Unseasonably warm weather outside matched the heat inside a crowded Bouchon in Beverly Hills on Friday evening, as Billboard celebrated the unveiling of its 2016 Power 100. For the second consecutive year, Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge heads the list of the industry’s top decision-makers. Close behind at No. 2 and 3, respectively, are Live Nation president/CEO Michael Rapino and Apple executive Jimmy Iovine. Also honored as the recipient of the Clive Davis Visionary Award: Columbia Records chairman/CEO Rob Stringer, who stands at No. 14 on the Power 100.
Following opening remarks from Billboard president/chief creative officer Janice Min and president John Amato and Recording Academy president/CEO and Power 100 honoree Neil Portnow, Billboard editor in chief Tony Gervino brought Grainge to the stage to accept his award. “We’re all very privileged in this industry because the industry has chosen us,” said Grainge. “We get an opportunity to work with talent, write about talent, promote it and talk it. I’m obsessed with doing what I can and what we all can to help transform the industry. And I’m obsessed with breaking new talent. All of us in music who invest in music, we have to protect it. We also have to be brave at the same time.”
Grainge in turn introduced the legendary Clive Davis to present his namesake award. Before announcing Stringer as the recipient, Davis noted, “We have to guard against the homogenization of our music. The phenomenal success of Adele is a clarion call to all of us that the public does respond; is eager to hear an artist’s album beyond a hit record.”
“This is as much a surprise to me as it is to you, trust me,” said Stringer, drawing laughter. “Clive giving me this award is incredibly appropriate because I represent the label that is built on his legacy. If Clive is a visionary then I’m definitely visionary light.” Stringer went on to rib industry colleague Grainge. “I had to trade my place in the BIllboard 100 for this and I’m now behind 73 Universal executives. I thought it was a reasonable trade for one award.”
Among the honorees noshing on circulating trays of salmon bites, chicken nuggets, hush puppies and other hors d’oeuvres as well as an overflowing dessert bar were Sony/ATV chairman CEO Matin Bandier (No. 5), Red Light Management founder Coran Capshaw (No. 7), Universal Music Group exec. VP Michele Anthony (No. 12), William Morris Endeavor partner/head of music Marc Geiger (No. 16), Capitol Music Group chairman/CEO Steve Barnett (No. 17), Universal Music Publishing Group chairman/CEO Jody Gerson (No. 18), Greenberg Traurig chairman, global media & entertainment group Joel Katz (No. 33), Pandoa founder/director Tim Westergren (No. 34), Warner Bros. Records chairman/CEo and Warner/Chappell chairman Cameron Strang (35), Grubman, Shire & Meiselas partner Allen Grubman, Epic Records president Sylvia Rhone (No. 54), BET chairman/CEO Debra Lee and president of programming Stephen Hill (No. 84) and United Talent Agency head of U. S. Music Operations Natalia Nastaskin (No. 86).
All told, the 2016 Billboard Power 100 boasts 39 new entries, including attendees Universal Music Group general counsel/exec. VP of business and legal affairs (No. 60) and Concord Bicycle CEO Scott Pascucci and chairman Steve Smith (No. 80).
The Billboard Power 100 was sponsored by American Airlines, Citi and HBO Vinyl.