling digital tracks of 2017, with Sheeran’s “Shape of You” moving 2.4 million and Mars’ “That’s What I Like” clocking in at 1.6 million.
Read the full story on Greenwald here.
MICHELE ANTHONY, 61
Executive vp/executive management board member, Universal Music Group
Senior vp business and legal affairs, Universal Music Group
Growing the world’s largest label group. Charged a year ago with creating new businesses for the world’s biggest record company, Baltimore has already joined with tech companies to boost UMG’s A&R efforts, built out its budding festival operation, partnered with the University of Michigan to host the school’s SpringFest in April and inked a deal for a documentary on opera legend Luciano Pavarotti. “We’re starting from scratch,” she says. Formerly assistant general counsel at AOL, the salsa-dancing Duke Law grad works closely with Anthony, who since 2013 has overseen UMG’s global brand partnerships, sales, live events, label merchandising, college marketing, and fan and consumer engagement. Anthony has helped UMG’s U.S. labels grow new revenue streams through film and TV projects, produced by its recently rebooted PolyGram Entertainment division. A University of Southern California-trained lawyer-turned-manager who represented Ozzy Osbourne and, after starting her own firm, Prince and Björk, Anthony was named the 2017 UJA-Federation of New York Music Visionary of the Year for her commitment to philanthropy.
Peace-Of-Mind-Activity: Anthony: “Meditation. My getaway this summer was to a Tibetan Buddhist retreat in upstate New York.”
BIANCA BHAGAT, 30
Head of West Coast and Film/TV, Glassnote Records
Got “Redbone” in Get Out. A University of California Los Angeles political science major who detoured into the film, TV and commercial synch business, Bhagat used her diplomacy skills to land Childish Gambino‘s hit “Redbone” in Fox’s Star, Netflix’s Dear White People and as the opening-title music to Jordan Peele’s smash horror film, Get Out, which helped propel the song to No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and, ultimately, to triple-platinum status. Her placement of Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam’s “In a Black Out” in the global ad campaign for Apple’s iPhone 7 resulted in a weekly streaming increase of 508 percent. She also secured a deal for folk-rock trio Daughter to score the video game for Life Is Strange: Before the Storm, generating enough media buzz to boost the group’s catalog sales 261 percent. “That deal was actually one of the most tricky ones I’ve worked on,” says Bhagat. “The various players had differing objectives and big personalities and opinions. It was a big challenge to find common ground.”
Favorite Getaway With Female Friends: “Renting a house in the desert outside L.A. and never leaving the house. Pool required, phones discouraged, ‘It’s LIT’ playlist recommended.”
NICKI FARAG, 38
Senior vp promotion, Def Jam Records
1-800-MIRACLE-WORKER. With Logic‘s affecting “1-800-273-8255,” Farag was tasked with one of the most far-fetched challenges in her nearly 15 years at Def Jam: pushing an earnest, downtempo rap single about suicide prevention up the Mainstream Top 40 chart. “Every programmer was like, ‘You’ll never get this past the top 20. The message is too dark,’ ” says Farag, whose team started working the song in May. But as spins of the anthem, featuring Alessia Cara and Khalid, increased, so did distress calls to the song title’s real crisis hotline. When Logic delivered a deeply affecting performance of “1-800” at the MTV Video Music Awards in August, the track soon broke the top 10. In November, after six months of intensive promotion, “1-800” finally reached No. 3 on Mainstream Top 40. Says Farag, a native New Yorker who gave birth to her first child, a daughter, at the end of November, “This was so much bigger than getting a record up the charts.”
Advice For Up-And-Comers: “Stop thinking you’ll get the same breaks as your male peers. You won’t.”
MARIA FERNANDEZ, 44
Senior vp operations/CFO, Latin Iberia Region, Sony Music Entertainment
Harnessing technology for Latin stars. Fernandez has been at the forefront of implementing user-friendly systems in Latin America so that Sony’s artists can access all information regarding their music consumption in one spot. “The region in general was behind in technologies; we launched a very aggressive plan,” says the mother of two who’s hoping to adopt a child by 2018. Domestically, Sony Music Latin is the genre’s market-share leader in current music with 34 percent of the pie. Globally, Fernandez has fostered the rise of Maluma, whose “Felices los 4” topped the Latin Airplay chart for two weeks in August.
2017 News Story That Resonated: “How something as [joyous] as going to a concert has been transformed into an opportunity for someone to commit a violent act.”
Executive vp, Atlantic Records
CAMILLE HACKNEY, 47
Executive vp brand partnerships and commercial licensing, Atlantic Records; head of Global Brand Partnerships Council, Warner Music Group
Shape of success. Atlantic not only claims 2017’s No. 2-selling album at the moment — Ed Sheeran’s Divide — it boasts 14 top 10 hits on the Hot 100 this year. Those include three No. 1s: Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” Bruno Mars’ “That’s What I Like” and breakout star Cardi B‘s “Bodak Yellow (Money Moves),” which made her the first female rapper to rule the chart without a featured guest in 19 years. “Artist development is in Atlantic’s DNA,” says Ganis of a diverse roster that pumped out additional hits by Charlie Puth, Gucci Mane, Kodak Black and Portugal. The Man. For Hackney, that diversity sparked an “eye-opening year of doing brand deals,” especially with developing artists like Kehlani (Make Up For Ever), KYLE (UGG and Footaction) and Lizzo (Cadillac).
Most Frustrating Aspect Of Being A Woman In The Industry: Hackney: “Being ‘hepeated’ — when a man says the same thing you just said.”
Executive vp A&R, Republic Records
Senior vp marketing, Republic Records
Label “Rockstars.” Ending 2016 with a No. 1 album debut by The Weeknd, Republic has since charted eight Billboard 200 top 10 albums (including Drake’s More Life) plus 16 top 10 Hot 100 singles. The latter yielded four No. 1s: Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee‘s “Despacito” (featuring Justin Bieber), The Weeknd’s “Starboy” (featuring Daft Punk), Taylor Swift‘s “Look What You Made Me Do” and Post Malone’s “Rockstar” (featuring 21 Savage). “Streaming has changed the newness factor,” says the Los Angeles-based Goldstein. “It’s harder to go five or six deep with singles from an album now. So you have to stay nimble.” Tag-teaming from New York, Bynum also helms Republic’s new Urban Collective — meetings involving all R&B/hip-hop staffers. “It’s important to have open conversations on how to steer the ship,” she says.
ETHIOPIA HABTEMARIAM, 38
President, Motown Records; president of urban and creative affairs, Universal Music Publishing Group
Sailing Lil Yachty and Migos up the charts. Motown fortified its hip-hop ranks, signing Grammy-winning producer Zaytoven and his Familiar Territory Records, rapper Chaz French and his 368 Music Group, and rapper Rich Homie Quan. Concurrently, Motown’s 2-year-old partnership with Quality Control Music reaped major returns. Lil Yachty broke through with a Hot 100 top 10 (guesting on KYLE’s “iSpy”) and a top five debut album (Teenage Emotions). And “Bad and Boujee” trio Migos officially joined the fold, releasing its first Motown single, “MotorSport” (featuring Cardi B and Nicki Minaj). “Establishing these strategic partnerships is in keeping with Motown’s entrepreneurial legacy, [which is] providing a platform for emerging artists and executives,” says Habtemariam.
ALLISON JONES, 48
Senior vp A&R, Big Machine Label Group
Eight No. 1s and counting. Jones has played a leading role in Big Machine’s big year, one in which the Nashville-based label landed No. 1 singles on the country, pop and Christian charts. She has helped push eight singles to the top of the Country Airplay chart alone, including Florida Georgia Line‘s “God, Your Mama, and Me” (featuring the Backstreet Boys) and Thomas Rhett‘s “Craving You” (featuring Maren Morris). Bonus: Taylor Swift’s Reputation is the first album to sell a million units in its first week since Adele‘s 25 in 2015. “When you hear something on the radio or you hear the artist perform something live in concert, and you know that it has moved people, then I’ve done my job,” says Jones.
Nonmusical Female Icon: “My mother: She was a single mom with two daughters 40-plus years ago. She started a real estate company and, at 73, is at the top of her game.”
MICHELLE JUBELIRER, 43
COO, Capitol Music Group
Driving Capitol gains. Two-and-a-half years into her COO tenure, Jubelirer has her hands in every aspect of Capitol Music Group’s evolution. That includes maintaining the flagship’s pop muscle with Billboard 200 No. 1s from Sam Smith and Niall Horan — “He’s just a great human being,” says the former music attorney about the boy band expat — and nurturing breakthrough act Halsey, whose second LP, hopeless fountain kingdom, became her first Billboard 200 No. 1 in June. She also played a role in repositioning the label group in the urban market, a calculated shift demonstrated by a move to relaunch legendary rap imprint Priority Records and to make Migos CMG-official.
Advice For Up-And-Comers: “Listen as much as you talk.”
KAREN LAMBERTON, 47
Executive vp soundtracks and film and TV licensing, RCA Records
Secured Insecure for SZA and Miguel. While navigating the residual demands of RCA’s Trolls soundtrack, which has spent 59 weeks so far on the Billboard 200, Lamberton filled a hole in Zayn Malik‘s album-release cycle with two box-office tie-ins: the Fifty Shades Darker hit and Taylor Swift duet “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever,” which reached No. 2 on the Hot 100, and placement of the Sia collaboration “Dusk Till Dawn,” which hit No. 34 on Mainstream Top 40, in 20th Century Fox’s The Mountain Between Us. She also brokered a partnership with the HBO series Insecure that has yielded two soundtrack LPs and in-show track premieres for Miguel and SZA. Says the Penn State grad: “I watched the first episode before it aired, hit ‘stop,’ called the music supervisor and said, ‘RCA needs to do this.’ It wasn’t like anything I’d ever seen.”
I Am Done With: “Being shunned for using real cream in my coffee.”
Executive vp/head of marketing, Columbia Records
NANCY MARCUS SEKLIR*
Executive vp business and legal affairs, Columbia Records
Tamed the digital-age “roller coaster.” After leaving her law firm job for Sony Entertainment in 1993, Seklir mostly worked on traditional album contracts — but then came MP3s, Napster, iTunes and YouTube. Today, she’s handling artists like The Chainsmokers, who put out multiple smash singles in 2016 but held their album until 2017. (Memories…Do Not Open debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in April, earning 221,000 equivalent album units in its first week.) “It has been sort of a roller coaster,” she says. “In recent years, with certain artists, it’s more of a track-based focus than an album. We try to be flexible in the dealmaking.” Lombardi, a Sony marketing executive since 2006, helped Harry Styles push in the opposite direction: After breaking out of his singles-heavy boy band, his self-titled debut album hit No. 1 on the June 3 Billboard 200.
2017 News Story That Resonated: Seklir: “The Women’s March on Washington in January. I went with my 16-year-old daughter.”
CINDY MABE, 44
President, Universal Music Group Nashville
Presides over the home of Hunt, Stapleton and, now, Underwood. As the “big picture” head of a “fierce and flawless” team of 85 executives across four labels, Mabe started off 2017 strong with Sam Hunt’s single “Body Like a Back Road,” which shattered the record for most weeks at No. 1 on Hot Country Songs (34). The label group continued its momentum with four of the first half of the year’s 10 best-selling country albums, including Chris Stapleton‘s gold-certified From A Room, Vol. 1. Mabe is equally proud of two major milestones with artists she worked with in her days at Sony Nashville — new signing Carrie Underwood and the Country Music Hall of Fame induction of Alan Jackson. “Even before I knew him, his music moved me so much — it was a full-circle moment,” says Mabe.
Best Advice From a Female Executive: “Sometimes it’s important to lead from behind. You don’t have to be the voice or the face of everything.”
Senior vp marketing, Warner Music Latin America; GM, Warner Music Latina
Led Warner Latina into the urban market. As the only woman heading a major Latin music company in the United States and the second in command for Warner’s Latin American operations, Martinez has a holistic approach to the market. In the past year, the fitness fanatic (and mother of two teenage boys) has focused on “Warner’s transformation toward urban music in the entire region,” developing acts Cosculluela and Zion & Lennox (who remixed Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You”). She also helped sign Danny Ocean, whose “Me Rehúso” rose to No. 15 on the Latin Airplay chart in September.
GABRIELLE PELUSO, 47
Vp urban music, eOne Music
Bringing Lil’ Kim back. Since Peluso joined Entertainment One (eOne) Music in 2014, the industry veteran’s mission has been to recruit artists who want the support network and business savvy of an established label without A&R interference. That model attracted R&B multihyphenate Tamar Braxton, who left Epic in March to release her top 20 Billboard 200 debut, Bluebird of Happiness. “She wanted complete creative control, and that’s what we gave her,” says Peluso. Deals with DJ Drama acolyte Skeme and viral rapper Montana of 300 affirm the former Def Jam executive’s underground acumen, but the married mother of two’s biggest 2017 coup was getting eOne signee Lil’ Kim in the studio for a 2018 return.
President, Epic Records
Steered Epic through turmoil to triumph. Epic began 2017 with Future‘s historic back-to-back No. 1 album releases in February, only for the label to be thrown into chaos following chairman/CEO Antonio “L.A.” Reid’s abrupt departure in May on the heels of sexual harassment allegations. But Rhone stepped up and kept the label on an even keel, landing top five albums from DJ Khaled (No. 1 on the Billboard 200), 21 Savage (No. 2) and Fifth Harmony (No. 4) while shepherding Camila Cabello (“Havana,” No. 2 on the Hot 100), French Montana (“Unforgettable,” No. 3) and Yo Gotti (“Rake It Up,” No. 8) to their highest-charting hits — securing her position atop the label in the process.
Most Frustrating Aspect Of Being a Woman In The Industry: “The lack of opportunities for black and female executives, and the scarcity of mentoring and support programs within organizations.”
President of promotion, Interscope Geffen A&M
Senior vp/head of creative content, Interscope Geffen A&M
Slaying with Imagine Dragons and Selena. As IGA’s promotion pro, Romano helped a pair of Imagine Dragons‘ singles reach the top five on the Mainstream Top 40 chart (“Believer” and “Thunder,” which both peaked at No. 3). Meanwhile, An practically lived at Selena Gomez‘s house while running point on the music videos for the pop star’s 2017 Hot 100 hits — the Gucci Mane-assisted “Fetish” and the Talking Heads-sampling “Bad Liar.” The latter’s retro homage featured Gomez wryly playing multiple roles and netted over 200 million YouTube views. “Selena has been an actor her entire life,” says An, who named her 3-year-old son Rhodes after both the piano brand and Ozzy Osbourne’s deceased guitarist, Randy Rhoads. “She’s a music-video dream.”
CFO/executive vp operations, Warner Bros. Records
Executive vp strategic marketing, Warner Bros. Records
Double-digit revenue growth. Snodgrass and Feldman have kept Warner Bros. Records humming in preparation for the arrival of the label’s new leadership, CEO Aaron Bay-Schuck and COO Tom Corson, at the beginning of 2018. Snodgrass has helped create a strategic plan that calls for a “redirection for the label, including expansion into other genres, cleaning up the roster” and a hiring plan for strengthening the staff. Feldman’s strategic marketing team, meanwhile, has forged branding relationships with Samsung 837 for Jason Derulo and with Sonos, Jameson Irish Whiskey and Lincoln for Gary Clark Jr. “Gary is the real deal, so he is attractive for brands to work with,” says Feldman.
2017 News Story That Resonated: Feldman: “Up until a few weeks ago, I would have said ‘Trump,’ but with all of the [sexual misconduct] horror stories coming out, we could be on the cusp of a massive change in behavior as a result.”
Executive vp business affairs/general counsel, Sony Music Entertainment
Senior vp commerce/digital, Sony Music Entertainment
JENIFER MALLORY, 40
Senior vp international, Sony Music Entertainment
Sony Music’s power trio. Weeks after releasing rapper 21 Savage’s full-length debut, ISSA Album, Joshua’s team learned from streaming data that the record’s second track, “Bank Account,” was drawing the most users. So Joshua pitched Savage on what she calls “a case study in a controlled environment”: resequencing the album exclusively for Spotify with “Bank Account” as ISSA‘s lead track. He agreed, and the move has helped the album rack up over 597 million U.S. on-demand audio streams. “It was a little bit of Moneyball,” says Joshua, adding, “I’m not saying we could do this for everybody — it worked for Savage because of the way his fans behaved.” Meanwhile, Mallory helped break Khalid internationally, notching three top 20 singles on the Official U.K. Singles chart and a sold-out tour in Australia and New Zealand. And Swidler has been working with Zara Larsson since the Swedish pop star was 16; the singer’s “Lush Life” and “Never Forget You” have generated 197 million and 335 million on-demand audio streams, respectively. “She is one of our biggest artist-development stories,” says Swidler, “with hundreds of millions of streams under her belt, and she isn’t even 20.”
COLLEEN THEIS, 48
COO, The Orchard
Built an indie beast. The Orchard became the world’s largest indie distributor in 2017, thanks in large part to Theis. In May, the Dallas native oversaw the acquisition of Germany’s finetunes and Norway’s Phonofile. Then in June, she helped lead two separate, but tandem mergers that rolled Sony-owned distributors Red Essential and RED into The Orchard, which now claims a U.S. market share close to 6 percent. “We’ve covered a ton of ground in a very short period of time,” says Theis, who regularly brings her chocolate Labrador, Buzz, to the office.
2017 News Story That Resonated: “The heightened embrace of [Congresswomen] Maxine Waters and Elizabeth Warren. They are zero-fucks-giving people.”
SHARON TIMURE, 36
Vp marketing, Island Records
Helped make Mendes. A onetime Island Def Jam intern from Parma, Ohio, Timure has spent over a decade at Island working with Fall Out Boy and American Authors. But she has a particular devotion to Shawn Mendes, whose career she has been championing since his first EP with the label in 2014. Her campaign for his latest single, “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back,” helped launch it to the top of Billboard‘s Adult Contemporary chart, making Mendes the first artist in the list’s history to earn three No. 1 songs before the age of 20. Timure is looking for the next up-and-comer, and believes she has found it in Norwegian pop singer Sigrid, who just released her debut EP with Island. “She’s poised to break out next year,” promises Timure.
First Female Musical Artist With Whom She Identified: “Cyndi Lauper. As a kid, I thought her look was so creative and owned being a woman without having to be overtly sexual.”
CFO/senior vp operations, Latin America And Iberia, Universal Music Group
Capitalizing on the “Despacito” effect. A CPA with an MBA, Yep oversees the backbone of Universal’s Latin operation and has focused on staying ahead of the curve. The division’s innovations include its management and booking operation, GTS, which this past year added Luis Fonsi and Sebastián Yatra to its roster. But Universal’s big coup has been the global success of “Despacito” and “Mi Gente.” “We’re going to continue with this ‘opening up borders’ type of music,” says Yep, who knows all about that: Born in Peru to Chinese parents, she’s fluent in Cantonese and Portuguese.
THE CATALYST: SHELLI AZOFF, 61
Managing partner, The Forum
Super-connected “person.” Married for 40 years to music’s most powerful manager, Irving Azoff, Shelli says she has “always participated in every Azoff business from the background,” handling such tasks as artist relations for her husband’s Azoff MSG Entertainment. After driving the $100 million-plus remodel of the Forum arena in 2013, the poker ace stepped into the spotlight as the building’s managing partner, overseeing marketing, design, sponsorships, ticketing and amenities, and helping it rake in $23 million in the first half of 2017, up from $20 million in the first half of 2016. As she continues to design more venues, the mother of four is planning new comedy projects for Levity Entertainment and the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. Azoff considers herself a “person,” not a “woman” in the industry: “When you think of yourself as different, you will be treated differently,” she says.
Best Gift She Could Get For The Holidays: “A week of Irving without his iPhone.”
“Although Irving [Azoff] is my manager, behind every great man is a great woman — with even greater balls! I always saw Shelli as a second mama. She’s a connector of other powerful women, but she also has always provided me with a sense of home. She opens her home and her heart to those around her. And a good heart is more powerful than anything.” — Christina Aguilera
DESIREE PEREZ, 47
COO, Roc Nation
Roc Nation’s rock. The notoriously private Perez has a reputation as a tough negotiator, which she proved again with Sprint’s $200 million investment in TIDAL announced in January. That deal paid off five months later when JAY-Z released his 14th Billboard 200 No. 1 album, 4:44, as a Sprint-sponsored free download to 1 million people, earning the MC a platinum plaque before the album’s official release. It has since racked up 600,000 equivalent album units and served as the crown jewel of an impressive marketing campaign. In April, Live Nation, an equity partner in Roc Nation, signed a new, long-term $200 million touring partnership with JAY-Z ahead of Roc’s 10-year anniversary in 2018; the average gross from his current 4:44 Tour, sponsored by Puma, is 21 percent higher than 2013’s Magna Carter Tour.
Executive vp, Artist Partner Group
Global growth agent. “I’ve had the freedom to reimagine what a label and partnership looks like for our artists,” the industry stalwart — born in Germany and raised in Orange County, Calif. — says of the “genre- and style-agnostic” joint venture with WMG that she joined earlier in 2017. Working alongside founder/CEO Mike Caren, Rogers now leads the burgeoning company’s global marketing and artist development initiatives for a diverse roster that includes Kehlani, ARIZONA, Kevin Gates and Charlie Puth, with the lattermost earning his first solo No. 1 on Billboard‘s Mainstream Top 40 chart. With previous roles spanning the live (AEG) and management (Laffitte Management Group) sectors, Rogers credits her vaunted versatility as an executive to her diverse industry experiences. “The aerial view helps you understand where all sides are coming from and how to win together.”
Advice For Up-And-Comers: “No good decision is based on fear. So you break your leg; you heal and you learn.”
DIA SIMMS, 42
President, Combs Enterprises
Can’t stop, won’t stop. With her promotion to president in May, Simms oversees all aspects of Sean Combs’ company, which encompasses film, publishing, wine, marketing, bottled water and, yes, music. An exclusive with Apple Music led to a summer release for Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, a documentary on Combs’ 1990s musical heyday, which won a Hollywood Film Award in November and hit No. 1 globally on iTunes. The movie’s success resulted in renewed interest in songs from the Bad Boy catalog, including The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize,” which saw a 566 percent increase in Apple Music plays. “Our team is working tirelessly to bring [Combs’] music to a new generation,” says Simms.
BEKA TISCHKER, 41
Manager/owner, Wide Eyed Entertainment
Managing Julia Michaels. When Tischker left Dr. Luke’s Prescription Songs in early 2017 to become a free agent, she didn’t expect the gamble to pay off so quickly. “Issues,” the debut solo single from songwriter-turned-pop star Julia Michaels, whom Tischker has managed for six years, quickly broke out, climbing to No. 11 on the Hot 100 and No. 4 on Mainstream Top 40. “It was a little pat on the back from the universe [telling me], ‘You’re on the right path,’ ” says Tischker, who’s parlaying that success into her own management/publishing company, Wide Eyed Entertainment, which so far counts songwriter Lindy Robbins and Finnish producer Teemu Brunila among its clients. Says the Los Angeles-based married mother: “Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would be happening.”
MIMI VALDES, 47
Chief Creative Officer, i am OTHER Entertainment
Co-founding partner, i am OTHER Entertainment
Pharrell’s dynamic duo. “Transitioning from music to Hollywood isn’t easy,” says Valdes, the self-described “one-person department” for multifaceted artist Pharrell Williams‘ film and TV ambitions. Williams founded i am OTHER in 2012 to support all his multimedia ventures, and Valdes worked with him to produce and score the sleeper-hit film Hidden Figures, which grossed $235 million worldwide and nabbed awards and critical accolades. Not surprisingly, Valdes says she’s now working with a full slate, adding, “I didn’t expect so many of our projects to be greenlit this year.” On the music front, Williams’ trusted adviser Veazey orchestrated a N.E.R.D reunion — in November, Williams and bandmates Chad Hugo and Shay Haley released their first new song in seven years, “Lemon,” featuring Rihanna.
Advice For Up-And-Comers: Valdes: “Embrace the risky.”
BARBARA CARR, 71
Partner, Jon Landau Management
Brought Bruce to Broadway. With glowing critical reviews and grosses exceeding $2.3 million per week — a record for Broadway’s tiny 948-seat Walter Kerr Theatre — Bruce Springsteen‘s sold-out one-man show, Springsteen on Broadway, has been a smash since its October opening. Helping the rocker create another career triumph has been longtime Landau partner Carr, who says deal-making within New York’s insular theater community has pushed her to explore entirely new skills, even after more than 45 years in the business. “New rules, new customs, new people,” she says of the Broadway experience. “It reminded me of a few years ago when Bruce was publishing his book and I had to learn about that industry very quickly.”
ELIZABETH COLLINS, 50
Co-president, Azoff MSG Entertainment
SUSAN GENCO, 51
Co-president, Azoff MSG Entertainment
Righting wrongs for artists. During the past year, Genco and Collins have often worked in tandem to help re-engineer Azoff’s management company, Azoff Music, merging it with his son Jeffrey’s Full Stop Management and Brandon Creed’s The Creed Company. “It was an important step in the Azoff legacy to position the company for the future,” says Collins. Likewise, they were involved in Azoff and Tim Leiweke’s creation of The Arena Alliance, with 28 arenas, through their Oak View Group, which will give the venues collective clout and new income streams. Meanwhile, Azoff’s 3-year-old boutique performance rights organization, Global Music Rights, has come into its own in terms of revenue growth. “We have all seen how the music industry has been disrupted by outside forces, but GMR disrupted the music business in a way that is positive to the artist,” says Genco, while Collins adds, “I love that I get to help work on a list of wrongs that Azoff wants to right, [such as] providing artists with more choices and more transparency.”
VIRGINIA DAVIS, 37
Artist manager/managing partner, G Major Management
She’s got the Rhett stuff. Thomas Rhett‘s win in April for the Academy of Country Music’s male vocalist of the year felt like validation for the 27-year-old country star’s years of hard work. “It was recognition that he was coming into his own as a headliner and an A-level act,” says Davis, who signed Rhett when he was a 20-year-old college student. The win helped set up Rhett’s album, Life Changes, which has logged 402,000 equivalent album units since its September release, as well as his first U.S. headlining arena tour. Davis, an avid runner, and Rhett also established Home Team Publishing with Rhett’s father, noted songwriter Rhett Akins, and partner Roc Nation.
Nonmusical Female Icon: “Brené Brown. She has revolutionized the way I think about my relationships in both work and my personal life.”
KERRI EDWARDS, 46
Founder/President, KP Entertainment
Brought Luke Bryan to the Super Bowl. Though Edwards’ country superstar client Luke Bryan has grossed $52 million from his 2017 arena tour, she says his biggest accomplishment of the year was singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl in front of 111 million TV viewers. “It was probably the most nerve-wracking thing we’ve done,” she recalls, adding, however, that it “felt like such a big moment.” Edwards, who has managed Bryan since 2005 and works in partnership with Red Light Management, also helped client Cole Swindell log his seventh consecutive top 10 hit on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart with “Flatliner.”
ALLISON KAYE, 36
President of music, SB Projects
One of One Love Manchester’s architects. Kaye’s unflappable nature proved extremely valuable in the aftermath of the Manchester, England, bombing at SB Projects client Ariana Grande‘s concert in May. Kaye got right to work producing the starry and successful One Love Manchester benefit, which Grande hosted. It raised a reported $22 million for victims of the attack. Meanwhile, fellow SB Projects client Justin Bieber became the first artist to score two new Hot 100 No. 1s in back-to-back weeks (“I’m the One” and “Despacito”). Kaye adds that Bieber is “in a really great place” despite canceling the final 14 shows of his Purpose World Tour, which grossed $91 million in 2017.
Her own survival tactic in a tough year: “I’m done sweating the small stuff.”
ALEEN KESHISHIAN, 49
Founder/CEO, Lighthouse Management and Media
Selena’s champion and protector. As manager of Woman of the Year Selena Gomez, Keshishian, who also represents actors Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd, was one of the few confidants tasked with keeping Gomez’s kidney transplant operation — due to her battle with lupus — under the radar for three months. “I don’t know how we kept it quiet,” she says. With Keshishian’s help during her illness and convalescence, Gomez was able to land two singles on the Hot 100 as a lead artist (“Bad Liar” reached No. 20 and “Fetish” peaked at No. 27, despite her inability to do much press to promote them) and to successfully book Woody Allen’s latest film project.
Favorite Hangout With Her Female Friends: “Making pizza at Jennifer Aniston’s house.”
TY STIKLORIUS, 42
Founder/CEO, Friends At Work
Managers’ manager. “We’ve got to deprogram artists’ impressions of what a manager should be,” says Wharton MBA grad Stiklorius, whose socially conscious Friends at Work manages the careers of John Legend, Lindsey Stirling, emerging artist Fletcher and even an astronaut, former NASA trailblazer Cady Coleman. “It’s not one dude on the road with you 24/7,” she says of her holistic management strategies. With Legend she also co-founded the #FreeAmerica criminal justice reform campaign, and her game-changing Friends of Friends collective now provides guidance and infrastructure to younger bands and managers. “We’re creating a new model. It’s the kind of access I wanted all along from the big guys but could never get.”
Advice to Up-And-Comers: “Own your ambition. Wear it with pride.”
AMY THOMSON, 42
CEO, ATM Artists
Year of the (DJ) Snake. Thomson, the longtime manager and confidant of Swedish superstars Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso, signed a new name to her powerhouse roster in 2017: Hot 100 hitmaker DJ Snake. In their first month, the two secured Snake’s Beats By Dre campaign and an ambitious single launch atop Paris’ Arc de Triomphe. The tenacious London native, who started her career 20 years ago at the city’s legendary Ministry of Sound nightclub, this year brought A&R operations in-house at ATM Artists and added a film division led by Grammy-nominated director Colin Tilley. “It has been a year of really getting into our artists’ stories,” she says.
COO, Ticketmaster Canada
Outsmarting scalpers. Howe oversaw the launch of Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan initiative, the company’s algorithm-driven anti-scalping tool, while driving 14 percent growth for the first nine months of 2017. In Canada, Tarlton also has found success signing new clients including Centre Videotron, Senators Sports and Entertainment and the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017. Ticketmaster is on track to deliver 500 million tickets in 29 countries worth $28 billion in gross transactional value.
BROOKE MICHAEL KAIN, 37
Chief Digital Officer, AEG Presents
AMY MORRISON, 55
Senior vp marketing, concerts West/AEG Presents
Senior vp, AEG Presents
Live from overseas, it’s AEG. Kain, Morrison and Rathwell’s collective efforts have intertwined to expand AEG’s international imprint. Kain, who moved over from Apple Music in fall 2016 for a newly created position, doubled her digital staff and expanded the team’s scope beyond marketing to ops and data, growing AEG’s database from 30 million to 300 million records and building a suite of digital tools to personalize the consumer experience. Morrison developed the marketing campaign for The Rolling Stones’ European tour, and for Katy Perry, “we’ve created a treasure trove of unique, custom, eye-popping content that has set this tour apart.” Meanwhile, Rathwell and AEG’s concert division have thrived, with total grosses reaching nearly $400 million for the first half of 2017, an uptick of 4 percent.
Nonmusical female icon: Morrison “Billie Jean King. Her match against Bobby Riggs was a big deal when I was a kid. It wasn’t that she won; it was, of course she won.”
CFO, Live Nation Entertainment
Wight makes might. Willard has presided over the company’s finances as it prepares to wrap its seventh consecutive year of growth, with 80 million tickets sold to 20,000 shows in 40 countries through October — up 20 percent for the year. Live Nation continued to make key acquisitions in 2017, including ticketing companies in the Czech Republic and Poland, and received a green light from U.K. regulators to purchase the Isle of Wight festival. Earlier in 2017, she organized Live Nation’s three key businesses — concerts, ticketing, sponsorships — into their own segments, as its growing artist management division, Artist Nation, shifted into the concerts division. “The strategy behind artist management,” she says, “is to provide a full range of services related to concert promotion and to expand our concert businesses.”
JENNA ADLER* // CAROLE KINZEL* // ALLI MCGREGOR*
Agents, Creative Artists Agency
Booked One Love Manchester. The terror attack at Ariana Grande’s concert in England weighed heavily on the senior staff of CAA, which represents the singer, but McGregor says she’s proud of Grande’s — and the industry’s — response to the tragedy. The One Love Manchester concert, which McGregor was involved in booking, “deeply touched my heart,” says the agent. “Live music is something that should bring joy to people. We need to fight to keep it that way.” Adler assisted Jennifer Lopez in putting together the all-star One Voice: Somos Live! benefit concert and telethon that raised over $35 million in hurricane relief for Puerto Rico in October. Kinzel helped engineer Tears for Fears‘ comeback tour, in which the duo co-headlined arenas with Hall & Oates.
First Female Artist With Whom She Identified: Kinzel: “I was a little hippie chick with an acoustic guitar, so the woman I most looked up to was Joan Baez.”
SAMANTHA KIRBY YOH*
SARA NEWKIRK SIMON*
Partner/co-head of music, WME
24k clients: Bruno and N.E.R.D. Newkirk Simon says she’s most proud to have helped Pharrell Williams launch a new surprise album for N.E.R.D during ComplexCon, a two-day curated fashion and pop culture festival in Long Beach, Calif., that the artist co-created with Marc Ecko in 2016. Kirby Yoh booked LCD Soundsystem‘s sold-out comeback tour, which included five nights at the Hollywood Palladium. Bernstein cites the success of Bruno Mars’ 24k Magic World Tour, which sold 1 million tickets in 24 hours. “We painted the world gold,” says Bernstein of the extravagant promotions for the tour from Miami to Los Angeles, where she erected the Roman numerals “XXIV” in solid gold for an LAX flyover promotion.
Owner/founder, Cara Lewis Group
Chance, Khalid and 1,200 shows. In her first full year since launching her own agency in early 2016, Lewis booked 1,200 concerts around the world, up from around 800 in 2016, for Bryson Tiller, Travis Scott and one of 2017’s breakout stars, Khalid. She also helped put together Khalid’s Forever 21 campaign and American Teen Tour. Meanwhile, client Chance the Rapper had another monster year with his first arena tour, which grossed $15.8 million. Previously an agent at Creative Artists Agency and, before that, WME, the tenacious Lewis says going indie has affirmed that her “success has been a product of hard work, creativity and sincere relationships, not because I worked at [agencies] that had a reputation in Hollywood.”
Most Frustrating Aspect Of Being a Woman In the Industry: “Having to deal with the reputation that comes from being a strong woman in the business.”
CORRIE CHRISTOPHER MARTIN, 40 // JACKIE NALPANT*
Music agents, Paradigm Talent Agency
Booking Imagine Dragons’ biggest tour yet. Martin was not only responsible for Imagine Dragons’ sold-out North America arena trek, their largest to date, but also assisted frontman Dan Reynolds on the LoveLoud festival, which raised awareness of teen suicide among Utah’s LGBTQ youth and received unprecedented support from the Mormon Church. In her role at Riot Fest, she helped reunite influential punk band Jawbreaker following a 21-year hiatus. Nalpant, who guided successful runs by Sylvan Esso, Moses Sumney and Tash Sultana, hails the fact that “many of my artists are opening up and being brave with the messages in their music. It’s not all about the drop anymore. There are some songs that can change minds and hearts.”
THE MASTER BUILDER: NATALIA NASTASKIN*
Head Of U.S. Music Operations, United Talent Agency
Building a full-service music division. Nastaskin continues to expand the reach of UTA’s music group, offering clients a full complement of services. This has meant new key hires in brand partnerships, private/corporate booking and digital strategy. The agency’s crossover division, which identifies music opportunities in film, TV, video games and emerging platforms, “has been consistently putting points on the board with placements for clients, including Fletcher [The Bold Type] and X Ambassadors [Ray Donovan].” Speaking of crossover success, UTA client singer-actress Cynthia Erivo, who won a Tony and a Grammy for her work in the Broadway musical adaptation of The Color Purple, has been cast in a number of films, including Steve McQueen’s Widows.
Best Advice From a Female Executive: “You’re not a $20 bill; not everyone’s going to love you.”
THE HIP-HOP HOTSHOTS: JACQUELINE REYNOLDS-DRUMM, 31 // CAROLINE YIM, 39
Concerts agents, ICM Partners
Building an enviable portfolio of hip-hop and R&B talent. Reynolds-Drumm booked Lil Yachty’s 27-city Teenage Tour and was part of the team that helped Migos emerge as a significant global draw. Yim’s client Future is on the ascent: In 2017, he performed 45 shows in 44 cities and grossed over $23 million. Both agents say they derive particular satisfaction from working with their roster of female artists, which includes SZA, Kehlani and Jhené Aiko. “This year, more than ever, the tide is turning toward powerful women,” says Reynolds-Drumm, “and I am so rewarded by giving them a stage for their art.”
“Caroline knows her artists’ worth. She fights for them, and she doesn’t let up. That alone speaks volumes. I have a daughter, so I’m all about girl power. That’s another of the many reasons Caroline is my agent.” — ScHoolboy Q
President, Artist Group International
Agenting rock’s living legends. In September, Vlasic flew to Pittsburgh to see longtime client Neil Young play one of his only shows in 2017 at Farm Aid, which since 1985 has raised over $50 million for family farmers thanks in part to Young’s commitment — and Vlasic’s booking help. A feisty, four-decade industry veteran and legendary agent (“I don’t mind ‘legendary,’ ” she says), the Brooklyn native recently booked Elvis Costello‘s tour celebrating the 35th anniversary of his Imperial Bedroom album, Regina Spektor‘s first tour since 2013, PJ Harvey‘s biggest U.S. run in a decade and the U.S. headlining debut tour of Australia’s Sheppard, after the band opened Justin Bieber’s four stadium shows Down Under in March.
I’m Done With: “Bullshit.”
AMANDA BERMAN-HILL, 34 // JENNIFER KNOEPFLE, 41
Senior vps/co-heads of West Coast A&R, Sony/ATV Music Publishing
Their roster ruled the Hot 100. When Taylor Swift, Adele and Lorde need music’s most in-demand songwriters and producers, they call the longtime clients of Sony/ATV’s Knoepfle and Berman-Hill. The former’s roster includes Joel Little (Lorde’s Hot 100 top 20 hit “Green Light,” Khalid’s No. 25-peaking “Young Dumb & Broke”) and Jack Antonoff (Swift’s No. 1 “Look What You Made Me Do”). Meanwhile, Berman-Hill scored top 10 hits for clients Noonie Bao (Zedd and Alessia Cara‘s “Stay”), John Hill (Portugal. The Man’s “Feel It Still”) and Sean Douglas (Demi Lovato’s “Sorry Not Sorry”). She also inked a joint venture with 2017 Grammy producer of the year Greg Kurstin (Adele’s 25) called No Expectations Publishing. Berman-Hill credits a “yin and yang” dynamic with Knoepfle for the company’s continued success as the No. 1 publisher in overall market share. “It’s a very easy, fruitful relationship, and I love that it’s two women that get to run this department.”
I Am Done With: Knoepfle “People who are always on their phones. I saw [one] fall into a basement in New York.”
CAROLINE BIENSTOCK, 59
President/CEO, Carlin America
Selling the family business for $245 million. Bienstock brokered the impending sale of the 51-year-old family-owned music publisher — which counts among its catalog classics Elvis Presley, Billie Holiday and James Brown — to Round Hill Music for $245 million in September, but she says she’s more proud of winning the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s Abe Olman Publisher Award. The daughter of Atlantic Records co-founder Miriam Bienstock (formerly Abramson) and veteran publisher Freddy Bienstock won’t comment on whether she’ll be staying with Carlin post-sale, but she says that revenue is up 20 percent in 2017. “It has something to do with streaming services,” she says, “but mostly it has to do with the longevity and quality of our assets.”
JODY GERSON, 56
Chairman/CEO, Universal Music Publishing Group
Big growth with hot acts. Now in her third full year at the head of the publishing giant, Gerson has increased revenue for the company by 9 percent year over year for the first half of 2017, led by a white-hot roster of hip-hop and R&B acts including Post Malone, SZA, Metro Boomin, Quavo and Travis Scott, as well as the recent signings of veteran superstars Bruce Springsteen, Jack White, Carly Simon and Barry Gibb. Gerson attributes UPMG’s latest winning streak to improved creative services and the company culture. “People don’t want to be with us because of one individual person,” she says. “Every single person plays a role and shares in the success when an artist chooses to sign here and trust us with their most valuable success.”
I Am Done With: “Being asked what it’s like to be a woman in business. What’s the difference whether you’re a leader who’s a woman or a leader who’s a man?”
GOLNAR KHOSROWSHAHI, 46
Took the “A” train to publishing success. Since opening Reservoir 10 years ago, Khosrowshahi has built the company into an indie-music publishing powerhouse that has helped diversify its parent company — and her Iranian-Canadian family’s business — Persis Holdings, which also owns real-estate development and pharmaceutical investments. Khosrowshahi has grown Reservoir through the dual strategy of signing songwriters and making key strategic acquisitions for a total catalog of more than 100,000 songs, including such perennial classics as Chubby Checker‘s “The Twist,” The Kingsmen‘s “Louie Louie,” Duke Ellington‘s “Take the ‘A’ Train,” The Trammps‘ “Disco Inferno” and new hits like Migos’ “Bad and Boujee” and Selena Gomez’s “It Ain’t Me.” Khosrowshahi, who is married and lives in Toronto, is on the board of directors for the National Music Publishers’ Association.
Executive vp Latin Music, Universal Music Publishing Group
Signed Santos. Less than a year into her post, following a long tenure at ASCAP, the Spain-born, Miami-based Lioutikoff inked Romeo Santos to his first major publishing deal; Espinoza Paz (in the regional Mexican realm); and writer-producers Rvssian (“Krippy Kush”) and Icon Production Group (Mosty, Feid, Rolo, Jowan and Miky La Sensa) of “Mi Gente” and “Felices los 4” fame. In addition, she brokered an agreement to administer Roc Nation Latino’s publishing catalog. Further proof of the advances she has made at UMPG arrived when the publisher won 26 total Latin music awards from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, twice as many as the previous year.
Ultimate Getaway For Her And Her Female Friends: “Group waxing.”
Partner, Songs Music Publishing
Synch savant. With a roster that boasts writer-producers Diplo, The Weeknd and Lorde, Marshall had little trouble posting double-digit revenue growth for her 11th consecutive year at the boutique publisher, which is up for sale. But her biggest success story was emerging U.K. singer-songwriter Barns Courtney, whose driving, anthemic rock songs chalked up over 80 licenses in commercials, video games, movie trailers and TV promos, including multiple spots for Miller Lite and Victoria’s Secret. Other highlights include placing X Ambassadors’ “The Devil You Know” in the trailer for the Tom Cruise vehicle American Made months before its official release, and an upcoming synch for Diplo with a major retailer. “It’s amazing when we do really big deals for our superstar clients,” says Marshall, “but I’m just as proud that the majority of our songwriters are earning in synchronization now.”
SAS METCALFE, 56
Chief Creative Officer, Kobalt
Thriving to the tune of $340 million. “We’re building and growing,” says Metcalfe, who was promoted from president of global creative last spring. Continuing its 2016 spending spree (Zayn Malik, Mike WiLL Made-It), Kobalt has since added an impressive contingent of emerging talent: Rudimental, First Aid Kit, Banks, Jade Bird and J. White (producer of Cardi B’s smash “Bodak Yellow [Money Moves]”). Metcalfe, a North Wales native, also cites VÉRITÉ and “a number of other artists coming up the ranks” — through Kobalt’s AWAL label — among the firm’s success stories. Kobalt claimed the No. 5 spot on Billboard‘s third-quarter ranking of the top 10 music publishers, with a 7.8 percent market share and an estimated $340 million in revenue for fiscal year 2017.
KATIE VINTEN, 34
Co-head of A&R, U.S., Warner/Chappell Music
Helped break Sony/ATV’s music publishing stranglehold. Vinten is part of the team that ended Sony/ATV’s five-year run atop Billboard‘s quarterly music publishers’ rankings in November. Her contributions to the win include teaming Warner/Chappell songwriters Justin Tranter and Mattman & Robin with Imagine Dragons on the band’s Evolve album. The result was the hit “Believer,” which spent 29 weeks at No. 1 on Hot Rock Songs. The achievement was especially sweet since “Imagine Dragons was the one that got away,” says Vinten, who tried to sign the act when she was an assistant at EMI Records. “This made it a full circle for me,” says the publishing executive, who also counts songwriter Julia Michaels’ breakthrough as an artist among the highlights of the past year. Michaels’ single “Issues” peaked at No. 11 on the Hot 100 in June. “To have been part of her journey from the beginning is an honor,” says Vinten.
Most Frustrating Aspect Of Being A Woman In The Industry: “The misogyny is so rampant, yet subtle enough for people to laugh it off. There’s nothing funny about having to justify your professional needs because you’re a woman.”
ELIZABETH MATTHEWS, 49
Leading a $1 billion PRO. One of a handful of female CEOs in the industry, Matthews champions the rights of songwriters “whose creative works fuel the digital music economy.” Innovations of the past year include a monitoring agreement with YouTube, joint database development with performing rights organization BMI and a blockchain initiative with fellow collection societies SACEM in France and PRS in the United Kingdom. “This was an incredible year for ASCAP in terms of driving up the value of work product,” says the Emory Law School grad, citing revenue of over $1 billion for the third year in a row, “with 88 cents of every dollar going back to our members as royalties.”
Nonmusical Female Icon: “Christiane Amanpour, because she has had positive global impact by consistently demonstrating that unbiased and quality journalism actually can make the world a better place.”
ANN SWEENEY, 58
Senior vp global policy, BMI
$294 million in global receipts. BMI had its third year of record revenue, bringing in $1.1 billion, but Sweeney says she’s most proud of the PRO’s international growth. In 2017, BMI took in $294 million from roughly 100 foreign collection societies, a year-over-year increase of 7 percent. Sweeney, who has a staff of 10, says the growth in overseas collections is particularly impressive given the continued strengthening of the dollar against foreign currencies. “We were very focused,” says the mother of two teenage children whose passport is a stamp collector’s dream. “Luckily, my partner is an artist who works from home.”
KELLI TURNER, 47
Executive vp operations, corporate development/CFO, SESAC
100,000 licensees and counting. With almost a year under the ownership of deep-pocketed investment firm The Blackstone Group — an acquisition reported to be close to $1 billion — SESAC continues to enjoy steady growth, and in 2017, Turner played a leading role in upping the PRO’s licensees to over 100,000. This holiday season, she’s hoping for some quality downtime with her kids: “Last year, we were selling SESAC to Blackstone, and as CFO, I was on call 24/7 from Thanksgiving through the holiday break,” she says.
2017 News Story That Resonated: “The whole Harvey Weinstein situation. At one point in my career, I ran business development at New Line Cinema, and people always talked about [gender issues in the entertainment industry], but to see it front and center has really registered with me.”
MARCIE ALLEN, 44
President, MAC Presents
Partnered with Cara Lewis, paired Khalid with Forever 21. Since uniting with agent Cara Lewis in 2016, the high-energy Allen has forged partnerships with both established and up-and-coming acts, from Ludacris (AT&T) to Khalid (Forever 21). “When I look back over the past year, the thing I’m most proud of is forming a strategic partnership with another unbelievable woman in the music industry, and a friend and mentor for over 20 years,” says Allen of Lewis. Other notable deals include Metallica and Citi, and Foo Fighters and Capital One, as well as booking Garth Brooks for the first concert at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Best Advice From a Female Executive: “No deal is ever worth [harming] a relationship.”
Global Consumer Chief Marketing Officer, Citi
Double-digit growth. The past year has been a busy one for Breithaupt. In April, she was promoted to her current position, which has her overseeing the Citi brand and over 12,000 consumer access programs, including ones with Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Billy Joel. And 2017 is shaping up to be the banking giant’s most successful year in terms of total number of events (up 13 percent), tickets sold (up 14 percent) and revenue (up 20 percent), all of which surpass last year’s record-breaking numbers.
Advice For Up-And-Comers: “Make opportunities happen. Own your career and development of your own brand.”
Vp global experiential marketing and partnerships, American Express
Turning heads with Kendrick. During the past year, Curtis has treated cardholders to exclusive presale access to tours by Ed Sheeran, P!nk and Lorde, as well as at Coachella (where Amex hosted its first Platinum House), Austin City Limits and Panorama. But it was her division’s groundbreaking collaboration with rapper Kendrick Lamar — who, last December, performed at Art Basel in Miami while artist Shantell Martin live-sketched a mural to the music — that branding specialists are still talking about 12 months later. Those initiatives have earned praise within the company as well, winning Amex’s 2017 Edward P. Gilligan award for innovation.
Advice For Up-And-Comers: “Be brave, not fearless.”
MARY ANN MCCREADY, 65
Co-founder/co-owner, Flood Bumstead McCready & McCarthy
One of Nashville’s top business managers. McCready and her FBMM team of approximately 125 employees are in the thick of all kinds of music industry deals, from publishing acquisitions to lining up sponsorship and merch agreements. Understandably, she maintains a sphinxlike silence when asked about specifics — refusing to discuss her firm’s roster or business dealings — but media reports have cited some of country music’s top artists as clients, including Keith Urban, Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton, Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum and Thomas Rhett. Pressed on the company’s biggest accomplishment of the past year, McCready points to Nashville Business Journal voting FBMM as one of the best places to work in Music City. “For people that own a company and care about their people, this recognition says the most to me,” she says.
Best Advice From A Female Executive: “Get some dark sunglasses. Hang with the men.”
Senior vp/team leader of entertainment banking, City National Bank
Music’s $5 billion banker. Pearson co-heads with Martha Henderson the $5 billion entertainment-related loan portfolio of one of the music industry’s biggest financial players. While she declines to name any deals she has been involved with in the last year, Pearson works with artists, executives and companies from all aspects of the business, and does everything from providing credit cards to financing stadium tours.
Advice For Up-And-Comers: “Look at yourself as a liability for the company until you can turn yourself into an asset.”
LOU TAYLOR, 52
CEO/owner, Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group
Britney’s business manager. Leading a staff of 92 employees — 72 of whom are female — Taylor provides business management for a diverse roster of entertainers, athletes, executives and creators, among them Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani, Jason Derulo, Priyanka Chopra, Mary J. Blige and Los Angeles Rams GM Les Snead. “I always ask clients, ‘What can we as a team do to make your business better?’ ” she says. Overseeing Spears’ Las Vegas residency, which is wrapping with a gross of over $130 million, and supervising Jennifer Lopez’s continuing run at Planet Hollywood there have been career highlights. Humility is key, says Taylor. “But that doesn’t mean we’re weak.”
2017 News Story That Resonated: “The absolute need for gun control. I want the right to have a gun for my protection, but I want gun reform, now.”
SARAH TRAHERN, 53
CEO, Country Music Association
Country music’s ambassador. Trahern capped a productive 2017 with a triumphant 51st annual CMA Awards, which aired Nov. 8 on ABC to a three-year ratings high (14.3 million total viewers). The show sent singles by performers Keith Urban, Brothers Osborne, Chris Stapleton and Tim McGraw & Faith Hill to the top 10 of iTunes, while still managing to address the dual tragedies of mass shootings in Las Vegas and Texas and the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. “It was about putting together a cohesive show for the whole community,” says Trahern.
MARIAN DICUS, 38
Global head of content marketing, Spotify
ROCIO GUERRERO, 31
Head of global cultures, Spotify
Fueling Spotify’s RISE. “We were really bootstrapping it,” recalls Dicus of the No. 1 streaming giant’s “scrappy” early days in New York just four years prior. With Spotify expected to go public shortly, “scrappy” has given way to “ambitious.” Dicus’ 2017 highlights include a recent push into intimate experiential events (Halsey, Lana Del Rey, Miley Cyrus) and the newly launched quarterly RISE program, which picks four emerging artists to highlight on the platform. The latter’s inaugural class featured Lauv, whose hit “I Like Me Better” has logged over 250 million streams and counting. Meanwhile, Guerrero, who helped grow the service’s Latin music footprint, now concentrates on superserving the platform’s underserved global audiences through careful editorial curation of playlists and music brands.
DEBRA HERMAN, 42
Head Of Music Partnerships, Shazam
16,000 artists, 700,000 daily song purchases. Herman this year hit over 16,000 verified artists on the music ID app. She also worked on Shazam’s first-ever global augmented-reality integration for Michael Jackson‘s Scream compilation while helping Shazam success stories Marian Hill and Sofi Tukker profit from the app’s 700,000 daily song purchases. “It gives me chills to know Shazam can help an artist with their career path,” she says.
Peace-Of-Mind Activity: “Anything at my gym: animal-flow, competitive powerlifting or kettlebell complexes.”
VIVIEN LEWIT, 47
Global head of artist services, YouTube/Google Play Music
3 million views in 48 hours. Lewit says she’s constantly thinking about how to make YouTube better for artists, a role that includes helping emerging acts create vehicles to earn money, as well as strategizing alongside the 1 percent. The New York-based executive cites Gorillaz‘s virtual-reality 360-degree video “Saturnz Barz (Spirit House),” YouTube’s highest debut for a VR clip in the platform’s history — over 3 million views in 48 hours — as a 2017 highlight, as well as Ariana Grande’s One Love Manchester benefit concert. “That was one of those moments that makes you feel the importance of what you do,” she says of the company’s role as one of the official streaming partners for the concert that raised over $22 million.
MARY BERNER, 58
President/CEO, Cumulus Media
Turnaround artist. Berner was recruited as CEO from the Cumulus board of directors in 2015, when “the business was in free fall” after three years of quarterly losses. Within 24 months, the former publishing executive has “turned the corner,” delivering two straight quarters of year-over-year growth, a big advantage as Cumulus struggles to restructure debt. “We’re on a very solid footing now,” says the New York-based mother of four, who oversees the largest pure-play radio broadcaster in the United States: 446 stations in 90 markets and 8,000 affiliates through Westwood One.
GLENNE CHRISTIAANSEN, 27
Music partnerships, Snapchat
Blowing up songs for Sheeran and Del Rey. Born and raised in Los Angeles, where she previously worked at Creative Artists Agency, Christiaansen leads Snapchat’s music-partnership efforts from the L.A. headquarters of parent company Snap. In 2017, she has worked closely with artists including Calvin Harris, Ed Sheeran and Lana Del Rey to build Snapchat into music-release rollouts through custom Geofilters and augmented-reality lenses. “I love seeing songs blow up on Snapchat this way,” she says. Other wins include the in-app music series The Countdown, which, she says, averages over 6 million views per story, and partnerships with Live Nation and AEG/Goldenvoice.
Senior vp programming and integration, iHeartMedia
MARISSA MORRIS, 31
Vp artist relations, iHeartMedia
Tuning in $3.4 billion in revenue. With the background noise of iHeartMedia’s debt restructuring set to mute, this power duo focuses on strengthening the core business. The industry’s largest radio enterprise has annual revenue of $3.4 billion, more than half of it generated by its 850-plus radio stations. Dastur, a former program director at WHTZ (Z100) New York, says stations she has worked with on image and development had “a 15.2 percent ratings lift in target demos. While live radio still accounts for 90 percent of consumer listening, digital has extended the iHeart brand,” says Morris. She notes that a new playlist-sharing feature generated a 70 percent increase in All Access app subscriptions following a preview weekend that had artists phone fans. The app and an ALTer Ego concert scheduled for Jan. 19, 2018, at The Forum in Los Angeles — which is intended to duplicate the success of the Jingle Ball tour — are enhancements of the past year.
Nonmusical Female Icon: Dastur: “Stacy Brown-Philpot, the CEO of TaskRabbit. I was inspired by a recent interview in which she said, ‘Do whatever it takes to get what you want.'”
MONICA ESCOBEDO, 40
Coordinating entertainment producer, ABC
GMA‘s music maven. Escobedo, who joined ABC 20 years ago as an intern in the Los Angeles news bureau, scored big in 2017 booking and producing the annual Summer Concert Series for network TV’s top morning show in total viewers, Good Morning America. The Chainsmokers, Paramore and Dierks Bentley were among the acts who performed. She also produced ABC’s U.S. broadcast of the One Love Manchester benefit concert that Ariana Grande hosted in England. Noting the late nights and very early mornings that come with the territory, she describes work as “a balancing act between going out at night to see music acts and producing in the early-morning hours at GMA.”
2017 News Story That Resonated: “The attacks in Manchester and Las Vegas were devastating and [hit] very close to home, but it was also heartwarming to see the entire music community come together.”
JULIE GUROVITSCH, 35
Talent executive for music, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
JAMIE GRANET-BEDERMAN, 41
Producer, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
Tonight Show superlatives. Fallon’s music obsession has helped make The Tonight Show appointment TV for live performances. In 2017, Gurovitsch and Granet-Bederman booked Stevie Wonder, Migos and U2, and in early October celebrated “Miley Week,” five days of appearances by Cyrus to promote her album Younger Now, which garnered the social-media-friendly show 148 million digital views. Such new approaches to showcasing music are more critical as the program increasingly competes against both other TV shows and digital platforms to book acts. “It takes more convincing, more creativity,” says Gurovitsch.
Nonmusical Female Icon: Gurovitsch: “Notorious RBG — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She has attained cult status serving as a mouthpiece for women’s rights in a traditionally male-dominated field.”
TAMARA HRIVNAK, 41
Head of global music strategy and business development, Facebook
Driving music strategy for 860 million users and counting. Hrivnak, an attorney who began her music career at Warner Music Group and most recently served as YouTube’s director of music partnerships, joined Facebook in 2017. As part of the senior management team driving the social media giant’s emerging music strategy, the mother of three daughters says she plans to “create commercial partnerships that haven’t existed before.” She has a massive audience to court: Of Facebook’s 2 billion active users worldwide, 860 million connect to at least one music page on the platform.
DEBRA LEE, 63
Chairman/CEO, BET Networks
Executive vp/head of programming, BET Networks
Record ratings — and Eminem. Lee has helmed BET for 12 years, but 2017 may be the longtime chairman/CEO’s most impressive yet. In January, the network made ratings history with the original miniseries The New Edition Story, which brought in 29 million total viewers and became the No. 1 cable biopic among adults 18-49 since 2001. The following month, The Recording Academy presented its President’s Merit Award to Lee, who became the first female executive ever recognized with the distinction. “I was very honored — but when I found out I was the first woman, my first reaction was, ‘It’s about time,'” she says. Then, in addition to facilitating Eminem‘s anti-Donald Trump freestyle for the BET Hip Hop Awards in October (a cypher that has so far tallied over 39.5 million views), the Harvard Law School graduate also filled the Viacom-owned flagship’s head of programming role with Orlando, an accomplished network executive who has already succeeded in her new role with Gucci Mane and Keyshia Ka’oir: The Mane Event, which brought in 2.2 million total viewers in one night.
2017 News Story That Resonated: Lee: “The resurgence and tolerance of white supremacy in this country. It’s hard to accept.”
DIANA MILLER, 38
Producer, The Late Late Show With James Corden
Corden’s spinoff specialist. After spearheading the creation of the ultraviral Late Late Show segment Carpool Karaoke, Miller couldn’t imagine letting anyone else oversee the Apple Music series that has paired Neil Patrick Harris with Tyler Perry and WWE wrestler John Cena with Shaquille O’Neal, despite the substantial increase in workload. (“If you want to get something done, ask a busy person,” she says.) In 2017, Miller added a third show for which she oversees music bookings: Corden’s latest spinoff, Drop the Mic, a TBS comic rap-battle show that premiered in October.
BRITTANY SCHREIBER, 30
Music booking producer, NBC News
Bringing more music to NBC’s mornings. With Today besting rival Good Morning America in the coveted 25-54 demographic, Schreiber plays a critical role on the show, which doubled down on music in 2017. The Summer Concert Series kicked off a few weeks early to welcome Harry Styles for his second-ever solo appearance (sister show Saturday Night Live nabbed the former One Direction member a few weeks earlier). A country music theme shaped the Halloween episode: Shania Twain, Blake Shelton and Dolly Parton were among those who appeared in person or in prerecorded spots. “To be able to incorporate so many artists in one day was a lot of fun,” says Schreiber, who managed to get married in September, a very busy month in TV.
First Female Artist With Whom She Identified: “Kelly Clarkson’s Breakaway album got me through my high school heartbreak.”
LINDSAY SHOOKUS, 37
Producer, Saturday Night Live
Booking bigger guests for more viewers. Thanks in large part to SNL‘s election-year satire, season 42 of the late-night series was its most watched in 23 years, which put an even brighter spotlight on its musical guests. “We’re on in all 50 states, so it’s a question of, ‘Who will everyone want to see?'” says Shookus of her efforts to book artists who resonate beyond New York and Los Angeles. “Just knowing we had so many more millions of people watching added to the pressure,” but Shookus continues to land major gets, including Harry Styles in his first solo appearance in the spring and, this fall, JAY-Z and Eminem.
Peace-Of-Mind Activity: “SoulCycle. When I’m stressed or feeling down, it always turns me around.”
LAUREN WIRTZER-SEAWOOD, 43
Head of music partnerships, Instagram
Big ‘grams for Julia Michaels. Wirtzer-Seawood, who helped Beyoncé build an Instagram audience of 108 million while head of digital at Parkwood Entertainment, is now working her magic internally at the social media platform. When star songwriter Michaels made the transition to artist in 2017, “We spent a lot of time talking about how to use Instagram to build a fan base,” says Wirtzer-Seawood. The tide turned when Selena Gomez took to Instagram to plug Michaels’ breakout single, “Issues” — which hit No. 11 on the Hot 100 in June. The post has racked up 11.3 million views.
DANIELLE AGUIRRE, 40
Executive vp/general ounsel, National Music Publishers’ Association
Music publishing’s firebrand. Fighting for creators’ rights and higher royalty rates while facing down some of the biggest corporations in the world — Amazon, Google, Spotify and Pandora — the University of Pennsylvania Law School grad spends much of her time negotiating to overturn arcane publishing statutes that were written well before a time when anyone could “conceive of licensing 30 or 40 million songs,” she says. “What we have is a statutory structure that does not fit this new digital world. I think everybody really understands it’s in need of reform. For the first time in a long time, I am very hopeful that we may have consensus legislation to propose [a blanket mechanical license] that will be fair for everyone.”
Favorite Getaway With Female Friends: “Every year, a friend invites a group of women in the industry to her place in St. Lucia. I am very lucky to be on that list.”
DINA LAPOLT, 51
Founder/owner, LaPolt Law
Fifth Harmony’s industry warrior. “I don’t like the path of least resistance,” says the outspoken LaPolt, whose suit against the Department of Justice on behalf of Songwriters of North America is ongoing — all while she hammers out complex global business deals for her clients, who include Britney Spears, Steven Tyler and deadmau5. LaPolt, who also teaches at the University of California in Los Angeles, once held a five-hour legal boot camp for the members of Fifth Harmony just before extricating them from an onerous first deal. “The only way to figure out a strategy is to first understand where your power comes from,” she says.
Advice For Up-And-Comers: “Get intimately familiar with deals that make money and that build an artist’s brand as a business.”
Partner, Loeb & Loeb
Dealmaker extraordinaire. White’s work as counsel to contestants of The Voice is just one facet of her sterling reputation as a savvy dealmaker. In the past year, the native New Yorker has represented Chinese digital giant Tencent in its licensing with Universal Music, negotiated The Who‘s residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, represented Citi for its credit-card TV ad campaign with Katy Perry and facilitated synch licensing for G-Shock and other major brands. She also represents Ty Stiklorius’ Friends at Work management firm and platinum artist Melanie Martinez.
Most Frustrating Aspect Of Being A Woman In The Industry: “I think every female in the entertainment business, whether an actress, musician or attorney, has had a Harvey Weinstein-like experience. It’s appalling.”
*Declined to provide age.
Contributors: Trevor Anderson, Dave Brooks, Dean Budnick, William Chipps, Ed Christman, Leila Cobo, Chuck Dauphin, Camille Dodero, Thom Duffy, Adrienne Gaffney, Isabel Gonzalez-Whitaker, Jenn Haltman, Andrew Hampp, Hannah Karp, Steve Knopper, Gail Mitchell, Melinda Newman, Paula Parisi, Dan Rys, Eric Spitznagel, Jack Tregoning, Deborah Wilker, Nick Williams
Methodology: A committee of Billboard editors and reporters weighed a variety of factors in determining the 2017 Women in Music executive power list, including, but not limited to, nominations by peers, colleagues and superiors; impact on consumer behavior as measured by such metrics as chart, sales and streaming performance; social media impressions, and radio and TV audiences reached; career trajectory; and overall impact in the industry. Where required, record-label market share was consulted using Nielsen Music’s market share for album plus track-equivalent and stream-equivalent album consumption units, and Billboard‘s quarterly top 10 publisher rankings. Unless otherwise noted, Billboard Boxscore and Nielsen Music are the sources for tour grosses and sales/streaming data, respectively. Unless otherwise noted, streaming figures cited represented combined U.S. on-demand audio and video totals.