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Executive Turntable: Spotify Hires New Global Hits Head; BMG Taps Neighboring Rights Chief

Also: UMPG onboards an A&R vp and Warner Music Group announces a DEI director for Asia.

Spotify has announced several staffing changes, leading with the return of JJ Italiano, who has rejoined the company as head of global hits. Italiano will lead the global hits team, which includes Becky Bass (editorial lead of global hits) and Andrea Gavrilovic (senior editor of global hits), and report to global head of editorial Sulinna Ong. Spotify is also amping up its staff in the podcasting arena with the creation of new divisions led by Bill Simmons and Max Cutler. Cutler was promoted to head of talk creator content and partnerships, where he will manage and grow Spotify’s emerging creator ecosystem and licensed content. Simmons was promoted to head of global sports content & managing director of The Ringer, which Spotify acquired in 2021. Simmons will lead Spotify’s international sports strategy in the role.


BMG tapped Sarah Mitchell to lead its U.K.-based neighboring rights business. In the role, she will concentrate her energies on the company’s boutique roster of high-value clients, including The Rolling Stones, Roger Daltrey, Jonas Blue and Mick Fleetwood as well as rights included in recent aquisitions which include Primal Scream, John Lee Hooker, Tina Turner and ZZ Top.

Cristina Chavez joined Universal Music Publishing Group as vp of A&R. Based out of Santa Monica, California, she will work closely with songwriters on UMPG’s existing roster while helping identify and sign rising talent to the company.

Stef Teng was hired at Warner Music Group in the newly created role of director of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for Asia. Based out of Hong Kong, she will work closely with WMG’s recorded music and publishing territory heads across Asia, as well as its people team and employee resource groups in the region.

Jessica Casano-Antonellis was hired as senior vp and head of communications at SiriusXM. Casano-Antonellis will be responsible for all aspects of the company’s communications functions, which include strategic communications, brand reputation management and media relations.

Kevin Weatherly is returning to Los Angeles rock station KROQ as senior vp of programming, effective June 6. He will oversee KROQ’s content strategy, talent, operations and branding. Weatherly will also serve as format vp for KROQ owner Audacy’s portfolio of alternative stations across the country. In that role, he will oversee alternative format strategy and collaborate with artists, labels and management partners in creating music initiatives and concert events.

CAA promoted Jacob Lapidus and Daniel Rais to the role of agent in the agency’s global music touring division. The Nashville-based Lapidus works with Moon Taxi, Illiterate Light, The 502s, 49 Winchester, STS9, Charley Crockett and Wilder Woods, among others, while the London-based Rais works on brand partnerships and event bookings for artists including David Guetta, TEMS and Charli XCX.

Our Happy Company — the organization co-founded by John Legend which is behind the social NFT platform OurSong – welcomed six new advisors to its team, including music producer Che Pope; Japanese creative leader Rehito Hatoyama; video game creator Charles Huang; design industry professional and investor James R. Lee; entertainment industry veteran Ty Stiklorius; and seasoned communications expert Tussy Hapsary. The board will help guide Our Happy Company as it continues to expand equitable opportunities for creators to access the power of NFTs and build communities around their work on the company’s flagship OurSong platform.

David Diaz was hired at ALIBI Music as director of marketing, a newly created role. Diaz will manage the day-to-day operations for ALIBI’s marketing initiatives, brand image and narrative. He can be reached at david@alibimusic.com.

Ben Binner was promoted to director of A&R at Green Hill Music, a boutique record label and creator of jazz, instrumental and specialty music releases based outside Nashville that operates under its parent label, Gaither Group. In his new role, Binner will ramp up the A&R direction for Green Hill. He can be reached at bbinner@greenhillproductions.com.

Rick Butterworth was named director of business development for Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia at ONErpm. Based out of Brisbane, Australia, he will oversee the business development of those international markets.

Musicians On Call (MOC), a nonprofit organization that brings live and recorded music to the bedsides of patients in healthcare facilities, has appointed iHeartMedia executive vp of global music marketing Alissa Pollack as chair of its national board of directors. MOC’s previous chair, RIAA chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier, will now be moving to the role of chair emeritus. Additional board appointments include philanthropist Michelle Frohlich-Klinger as secretary and Cathy Sullivan, managing partner of accounting firm Baker Sullivan Hoover, as treasurer. Elsewhere, Mack Real Estate Group co-founder Stephen Mack and 25-year music veteran Rome Thomas were re-appointed to the board while SCS Innovations president Sara Star joins as a new member. MOC also remembers the dedication of former board member Kevin O’Toole, who died in October. Those interested in supporting Musicians On Call can contact Alissa Pollack at alissapollack@iheartmedia.com.