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Executive Turntable: Kardinal Offishall to Helm A&R at Universal Music Canada

A list of moves and shakes across the music business, including at Republic Records, Universal Music Canada, NMPA, Entertainment One and more.

Universal Music Canada (UMC) named multi-platinum artist and producer Kardinal Offishall as svp of A&R. He will report to UMC’s chairman and CEO Jeffrey Remedios.

“Kardi is a force. He’s a ground-breaking, internationally respected artist, a smart and insightful label exec, a compassionate and bold thought leader, and a tireless philanthropist. He’s always been at the forefront of Canada’s music scene and UMC’s artists and team have long benefitted from his thoughtful collaboration, unmatched energy, and drive,” said Remedios. “This promotion underscores our big aspirations – Canada is bursting with talent and we’re committed to building the best team we can to put that talent front and center on a global stage. I’m honored to continue to lead alongside Kardi.”

Kardinal has become a music industry staple in the late 2000s, assisting on hit records like Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” and Akon’s “Beautiful.” He has participated early on in the careers of Rihanna, T-Pain and Sean Paul and is an ambassador for Canadian stars like Drake, Daniel Caesar and Boi-1da amongst many others.

In his new role, Kardinal will continue to discover, sign and develop artists, forge new creative partnerships and provide strategic direction to drive the international success and cultural prominence of UMC’s artist roster. He will work closely with UMC’s urban marketing team while continuing his roles as chair of UMC’s B.L.A.C.K. Coalition (BLC) and Canada’s representative on UMG’s Task Force for Meaningful Change.

Republic Records promoted Xiarra-Diamond Nimrod to vp of marketing strategy. In her new role, she will continue to oversee marketing, rollout and release strategy for multiplatinum chart-topping rap artists such as Pop Smoke, Metro Boomin and Jacquees.

“We’ve been lucky to have a front row seat to Xiarra’s evolution into a world-class marketing executive,” said Republic’s evp and general manager Jim Roppo. “I’ll never forget hiring her as a temp to be my assistant. Her knowledge, acumen, and passion floored our entire team from day one. She worked her way through the ranks from an assistant to running point on historic album releases. I’m honored to congratulate her on this well-earned promotion.”

Nimrod began her career as an intern at Universal Music Group before joining Republic as a temporary assistant to Roppo. She then became a full-time assistant to svp of marketing Marleny Reyes then manager of digital strategy. In 2020, Nimrod became manager of marketing strategy and played an integral role in the launch of Pop Smoke.

“From the beginning, Republic really empowered me and I’ve had incredible mentors such as Roppo and Marleny Reyes to help guide me along the way,” said Nimrod. “Since I started, they fostered my passion, encouraged me to ask questions, openly expressed their support, and continuously believed in me.”

The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) announced the hiring of Chris Bates and Ashley Jones as svp of legal and business affairs and manager of external affairs, respectively.

Bates joins NMPA from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) where he worked as senior counsel to the assistant attorney general in both their civil and antitrust divisions. He will report to NMPA’s evp and general counsel Danielle Aguirre.

Jones previously worked as a sales development representative at a tech startup, serving the insurance and financial services industries. She will report to svp of external affairs Charlotte Sellmyer.

“I am excited to welcome Chris, who has extensive in-depth experience dealing with intellectual property legislation and litigation and brings a policy expertise that will be critical to the challenges we face on the regulatory, congressional and judicial fronts in addition to ensuring creator’s work is protected commercially,” said president and CEO David Israelite. “His tenure with Senator Hatch, within the DOJ and in private practice are well suited to optimize our work to support publishers and songwriters. The addition of Ashley will enhance our External Affairs Department – from communications, outreach and advocacy, including the NMPA S.O.N.G.S. (Supporting Our Next Generation of Songwriters) Foundation, to our Gold & Platinum Program and events – her attitude and time as an NMPA intern will make her impact immediate.”

Brittany Howard, Vanessa Carlton, Christina Perri, Imogen Heap and Merrill Garbus have joined the Advisory and SoundBoard of We Are Moving the Needle, a new nonprofit aiming to increase the number of women producers and engineers across the recording industry.

Previously announced members of the organization, founded by Grammy Award-winning engineer Emily Lazar, include Brandi Carlile, Maggie Rogers, HAIM and Linda Perry. See a full list of SoundBoard members here.

“Providing opportunities for women in the producing and engineering field is very important to me,” said Brittany Howard. “I produced my recent solo album, have built my own home studio and really feel it is important to be able to see others do what you want to do, to build a community of people trying to accomplish the same goals and to pave roads to educate and encourage other women in this field.”

We Are Moving the Needle is also issuing a call for male allies in the industry to step up and help close the gender gap in the studio. There’s a long way to go, with a recent USC Annenberg study showing only 2% of producers and engineers across popular music were women in 2020.

“While it’s vital as women that we help each other, the truth is that men are, in large part, the gatekeepers in this industry and that’s simply a fact we cannot ignore,” said Lazar. “They are the ones doing the majority of the hiring and they are ones that need to take action and expand their talent pool to create more opportunities for women to work on records. We welcome support from everyone who is committed to increasing the number of women in producer and engineer roles.”

Todd Hartley has joined the Country Music Association as senior vp legal and business affairs on April 7, arriving from Bridgestone, where he was senior counsel for marketing, advertising and communications.

His hiring coincides with three marketing department promotions: Catherine Frizzell ascends to vp marketing from senior director, Amanda Eckard rises to head of creative and content development from director of creative services, and Pamela Hothorn is upped to senior manager of creative operations from creative content project manager. (Tom Roland)

Entertainment One (eOne) appointed Dushiyan Piruthivirajah to head of music supervision and sync, UK. He will report to Sean Mulligan, eOne’s vp of creative, music, based in L.A.

“We are thrilled to have a licensing and supervision specialist lead our UK team in support of our productions across our various divisions,” said Mulligan. “Dushi’s vast expertise as both a licensor and licensee, working with major broadcasters and indie filmmakers, is a huge asset to the global team.”

Piruthivirajah joins eOne from BBC where he worked as a music consultant for their audio network since 2015. In his new role, he will lead music supervision efforts for the UK and European territories for eOne’s record label and publishers. He will also focus on finding sync opportunities for their music acts across TV, film, advertising and gaming, representing eOne’s catalogs and working on bespoke collaborative projects with advertising agencies and music supervisors.

“I’ve always been passionate about supervising TV and Film productions to help bring a director’s vision to life through music as well as spotlighting new artists for sync placements and getting them out to the world. I’m humbled and thrilled to work with Sean and the entire team to uncover new levels of collaboration that brings the creative dynamic between artists and content producers closer,” said Piruthivirajah.

Independent publisher Prescription Songs announced the new hire of Chris Martignago and promotion of Rachel Wein. Martignago will join as a senior member of the A&R team while Wein will now serve as A&R manager.

Martignago joins Prescription Songs from Atlantic Records where he served as director of A&R and research, helping sign talent and developing the A&R research department.

Wein joined the independent publisher in 2017 as the first hire under head of A&R Nashville Katie Fagan. In her new role, she will continue to support artists and grow the company’s roster.

“We’re so excited for this next chapter at Prescription. Chris has been a longtime friend and colleague since I arrived in Nashville, so to have him now officially part of the team is really exciting. He has introduced us to unsigned writers over the years during his time at Atlantic, so I know he will thrive as a publisher and I’m excited to see him excel here,” said Fagan. “As for Rachel, I’ve watched her grow from my assistant to now being an A&R. She has been an integral part of our company’s growth over the past four years. I know her passion for songwriters and songs will continue for years to come and am honored to have her on our team.”

Cesar Gueikian was promoted to the newly created position of brand president at leading guitar brand Gibson. In his new role, he will take on additional responsibilities centered around future innovation, omni-experience and strategic brand management.

“From day one, Cesar’s balance of passion and professionalism started to make a difference,” said James ‘JC’ Curleigh, president and CEO of Gibson Brands. “He has built a great team, he has made great progress, and he is now positioned to make an even bigger impact going forward in his new leadership role.”

Gueikian joined Gibson in 2018 as part of the new leadership team. Through his focus on guitar relevance, premium quality, brand-building and artist connections, he has played an instrumental role in the company’s resurgence.

AMP Global Technologies hired Marc Byers as strategic advisor, focusing on innovation and business development.

Byers previously served as general manager of Motown Records. In his new role, he will be responsible for identifying and creating innovative partnerships in both Hollywood and emerging markets.

“Marc Byers brings a unique prowess in understanding youth audiences, trends and culture,” said founder and CEO Derrick Ashong. “His joining the team will help AMP Global grow our connections to world-class creatives, and culturally relevant content, fulfilling our mission of turning culture into currency, by amplifying and rewarding youth audiences.”

The Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings (FACTOR) appointed Tegan Quin and Chris Smith to its board of directors.

As half of the internationally-lauded, Grammy-nominated pop duo Tegan and Sara, Quin is also an outspoken feminist advocate for LGBTQ+ equality and gender justice. She and her sister helm The Tegan and Sara Foundation, a program for improving the lives of LGBTQ+ women and girls.

An entrepreneur and music mogul, Smith is the founder and leader of 21 Entertainment Creative Group, a Toronto-based full-service entertainment agency. He has aided in the success of multi-platinum recording artists such as Alessia Cara, Nelly Furtado and Tamia.

“I am thrilled to have Tegan and Chris join us, bringing their invaluable expertise, diverse perspective and enthusiasm to the table,” said FACTOR president and CEO Meg Symsyk. “I’ve been a colleague and admirer of both since their early days and believe their influence and continued history of success will be instrumental in driving the future ambitions of FACTOR at the board level.”

Sakamoto Agency partnered with Grassroots Promotion for the creation of a new radio and online promotions company called GPS Promotion. Specializing in promotion, the new venture services both Canadian and US radio markets, tastemakers, influencers and digital media for country artists.

Based in Canada and led by radio veteran and artist Tera Lee Flaman, Sakamoto Agency specializes in booking, talent buying and event programming. Grassroots Promotion is a U.S.-based radio promotion, music marketing and management company co-founded by managing partners Nancy Tunick and Teresa Chance.

“Having the opportunity to collaborate with Nancy Tunick and the acclaimed team from GrassRoots, and Canadian artist AND broadcasting veteran Tera Lee Flaman on launching GPS here in Canada, not only meets but exceeds the vision I had for this expansion of our artist services,” said Sakamoto Agency’s VP Paul Biro. “Here at Sakamoto Agency we will contribute the sensibility that comes with being promoters, and artist advocates to GPS Promotion, and our collective team will work with all the data to strategically assist artists in meeting their full potential.”

Founding managing partners Ronald Zamber and Nick Sciorra have combined their expertise in the entertainment and digital media industries to create Visionary Media Group, a Nashville-based media and tech company that employs world-class talent and technology to engage community, empower artistry and amplify storytelling.

The two have recruited a team of entertainment, media and branding leaders to help Visionary illuminate innovative American stories through the power of connected music, media and technology. Some of Visionary’s new executives include: chief content strategist Anastasia Brown, COO Tracy Percival and director of marketing Jesse Fohr.

John Marks left his role as Spotify USA global head of country programming.