Billboard presented its third annual Power 100 Issue with a special reception in Hollywood that began much like the inaugural event in 2013 — with the three dozen or so honorees in attendance making a bee-line to the issues upon their arrival to see their ranking.
A sizeable portion of the industry’s most powerful players came out to celebrate this year’s list – among them Coran Capshaw (No. 3), Martin Bandier (No. 5), Rob Light (No. 9), Marc Geiger (No. 13), Paul Chibe (No. 14), Frank Cooper (No. 15), Avery Lipman (No. 17), Jennifer Breithaupt (No. 24), Allen Shapiro and Michael Mahan (No. 26), Barry Weiss (No. 35), Micihele Anthony (No. 37), Joel Katz (No. 39), Scott Borchetta (No. 40), Jody Gerson (No. 44), Tom Poleman (No. 48), Jon Platt (No. 51), Steve Bartels (No. 54), Willard Ahdritz (No. 57), Russell Wallach (No. 59), Neil Portnow (No. 61), Daniel Glass (No. 64), Rich Lehrfeld (No. 71), Joe Belliotti (No. 79), Lia Vollack (No. 80), Ken Bunt (No. 89), David Israelite (No. 94), Mark Cmapana & Bob Roux (No. 96) and Jose Valle (99).
Unveiled at 5 p.m. PST, minutes before most attendees started to arrive, this year’s list boasted a few shakeups in the rankings – most principally led by the addition of Beyonce and Jay Z at No. 1 whose banner year included two of the most successful and unique album roll-outs ever seen.
Gunning for a slot on this year’s list was a recurring theme in the opening remarks from Billboard president John Amato, who joked that positions could be secured if “You buy me a better holiday present next year,” as well as magazine editor Joe Levy, who noted, “If I have learned one thing about this year’s list it’s that all 100 positions should be Irving Azoff.”
Many executives applauded the inclusion of artists Jay Z and Beyonce at the top of the list, including CAA’s Rob Light, who appeared genuinely humbled to be invited back this year let alone in the top 10. Big Machine’s Scott Borchetta feigned disgust on the red carpet when he was informed that Beyonce was this year’s top-ranking artist, and not his own Taylor Swift, and teased “I have news for you on Tuesday (which Billboard later confirmed would be a press conference for an all-star tribute album to an un-named act).
Neil Portnow , president-CEO of the Recording Academy (and a shared honoree at No. 61,) congratulated Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter on their newly collaborative structure, as well as his fellow Power 100 executives. “It’s pretty humbling to be in the presence of some of the savviest and most forward thinking business people on our industry,” he said. “And thanks to the savvy and support of the people in this room, many deserving artists will be recognized by their peers on Sunday.”
Billboard’s Levy was also on hand to present legendary record executive Joe Smith (former president of Capitol, Warner Bros. Records and Elektra/Asylum) the first Clive Davis Visionary Award, an honor named after the first recipient of Billboard’s Visionary Award and honorary Power 100 Hall of Famer Clive Davis. “I look forward to the day when Clive receives the Joe Smith award,” Smith said, tongue planted in cheek.
Smith, who turns 87 on Sunday, shared an early birthday present with the crowd by previewing the animated versions of his audio interviews with iconic artists like the Grateful Dead from his recently published book of over 200 archived interviews, “Off The Record.”
The night also included special performances of the stars of Oscar-nominated documentary “20 Feet From Stardom” – Darlene Love, Judith Hill, Tata Vega, Merry Clayton and Lisa Fisher, each of whom sang stirring solo numbers before teaming up for a grand finale of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.” To further cement the deepened ties between Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter, director Steve McQueen (“12 Years A Slave,” “Shame”) appeared to introduce the ladies and share his own testimony to being blown away by the singers’ back stories as shared in the film.
Though there was playful debate heard throughout the night with regard to rankings, the Power 100 gala was just as much a United Nations of music – one where competitors like Citi’s Jennifer Breithaupt and AmEx’s Rich Lehrfeld could peacefully talk shop and congratulate each other on their respective honors. Or Coke’s Joe Belliotti and Pepsi’s Frank Cooper, old colleagues from a previous project in Belliotti’s previous stint at a music branding agency, catching up on old times with little regard to their companies’ arch rivalry.
The event may have even helped accelerate a deal or two. LeAnn Rimes, who walked the red carpet before appearing at the event, noted that she had just finished her contract with longtime label Curb Records following 2013’s “Spitfire” and was beginning to entertain her next options. Once it was pointed out that Big Machine’s Scott Borchetta was in the building, the singer said coyly, “Yes I’ve been talking to Scott…did he put you up to that?”
The two were indeed spotted in close conversation during the cocktail reception. Because how could you in good faith name an event the Power 100 without a high-profile potential new deal being discussed amidst all the festivities, anyway?