JODY GERSON, 56
Chairman/CEO, Universal Music Publishing Group
Last Year’s Rank: 17
BRAGGING RIGHTS: Gerson signed Bruce Springsteen to a worldwide exclusive administration deal. As the first woman ever to run a major global music company, the Northwestern University grad was a rarity in the industry when she took the UMPG reins in January 2015. Her three years running the near-billion-dollar music publisher have proved her to be an unequivocal world-class CEO. “Being a woman — that story worked for me early on, but I am really happy we’ve moved on,” says Gerson, who accelerated UMPG’s success by landing Springsteen’s entire catalog in 2017, one of many coups that earned her Billboard’s 2018 Power 100 Clive Davis Visionary Award.
MORE WINS: The just-announced expansion deal for UMPG to represent Disney Music Publishing in Europe, plus, in 2017, signing Jack White, recruiting breakout talents SZA, Quavo and Lil Yachty and legacy giants Barry Gibb and Carly Simon, the lattermost a lodestar for the executive’s haute-hippie style. “When I spoke to her on the phone, she said, ‘Can you tell me what you look like?’ ” says Gerson. “I said, ‘Well, you’re kind of like my style icon.’ She goes, ‘You wearing the floppy hat?’ I go, ‘No, I’m in my kitchen. But I have on bell-bottoms.’ “
PAYING IT FORWARD: In November, Gerson joined the advisory board for the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, an executive coalition committed to studying disparity in the entertainment industries and finding actionable solutions. “I feel a sense of responsibility to hire more broadly and help those people have success,” says Gerson.
POST-#METOO STRATEGY: “I will not knowingly sign an artist to UMPG who has committed a violent crime against women — or anybody else.”