Legal: Lisa Weiss has been named senior VP/general counsel/secretary of Sony BMG Music Entertainment, reporting to CEO Andrew Lack.
Based in New York, Weiss will be responsible for overall legal policy and will oversee all aspects of the Sony BMG law department’s operations.
Most recently, Weiss served as senior VP/general counsel/secretary for Sony Music Entertainment, a role she held since 2001. Prior to joining Sony in 2000 she was a partner in the New York-based law firm of Rosenman & Colin LLP.
Distribution: Sony BMG Music Entertainment has named its respective distribution heads, Bill Frohlich and Jordan Katz, as co-presidents of its distribution sales efforts, reporting to Michael Smellie, chief operating officer of the merged entity.
The two will oversee a new entity named Sony BMG Sales Enterprise and will have expanded responsibilities beyond distribution sales operations. In addition to overseeing the creation of a distribution sales team by combining Sony Music Distribution and BMG Distribution, the two will also oversee RED Distribution, Special Products, Sony Wonder and Sony Music Studios.
Katz had been executive VP/GM of BMG Distribution and before that was senior VP of sales at Arista, while Frohlich was executive VP at Sony Music Distribution and before that, senior VP of sales at Epic.
Physical distribution, also known as fulfillment or as “pick, pack and ship,” was not included in the merger. Sony Corp. and Bertelsmann have each retained ownership of their manufacturing and fulfillment facilities. It is believed that Sony will handle those responsibilities in the United States and that the two parents are still bidding on which one will handle those functions in the rest of the world.
Digital: Thomas Hesse has been tapped to oversee digital music and new-technology efforts, with the title of president of the newly-created Global Digital Business (GDB) group. Hesse, who was BMG’s chief strategic officer, reports to Sony BMG CEO Michael Smellie. He will be based in New York.
Prior to joining BMG in 2002, Hesse was executive VP/head of corporate strategy at BMG parent Bertelsmann AG in Guetersloh, Germany.
Canada: Lisa Zbitnew, who has been president of BMG Canada since 1998, has been named president of Sony BMG Music Canada. She will report to Tim Bowen, who heads Sony BMG’s operations in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Denise Donlon has left her post as president of Sony Music Canada, according to sources.
Zbitnew has held several senior positions in the Canadian music industry. She was managing director of Toronto-based indie label Alert Music in the ’80s, then joined Sony Music Canada in 1990 as marketing director before moving to EMI Music Canada as VP of marketing in 1993.
Italy: Franco Cabrini has been named as president for Sony BMG Music Entertainment in Italy. Cabrini, who has been president of Sony Music in Italy since 1991, reports to Maarten Steinkamp, head of Sony BMG Continental Europe.
Cabrini, who has also held posts at PolyGram, CBS Records and EMI in Italy, is credited for strong sales of local repertoire at Sony, where the domestic roster includes vocalist Adriano Celentano.
Eastern Europe: Prague-based Sony Music Central Europe managing director Zbynek Knobloch has been appointed MD of Sony BMG Czech Republic. Knobloch joined Sony from Czech independent company Bonton in 1998, when the Sony Music Bonton joint venture was created. In July 2003, Sony acquired the 51% of Sony Music Bonton that it did not already own, and Knobloch was promoted to a sub-regional role, overseeing the company’s operations in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.
BMG Hungary MD Margit Geszti was appointed MD of Sony BMG Hungary. Based in Budapest, she has been at the helm of BMG there since 1991, when the affiliate was established. BMG Hungary has been the market leader for local repertoire.
Sony Music Poland GM Piotr Mackowiak has been named MD of Sony BMG Poland. He joined Sony in 1998 and is credited for developing the company’s local roster and expanding its market share. He is based in Warsaw.
Knobloch, Geszti and Mackowiak report to Maarten Steinkamp, who heads Sony BMG’s operations in Continental Europe.
Latin America: Kevin Lawrie has been named president of Sony BMG Norte, and Jorge “Pepo” Ferradas managing director of Sony BMG Sur. Both report to Frank Welzer, the newly-named head of Sony BMG Music Entertainment’s Latin operations who was most recently chairman/CEO for Latin America for Sony Music International.
Lawrie will oversee operations for U.S. Latin, Mexico and Central America, the same regions he oversaw as president of Sony Music Norte.
Ferradas will be responsible for Sony BMG operations in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, all countries he oversaw as president of Sony Sur.
Lawrie will remain in Miami, and Ferradas will remain in Buenos Aires.
BMG’s top executive dedicated to Latin since last year has been COO Juan Carlos Bernardez, who has been handling day-to-day operations of BMG U.S. Latin and BMG’s Latin region. Maarten Steinkamp, the new head of Sony BMG Continental Europe, had been overseeing BMG Latin in his previous role as head of BMG International.