Executive Turntable: Warner Records Firms Up Urban & Rhythmic Team, Paradigm Names Diversity VP
A rundown of new hires and promotions across the music business, including at Warner Records, Paradigm and Dirty Hit.
Warner Records has completed its revitalization of the label’s urban & rhythmic promotion department under the leadership of executive vp of promotion Mike Chester.
The new team includes Brannon Scales, who was hired as senior vp of rhythm promotion late last year, and Wilt Wallace, who was promoted to senior vp/head of urban promotion earlier this year. They are joined by Ron Stewart as vp of urban promotion and Leah Bekele as vp of rhythm promotion & lifestyle, both of whom joined the label this month. Leroy Johnson, meanwhile, was promoted to senior director of urban promotion this past spring.
Wallace joined Warner Records as a promotion assistant 14 years ago and was later upped to Southeast mixshow manager. After leaving the label for a year to do indie promotion in Atlanta, he returned in 2008 as national mixshow manager and was later promoted to senior director and then vp of urban & rhythmic promotion.
Scales joined Warner Records in 2003 as head of mixshow/rap promotion, a role he held until 2011. He later held roles at Atlantic Records and Caroline/Capitol Records before returning to Warner last year.
Stewart most recently served as senior director of promotion at Asylum Records. He has also worked at Atlantic, Warner, Sony Red, Interscope and Jive.
Bekele hails from Epic Records/Sony Music, where she worked for six years, most recently as national director of promotion & lifestyle.
Johnson joined Warner Records in 2018 as national director of urban promotion. Prior to that, he worked in roles at Empire Distribution, Epic Records, Atlantic Records and WGCI/iHeartMedia in Chicago.
Paradigm has appointed Shakira Gagnier to the position of vp, diversity & inclusion at the agency.
In the role, Gagnier will work with senior leadership, human resources and the agency’s administration to “integrate enhanced diversity and inclusion strategies and new practices, programs, and processes company-wide,” according to a release. She will help guide employee engagement by “defining a clear pathway to promotion” for current staff while executing “enhanced” recruiting, training, mentorship and development opportunities. In the course of her work, she will also evaluate, measure and track results of the company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives and guide their progress.
“Today is only the first of many steps that the leadership at Paradigm will take to stress diversity and inclusion as a core value of our agency,” said Paradigm chairman and CEO Sam Gores in a statement. “Shakira brings an extraordinary range of experience working at some of the industry’s most prominent media companies. Everyone at Paradigm shares a renewed commitment to ensuring our company better reflects the artists we represent, the audiences they entertain, and the wider world. We welcome Shakira and look forward to working with her on this important journey.”
Gagnier joins Paradigm from WarnerMedia, where as director of learning & development she played a key role in producing the first virtual global enterprise inclusion race equity intensive for all of the company’s human resources professionals across eight countries. At Warner’s Otter Media, she also co-led We Gather, a conference designed to “connect and empower” the female workforce.
Prior to Warner, Gagnier served as vp of people, D&I & Engagement at Fullscreen Media, where she produced the company’s first “people development department” and created IGNITE, a people leader program with 50% parity between male and female emerging leaders. Before that, she was senior manager learning & organizational development at Universal Music Group, where she served on the board of the company’s Women’s Network, a collaborative community of over 500 women across UMG.
Before serving in executive roles, the USC alum worked as an English teacher at Morningside High School in her hometown of Inglewood, California, where she co-created a hip-hop curriculum around “The American Dream” featuring guests speakers such as Tyga and Da Band, a group featured on the MTV reality series Making the Band. She now serves as a member of the LA Posse Foundation, where she identifies, recruits and trains student leaders to receive full-tuition college scholarships.
“It’s exciting to be creating this role at Paradigm and helping the entire Paradigm team shape the future of the company,” added Gagnier. “Guiding conversations and change about workplace diversity is something every company needs to do, and Sam impressed me with the earnest and urgent way he spoke about this evolution being essential. I look forward to investing all levels of the company in that foundational journey — together, we will create a culture and workplace that reflects the inclusive ambitions of the company’s leadership and mirrors the diverse roster of artists the agency represents.”
London-based independent label Dirty Hit — home to The 1975, Wolf Alice and Rina Sawayama, among others — has appointed Greg Carr to oversee its new Los Angeles office as general manager. The hire marks an expansion of the label into the U.S., where Dirty Hit will operate independently with the support of Ingrooves Music Group under a new global deal.
“We are hugely excited to announce the opening of Dirty Hit offices in the US.,” said Dirty Hit owner/founder Jamie Oborne in a statement. “Our ethos as a label has always been to maintain and develop a roster of diverse and culturally important artists and an exciting and forward-thinking team with a distinctive identify, across a global sphere.”
Established in 2010, Dirty Hit recently expanded their U.S. roster with artist signings including Bryce Hase, boyband, Pretty Sick, Lowertown and BLACKSTARKIDS.
A&R veteran Kate LaBrel has been named president of Facet Records, the label co-founded by Katie Vinten and Justin Tranter. LaBrel will lead A&R, marketing and strategy for the company while working closely with artists including YDE, Shea Diamond, Shawn Wasabi and Diana Gordon.
Also announced was the promotion of Mark Taylor to senior manager at Facet Publishing and Vinten’s Black Diamond Artist Management. In the role, Taylor will shepherd the careers of songwriters and producers including Caroline Pennell and Zach Skelton on the management side and Jason Gill and The Roommates on the publishing side.
Facet Records and Facet Publishing operate in partnership with Warner Records and Warner Chappell, respectively.
LaBrel most recently served as vp of A&R at Warner Bros. Records, where she oversaw projects for Nico & Vinz, The Regrettes and Lukas Graham, the latter of whom she signed to the label. Prior to that, she served as director of A&R at both Warner Chappell and Warner Bros. Records. She kicked off her career at New West Records, where she launched the label’s film and TV department.
Taylor joined Facet and Black Diamond in 2019 and signed The Roommates shortly thereafter. He previously worked in A&R at Warner Bros. Records and later transitioned to A&R at Warner Chappell, where he signed Mitski.
Sony Music Entertainment South Africa has appointed Lutendo Kungoane, famously known as DJ Sliqe, as head of hip hop/R&B in the country.
Kungoane, who was born and raised in Gauteng, began his music career as a club DJ in Melville. The South African Music Award winner later went on to with South African artists such as Kwesta, Riky Rick and Shekhinah. In his new role at Sony, he will handle the discovery, acquisition and development of new hip hop/R&B talent in South Africa while shepherding the careers of its existing artists.
Ingrooves Music Group has named Chris Haaland country manager of Ingrooves Norway.
Haaland hails from The Orchard, where he headed the company’s Nordic label management team for two years. He previously held a variety of roles at Warner Music out of its Oslo and London offices, most recently serving as senior consumer relations manager.
The hiring of Haaland bolsters Ingrooves’ presence in the Nordic region and follows other recent expansions by the company into Brazil, Turkey and Japan.