Music

Executive Turntable: Jay Mehta Launches Warner Music South Asia; BMI’s New Number; MaMA Founder Retires

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

Warner Music Group has big plans for the sonically rich markets of Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — and is putting longtime Warner Music India managing director Jay Mehta in charge of those efforts. The launch of Warner Music South Asia is the label’s endorsement of the vibrant traditions and significant potential of the music markets across the region, home to more than 400 million people, plus the dynamic diasporas around the globe supporting local artists. The new affiliate will operate out of Dubai and be headed by Mehta, who adds managing director of Warner Music South Asia to his business card, but will continue as MD in India and work closely with Alfonso Perez Soto, WMG’s president of emerging markets. Warner isn’t exactly starting from scratch in the region, having announced a partnership with Pakistani music production company Giraffe earlier this year, and acquiring a majority chunk of Sri Lankan digital music firm Divo in 2023. WMG and Giraffe’s first project is season 15 of the popular music performance series Coke Studio in Pakistan. “I’m so delighted to launch Warner Music in Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and other SAARC territories,” said Mehta. “These are exciting markets with brilliant artists who historically haven’t had the opportunity of plugging into the global music industry. That’s all set to change.”

Currently based in Mumbai, Mehta has racked up the wins since launching Warner Music India in March 2020, juuust before the pandemic ground the globe to a halt. Within the first six months of WMI’s existence, the company executed a licensing deal with Mumbai-based label Tips Music and quickly closed a series of partnership deals to distribute increasingly popular Indian regional-language music and founded Maati, a label devoted to Indian folk music. In 2022, WMI signed an exclusive partnership with local label Jjust Music in an effort to boost its share of the Bollywood music market. Last year, WMI teamed with Warner Music Canada to launch 91 NORTH RECORDS to boost artists of South Asian heritage. And earlier this year, WMI expanded its partnership with Global Music Junction (GMJ), the music and entertainment subsidiary of JetSynthesys.

“This is a major moment for Warner Music,” said Simon Robson, president of international, recorded music. “We’re now open for business in a series of countries that have rich musical traditions and strong global connections through their extensive diasporas. We’re already working on exciting projects in Pakistan and other territories and there’s much more to come.”

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Meanwhile…

SESAC‘s music services division is getting built out with a new hire and two promotions. This week, the growing team welcomed Andy Bodkin as president of international, where he’ll center his focus on growing the services division — with a portfolio that includes HFA, AudioSalad and Audiam — on a global scale. Bodkin was previously group CEO at music publisher Out of the Ark, but for the bulk of his career (to the tune of 18 years) he served as an executive at Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI). Additionally, SESAC promoted Rose Cook to chief operating officer of music services, where she’ll work with the company’s entire portfolio, which also includes Mint and Rumblefish, to drive efficiencies in licensing, royalty collection and admin services. Previously, Cook served as the co-head of licensing at SESAC Performing Rights before her promotion to svp of operations of SESAC Music Group in 2022. She reports to SMG COO Malcolm Hawker. Finally, Monica Hertz is promoted to senior director of operations, where she’ll report to Cook and focus her efforts on the rollout of the company’s shared services platform. She joined SESAC in 2017.

Warner Chappell Music promoted Jenni Pfaff to executive vp of strategy, integration and operations. In her elevated role, Pfaff will continue to lead people strategy at the publisher, plus annual goal-setting initiatives and WCM’s new data-driven, songwriter-focused Business Intelligence division. A WCMer since 2019, Pfaff joined as people strategy leader before a promotion to senior vp. In 2021, she added head of global strategic integration and operations to her title. Prior to WCM, Pfaff operated her own HR firm (pfaff HR) and logged 17 years at PwC, Activision Blizzard, Northrop Grumman and other companies. The 2022 Billboard Women in Music honoree continues to report to CEO Guy Moot and COO Carianne Marshall. “Jenni has been on this journey with us from the beginning, helping transform how we operate as a global team so we can continue to do great work for our songwriters and their incredible songs,” said Moot and Marshall. “She is deeply committed to Warner Chappell and has spearheaded initiatives that allow us to be more collaborative. Technology, business, and data go hand-in-hand, and the work that we’re doing with Robert [Kyncl] and team will help shape the future of music publishing.”

BMI veteran Erin Crawford was promoted to assistant vp of affiliate customer service experience, putting her at the fore of the performance rights organization’s new customer service initiative that includes a call center and hotline (844-BMI-4255). The call center team should be full staffed by June and will include bilingual agents and expanded hours, the PRO said. Crawford joined BMI in 2020 as executive director of distribution & administration services, where she led teams responsible for writer and publisher affiliations and online services support. Prior to BMI, she clocked 18 years at The Nielsen Company, rising to svp and general manager of Nielsen Music — an important position managing relationships with Billboard, labels, publishers, promoters and other music companies.

French music conference and festival MaMA said co-founder Daniel Colling has decided to retire and will transfer ownership of the 15-year-old event to co-founder Fernando Ladeiro-Marques. Joining him for the 2024 edition, being held in Paris Oct. 16-18, will be Emmanuel Legrand as the coordinator of MaMA conference, Emily Gonneau as curator, and Flavien Appavou and Elise Yacoub as coordinators. “We will continue to honour the legacy of MaMA as a key industry gathering,” said Ladeiro-Marques. “We also want it to be the leading forum to explore the future of our industry and the place where we will invent tomorrow’s music business. In addition, MaMA festival will continue to feature up-and-coming artists at a time when they need, more than ever before, windows of exposure.”

BOARD SHORTS: Round Hill Music added former American Idol judge Randy Jackson and management executive John Greenberg as advisors. In the roles, Jackson and Greenberg will support Round Hill’s executive team in deal sourcing and artist relations … AI Fund managing director Andrew Ng replaced former MTV CEO Judy McGrath on Amazon‘s board of directors … The National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) in Nashville elected Brian Sexton and Keri Floyd Kelly to its board of directors. They’ll both serve three-year terms.

RoEx, the tech startup behind AI-powered mixing platform Automix, hired Jason Reed as head of growth and operations. Reed’ll focus on growing RoEx’s audio production tools, plus building B2B partnerships around the company’s audio engine API, Tonn. Reed arrives from Roundhouse Trust, where he was senior product owner. His past positions include head of technology at Domino, global head of marketing at FUGA and head of digital at Ministry of Sound Recordings. Reed is based in London and reports to RoEx chief David Ronan.

ICYMI:


Silvia Montello, CEO of Association For Electronic Music
Silvia Montello
CAA appointed nine managing directors and changed up its agency board membership … Shakeup at UK indie music trade body AIM as CEO Silvia Montello abruptly resigned. COO Gee Davy has stepped in as interim chief and also the new role of chief policy officer … and the Recording Academy promoted Adam Roth to evp of global partnerships & business development.

Last Week’s Turntable: Warner Chappell In Sync With Zync Veteran

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