Music

Executive Turntable: BMG Picks Top Communicator; Kidz Bop Man Finds GoodTalk; Allison Moorer Joins Country Hall

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. On Thursday we revealed this year’s Country Power Players list, where Big Loud partner and CEO Seth England was named top executive and WME’s Jay Williams earned the peer-voted Power Players’ Choice Award.

BMG‘s new head of global corporate communications is Kristal McKanders Dube, who joins the music company following a six-year tenure leading media strategy for Warner Chappell Music. McKanders Dube will stay in Los Angeles but report to BMG’s Berlin-based chief executive Thomas Coesfeld; her main role will be to spearhead both internal and external communications effort while also connecting the dots between BMG and its parent company Bertelsmann. Prior to joining Warner, where she held the position of svp of communications and marketing, McKanders Dube worked in the consumer brand and luxury hospitality space with IHG Hotels & Resorts, and agencies MSL Group and Jackson Spalding. She succeeds Steve Redmond as BMG’s communicator-in-chief.

“It’s an exciting time at BMG with the company uniquely positioned for growth in a rapidly evolving music landscape, and we’re happy to have Kristal join us at such a pivotal moment and bring a fresh perspective to our business,” said Coesfeld. “Kristal’s innate storytelling ability, coupled with her expertise in corporate and music publishing communications, makes her an invaluable addition to our team.”

Meanwhile…

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Arista Records upped their co-heads of urban music, Kendell “Sav” Freeman and Khris Riddick-Tynes, to senior vp of A&R. The NYC-based Freeman and LA-er Riddick-Tynes will continue reporting to Arista president David Massey. Since first being named co-heads of urban music in 2021, the pair have added heat to Arista’s roster in the form of rising artists Lola Brooke, Hurry Hazan and Skylar Blatt, while Riddick-Tynes has been instrumental in developing Paul “Lil Boo Thang” Russell. “We are excited for Sav and Khris to begin this next chapter in further elevating our artists around the world,” said Massey. “They have played an integral part in helping build and develop an impressive roster here at Arista … and we look forward to their continued leadership.”

Allison Moorer

NASHVILLE NOTES: Academy Award nominated singer-songwriter Allison Moorer (pictured in 2019) and Rolling Stone magazine veteran Jon Freeman joined the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum staff as writer-editors, responsible for wordsmithing across exhibitions, publications, social media and more. The Hall also promoted Brad Henton to senior director of culinary, event and museum sales; Paige Maillet to director of guest experiences; and Kayleigh Shoemaker to director of public programs … Julien’s Auctions hired Cristy Barber as vp of pop culture and business development for its new Nashville office. She was most recently with legacy firm Iconoclast as vp of global marketing and brand partnerships.

Cliff Chenfeld joined Jonny Shipes’ GoodTalk as partner and advisor at the full-service entertainment company. Chenfeld co-founded Razor & Tie, and for years served as co-CEO of the indie label and publisher. If you’re a parent, you can also (hiss/cheer) at him for developing — along with his R&T co-founder Craig Balsam — the ridonculously popular Kidz Bop compilation series, which the pair sold along with Razor & Tie to Concord in 2018. “I’ve known Jonny for 15 years and have been amazed at his ability to identify special artists, to stay on the tip of cultural developments and to expand his vision of himself and his business,” said Chenfeld. “In addition, he is a hell of a lot of fun and a good friend. I have been very selective with how I spend my time since selling Razor + Tie and Kidz Bop and working with Jonny was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Sarah Mitchell is now head of BMG‘s rights and royalties operations across both music publishing and recordings in the UK and across Europe. Mitchell joined BMG in 2022 as svp of neighboring rights and in her tenure has already inked deals with Coldplay, Pete Townshend and Christine & The Queens, among others. In her new capacity as svp of rights and royalties, the London-based exec will handle rights and royalty management for most non-U.S. dealings, and she’ll work with clients on copyright administration, analytics and accounting across recordings and publishing. She reports to Sebastian Hentzschel and sits on the BMG UK board. Prior to joining BMG, Mitchell was director of membership & communications at UK neighboring rights society PPL. “Over the past two years Sarah Mitchell has proven to be a significant addition to BMG’s London-based leadership with an incredible network in the artist and business communities and an impressive ability to think differently and make things happen,” said Alistair Norbury, president of BMG UK.

Italian rock label Frontiers landed Tom Lipsky as its new head of A&R of North America. Lipsky is the former head of several rock and heavy metal labels, including Loud & Proud Records, Sanctuary Records and CMC International Records, which he co-founded, and the indie Carry On Music. Napoli-based Frontiers is the Italian home of a bevy of rock greats including Def Leppard, Winger, Night Ranger, Mr. Big, Blue Oyster Cult, YES and Electric Light Orchestra, among others. Lipsky’s remit is all about translating the label’s bellissima vision for North America. In a statement, Lipsky said he and Frontiers founder Serafino Perugino “share a common vision regarding the continuing relevance and value of veteran artists,” adding, “I look forward to working with him and his team to make Frontiers the label home of choice for the artist community.”

Tixr, the primary ticketing platform based in Santa Monica, Calif., hired industry veteran Steve Oberman as the new vp of partnerships. In his new role, Oberman is tasked with growing the fast-expanding company across music and other industries both in North America and internationally. He joins Tixr from See Tickets, where he was evp and head of music. Prior to entering the ticketing game, Oberman worked in day-to-day management of artists — Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver come to mind — at Frontline and Azoff Music Management. Other recent US-based hires at Tixr include Ravi Durga, also formerly of See Tickets, as director of partnerships; Amir Mozafari, ex-DICE, as nightlife partnerships specialist; and Matt Stallknecht, formerly of NASCAR, as partnerships executive. “Tixr’s platform is the future of modern ticketing and e-commerce,” said Oberman. “The team’s speed to innovate and ship products, eye for design, and unique approach to problem-solving is second to none.”

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Label, publisher and distributor Empire Nashville promoted Heather Vassar to senior vp of operations and Sarah Beth Gerlecz to director of business and legal affairs. In addition, Hannah Galluzzi has been hired as director of A&R, having previously worked in A&R at Universal Music Group Nashville for six years. Empire artists Shaboozey, Reyna Roberts and Willie Jones were featured on Beyonce’s album Cowboy Carter, while Shaboozey has the current Billboard Hot 100 No. 3 song “A Bar Song (Tipsy).” The label has teamed with Magnolia Music Group to take “Bar Song” to country radio. –Jessica Nicholson

Four industry veterans launched Fixated, described as a one-stop shop for creators, fans and brands with a goal of “reshaping the digital entertainment landscape.” Co-founders of the company include CEO Zach Katz (ex-president and COO of FaZe Clan, president of BMG North America), president Jason Wilhelm (co-founder Talent X/Sway House and Content Labs), chief studio officer Dean Johnson (co-founder Content Labs), and chief content officer Luc Boulch (content creator). The leadership team of Fixated is rounded out by Phil Ranta and Ali Adab, as chief operating officer and chief growth officer, respectively. “We are this generation’s fans who went on to become creators,” said Boulch. “In doing so, we made virality our religion. And now, whether it’s talent, content or gaming, we have a science for driving traffic to our ecosystem like no one else.”

Music marketing veteran Joe Aboud officially launched consultancy firm 444 Sounds, with a roster including Sony Music, UnitedMasters, Major Recordings and artists such as Jung Kook and Enrique Iglesias. Aboud was most recently vp of marketing and streaming at HITCO, and prior to that worked as a marketing manager at Atlantic Records.

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Music Venue Trust hired Sophie Brownlee as external affairs manager and Kimberley Goddard as fundraising manager. The UK charity with a laser-focus on protecting grassroots venues also said it promoted Sophie Asquith to venue support team manager. “These new appointments will bring real experience and energy to Music Venue Trust,” said Beverly Whitrick, COO of MVT. “It is vital that, at a time when the challenges facing the grassroots music sector continue to mount, we can offer support, expertise and guidance to the venues we work with.”

SAVOR, the hospitality arm of ASM Global, added Jason Dowd as senior vp of culinary and innovation, and Craig Condra as regional vp of food and beverage. Combined, the pair have roughly 46 years of experience in the culinary and hospitality business. “At SAVOR we take the force of decades of international experience and implement a hyper-local approach, offering our clients unique culinary innovations of the highest levels while also carefully tailoring services at each venue according to the region it operates,” said Shaun Beard, svp of SAVOR. “With Jason at the helm of the company’s culinary innovation program and Craig managing the facilities at the regional level, we are fully equipped to continue delivering this signature service and unparalleled experience to all of our clients.”

LIVE, a trade group advocating for 16 live music industry associations, appointed Ross Patel to lead sustainability issues as the org’s first-ever Green Impact Consultant. Patel has many hats on already as co-founder and CEO for Whole Entertainment and chief strategy officer at UMA Entertainment Group. Plus, in June 2021 Ross joined the Music Manager Forum as a board member to help them advocate for climate action.

ICYMI:


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Lu Mota
Pete Ganbarg is stepping aside as Atlantic Records’ president of A&R to launch Pure Tone Records, a joint venture with the label … Delia Orjuela is the new head of creative Mexican music/música mexicana at Warner Chappell MusicLuis “Lu” Mota left Columbia to join Atlantic as executive vp of A&R.

Last Week’s Turntable: Island Def Jamming With New VP

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