Music

Katy Perry Introduces Executive of the Year Michelle Jubelirer as a ‘Beacon for Artists’ at Billboard Women in Music 2024

Katy Perry made a surprise appearance at the 2024 Billboard Women in Music Awards on Wednesday (March 7) to present the award of Executive of the Year to her longtime champion and label chief Michelle Jubelirer.

“I am so grateful to be here today to celebrate my dear friend and my iced latte hiking buddy Michelle Jubelirer,” Perry said. “She has been a beacon for artists, nurturing their talents and supporting their personal growth. She heard me, she saw me, she created space for me, even supported me through my journey of motherhood.”

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This was Jubelirer’s first speech since she decided to leave her post as CEO and chair of Capitol Music Group on Feb. 6, amidst the drastic restructuring of UMG’s recorded music division. The storied record label has since been folded into the new umbrella Interscope Capitol Labels Group and many staff members have been let go since her departure.

“This has been a very tough period in the music business,” Jubelirer said. “Countless numbers of people have suddenly lost their livelihoods … and this means that dozens of artists have lost their champions. Relationships are everything. It takes tremendous faith for artists to entrust their music to others. To have built those relationships only to see them abruptly end is more than disconcerting for an artist; it’s heartbreaking.”

“Even though I am no longer peering out the top floor window of the Capitol tower,” she said, “my diamond heart leads my mission. I will always be a fierce advocate for artists and promise to put real and meaningful action behind the words I’ve spoken tonight.”

Jubelirer also addressed misogyny in her speech, saying: “Do these comments sound familiar? ‘You’re too emotional.’ ‘You don’t have to be so direct when you talk.’ We all know that’s code for: ‘Stop being a bitch.’ ‘You should smile more’ — that’s one of my personal favorites. We’ve all heard these glib phrases and countless others throughout our careers. … But I wholeheartedly believe that I relate to artists differently because I am a woman. I have a stronger connection with my colleagues because I am a woman. I am able to make decisions that consider a wider range of factors because I am a woman.”

She continued: “This approach informed the culture we built at Capitol Music Group, and we achieved historic success operating in this manner. So yes, I am a better leader because I am a woman.”

Jubelirer joined Capitol in early 2013 after a fruitful career as an artist attorney to talent like Tyler, the Creator, M.I.A., Frank Ocean, Pharrell and more. By 2015, she rose to become COO to Steve Barnett, the then-CEO of CMG, which also encompassed Motown, Blue Note, Astralwerks and, until recently, indie distributor Virgin Music. She remained on as COO and president under Barnett’s successor, Jeff Vaughn, who spent about a year in the role, before the role was handed to Jubelirer at the end of 2021. She was the first female chief executive in Capitol’s 80-plus-year history.

“The challenges [I inherited at Capitol] were plentiful,” Jubelirer admitted in her interview for Billboard‘s Women in Music issue. CMG faced a falling market share, staff turnover, pandemic challenges and an unwieldy artist roster. “The truth is, a lot of change happened in a short period of time.”

But under her reign, Capitol’s fortunes quickly began to turn. The company signed Ice Spice (with 10K Projects), released the Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper “Unholy” by Sam Smith and Kim Petras, worked with UMe to release the Beatles’ AI-powered single “Now and Then,” and went viral multiple times over, including with Doechii’s “What It Is (Block Boy).”

In 2023, Capitol earned a 6.66% market share in the U.S., including a 5.90% current market share — which measures releases from the past 18 months — which was fifth among all labels for the full year. Both numbers were up significantly over her first year as CEO/chair in 2022, when Capitol’s overall market share stood at 6.40% and current market share was 4.97%.

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