Music

Executive Turntable: Universal Nordics President Named; Audacy OG Elevated; A&R Moves at Spirit, Capitol Christian, Warner

It’s time for another spin around the Executive Turntable, Billboard’s comprehensive(ish) compendium of promotions, hirings, exits and firings — and all things in between — across music. Check out this year’s Pride List of top LGBTQ+ executives in the industry. We also have a weekly interview series spotlighting a single executive and a regularly updated gallery honoring many of the industry figures we’ve lost throughout the year.

Universal Music Sweden managing director Joakim Johansson has been promoted to president of the entire Nordics region for Universal Music Central Europe. He’ll continue MD’ing on the Sweden side but adds oversight of UMG operations in Denmark, Norway and Finland, as well as the Baltics (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania). The individual directors of those markets (Casper Bengtson/Denmark, Kimmo Valtanen/Finland and Bjørn Rogstad/Norway) will now report directly to Johannson, who continues to beeline to Frank Briegmann, chairman & CEO of UMCE and Deutsche Grammophon. Johansson’s expanded role aligns with Briegmann’s ongoing strategy to amplify cross-market collaboration and innovations throughout Central Europe. Johansson joined the company in 2013 as GM of Universal Music Sweden, being promoted to MD six years later. “The Nordic countries boast a rich musical heritage and are at the forefront of industry innovation,” he said. “It’s an honor to lead our talented team in this vibrant region, and I look forward to driving our vision into the future.”

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Audacy elevated journeyman Jeff Sottolano to chief programming officer, effective immediately. Sottolano, who joined CBS Radio in 2001 as an intern and has served as executive vp and head of programing since 2021, will now oversee content strategy and creation in all formats across broadcast, streaming and podcasts, as well as work with product and technology teams on ways to improve creator tools and more. Over a 15-year stretch at CBS, which was acquired in 2017 by Entercom (later Audacy), Sottolano held programming roles in Rochester and Philadelphia before joining the front office in 2014 as director of programming. During the Entercom era, he rose to executive vp of programming, which carried over following the post-Audacy rebrand. For most of the last decade, Sottolano’s brand portfolio has gained market share in the A25-54 demo and he has led numerous company-wide initiatives including Audacy Launch, the company’s new music discovery platform for rising artists. “I consider myself so fortunate to work with our programmers, talent, anchors, reporters and producers who, together, build incredible brands, entertain and inform, and make a difference in the lives of millions of consumers every day,” said Sottolano.

Spirit Music Group appointed Lou Al-Chamaa to executive vp of A&R, a role based in Los Angeles and reporting to Spirit’s chief creative officer, Frank Rogers, who lauded the new hire’s “drive, passion and experience in building successful writer rosters” while in senior roles at AVEX USA, Sony Music Publishing and during his time as a consultant. “The opportunity to collaborate with such a forward-thinking team and contribute to the evolution of music creation is incredibly inspiring,” Al-Chamaa said. “I am deeply committed to fostering an environment where artists, songwriters, and producers can thrive creatively.”

Capitol Christian Music Group boosted its A&R efforts at a pair of its most storied imprints. Walter Thomas is promoted from director of artist development at CCMG to the new position of vp of artist development for Motown Gospel and TAMLA. Thomas, who joined the UMG label group last year, reports to CCMG co-presidents Brad O’Donnell and Hudson Plachy. Working closely with Thomas is Alexandria “Dria” Dollar, who joined CCMG in the role of senior director of A&R at TAMLA and Motown Gospel following a stretch as director of A&R at Reach Records in Atlanta. “These iconic labels have a legacy of inspiring and uplifting music,” said Thomas, adding that “Alexandria’s innovative approach and keen ear for talent are unmatched, and I am confident that together we will elevate our artists to new heights.”

Kelly Bolton
Kelly Bolton

Warner Records added Kelly Bolton as vp of A&R. Working out of Nashville, Bolton will work with Warner co-chairman/CEO Aaron Bay-Schuck on signing, developing, and cultivating country artists for the Los Angeles-based label. Bolton will report to executive vp and head of A&R Karen Kwak. Over the past few years, Warner has added artists including Zach Bryan, Dasha and Warren Zeiders to its roster. Bolton most recently served five years at Ashley Gorley’s Tape Room Music, rising to senior vp of A&R. Prior career stops include Big Deal Music and Black River Entertainment. –Jessica Nicholson

RADIO, RADIO: Vox co-founder Melissa Bell is the next CEO of Chicago Public Media, non-profit owner of WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times. She succeeds Matt Moog and officially starts Sept. 3 … Not so fast on that retirement, Joe Verbrugge. SiriusXM‘s chief commercial officer was supposed to depart yesterday (June 27) but will instead remain in place until July 31 before switching to a part-time role as advisor to the CEO through the end of the year.

Wasserman Music added three veterans to its global ranks as it looks to build on the firm’s suite of client services. Joining the London team as manager of tour marketing is Adam Clements, who has 15 years of experience between stops at Birmingham’s O2 Academy and O2 Institute, Eventim UK and AEG Presents. Over in Chicago, Oskar Muller joined as director of pricing & ticketing (Chicago) after serving as pricing director at Live Nation Entertainment. Finally, in sunny L.A., Jenn Rilloraza joined as manager of brand partnerships following time as director of marketing, brands and creative services for Create Music Group’s VRTCL vertical. “We are relentless in continually creating new ways to serve our valued clients around the world, and these important new additions to Team Wass reflect that,” glowed Wasserman Music president Lee Anderson.

The Academy of Country Music made promotions and new hires across several departments. Tommy Moore has been promoted to chief of staff and vp, industry relations & awards, board administration and governance. Kris Reyes has been promoted to senior director of finance, operations and HR. Meanwhile, Jesse Knutson has been elevated to director of publicity and media relations. Haley Montgomery has been elevated to director of industry relations & awards, while Jennifer Davis has been promoted to senior manager of events. Brittany Uhniat has been promoted to manager of content & creative production. New hires include Katie Casserly as coordinator of social media, with Maggie Feyrer hired as coordinator of strategic partnerships and Delaney Loughran as assistant, industry relations & awards. –J.N.

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BOARD SHORTS: The Association of Music Producers elected Matt Nelson of Yessian Music as the ad music trade group’s new president of its national board. Nelson, who joined the board’s eastern chapter six years ago, succeeds Carol Dunn as national board president. Succeeding Nelson as president of the eastern chapter will be Made Music Studio executive Amy Crawford … The International Bluegrass Music Association elected two new members of its board and welcomed the return of a third. After a year away, former IBMA board chair Mike Simpson is back, and joins newcomers CJ Lewandowski and Annie Savage as board officers … Musicians On Call appointed True Public Relations co-owner Marcel Pariseau and songwriter Sam Hollander to its national board of directors.

Dylan Brewer, a veteran label executive and experiential marketer, launched a new creative music company dubbed FRAUDULENT. Since forming, the Los Angeles-based firm has already worked on campaigns for Laufey (alongside Microsoft) and Jessie Reyez. The two-time Clio award winner was most recently vp of marketing and head of experiential at Epic Records, working on a roster including Ozzy Osbourne, Madison Beer, Bakar, BEAM, AG Club, Headie One, J Hus and more. Prior to joining Epic in 2018, Brewer was a marketing and strategy lead at Def Jam Recordings for over three years, and earlier in his career produced music campaigns at Google. Reach out to Brewer at hi@fraudulent.live.

WHY&HOW added veteran artist manager Patrick Farr to its management team, based in Nashville. Farr arrives following six years at his own Revelator Management company, and another six at Philymack before that. During his career he has worked with such artists as Nick Jonas, DNCE and Demi Lovato, as well as Sophia Scott, who comes with him to WHY&HOW. “Not only does Patrick bring immense experience, but a fitting addition to our roster in Sophia Scott,” said WHY&HOW founder & CEO Bruce Kalmick. “I’ve been a fan of Patrick’s work ethic and savvy approach to artis development for a long time – we look forward to having him jump in with our team.”

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NASHVILLE NOTES: Lauren Thomas was promoted to Columbia Nashville svp of promotion from vp and will have a day-to-day role with both the Columbia and RCA Nashville imprints … Big Machine Label Group promoted Ashley Sidoti to svp of promotion and digital for its Valory Music Co. imprint. Sidoti most recently served as vp of promotion and digital … The Gospel Music Association appointed veteran producer, marketer and network leader Steve Gilreath as executive director of the Christian & Gospel Music Museum at the Dove Center. Gilreath will report directly to Jackie Patillo, president of the Gospel Music Association … The Academy of Country Music is looking for a director of brand creative and design, as well as a director of strategic partnerships. View the listings here.

Influencer marketing agency VRTCL elevated Imani “Mango” Lewis to director, overseeing operations for the entire VRTCL team. Lewis, who is based in Los Angeles, joined VRTCL in March 2021 as music department manager before rising to head of music — and then director of music — last year. Recent wins for the viral content firm include campaigns for Beyonce’s “Texas Hold Em,” Kasha’s “Austin” and Lil Durk’s “All My Life.” “Imani’s exceptional talent and dedication have consistently driven some of our most successful influencer campaigns in recent years,” said Ash Stahl, CEO of umbrella company FH Media. “Her innovative strategies and unwavering commitment to excellence make her an invaluable asset to the VRTCL team.”

BSI Merch, a UK-based independent music merch and tech company, selected Charlie Simmonds to lead its expansion into the Asia-Pacific market. Located in Tokyo, the new outpost will primarily focus on e-commerce, merch supply, tour support, sales and superfan-related services. “By focusing on e-commerce and localising our services, we aim to deliver world-class support and grow our presence in this key market,” said Andy Allen, CEO. Throughout his career, Simmonds has worked with such artists as Billie Eilish and Sticky Fingers, and events including New York Comic Con and Signature Brew.

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ICYMI:


Cheryl Paglierani
Cheryl Paglierani
UK Music made it official, appointing interim chief Tom Kiehl as full-on chief executive of the music trade body. He succeeds Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, who left last year to work for soon-to-be former Prime Minister Rishi Sunak … Music agent Cheryl Paglierani joins CAA from UTA, where she served as a partner … Rodrigo Prichard was named general manager of Rimas Entertainment, effective July 1. Meanwhile, Kristen Quintero-Garriga has been named vp of brand partnerships under RIT.MO.

Last Week’s Turntable: SXSW London Staffs Up

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