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Billboard’s 2015 Power 100: Letter from the Editor

The execs who rule music now? Just follow the money, where new No. 1 Lucian Grainge keeps grabbing market share (while upending every business model), 31 first-timers break into the list and…

(You can find the full Power 100 list right here.)

Deforestation is due in no small part to the ­­ruminations on power in countless magazines through the years. We’ve read a good many of them; we know you have, too.

Such “power packages” obviously make for good copy — ­anytime folks are ranked against their colleagues or competitors, it’s a reckoning for some and a positive reinforcement for others. The lists also get people talking. And calling. And emailing and texting. (Snapchat? Not just yet, thankfully.)

Some try to commiserate at the weight of our task: Unless you or your boss sits atop our Power 100, we are, in effect, idiots.

Nevertheless, in compiling a power list, how do we define the term “power”? It’s not as simple as is often said: You don’t always know it when you see it. (Frankly, many of the top 20 are terrible self-promoters.) A few certainties: Power is the ­ability to make significant deals happen, and to increase a company’s footprint as the industry shifts and braces for an uncertain future.

Power is a hefty slab of market share, a positive revenue trend and ample room for growth. In other words, power is money. It’s having everyone, everywhere take your call, no matter the time or circumstance.

It’s the ability to affect consumer behavior and choices and finding a way to tell artists what to do and convincing them it was all their idea in the first place. Power elicits a rare combination of respect and fear. It’s captured by our cover photo, and the photo on this page as well.

Although Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge was our clear top choice, the difference between Nos. 2 through 5 is razor-thin and worthy of all the tsuris we’ve endured. Beyond that, and throughout the rest of the list, there are power brokers at every position. The actual ranking aside, this exercise is an affirmation of the gathering strength of the music industry. Nearly three dozen new names appear on this year’s Power 100 — an astounding percentage of turnover, and one that makes us wonder how different the list could look next year.

And when the first Snapchat complaint will be lodged.

Tony Gervino, Editor-in-Chief