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Executive Turntable: Steve Rifkind Resurrects Loud Records, Qobuz Kicks Off Expansion with New Hires

A rundown of new hires and promotions across the music business, including at Loud Records, Qobuz and Acast.

Loud Records, the iconic hip-hop label that launched the careers of artists including Wu-Tang Clan, Three 6 Mafia, Mobb Deep and Big Pun, is rebooting under the stewardship of original founder Steve Rifkind. Variety was first to report the news.

The new Loud Records will be run as a totally independent venture unattached to any of the major labels. All artists will their own masters, while label services will be offered a la carte.

Joining Rifkind at the revived label will be hip-hop music scout Stanley “Citi” Atwater as CEO and artist manager Dana Biondi as COO. Rifkind will act as chairman and manage Loud’s relationships with digital service providers.


Elsewhere on the hiring front, Karla Ortiz – formerly of Vydia and Universal/Verve Music Group and founder & CEO of Monark Entertainment – has been hired as Loud Records’ head of digital marketing, while its head of public relations is Juliana Plotkin, formerly of Capitol Records, 42 West and JPLA.

Loud’s first artist signings are Loui and Baby Fendi, two rappers who have built large followings on YouTube. Loui’s first single under Loud, “Don’t Matter” feat. Toosii, drops today, while Baby Fendi has a track premiering later in the month. Rifkind’s younger son Ryrif will also release his first single, “Run Up,” via Loud in November.

French hi-resolution music streaming and download service Qobuz has raised 10 million euros (or nearly $12 million) in new capital to support its overseas expansion ambitions, leading to the hire of three high-level executives.

The new hires are: former Sony Computer Entertainment executive Georges Fornay as deputy CEO at Qobuz’s Paris headquarters; Céline Gallon as chief people officer; and Rachel Silton as acquisition and marketing manager on the U.S. side. Meanwhile, Qobuz head of quality assurance Raphaël Awóséyìn has been promoted to chief customer officer.

At Sony, Fornay was the executive behind the development and success of the Playstation in French and Swiss territories. Silton has held a number of positions in the music industry, including marketing director at NYC Winter Jazzfest & Sound Mind Live and project manager at Motema Music.

The new investment, which came from Qobuz’s historical shareholders the Nabuboto company and the Quebecor Group, follows a prior capital increase of 12 million euros ($14 million) in August 2019. Now available in 12 countries, Qobuz is in the midst of launching a large-scale recruitment plan, with other major hires planned by the end of the year.

Podcast company Acast has launched in Canada, with former CBC/Radio-Canada digital sales director Heather Gordon joining as managing director in the country.

Acast, which also launched in Mexico earlier this year and currently boasts over 20,000 podcasts in its portfolio, enables creators to host, distribute and monetize shows at scale. Among other things, it touts its dynamic ad insertion technology, which allows advertisers to target audiences across Acast’s portfolio.

Acast Canada kicks off with a slate of major publisher partners in the region, including the CBC, Corus, Entertainment One and Terry O’Reilly’s Apostrophe Podcast Company. It has also partnered with independent creators in Canada to host and distribute shows including Canadian True Crime, #MOMTRUTHS and Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby!

Prior to launching in Canada, Acast had already racked up nearly 11 million monthly listens in the region across its network of podcasts. It currently boasts over 240 million monthly listens worldwide.

Sony Music UK is looking to boost the presence of its artists in a fast-growing region with the appointment of Taponeswa Mavunga to the newly created role of president of Africa for the label. She will report directly to Jason Iley, chairman and CEO of Sony Music UK & Ireland, and work closely with Mark Collen, executive vp of UK International.

Mavunga, who joined Sony Music as head of publicity for Columbia UK in 2015, will be responsible for amplifying UK-signed artists across Africa and developing artists on the continent. She’ll also work to increase visibility of African artists with the UK.

BMG Production Music has announced several internal promotions to its senior global management team and has launched an internal creative agency in the UK. The company has also reorganized its team in the United States and expanded its East Coast sales division.

Within the BMGPM team based at its London HQ, Scott Doran, Caspar Kedros and Sam Delves are promoted to senior global creative roles in licensing, content and marketing, respectively. Meanwhile, Caspar Kedros steps into the position of SVP Global Creative Content, responsible for implementing the BMGPM global content strategy. Sam Delves takes up an expanded role as Senior Director Global Creative Marketing, heading up a newly-created internal multi-disciplinary creative agency team. Amberly Crouse-Knox (reporting to Doran) and Ali Pistoresi (reporting to Kedros) will step into open positions at BMGPM in Los Angeles as senior creative directors working on licensing and production.