Music

Executive Turntable: Deezer Adds Chief Commercial Officer; Atlantic Promotes Three; Resnik Makes It Raines

It’s time for another quick spin around the Executive Turntable, Billboard’s comprehensive(ish) compendium of promotions, hirings, exits and firings — and all things in between — across music.

Deezer appointed veteran tech and media executive Ivana Kirkbride as chief commercial officer, with an eye on boosting commercial partnerships and fueling further global expansion at the Paris-based streaming service. Kirkbride recently co-founded Creators.org, a non-profit advancing creator rights, and since June 2023 had been an advisor at Emirates Capital, with a focus on tech. Prior to that she was director of product marketing at Meta and a decade ago was a lead strategist for original programming and acquisitions at YouTube. Based in Deezer’s Paris headquarters, Kirkbride will report to the company’s CEO, Stéphane Rougeot.

“Ivana has an excellent track record in leadership roles across business development, sales and product innovation in tech and media, which makes her a fantastic addition to Deezer,” said Rougeot. “We are aiming for significant growth and Ivana is exactly the right person to take the lead as we expand our partnership business.”

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Elliot A. Resnik joined Raines Feldman Littrell LLP (Raines) as partner in the firm’s entertainment and media group. Resnick, a regular honoree in Billboard‘s list of top music lawyers, was most recently partner and chair of entertainment at Masur Griffitts Avidor, where his clients included Run The Jewels, Killer Mike, National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), Yotto and more. That roster, which also includes producers Dave Sardy and Keith Harris, Giant Step Marketing and Convicts Agency, comes with him to Raines. Earlier in his career, Resnik spent more than a decade at Herbsman, Hafer, Weber & Frisch, where he rose to senior counsel, and in the early oughts he was an in-house attorney at TVT Records. Elliot will be based in Raines’ New York office. “I’ve known Elliot since he was a feisty newly-minted lawyer just entering the music business and watched him and his client base grow throughout the course of his career,” said Andy Tavel, chair of media & entertainment. “He has now become an innovative and collaborative lawyer, negotiating cutting-edge deals at the highest levels.”

Atlantic Records went and promoted three vp-level execs. Jason Davis, who oversees media campaigns for Jack Harlow, Ed Sheeran, Lil Uzi Vert and others, and oh-by-the-way has been at the label for 14 years, was promoted to senior vp of media engagement and strategy. Ring-a-ding, Brittany Bell got a bump to vp of media relations and will continue handling media rollouts for a roster that includes Roddy Ricch, Don Toliver and Bruno Mars. Finally, Jordan Chalmers is promoted to vp of custom activations and emerging technology, which means he’ll work with outside creators, tech partners and platforms on developing cool marketing efforts for Atlantic acts. To date, Chalmers has worked on bespoke campaigns for A Boogie wit da Hoodie and Lil Uzi Vert, among others.

Arista Records brought in a couple industry pros to amp up its New York office. Sharon Timure, a 20-year veteran of Island Records, will oversee all marketing efforts at the label as — you guessed it — head or marketing. During her Island time, she worked across multiple marketing spaces and focused on building the careers of superstars like The Killers, Demi Lovato and up-and-comers Bon Jovi. Over in the publicity department, Kelsey Hession joined from Glassnote Records to be Arista’s new publicity lead. Prior to G-note, where she worked with Phoenix, CHVRCHES and the like, she put in time at Live Nation, SONGS Music Publishing and Hiltzik Strategies. Both report to president and CEO David Massey and general manager Veronica Sanjines. “Sharon brings an incredible prowess to developing artists with a progressive marketing strategy and Kelsey’s forward-thinking approach to media will be a driving force to build buzz around our roster,” glowed Massey.

Warner Music India promoted Sujal Parekh to general manager of operations in the emerging market. It’s a big move for Parekh, who joined WMI as finance director in February 2021. In his new role, he’ll co-pilot the business with managing director Jay Mehta and work to drive growth across digital operations, artist management, publishing, live events and strategic M&As, among other duties. Prior to joining team WMG, Parekh spent 10 years at Bigtree Entertainment’s BookMyShow, where he rose to associate vp of finance. “We believe in empowering our team by offering greater responsibilities and nurturing leaders within the organisation,” said Mehta. “This marks a pivotal moment as Sujal’s leadership will help guide many aspects of our business. His expertise will be vital as we strategically expand our local operations and empower our artists and partners to leverage Warner Music’s global resources to deliver unparalleled success.”

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Endurance Music Group promoted Lauren Funk to the newly-created role of vp of publishing. Funk joined EMG in 2021 and has been instrumental in signing/retaining writers including Jordan Schmidt, Scooter Carusoe and Jake Rose. Funk will continue to manage the company’s relationships with its roster of hitmakers including Matt Stell and songwriter-producers Seth Alley and Paul Sikes, as well as identifying and signing new talent. –Jessica Nicholson

Gibson Brands put a ring on it with Luke Ericson, the iconic instrument maker’s interim chief operating officer since last May. As permanent COO, Ericson will continue his efforts to reorganize the business around manufacturing, planning and enterprise solutions to shape Gibson’s global strategy. Ericson joined the Les Paul maker from equity firm KKR, where he was an operating partner. Prior to KKR, he did some turnaround consulting — helping business recover from cash flow problems — at AlixPartners and around his native Australia. He reports to Cesar Gueikian, president and CEO of Gibson, who says “Luke’s overall experience as an operations expert, successfully serving in multiple leadership roles, uniquely positions him to drive operational excellence for Gibson. I have full confidence in Luke’s ability to lead our office of the COO, and Gibson, into the future.”

Indie distributor TuneCore named Akhila Shankar as the company’s new head of South Asia markets. The Mumbai-based executive will work to grow and manage TuneCore’s roster in the region, plus eye partnership opportunities and deliver innovative marketing campaigns for the company and its artists. Shankar arrives from Luminary, where she served as director of international. Earlier in here career she spent more than seven years at music streamer JioSaavn, rising to director of brand, communications and marketing. She will report to Tash Shah, TuneCore’s vp of international, as well as Vivek Raina, a regional managing director at TuneCore parent Believe. Shankar’s appointment follows the departure of former head of TuneCore, South Asia, Heena Kriplani.

ICYMI:


Joe Gallo
Jack Sussman is stepping down as evp of specials, music, live events and alternative programming for CBS Entertainment. While, Mackenzie Mitchell has been upped to vp of specials and Mitch Graham is now evp of alternative … Columbia promoted Joe Gallo (pictured) to general manager … Beatport bumped Matt Gralen to president and Helen Sartory to CRO … former Bosstone-ian Nate Albert was appointed president of Giant Music … and Utopia Music has hired its third CEO in a year and brought in a new COO.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences promoted Teni Melidonian to chief Oscars officer. In this newly created position, Melidonian will lead strategy, talent relations, special events and production teams for all awards programs and events throughout Oscars season. She’ll collaborate with the Oscars producers and show host; the Oscars’ broadcast partner, Disney/ABC; and Academy leadership, and oversee the teams involved in developing and executing the Oscars. Melidonian was most recently executive vp of Oscars Strategy. She began her Academy career in 2005 as a publicist, advancing to head communications and publicity and overseeing brand strategy and marketing before moving over to lead the Oscars Strategy team. She’ll continue to report directly to Academy CEO Bill Kramer. In addition, MaryJane Partlow has been upped to evp of awards production and special events. Partlow will report to Melidonian. Partlow joined the Academy in 2013 and most recently held the position of senior vp of awards production and special events. –Paul Grein

London-based live music agency One Fiinix Live hired rock-steady Bex Wedlake as its newest agent, effective immediately. Wedlake, who’s based in the US but will work alongside the UK crew, brings a roster that includes Black Stone Cherry, GWAR, Halestorm, Tiny Dancing Parts, Dance Gavin Dance, The Subways and who can forget Hoobastank. “Not only does she bring with her an incredible wealth of experience and a fantastic roster that aligns perfectly with our aspirations, but Bex has time and again spotted and developed new talent with a remarkable hit rate,” said One Fiinix Live founder and CEO Jon Ollier, who personally books the company’s biggest client, Ed Sheeran. Reach her at bex.wedlake@onefiinix.com.

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Board Shorts: Sylvia Coleman resigned as independent non-executive director of Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited, effective immediately. HSFL chairman Robert Naylor thanked Coleman, who was appointed in 2019, for helping as the board “has transitioned and reshaped itself” … The Copyright Alliance announced Richard James Burgess, president and CEO of A2IM, and Shannon Sorensen, senior vp of legal & business affairs at NMPA, as its newest at-large board members. Both will be serving two-year terms … Eight new patrons have joined Music Venue Trust, the UK charity backing grassroots music venues. They include singer/songwriters Jamie Webster, Hamish Hawk and Hannah White, DJ Jeff Automatic, bands Reverend and the Makers, Noah & The Loners and CHROMA, and Minister for Creative Industries John Whittingdale … PRS Foundation‘s board chair Nitin Sawhney will vacate that spot to become the UK music charity’s first patron, a role that will see him “work tirelessly in supporting talent development, management and promotion” … Speaking of patrons, Patreon hired Block veteran Paige Fitzgerald as the creator subscription platform’s new chief operating officer.

MSG Entertainment promoted Jessica Tuttle from senior to executive vp of productions. In this elevated role, Tuttle will continue to oversee operations for the legendary — and highly lucrative — Christmas Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes, which had its highest revenue run ever in 2022. She joined MSGE back in 2010 and has held roles in various sides of the business, including ticketing and touring of family productions. Tuttle will continue to report to James Dolan, executive chairman and CEO. “Throughout her tenure at MSG Entertainment, Jessica has been instrumental in growing our productions business by focusing on revenue-driving strategies, strategic partnerships, and brand growth,” said Dolan. “I am confident she will continue to develop new opportunities for the Rockettes and Christmas Spectacular brands in this expanded role.”

Brooklyn arts and media institution BRIC appointed Saidah Blount as executive director of its flagship live event program, BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!. The annual performing arts series, which lives at the Lena Horne Bandshell in the Olmsted-and-Vaux designed Prospect Park, turns 46 this year. Blount and co. will focus up on bridging BCC! Into the digital space. She was previously global marketing director at Sonos, where she helped develop the audio tech company’s music service, Sonos Radio.

Fair Trade Services promoted two executives: Darren Elrod has been elevated to president, while James Rueger has been upped to chief creative officer. Both will report to FTS founder and CEO Jeff Moseley. Elrod joined FTS three years ago as COO, and previously served as COO at Provident Music Group. Rueger joined FTS in 2005 as an A&R manager, rising to his most recent role of svp of A&R before being named CCO. –JN

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Music Will, a New Jersey-based non-profit that “equips educators to teach, students to learn, and lives to be transformed through music education,” appointed Mike Wasserman to chief executive officer, effective Jan. 16. In his new role, Wasserman will prioritize widening the organization’s already considerable reach — its teachers currently serve over 500,000 students in more than 600 cities throughout the U.S. He’s coming to Music Will from the Constructive Dialog Institue, where he serves as vp for growth and development. “In every conversation I’ve had with members of the Music Will community, that same passion for music feels so present,” says Wasserman. “It’s energizing and inspiring.”

Genesis Garcia joined music PR agency Orienteer as a publicist. She brings Teezo Touchdown to an Orienteer roster that includes 100 Gecs, BADBADNOTGOOD, Clams Casino, Dave, Earl Sweatshirt, King Krule, Hudson Mohawke and dozens more. Garcia arrives from RCA, where as associate director of publicity she was pivotal in the careers of Teezo, Steve Lacy and Victoria Monet, a seven-time nominee at the upcoming Grammy Awards, including best new artist and record of the year. Prior to RCA, Garcia worked in artist relations and A&R during a four-year stint at Def Jam Recordings.

Josh Posner is AMIBA Consulting‘s new vp and head of music and brand development. Formerly head of biz dev at Proof Holdings, Posner is better known in music circles as founder of JP Bookings, which has booked live shows featuring Diplo, Big Sean, Alesso and others. “Amiba specializes in providing brands access to talent – representing music artists, actors, creators, and more,” Posner noted in a LinkedIn post announcing his new gig. “What interested me most about the company is their groundbreaking work brokering deals between talent and startups, while working directly with talent to create new brands and businesses from their IP.”

Full-service entertainment agency EastCoast Entertainment promoted Kaitlin Sweeney to managing partner. She joined ECE as an agent in 2014 and assumed the role of manager of their Philadelphia location in 2017. “We are elated to add Kaitlin to our ownership team,” said ECE president John Wolfslayer. “Her passion, leadership and commitment to our artists, clients and employees exemplifies our vision and goals as a company.”

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office appointed Sharon Israel as chief policy officer and director for international affairs. In her role, Israel will lead U.S. delegations to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), head the USPTO’s Office of Policy and International Affairs (OPIA) and play a vital role in U.S. copyright diplomacy in countries around the globe. “RIAA is enthusiastic about the Office’s continued trajectory under Ms. Israel’s leadership and we are very much looking forward to partnering on creative community priorities such as safeguarding copyright protection in the context of AI, including in the US pursuant to the recent Executive Order, as well as in multilateral work in the G7, OECD and other forums,” says RIAA Chairman & CEO Mitch Glazier. “We are equally eager to work together with the OPIA Director to push back against highly-concerning text-and-data-mining exceptions to copyright overseas, including in Japan and Singapore.”

Last Week’s Turntable: DICE Pays Piper to Handle Communications

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