Executive Turntable: Better Noise Shuffles Leadership; Columbia Names HYBE Vet as A&R VP
Also this week: Island Records appoints a head of creative strategy, EMPIRE hires a CFO and more.
Better Noise Music has announced several new leadership changes. Founder Allen Kovac (New York) is now chairman of the label, Dan Waite (London) has been named CEO and Steve Kline (New York) has added the title of president to his existing COO title. Better Noise’s roster includes mainstream rock acts such as Five Finger Death Punch, Dirty Heads, The Hu and Asking Alexandria.
In a statement, Kovac, who was included on Billboard‘s 2022 Indie Power Players list, said the label “is continuing to grow our international cumulative sales through our global offices.” Billboard named Better Noise the No. 1 mainstream rock airplay label and No. 1 mainstream rock airplay imprint of 2022.
“In this new role,” said Waite, “I’ll aim to maximize the careers and album consumption of our signed acts on our label as we grow the label, expanding through new signings, opening up new markets and working closely with the amazing specialists that we have in each department at BNM which has kept us #1 Rock Label for the last five years.”
Kline, who has been Better Noise’s COO since 2016, has worked for 18 years under the Kovac Media umbrella, first at artist management firm 10th Street Entertainment. “I want to thank Allen for putting his faith in me, as he has over the past 19 years, in this enhanced role at Better Noise,” said Kline. “I am incredibly excited to work with Allen and Dan in leading our amazing global team to future success.”
Nicole Kim was named vp of A&R at Columbia Records. Kim arrives at the label from Big Hit Music/HYBE, where she served as head of A&R and head of creative for BTS. During her more than five-year tenure at the Korean company, she worked on BTS’ collaborations with Coldplay, Halsey, Nicki Minaj, Megan Thee Stallion and more. Prior to Big Hit/HYBE, she held creative roles at Starship Entertainment and Sony Music Publishing Korea. Kim will be based out of Columbia’s Los Angeles office and can be reached at email@example.com.
Shahendra Ohneswere was named to the newly-created role of head of creative strategy at Island Records, where he will lead overall creative strategy and digital marketing initiatives for the label. He is based in New York and will report to co-CEOs Imran Majid and Justin Eshak. Ohneswere joins Island from Columbia, where he has served as senior vp of content development/co-head of digital marketing since 2018. He was named to Billboard‘s R&B/Hip-Hop Power Players lists in 2021 and 2022.
Jennifer Cabalquinto was named CFO at EMPIRE, where she will oversee all day-to-day and long-term financial planning and accounting operations while strategizing the company’s expansion into sports, video games, TV/film and live entertainment. She has held CFO positions at 2K Games, Universal Studios Hollywood, Telemundo and the Golden State Warriors.
Garrett Levin is stepping down from his role as president/CEO of The Digital Media Association (DiMA) as he plots a move to Geneva, Switzerland, where he will relocate this summer due to his wife’s job. Levin will continue leading the organization through his departure as the DiMA board searches for a successor. “I have been honored to lead this organization over the past four-plus years and am deeply proud of our many successes during that time,” said Levin on LinkedIn. “We reached a landmark settlement with music publishers and songwriters, continued the important work of turning the Music Modernization Act into operational reality, forged stronger relationships between streaming services and other music stakeholders, and continuously told the story of the vital role that streaming plays in today’s music industry.”
Virgin Music Group announced the promotion of three executives: Leslie Cooper to senior vp of artist development and special projects, Marisa Di Frisco to vp of national promotion and Lauren Holman to vp of streaming marketing. In her new role, the Los Angeles-based Cooper will oversee K-pop releases while also identifying new artist development opportunities within the company and leading collaborative efforts in that area. The New York-based Di Frisco will continue overseeing promotion campaigns at Alternative, Rock, AAA and Non-commercial/College radio. The Los Angeles-based Holman, finally, will lead the streaming and playlisting strategy team. Cooper can be reached at Leslie.Cooper@virginmusic.com, Di Frisco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and Holman can be reached at email@example.com.
Warner Chappell Production Music (WCPM) launched SCOREMONGERS, a new music resource that includes a premium underscore label and custom music-to-picture services. Led by WCPM head of production Pat Weaver, the SCOREMONGERS team includes WCPM producers and composers such as newcomer Sean Gould and existing WCPM staffer Scott Reinwand, who assists in overseeing all SCOREMONGERS music services, including custom music-to-picture, music customization and music editing to picture. The company launches with more than 60 albums and over 10 genres inspired by trending films and TV series, including “companion albums with wide tonal range, complimentary palettes, transitions, and recurring themes, along with extensive stem and submix options,” according to a press release. The music was created by film and TV composers including Michael Brook, Lisbeth Scott, Greg Tripi, Tony Morales and John Kaefer. Weaver can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, Gould can be reached at email@example.com and Reinwand can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elizabeth “Beth” Heidt was promoted to chief marketing officer at Gibson Brands, where she will join the leadership team; she was previously vp of cultural influence. In her new role, Heidt will oversee Gibson Brands’ global brand and marketing teams, entertainment and artist relations, social media, partnerships, public relations, multi-media divisions and the Gibson Gives Foundation.
Rostrum Records founder/CEO Benjy Grinberg launched Rostrum Pacific, a parent company that will incorporate an expanding portfolio of entertainment properties, including a soon-to-be-announced catalog marketing agency. Longtime Rostrum Records GM Jonathan Partch will lead Rostrum Pacific as COO; he can be reached at email@example.com.
ONErpm launched a digital strategy department and tapped longtime staffer Casey Childers to lead it. The Nashville-based Childers was most recently senior project manager at the company. “Our goal is to be able to provide the help artists need to grow their social footprint in a way that is true and organic to them,” said ONErpm head of U.S. marketing Jenna LoMonaco in a statement. “With Casey and the Digital Strategy team’s work, we can now provide hands-on help with social growth, engagement, and new forms of revenue.” Childers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donald Robins was named director of promotion at Warner Music Canada, where he will lead the company’s promotion team. Robins has worked in radio promotion his entire career; he joined Warner Music Canada in 2006 as a promotion representative for Quebec.
Electronic dance music festival Tomorrowland launched CORE Records, a boutique record label that will focus on “crossing and fusing genres, cultures and boundaries,” according to a press release. CORE, which will work closely with partners Virgin Music/Universal Music Group, will be led by Michel Van Buyten, who oversees Tomorrowland’s music division, including the Tomorrowland Music label. He will be joined by the newly-appointed Pieter-Jan Nuytten, who will serve as CORE’s dedicated A&R manager; Nuytten arrives at the label from PIAS/Strictly Confidential Music Publishing. The label’s first signings including Berlin-based solo dandy producer Afriqua and Belgian electronic duo Mosley Jr; both will perform at CORE Festival in Brussels on May 28. Van Buyten can be reached at email@example.com and Nuytten can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steve Tadlock was named senior vp of venue relations at LiveCo, where he will manage facility relationships, content-backed booking deals and continue driving the company’s growth. Mark Dinerstein was also promoted from executive vp to president of LiveCo’s newly-formed corporate development group, where he will oversee the development and execution of company-wide initiatives and new acquisitions, venue deals, strategic partnerships and more. Tadlock joins LiveCo from ASM Global, where he most recently served as GM of Pechanga Arena in San Diego.
Amber Davis was promoted to senior vp at Warner Chappell Music UK, where she will take on a broader role in shaping the publisher’s overall U.K. strategy while continuing to oversee the A&R department as head of A&R. David will report to Warner Chappell Music UK managing director Shani Gonzales.
Donna Vergies was appointed vp of international marketing at Chrysalis Records/Blue Raincoat Music, where she joins the staff full-time following her previous position as a freelance international consultant for the company. Based in London, Vergies will work with artists on the Chrysalis/Blue Raincot roster, overseeing international campaigns and managing relationships with the company’s global partners and distributors. She can be reached at Donna@blueraincoatmusic.com.
Shannan Hatch was promoted from vp of creative serivces to senior vp/head of Nashville creative at SESAC, where she has worked for more than 20 years. In the role, Hatch will continue leading the Nashville-based creative services team while working closely with SESAC senior management to support creator-focused initiatives. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Rodrigo Dominguez was promoted to managing director of peermusic Spain and Portugal; he previously served as managing director of Portugal alone. He continues to hold the title of Latin American creative coordinator, managing activities for peermusic’s network of operations in those territories. Dominguez is based in Lisbon and Madrid and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Danny Berkeley-Scott was named vp at music management company Hallwood Media, where he will look to grow the firm with signings and in-house brand partnerships. In addition to launching Hallwood’s engineer management division, Berkeley-Scott oversees partnerships with Headspace, Bandlab and Soundwide.
FaZe Clan head of communications Chelsey Northern departed the youth gaming and lifestyle company to lead her recently-established public relations company The Untold, which will represent FaZe Clan along with clients including Deadfellaz, Proof Holding, Futureverse and the innovation teams at Warner Music Group and Atlantic Records.
Hillary Smoot joined the Schneider Rondan Organization as Las Vegas director/senior account executive. She brings her clients from the entertainment and hospitality worlds, including Feld Entertainment. Smoot was most recently recruited to create Red Moon PR, overseeing public relations campaigns for Los Angeles’ Viper Room, El Dorado Cantina and Red Mercury Entertainment shows including Purple Reign and MJ Live.
Joe Davis joined entertainment, business and financial management firm KBFM to lead its newly-established in-house tax department. Davis will merge his CPA firm, BootstrapTax, with KBFM. He will support the firm’s clients with all tax matters while overseeing accounting and tax planning for several small businesses and entrepreneurs both within and outside the music industry. He can be reached at email@example.com.