Music

Executive Turntable: Stem Amps Up Label Relations; Maverick Snags Nashville Veteran; ‘All Songs’ Host Considered, Accepted

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

Stem, the music tech company company known for collaborating with Kanye West on his Donda 2 album release, has brought on Ameer Sudan as global head of music label relations. The move comes ahead of plans to release new audio remix products Stem 2 and Stem 3, which includes a built in projector, as well as the Stem Music subscription service. The devices allow users to interact with a track’s stems to engage with audio in a new, real-time format. Sudan also acts as CEO of Silvaback Productions and Management. “Ameer Sudan is joining the growing group of senior music luminaries in unifying Stem,” said Alex Klein, inventor of the Stem Player and founder of Stem and Kano Computing before that. “His level of expertise and contributions in the realms of music label relations and strategic partnerships are invaluable to Stem.”

Sudan added that it will be a “very busy” year for the company, noting discussions are underway with leading labels, fashion houses and media companies. “Stem will change the culture of entertainment,” he said. “I am glad to be a part of such a major juggernaut in the making.”

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Meanwhile…

Maverick Nashville has turned to seasoned pro Beville Dunkerley for the newly created role of vp of marketing at the label. She’ll oversee creative and marketing efforts for artists across Maverick Nashville’s stacked roster, which includes Jason Aldean, Lauren Alaina, Darius Rucker (along with Hootie & the Blowfish), Terri Clark and the rebooted Brooks & Dunn. Dunkerley reports directly to Maverick partner Clarence Spalding. She comes to Maverick after a seven-year stretch leading country music industry relations for SirusXM and Pandora. Prior to that, Dunkerley made her mark in music journalism as co-founder of both Rolling Stone Country and The Boot (back when it was one of AOL’s many music-focused verticals), and she serves on both the ACM and Leadership Music boards. “While I’m certainly a huge fan of our artist roster, it was a look behind the scenes at Maverick that really sold me,” Dunkerley tells Billboard. “Clarence and Chris [Parr] have assembled a team of innovative thinkers with big hearts. I’m thrilled to join this incredible team.” Dunkerley can be reached at Bdunkerley@maverick.com.

Max Kaplan, a Sony Music staple for the last decade-plus, was elevated to senior vp and head of commercial partnerships at Columbia Records. Kaplan was most recently vp of sales at the label, and before that spent several years overseeing digital sales. He joined Sony in 2013 as a member of the Columbia sales team and over the years has worked with DSPs and physical retailers to maximize the releases of Columbia megastars like Adele, Beyonce and Harry Styles, among others. Kaplan is based in NYC and reports up to Darren Stupak, Sony Music evp and GM of commercial partnerships. “Max is an established leader who has continually demonstrated an ability to take on new challenges and deliver success throughout his career,” said Stupak. “We are excited to have him supporting the ongoing growth of our business in this new role with Columbia.”

Radio, Radio: NPR has officially tapped Robin Hilton as host of All Songs Considered, succeeding Bob Boilen, who left in October. Hilton has been a co-host of the show since 2008, the same year he and Boilen launched the wildly cool/popular Tiny Desk Concerts series. He first joined All Songs in 2001 as an assistant producer. Off the air, Hilton has been senior producer for podcasts since 2021, and before that was a part of the NPR Music management team. “It’s amazing having Robin back in the host chair of this iconic show,” said Keith Jenkins, NPR’s Vice president of visuals and music strategy. “So much has changed since All Songs debuted, but Robin has the ability to help our audience connect the dots from then to now to the future. With Robin at the helm, All Songs will continue to bring the essence of NPR Music, a celebration of new music discovery, to audiences everywhere.”

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14th Street Music announced the departure of one of its key members, prolific film, TV and video game composer Lorne Balfe. The music production and publishing company, which Balfe co-founded in 2010 alongside Hans Zimmer and Steven Kofsky, said Balfe left the triad at the end of 2023 to pursue new musical endeavors. “Lorne’s many outstanding contributions made 14th Street Music the leading company it is today,” the firm said. Over the years, Balfe has composed outright or contributed to scores of… scores, including several Mission: Impossible films, The Tomorrow War, Gran Turismo and more. His theme song for National Geographic’s Genius earned him an Emmy nomination, and his video game credits include Assassin’s Creed III and several Skylanders games.

Gibson gearheads in Britain will soon have the “ultimate guitar experience” at the ready with the Feb. 24 opening of a new Gibson Garage store in London, off Oxford Street. It’s the instrument (and amp!) maker’s first-ever flagship shop outside of the U.S. and will feature 4,500 square feet (or 418 square meters) of Gibby goodies. Hold that power chord, who will run the joint? Gibson said they hired Etaoin Fagan (general manager), Andy Wratten (assistant manager-operations), and Sam Gammon (assistant manager-sales) to the leadership team, reporting to Cesar Gueikian, the president and CEO of Gibson Brands. All three have extensive retail and/or music-adjacent experience, ranging from Harrods (Fagan), Watches of Switzerland (Wratten) and Yamaha (Gammon). “The Gibson Garage London is fast becoming a reality and with Etaoin, Sam and Andy at the helm it safe to say that it couldn’t be in better hands,” said Lee Bartram, Gibson Brands’ head of commercial, marketing and cultural influence.

Nick Barr is PULSE Records‘ new senior vp, overseeing digital marketing. Barr will be based in Silverlake, Calif. and report to PULSE Music Group co-CEOs Josh Abraham and Scott Cutler, as well as president and head of creative Ashley Calhoun. He most recently served as vp of A&R and creative strategy at Island Records, where he worked campaigns for Sabrina Carpenter, Shawn Mendes, Demi Lovato, Lauren Spencer Smith and Keshi, and signed Charlieonafriday. He is also credited with helping the career of Columbia rapper Lil Tjay. In a joint statement, Abraham, Cutler and Calhoun said: “Nick has an instinct for exceptional music and artists. He is highly respected in the community for his proven ability to develop artists, many of whom he helped launch. His passion for A&R coupled with his marketing and digital abilities are going to strengthen our exceptional team and supports our mission of innovative service around our clients’ artistry.”

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BOARD SHORTS: Emma Banks, longtime co-head of CAA London, has been appointed chair of Nordoff and Robbins, the UK’s leading music therapy charity. Banks takes over from David Munns, who steps down after 13 years as leader — and 30 years of support overall. Also stepping down from the board of trustees is Howard Jones and Neil Warnock. Supporting Banks will be AEG Presents exec Lucy Noble, as vice chair … The Association of Independents in Radio elected former Pushkin Industries vp Mia Lobel, independent audio producer Will Coley and Vox Audio exec Rob Byers to its board … Thomas St. John Group board member Matt Ellis was hired as CEO of the business management firm’s U.K. office. He is a former deputy CEO of Deloitte, where he spent over 30 years.

Oak View Group gets extra credit for hiring Visa veteran Andrew Cohen as senior vp of OVG brand consulting and solutions. In this new role, which reports up to president of global partnerships Daniel Griffis and is effective immediately, Cohen manages OVG’s teams handling creative, analytics, solutions and activations. Prior to joining OVG, Cohen put in nearly 20 years at Visa, where he rose to leadership roles across sales, sponsorships and brands (he led negotiations of Visa’s deals with the NFL and FIFA, among others). “Andrew is special because he has been a part of just about every type of major global deal during his [Visa] tenure on the brand side,” said Griffis, “and his wealth of knowledge reinforces our organization’s strengths – our unique ability to drive measurable sales, engagement and brand love for our clients.”

The American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) hired Emmaline McCourt as membership manager as the indie booster eyes a growth spurt. “In working with Melissa, she will play an integral role in enriching our member experience and will contribute significantly to the growth of A2IM,” said A2IM chief James Burgess in making the announcement. NYC-based McCourt will report to Melissa White, the director of membership, and focus her efforts on label relations and membership engagement strategies. She arrives from hi-res music streaming service Qobuz, where she was a music merchandiser. Prior to that, she worked in Beggars Group’s sales department. McCourt can be reached emmaline@a2im.org.

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The Chamber Group promoted Edwin Tetteh to associate director of public relations, and announced the return of former senior director Kerry Smalls as head of brand strategy, at the boutique PR and marketing agency. Tetteh joined TCG in 2021 following stints at Williamson PR and The Lede Company. Smalls returns to the Chamber after building a PR division at iONE Digital/Urban One. He also led PR strategy at BCW Global, where he worked with Hennessy, Hellman’s and more brands. Both report to CEO Chris Chambers. “I’m happy to have witnessed both Kerry and Edwin’s growth over the years, becoming the young executives that we see today,” Chambers said. “They have both earned their rank through dedication, hard work and building effective PR and branding campaigns for our clients.”

Nettwerk Music Group promoted Sameer Sadhu to senior vp of A&R. The NYC-based exec joined Nettwerk in May 2015 in a management role, and he rose to vp of A&R two years ago. Sadhu’s roster includes Vacations, Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness, Superfan, Miami Horror, Miya Folick, renforshort, Wafia and Wild Rivers, among others. He’s also a partner at the Singapore-based label services and publicity firm Secret Signals, where he works with artists on business development and public relations in Asia.

L-Acoustics, the French loudspeaker specialists and makers of other pro sound systems, hired Amber Mundinger for the newly created role of global director of artistic engagement. She’ll zero in on strengthening the brand’s awareness and bond with elite artists, musicians, DJs, producers, creative directors and other stakeholders. Mundinger will remain in NYC but work closely with L-Acoustics colleagues in Paris, London and Los Angeles. She most recently served as the COO and creative producer at Artists Den Entertainment, where she helped produce such shows as Live from the Artists Den on PBS and Monumental: An Artists Den Experience with Amazon Studios. Prior to ADE, Mundinger held various leadership roles at Billboard parent Penske Media Corporation. “Her deep knowledge of the music business and ability to build meaningful relationships with artists will help elevate awareness with major artists and creatives, and together with our partners, explore new concepts to bring elevated audio experiences to life,” said Laurent Vaissié, CEO at L-Acoustics.

Veteran artist manager Michele Harrison launched her own independent management company MPH Collective, with a rollout roster including R&B singers UMI and Healy, and pop duo Beau. Harrison was most recently partner at Range Music, where she oversaw the careers of Healy, UMI, Justin Tranter and producer KaiGoinKrazy (also now with MPHC). She got her start in music at Virgin Records and Hollywood Records, before spending 15 years at Monotone, Inc., where she cut her indie rock teeth with The Shins and Vampire Weekend, as well as not-indie-rock-at-all Jamie Foxx. In 2018, she became co-head of management of Friends At Work, where she managed Alanis Morissette, before joining Range.

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Music industry veteran Tierney Stout officially launched SAUS HAUS, a music strategy and branding agency based in Los Angeles. Stout gets the ball rolling with an impressive client list that includes Dr. Martens, Levi’s and Marshall. Prior to going into business for herself, Stout was director of global music marketing at Vans for over five years, and prior to that she developed artist relations at musical instrument maker Gibson Brands. Earlier in her career, she was director of interactive marketing at The Orchard and worked as a publicist for indie rock favorites such as The Walkment and Passion Pit.

Crowdfunding and distribution platform Angel Studios hired Ryan Svendsen as head of music. In this newly created role, Svendsen will join Angel’s global distribution team helmed by chief distribution officer Jared Geesey, and lead music strategy, creative, licensing, production, and partnerships for the firm’s scores, songs and soundtracks. Svendsen was previously head of music at Millennium Media, where music supervised Expend4bles, The Bricklayer and Till Death, among other films. Before Millennium, Svendsen was director of film and TV music at Lionsgate. He also moonlights as a session musician and his trumpet playing is credited on tracks including “Industry Baby” by Lil Nas X and “Lil Boo Thang” by Paul Russell. Find more on Angel Studios at their website, the very succinct angel.com.

Republic Live, known for producing Canada’s Boots and Hearts Music Festival, is launching a new management division, RLive. Casadie Pederson steps into the role of director of artist management and development to lead the company’s expansion beyond festival events and into management and artist development. RLive will be based in Nashville, while Republic Live has offices in both Nashville and Toronto. The first signing to the RLive management division is Tyler Joe Miller. –Jessica Nicholson

Seminole Hard Rock, which operates hotels and casinos in Florida, promoted Keith Sheldon to president of entertainment and brand management for Seminole Gaming and Hard Rock International. In this new and expanded role, Sheldon will be responsible for oversight of brand management, consumer marketing, brand partnerships, and sponsorship revenue generation. He’ll also continue doing the programming and talent buying for the music venues at the Hard Rock locations, which are in Hollywood and Tampa. Seminole Gaming also owns and operates four other casino locations throughout the Sunshine State.

ICYMI:


Gil Beverly
Kakao Entertainment nominated two prominent executives to serve as co-CEOs … Nuria Andreu joined the GTS and is now manager of Spanish singer-songwriter Aitana … Veteran NFL and ESPN exec Gil Beverly (pictured) is now chief business officer of the Academy of Country Music … Jennifer Koester is joining Sphere Entertainment as president of business operations, effective Feb. 5 … BMG promoted Jon Loba to president of frontline recordings in North America and Thomas Scherer as head of global recorded catalog … SONA announced new leadership roles for Erin McAnally, Kellie Brown, Linda Bloss-Baum and Camus Celli … and Warner Chappell Music upped Lázaro Hernández to senior vice president of A&R, U.S. Latin & Latin America.

Last Week’s Turntable: Norwegian’s New Music Cruise Captain

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